In 2021, a long list of countries from all over the world signed a pledge to move away from traditional vehicles in favor of zero-carbon alternatives by the year 2040 at the COP26 conference. They include the usual suspects (many EU countries, like Sweden and the Netherlands) but also places like Ghana and Uruguay. Some are moving even faster, having adopted a timeline of just a few years.
The US didn’t make the same commitment, although several individual states — New York, California, and Washington — did. That means most US drivers will continue to have the freedom to choose, but what’s the right way to go?
We’ll candidly go over the pros and cons of EVs to help you decide. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so we’ll pack most of the info into handy bullet points from which you can research every consideration more closely.
- Financial Considerations
Let’s face it — the decision-making process will almost entirely play out in the financial domain for most car owners. In this case, weighing the pros and cons means balancing short-term investments and long-term savings. That will take some savvy budgeting, but here are some of the most important things to factor in.
- Because electricity is usually cheaper than gas or diesel, charging your car is likely to be more affordable than filling ‘er up at the gas station.
- Buyers may have access to tax rebates and other incentives that make going electric much more attractive.
- You’ll probably save on maintenance and service costs, because these cars simply have fewer moving parts that can break. Nice!
- If carbon-fueled cars go the way of the dinosaurs, their resale value will quickly plummet while your EV maintains its value.
- The initial purchasing cost of an EV remains much higher. (However, federal tax credits can offset a lot of this extra cost.)
- The batteries degrade over time, so plan on investing in new ones semi-regularly.
- The tech is moving so quickly that you can’t predict your new car’s resale value.
- Practical Factors
You’ll also want to consider the practical aspects of your purchase, because driving your vehicle should be a joy and never a (logistical) nightmare. Things are improving in this area, but some challenges remain — and drivers should definitely be aware of them.
- EVs are practically noiseless while you’re driving. (OK, that’s probably more of an argument for all your neighbors getting them than for you taking the plunge, but imagine the quiet roads of the future!)
- Instant torque gives you a delightfully responsive driving experience.
- Some people will be able to cut out the middleman and consistently charge their cars at home. Convenient!
- Some of these cars have self-driving capabilities, allowing you to chill on your way to work.
- If you live in one of the states or countries that plan to ban gas cars, or you plan to visit these places regularly in the future, going electric makes a lot of sense. You don’t want to make an investment that’s going to be outlawed in the near future!
- Long-distance drivers may not be able to find the infrastructure to charge their cars, although this is rapidly improving as these vehicles of the future become more ubiquitous.
- Charging takes a while, especially at home. If you’ve got 240 volt outlets (which you almost certainly do), that’s a level 2 charge. Because it takes about eight hours, you’ll have to have your vehicle plugged in overnight. However, at supercharging stations, the same operation can be all done in 20 minutes.
- Keep in mind that the batteries drain more quickly in cold weather conditions. This fact could make a zero-emission car a pain if you live somewhere with harsh winters, like Alaska.
- The variety you see with gas vehicles just isn’t there yet. Good luck if you want a semi-truck or SUV.
- Environmental Points
These new vehicle types are lauded for their green qualities, and environmentally conscious people may initially consider opting for an EV solely because they want to reduce their carbon footprints and do their bit for the planet. How eco-friendly are they really?
- These cars don’t produce any tailpipe emissions, so you’ll be zero carbon while you’re on the road.
- You’ll be joining a global “movement” that leads away from reliance on fossil fuels and toward a greener future. Globally, vehicles are among the leading polluters, and more electric options hitting the road can swing the momentum in the other direction.
- There has been a lot of debate about the environmental impact inherent in manufacturing these new cars. These include mining for rare resources and the land use involved in that, processing, and of course transporting vehicles to dealerships.
- Batteries deplete and require replacing — and we haven’t yet found a good way to recycle them. This introduces a potential new pollution source. Some of the components used in these batteries are non-renewable. (However, more sustainable options are being developed.)
- EVs may not emit carbon gasses while you’re driving, but their environmental benefits are only significant if the source of the electricity that powers them is clean, too. If your electricity comes from coal, gas, or oil, you may just be shifting the source of the pollution!
- You’ll have to keep your car charged even if you don’t drive that often, because failing to do so slashes the battery’s lifespan. You don’t have this problem with traditional cars.
- A Final Word
We hope this look at the changing landscape of car ownership has been useful for you — and that it’s shown just how much there is to consider. The way it’s looking right now, the future is electric and self-driving — but internal combustion cars aren’t on their way out just yet.
Will you join the driving revolution and become part of an exciting new chapter in automotive history? Ultimately, only you can answer that question.