The Cost and Benefits of an Electric Car

Become an informed consumer by weighing an electric car's pros and cons before buying

Whether it's to avoid high gas prices, save the environment or have the chance to drive something new, if you're thinking of buying an electric car, it's important to weigh the pros and cons. Below you'll find details on electric cars, including the differences between hybrid and fully-electric models, to help you make a more informed decision. We also have some tips for buying a car to help you prepare for the cost. Discover the benefits of electric cars below as well as cost and convenience considerations before making a purchase.

Costs of an electric car and other considerations

For many potential buyers, the biggest concern regarding electric cars is range. Depending on the age and model of the car, electric vehicles (EVs) can travel between 40 and 200 miles per charge. While this may do for shorter trips, it can be a concern for those who need to make longer commutes for work, shopping and other necessities. This issue is amplified for those who live in an area without widespread public charging stations or those who need to travel longer distances often.

Plus, while it is possible to charge most electric vehicles directly from a standard wall outlet, most consumers will need to install a charging station in their home to ensure that the vehicle charges quickly and efficiently. Some manufacturers may include a charging station in the purchase price, but costs for a professional installation may vary. Charging at home could also add to your electricity bill, so it's important to check with your electricity provider to find out your kilowatt rate per hour. (Some utility companies offer special deals or incentives for EV owners, so be sure to ask about these as well.)

Charge times may also give some consumers pause. Those who install a charging station may have to wait up to eight hours to charge a completely empty battery. But for someone charging with a standard wall outlet, a complete charge could take up to 20 hours. Plus, while batteries may only need to be replaced a few times over the life of an EV, it can cost thousands of dollars to replace them. If you're thinking of buying an electric car, you may need to set aside additional funds to prepare for this required maintenance.

Benefits of buying electric cars

While there are a number of things to consider before purchasing an EV, there are also a number of benefits to buying an electric car. The first - and most obvious - is a reduced or eliminated need for gasoline. The average American spends between $2,000 and $4,000 each year on gasoline depending on gas prices and annual mileage. In contrast, consumers may expect to spend approximately $500 a year to charge an electric car. Your savings may vary based on the cost to use public charging stations and your kilowatt per hour rate, so be sure to research these factors before making a purchase.

The purchase price for a hybrid or electric vehicle can be steep, but state and federal tax credits or incentives may help bring costs down. The Alternative Fuels Data Center allows users to research their state's laws and incentives regarding electric and alternative fuel vehicles, so you may wish to review this information to see how you could benefit from an EV purchase. Electric vehicles also generally cost less to maintain - electric motors don't need oil changes - an added benefit for electric cars.

Finally, if you're concerned about your carbon footprint, EVs are definitely worth considering. Hybrid and electric cars have few or no emissions, which can help improve air quality in communities both large and small.

Does buying an electric car or hybrid model fit your lifestyle?

Manufacturers are constantly designing new hybrid and electric vehicles to meet growing demand. This means there is an electric car to suit almost every taste. Each option has its own benefits, so it's important to understand which would work best for your lifestyle before you make your purchase.

  • Hybrid: These models feature both an electric motor/battery set and an internal combustion engine (ICE). Most hybrids run primarily on the electric motor; the ICE engages if the batteries are low on power, allowing the driver to continue their journey until they can charge their vehicle again. If you have a long commute, travel long distances frequently or live in an area with few public charging stations, a hybrid may be a good choice.
  • Electric: A completely electric vehicle derives its power from battery packs and an electric motor and is not supported by an ICE. Instead of being partially fueled with gasoline, drivers will need to make sure they plug their cars into a home or public charging station regularly to keep them moving. If you usually drive shorter distances or have easy access to charging stations, buying a fully-electric car may be a good option.

Apply for a bank account at Citizens Bank to plan for and manage the cost of an electric car

Use the information above and your own research to evaluate an electric car's pros and cons. If you're planning on buying an electric car, consider saving for a down payment with the Citizens Bank Circle Gold Banking® package. This set of accounts includes interest checking, as well as a savings and optional money market account to grow your funds. Plus, if you finance part of your car purchase, the easy money transfer functionality of online bill pay lets you set up automatic loan payments so you're never late. For more information about the Circle Gold Banking package or to apply for a bank account, contact a Citizens Bank customer service representative today.


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