Buying a new vehicle is always exciting, especially when it’s a new electric car. We all love not having to stop and fill up with expensive gasoline. However, you can’t just buy an EV and call it a day, as there are other things and expenses you’ll want to consider.
Well, you can buy an EV and nothing else, but you probably shouldn’t. Both gas and electric cars have additional expenses, not to mention maintenance. And even though EVs require less maintenance, other factors include paying to get a charger installed at home, dealing with software updates, finding a new routine with charging stations, and even paying more for insurance.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing electric cars here. Instead, think of this as a guide that goes over a few things new electric car owners will want to think about after bringing home that shiny new ride.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about electric vehicles is that you can quickly and easily charge them from your garage. And while that’s true, it’s a bit complicated.
While almost every electric vehicle in the U.S. comes with a standard charging cable provided by the manufacturer, they’re almost entirely useless. That’s because it’s a slow 110/120-volt level 1 AC wall plug you’ll find throughout any house. These chargers only offer around 5 miles of range per hour; simply put, that’s not fast enough.
For example, if that slow level 1 wall plug gives you 5 miles per hour, after 8-9 hours of charging overnight, you’ll only have about 40 miles of range. Unfortunately, that may not be enough to get you to work and back. It’s not ideal.
To take full advantage of your electric car, you’ll want to get a level 2 charger installed at your home, which could cost anywhere from $400 to over $2,000. And that’s just for the charger itself. Getting it installed by a professional will cost even more.
To make matters worse, some homeowners will need to upgrade their equipment, electric panel, or wiring in a garage to handle enough current to supply an EV. And while we see more affordable options emerging, it’s still a significant added expense you’ll want to pay attention to.
On the plus side, some electric vehicles feature bi-directional charging, and once you install a supported charger, you can use your electric car to power your home.
Although this is slowly becoming less of an issue, electric car insurance is more expensive than if you had a regular vehicle. Even a similar model will cost more if it’s an EV or PHEV.
Typically, more expensive vehicles cost more to insure because they also cost more to repair or replace. That’s especially true on an EV due to the complex equipment, battery packs, and other technical limitations. Plus, electric cars are pretty pricey, which means the insurance costs more.
According to GetJerry, on average, EVs cost about $56 per month more to insure than a regular gas-powered vehicle. That’s nearly $700 extra each year. However, it’s worth stating that you could get tax incentives on that EV, not to mention you’ll offset that increase thanks to savings on fuel and maintenance, especially over the long haul.
So while more expensive car insurance on an EV is something to keep in mind, it’s not a deal-breaker by any means. You’ll just need to calculate that into your finances instead of only focusing on savings at the gas pump.
Aside from Tesla and a few others, electric vehicles are brand new. This means growing pains, testing new hardware and software, software updates, and more. And while this isn’t exclusive to EVs, it’s more prevalent.
With most new electric vehicles, we see many software recalls or updates that require owners to take the car back to the dealership. And while some of the first Ford F-150 Lightning EV recalls are quick over-the-air software updates you can do from home with the app, several other brands have required owners to bring the car back.
Electric cars are pretty smart, but that also means they’ll need more software updates like a smartphone or computer. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and EVs have some fantastic features, but owners will need to adjust to it.
And while we’re talking about software, you’ll absolutely want to download a few EV charging station apps to your phone or infotainment system. These will help you find nearby charging stations, filter them by speed, or help you get a free charge on occasion.
Most of my family members are constantly out of gas. Or, they’ll leave for work in the morning and end up late after having to stop for gas. I don’t know about you, but I never let my truck get below half full. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about many of my friends and family.
With a gas-powered car, you can head to work or go on a road trip without much thought or worry about gas. When you need to fill up, locations are everywhere. And while we see more EV charging locations throughout the United States appear daily, it’s still a big change that EV owners will have to factor into daily life.
Once you buy an electric vehicle, you’ll likely need to make a few changes to your routine or work commute, so you have somewhere to charge when necessary. This is especially true if you don’t get a level 2 charger installed at home.
Being cognizant of your battery level and charging stations takes more effort than a regular car. And if you go on a long road trip, you’ll really have to factor in charging locations, routes, and recharge times. Well, unless you use a fast charger.
Next, we wanted to ramble about a few other things, like EV tires and charging adapters. You can only charge a Tesla at one of Tesla’s charging stations, which isn’t ideal. Thankfully, Tesla now sells a CCS adapter that allows Tesla drivers to use off-brand public charging stations.
Then, soon, Tesla will open up its expensive SuperCharger network to EVs from other manufacturers, taking a lot of the pain points and range anxiety out of EV ownership. It’s currently testing this program in other countries, and eventually, Tesla charging stations will work with Ford, Tesla, Chevy, Nissan, and other electric vehicles. For now, you’ll want to buy an adapter or two, just in case the situation arises where you only have one option to juice up the battery.
Another big topic of discussion on the internet is whether or not electric vehicles need special tires. Electric cars are heavy, have tons of torque, and typically come with all-weather tires with the least rolling resistance to increase range.
However, EV-specific tires are a bit more expensive than regular tires, and if you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow, you’ll probably want to swap them out for EV snow tires. Speaking of snow, your electric car may see a decrease in driving range during the winter. Yes, that happens to gas vehicles too, but you’ll definitely want to be aware of it with your EV.
In closing, owning an electric car isn’t wildly different than a regular gas-powered vehicle. That said, the technology, charging, and driving range will take some getting used to.
Most people have never owned an electric car. If you just bought your first EV, it’s not quite the same as your last car. You can’t just buy one and keep doing what you’ve always done. Instead, you’ll need to spend some money getting a faster charger installed at home, maybe add solar charging, check insurance rates, download a few EV-specific apps, and be more mindful of your battery and charging locations.
That said, electric cars are fast, exciting, a joy to drive, and full of fancy tech. You’ll absolutely love it.