Staff Writer Rachael Medina
Rachael Medina is the senior content writer and operations manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests o…See full bio
Whether you’re looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly and reduce your carbon footprint, save cash at the pump, or simply upgrade your whip, opting for one of California’s electric vehicles is always a good choice. Though electric cars first hit the market in the 1800s, many misconceptions still remain today—making consumers hesitant to take the plunge and commit to the purchase. With so many advancements in the range, safety, and affordability of EVs over the years, here’s what you should know if you’re still on the fence about making the switch to electric.
If you’re just starting to think about purchasing an electric truck, SUV, or car, you’re likely trying to weigh the pros and cons. Since many of us grew up with gas-powered vehicles, they can seem like the easy choice. They may even stir up the nostalgia for getting candy bars at the gas station, helping your parents wash the windows, or stretching during a long car ride. But since electric vehicles have come a long way over the past decade, they now offer a viable alternative to harmful fossil fuels and frequent fill-ups. EVs allow drivers to continue traveling without causing as much environmental pollution and can actually save you money in the long run.
To help with your search—and clear up some misunderstandings about EVs—here are some common myths about electric vehicles and clarification on what you’ll actually get from your gas-free car.
While you might need to stop and charge your electric vehicle during a lengthy drive from Palm Springs to Humboldt, EVs have longer ranges than you might expect. For instance, the Tesla Model S and the Model X Long Range provide ranges of 370 and 325 miles, respectively. That means you could drive from Santa Barbara to San Francisco or from Los Angeles to San Diego and back without needing a charge. Being able to cover distances like that in an EV, there’s no need to worry about getting to the grocery store, to work, or going on your next staycation.
Since most Americans only drive between 30 and 40 miles per day, today’s electric vehicles are perfectly equipped to handle a typical daily routine. Plus, with charging stations becoming more accessible every year, there are plenty of opportunities to recharge your batteries when you’re out and about.
Most electric-vehicle owners charge their cars at home, with little disruption from their normal schedules. While remembering to plug it in at the end of the day might take a bit to adapt to, once you’re in the habit, you’ll likely find it more convenient than having to stop at the gas station on your way home.
Many electric vehicles come with a cable that plugs directly into standard wall outlets, offering an easy way to get started if you only plan on driving very short distances each day. This form of charging is incredibly slow, providing about four miles of driving range for every hour the car is connected to the charger. Though it’s the simplest setup, this form of charging isn’t always practical.
Luckily, charging stations make the process much quicker, allowing drivers to cruise about 20 miles for every hour of charge—five times longer than wall outlets allow. Because charging stations are so much more efficient, considering installation ought to be the first step you take toward purchasing an electric car.
Since this is an important step in the process of switching to an electric vehicle, we checked in with a member of our Recommended Business Program*, energy-policy expert Steven Phillips. “It’s not as simple as buying an EV and plugging in at home,” says Steven Phillips, co-owner of A-EV Installs. “Before you spend a single dollar on an electric vehicle, you first need to find out if your home’s electrical system can deliver. The challenge is people are so excited and quick to buy a new Tesla, only to find out they’ve got a $5,000 installation. Installations can be as low as a couple of hundred bucks or several thousand, depending on a number of things. That’s why it’s always best to start with a free consultation.” After installation, it’s as easy as plugging the car in and taking advantage of the full driving range of an EV—making a charging station the go-to method for convenient fueling.
This is one of the most common reasons drivers decide not to switch to all-electric cars, but this myth doesn’t take operating expenses into account. While the price tag of an EV might be a bit higher upfront than its gas-guzzling counterpart, electric vehicles retain their resale value longer and cost less to drive on a daily basis than other vehicles. Fully charging EVs costs considerably less than a whole tank of gas—saving EV owners hundreds or thousands of dollars every year, depending on how far they drive.
Since EVs won’t need to be charged daily with a charging station, relatively little electricity is required to power your automobile. While you should expect a higher monthly electric bill than you currently have, the additional costs are far less expensive than the price you’d pay filling up at the gas station all month long.
In addition to the savings you’ll experience throughout the car’s lifespan, California offers a host of electric vehicle tax credits and incentives that make purchasing an electric vehicle even more plausible. From grants and affordable financing options to tax credits and rebates, the Golden State has several programs to help drivers trade up to eco-friendly vehicles.
Once you schedule a consultation for a home charging station, see which incentives you qualify for, and decide which electric car is ideal for your lifestyle, read our eco-friendly road trip tips to see how you can make an even bigger difference on your next outing. Whether you’ve been dreaming of trading in your low-gas-mileage clunker and taking a Tesla Model Y out on the road or you’re just beginning to see the beauty of electric cars, now’s a great time to explore the possibilities.
*Our Recommended Business Program highlights top-quality California businesses with a demonstrated love for their community. Businesses who meet our criteria are invited to join our program and pay membership fees.
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