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Tech Matters: What to know before you buy an electric car

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Aug 10, 2022

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Leslie Meredith

With gas prices at record highs, more people are interested in buying an electric vehicle, but going electric comes with its own set of challenges and demands new ways of “fueling up.” You can’t just pull into your corner station and fill the tank, which also means you need to think about your driving habits and whether an electric vehicle, or EV, is right for you at this time.

According to a survey by J.D. Powers earlier this year, about 24% of those surveyed said they’d consider buying an electric vehicle, about 4% more than a year ago. Key factors among those who said they were very likely to buy an EV reveal one of the most compelling reasons why the other 76% are hesitant to opt for an EV: ease of charging. Respondents who owned their own home, had a long commute and had access to charging stations at work made up EV enthusiasts. Long commutes mean higher fuel costs that could be reduced by switching to an EV, but without a reliable way to charge the vehicle, going electric just isn’t feasible.

Most new EVs can drive 300 or more miles on a single charge, which sounds pretty good for most drivers and is a big improvement over older EVs. Both the 2022 Chevy Bolt EV and the Tesla Model S have a city/highway MPGe of 120 miles. This figure is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard called miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) to let consumers compare the amount of battery power needed to gallons of gas used to cover the same distance. In other words, if your gas-powered car gets 30 miles to the gallon, you would get four times the mileage from an electric-powered car.

If your tank holds 15 gallons of gas, these days it will cost you more than $70 to fill up, but an 80% charge on an EV battery (the recommended amount) will run you only about $4. You can save a lot in fuel costs, but the time it takes to charge the vehicle can be a problem. Instead of minutes at the pump, you’ll be facing hours in your garage because it takes four to five hours to add another 100 miles of range. Even with a DC fast charger, found at some public charging stations, it will still take at least 20 minutes and up to an hour for a charge.

EV owners will need a home charging station and that’s why homeowners are more open to the idea of an EV. A Level 2 charging station can be installed for around $1,500. The federal government provides a tax credit of up to 30% or $1,000 — whichever is less. Here in Utah, Rocky Mountain Power offers rebates to residential customers when they install approved Level 2 chargers. A list of approved chargers can be found at https://bit.ly/3vSyoT7. Rebates are also available to businesses, communities and multi-unit properties for both Level 2 and DC fast chargers. Employers who offer charging at work is another great solution to the charging problem and makes the decision to go electric easier.

Like with home charging stations, you may also qualify for a tax credit on the purchase of an EV, which can be more expensive than their conventional fuel counterparts. The federal government offers electric-car tax credits of up to $7,500, but the credit is eliminated after the carmaker has sold 200,000 EVs. While Tesla and GM EVs no longer qualify, you’ll find plenty of automakers to choose from at a wide range of price points, including KIA, Ford, Audi, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Rivian and BMW. For the list of qualifiers, visit https://fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml.

Our state also offers incentives for EV owners, who are exempt from motor vehicle emissions inspection requirements. Further, EVs equipped with a Clean Vehicle Pass, available from the Utah Department of Transportation for $10, are permitted to use HOV lanes, regardless of the number of passengers.

If you’ve decided that a new EV is for you, you’ll probably have to wait to drive that car or truck home. A waiting time of over a year is not unusual in today’s market. To shorten the time, you should be ready to be flexible about specifications — you could luck out and walk out of the dealership with a cancellation. But you’ll only know about it if you have connected with your local dealerships to let them know you’re ready to buy.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness, and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.


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