How To Buy An Electric Vehicle: The Ultimate Guide


Deciding to buy an electric vehicle can be a difficult decision. There are many electric vehicle manufacturers and models on the market, so it’s crucial to have all the information you need before purchasing one. 

Buying an electric vehicle is influenced by several factors, especially if it is a first-time purchase. The range of the vehicle should be taken into consideration, along with its battery power and the infrastructure that is available to power it, as well as the features it offers.

If you’re interested in going electric, this guide will provide helpful tips for buyers who want to make an informed purchase of electric vehicles. 

How to Buy an Electric Vehicle

If you would like to make the transition from a traditional vehicle to an electric one, the path can be very straightforward. It may involve a lot of time spent on research and deciding on the best one, but as long as you know how to go about it, the process will be much more simplified.

Let’s take a look at what you should think about before you proceed with the purchase, the factors that should help you choose the right one, and how to make the purchase when the time is right.

What to Consider Before Buying An Electric Vehicle

Buying an electric vehicle can be a huge change, and several factors should be taken into consideration when you’re deciding on the right one for you.

Research

This stage may become one of the lengthier parts of the process, but it will also be the most helpful, especially if you’re a first-time electric vehicle buyer. The research will assist you with the transition from gas to electricity; this will help you feel more prepared to take this step when the time comes. 

Your main goal should be to research the part with the numbers. Make sure the funds you have available are enough to cover your list of needs and, more than that, you should know precisely what you’re investing in and why that will be the best investment.

Your priority during this stage can also be to get as much value for your money as possible. An electric vehicle is an investment, but it can be a very long-standing and rewarding one.

Financial Incentives

Many governments and state agencies offer financial incentives to those seeking to transition from fuel to electricity. These incentives will usually depend on what the states can offer, and they will vary depending on the type of vehicle, too, so you should get a lot of information about what is available to you.

Incentives can significantly reduce the financial strain that can come with purchasing an electric vehicle, so they’re great to keep in mind when planning for this purchase.

These are the three main types of incentives that you are most likely to encounter during your journey to purchasing an electric vehicle:

  • Credit: If your preferred electric vehicle is from one of the brands considered to qualify by the federal government, you can get a tax credit of up to $7,500. This can cover a nice chunk of the savings you’ll have invested in the vehicle. Hybrids can be considered for this too, but the amount may be smaller.
  • Cash: You may have to do some digging for this one, but the results can be beneficial. State and local governments may offer different incentives that you could apply for, and some electricity companies are looking to sponsor transitions to electric vehicles with cash incentives too.
  • Local: These are not usually directly financial, but they can still help with perks such as free parking for electric vehicles, free use of the charging infrastructure, and access to carpool lanes. 

Financing Options

Suppose you’d like to not depend only on potential incentives and paying the full price at once. In that case, you can consider financing options that are available for the purchase of electric vehicles. If you know ahead of time what these are, you can make a more informed decision about the car that you will end up selecting.

There are three main options for financing. If you are eligible, you can apply for a loan that will cover either the total amount or a part of the price of the car. This has the usual drawbacks of potentially getting charged interest and having to pay it off for an extended period. 

A loan may end up with you paying more than the original price for the electric vehicle, but it can also help if you cannot buy it otherwise, especially if you find a good financial plan. 

You could also choose to lease an electric vehicle. This has been a standard option for car owners looking to transition to electric power because these vehicles can be a considerable investment. Not all electric vehicles will offer a lease plan, but plenty do, so you won’t have to feel like you’re sacrificing options.

Leasing an electric vehicle entails that you will be paying to drive the car under a financial agreement, but without building toward owning it. At the end of the lease agreement, the electric vehicle is returned to the manufacturer. There can also be an option to purchase the vehicle for the remaining amount.

You can also buy your new electric vehicle either outright or with a monthly arrangement in place. This may be the wisest plan if you’re looking to have full ownership of the vehicle, but it’s only available to those with the means for it.

Electricity Costs

Before purchasing an electric vehicle, you should consider the costs of electricity in your area. You should be aware of what it entails to charge an electric vehicle and what that will add to your utility bills in the long run.

Electricity costs will vary significantly between states. It averages at about 13.28 cents per kilowatt-hour but can go from the low price of 9.5 in Louisiana to the heights of 19.79 in the state of California. These differences can cause significant additions to your bill, but you should also consider that you will now be saving a considerable amount on gas.

If you’d like to use your electric vehicle as efficiently as possible and as cheaply as possible, you should charge it at home as much as you can and be aware if your area is affected by peak times when electricity is more expensive. If you can, you should avoid those and charge only during the off-peak moments.

You should also check in with your electricity provider to make sure you are getting the best tariff. Many of them now offer tariffs that specifically include electric vehicles and the infrastructure required for them.

Maintenance

Electric vehicles need to be maintained, but they are slightly different from other cars. What you should know from the start is that they usually require much less maintenance than traditional cars. Electric vehicles don’t need to have oil changes, and the brakes are helped by regeneration.

To add to that, electric vehicle batteries rarely need to be replaced, and most warranties cover them for eight years or 100,000 miles. This can help reduce maintenance costs drastically, especially in comparison to traditional gas-powered cars.

Lifestyle

One of the most important aspects to consider before you opt for a transition to an electric vehicle is whether it fits your lifestyle. Many electric cars have suitable ranges per charge, but you may have to take some time to adapt to the need for charging your car and depending on that system, especially on longer trips.

There is more variety for electric vehicles than before, but some options are still limited or currently in the works, like minivans and pick-up trucks. If you have a large family, you may find that there isn’t enough space for everyone. You can also be affected by this if you require a lot of storage space on a routine basis.

Infrastructure

The best way to charge an electric vehicle is at home because you can leave it plugged in overnight and have it ready to go. This may require some changes around the garage. You can plug your car into standard wall outlets, but if you use a lot of range, you will need to opt for a 240-volt outlet that will have to be installed by an electrician at an added cost.

You can also have one of these outlets installed outside if you don’t have garage space, but make sure it’s all suitable for outdoor use. You should also find out where the charging stations in your area are to make sure that you are covered when you’re on the go.

How to Choose an Electric Vehicle

Choosing an electric vehicle to buy can seem like a daunting prospect, especially now that there are more options than ever, with new ones added all the time. Let’s take a look at factors to think about when choosing an electric car.

Type

Electric vehicles currently available on the market usually come in one of three types. Here is how they differ from each other:

  • Hydrogen fuel cell: These vehicles are powered by the fusion of hydrogen and oxygen and do not need to be recharged. Their range usually goes up to 300 to 350 miles, and they handle similarly to traditional cars.
  • Fully electric: These vehicles have zero emissions, and they get all their power from rechargeable batteries. The batteries can be recharged at home or at charging stations on the road.
  • Plug-in hybrid: An excellent combination for those looking to transition slowly to electric, these vehicles use both a battery and an electric motor. You can use some electric power and then switch to the engine to get the best of both worlds.

Range

You may have already noticed the importance of range when it comes to choosing electric vehicles. Range refers to the distance an electric car can do on a single charge. The more that it can last, the better, especially if you need to frequently take long trips and don’t want to constantly worry about recharging your car.

When considering options for your electric vehicle, you should always make sure that the range suits your needs. Calculate how much you drive per day and keep that number in mind as you look at the ranges on offer. 

The range of electric cars has improved dramatically in the past decade, but it should still be an essential factor during the decision-making process. If you live in an urban area, a smaller range will be acceptable, but if you have long commutes ahead, you will want to go for as much as possible.

At the moment, most electric vehicles on the market have over 200 miles of range. Tesla is, for now, the only company offering over 300, but that increased range comes at a premium price.

How to Get an Electric Vehicle

Now that you’ve prepared for the transition and chosen your ideal electric vehicle, it’s time to go ahead and buy one. This may be an intricate process, depending on your choice, and we’ll weigh what options you’ll face when attempting to locate the vehicle below.

Locate It

Many electric vehicle manufacturers will stay away from producing them in bulk. This may cause limited stocks and increased waiting times for one to become available. If you want to opt for a car that has not yet been released or is coming from overseas, you may find yourself on a waiting list for an extended period. 

Having to wait for an electric vehicle isn’t always a problem. Some manufacturers, like Volkswagen, will allow you to tell them about your exact specifications for an electric vehicle, and they will produce it for you. In this case, in particular, the wait is worth it for a personalized vehicle that is made with your needs in mind.

Many dealerships will have test models that can allow you to familiarize yourself with your chosen vehicle. You will be able to see if the infrastructure you’ve created at your house works with it while you wait for your vehicle to be delivered.

Add Extras

Once you have your electric vehicle, you’ll most likely want to think about adding insurance to it. An extended warranty will usually give you the best long-term benefits unless you’re leasing. 

You can also consider adding extras like coverage for windshield repairs, wheel and tire damage, and comprehensive wear and tear. These might be costly and not always necessary, so you should carefully think about what you’d like.

If you are buying the car and you have some funds left for it, gap insurance is a great idea for your protection in case extreme depreciation occurs. If that happens, you may find yourself paying more than the car is worth in case a replacement is needed. Insurance providers will be able to help with advice on covering all your bases here.

How to Buy a Used Electric Vehicle

Buying used electric vehicles can save you a lot of money. If you buy electric cars direct from the dealership, expect to pay at least $20,000 or more for one that’s less than two years old. However, if you go through online listings or dealership offers, you can find decent deals for cars in great condition.

Buying a used electric car can be tricky, but there are some things you should look for when purchasing one. Here are a few key tips to ensure you’re buying a good deal.

  • Check that the battery is in working order and has not been tampered with or replaced.  
  • Ask if the vehicle has undergone any testing, such as an emissions test or smog check before purchase. If it’s been tested, ask for the results of those tests and make sure they’re still valid. 
  • Ask about warranty and guarantee policies from both the seller and manufacturer on parts like brakes and tires. Read all warranties carefully to ensure the coverage is what you need it to be and for the required duration.
  • Check for any major dents or scratches on the exterior of the vehicle. These can lead to rusting over time and indicate that this was a frequently used car before purchase. Hints of frequent use could point to further deterioration with the car, so you should do a thorough sweep.

If you can, you should also test-drive a used electric car whenever possible. This will give you the chance to inspect how it behaves and how it responds to you on the road, which will show you its full form more than any other test. Keep an eye out for deals on used electric cars, and you might find a fantastic vehicle for an unbelievable price.

How to Buy Electric Car from China

The Chinese automobile industry is enormous, and it usually puts out more than twice as many cars as the American one. This general output has affected the release of Chinese electric vehicles too, with many of them already breaking into the Western markets and plenty more soon to follow. 

It seems likely that Chinese electric vehicles will become Tesla’s main competition. Let’s take a look below at some of the most popular Chinese electric car brands that are already available on the Western market and some upcoming ones that are set to arrive in the states imminently. Considering non-Western alternatives will broaden your electric car purchase options, and you don’t even need to shop across the pond to do so!

NIO

If you are a Formula E enthusiast, you may have heard of this brand before, but it is generally gaining popularity at a steady pace outside of China. Its current best offering for the Western market is the EP9 hypercar, an electric take on the two-seat sports car. 

The NIO EP9 has a range of 265 miles (427 km). It is powered by lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor. If you’re interested in an NIO electric vehicle that is more suited to everyday use, the brand is planning a full launch in Europe this year, which will bring choices like the ES6 SUV. 

NIO is also planning to challenge Tesla by working on the future release of the ET7 sedan, which aims to include a battery pack that can reach 150kWh. This would allow for a range of 621 miles (1000 km), setting new records.

BAIC/BJEV

This is a lesser-known brand, but it ranks third in sales of electric vehicles per hour. BAIC is very slowly breaking into the Western markets without offering a date for a full launch. Nevertheless, it has announced that it will soon release the ECF SUV and the GT electric supercar in Europe.

The ECF SUV belongs to the BAIC luxury brand Arcfox. It has a range of up to 372 miles (600 km), and it stands out for its aesthetic qualities, thanks to the work of designer Walter de Silva, known for his skills during his time as head of design at Volkswagen.

Two versions of the GT electric supercar from Arcfox are also planned to be released in 2021. Designed by Walter de Silva as well, one version is designed for racetrack use only, while the other is road-ready. 

The road-ready design has a range of 240 to 434 miles (400 to 700km), which will be influenced by the battery pack size. The pandemic delayed these BAIC releases, but they are expected to hit Western markets by the end of the year.

BYD

This is the brand that sells the second most electric vehicles per hour and is quickly gaining an advantage. While Tesla, the top seller, sees 42 electric cars get sold every hour, BYD follows with 26. 

BYD has plenty to offer and has become a huge hit in the market. Its current most popular models are the Han and the Tang. The Han was recently released to raving reviews in China. It is similar in performance and stature to the Tesla Model 3, and it has a plug-in hybrid version too. It uses lithium iron phosphate batteries.

The Han has not been released for sale outside of China yet, but it seems likely that an announcement about that will soon be made. The other BYD bestseller, the Tang, has a 313-mile range and can already be found on the streets of Europe, and it’ll be a great hit with fans of the Tesla Models Y and X.

Wuling

This is the brand behind the car topping the sales charts in China: the HongGuang Mini EV. This amazingly affordable car is excellent for city living. It has a range of 124 miles per charge, it’s compact, and it reaches speeds of 62mph. For its $4600 price, it offers plenty of convenience to drivers in urban areas.

While Wuling has not announced sales for their bestseller outside of China yet, it has opened the door to new possibilities of what can be achieved with electric vehicles.

Xpeng

Xpeng is currently breaking ground in Europe, testing some of its models on the roads of Norway in preparation to make them available for purchase to American markets too. The P7 four-door sedan is one of its most popular offerings, with ranges between 349 and 439 miles across its three versions. 

Next in line from Xpeng in terms of popularity is the G3 SUV, which has a 282-mile range. This model has also been made available in Europe and is expected to soon break into more international markets.

SAIC/MG

SAIC’s Chinese models are not well-known in the rest of the world, but they have enjoyed a great deal of success in the Western world following their purchase of MG Motor UK. The brand is committed to releasing a wide range of electric vehicle models.

MG has already released the first fully electric station wagon, the MG5 EV, and the MG ZS EV is an excellent budget choice that offers terrific value. A compact and cheap electric vehicle is planned, and the E-Motion vehicle is set to bring some flair to the industry, whether or not it will end up including its designed gull wings.

Aiways

Despite being a much smaller brand than the others included in this category, Aiways has already made itself known in Europe through its U5 SUV model. The U5 is currently available as a rental car on the island of Corsica, in France, thanks to the partnership between Aiways and Hertz. 

The Aiways U5 SUV has 204 horsepower and reaches a range of up to 250 miles, which is more than suitable for Corsica. Orders can be made from other places in Europe, but the brand has not yet announced further plans regarding other international markets.

The Aiways brand is known for its affordability and practicality. It doesn’t make huge sales numbers, with only some 100 electric vehicles being sold in China per month, but it is making a name for itself regarding electric SUVs and convenience.

Conclusion

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular for the many benefits they offer, but buying them can be challenging. This guide is here to help you navigate that process, from the used vehicles to the newest ones currently in production. Before buying you should spend time considering all the options, and carefully choose the best one for you.

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