Is it worth it to switch to an electric car?



SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The cost to fuel up is hovering just below $7 per gallon across California. Some people are coughing up $100 to fill up their tank.

With little relief in sight, drivers are turning to another option – electric vehicles, or EVs. Although just about 3.5% of all sales are electric, that’s an 80% jump from the year before, according to AAA.

“More Americans are buying electric… And that’s for a lot of reasons,” said John Treanor with AAA. “The pandemic and the microchip shortage seemed to help that. Some states eliminating gas-powered vehicles in the future. Also, really motivated and is motivating large car companies to invest  in electric. So for all of those reasons and likely not wanting to pay that much for gas, people are starting to look electric.”

The nonprofit organization Coltura highlights the benefits of switching to EVs. Their research suggests the savings from switching to EVs are immediate because electricity is much cheaper than gasoline by an average of half the cost.  

“The economics of switching to an EV are really good even for kind of the average driver. So, in California, EV drivers spend about seven cents a mile on fuel, and for a gas car it’s more like 21 cents a mile,” said Janelle London, the co-executive director of Coltura.

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It may save you from spending big bucks at a gas station, but charging up an electric car might not be all that convenient, depending on a few things. While electric cars can be plugged into an ordinary household 110-volt outlet, it may take a while to charge. So you’ll have to find a charging station nearby. There are 100,000 across the U.S.

Many are free, but others cost about $20 or require a membership, and some are more powerful than others. A free charging station may take up to eight hours for a full charge, compared to a superpowered one that would take two hours.

But charging up an EV can be made more convenient with many incentives, depending on where you live. For example, California utilities offer a 30-35% discount for low-income customers, who also can qualify for a free charger with home installation under the ‘New Clean Cars for All’ program.

And although it might still be cheaper to buy a gas guzzler at the moment, there are a ton of stackable tax rebates and grants at the federal, state, and local level to bring the cost down by up to $12,000. Drivers can also save on maintenance because EVs have about 20 parts vs. 2,000 in a gas-powered car. 

Drivers can save another $1,500 to retire an old gas car from the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program. Plus up to $5,000 off the cost of a used EV in some Bay Area cities.

Supply chain issues might be the biggest obstacle right now. And if you can find a new or used EV for sale, it may cost more than usual. Overall, it’s something to consider for people who put a lot of miles on their gas guzzler traveling far and wide.



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