Have You Considered Buying an Electric Car?

The following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Kevin Mercadante, who is a professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry.

If you know much about electric cars, then you know that the technology hasn’t entirely been perfected. They lack the power of gas-powered cars, they tend to be on the small size (commuter cars for the most part), and perhaps most disappointing here in the US, they have very limited range.

But as the years pass, the technology is improving, if only slowly, and the prices are becoming more reasonable in relation to conventional vehicles. Is it time to consider an electric car, even if they aren’t perfect?


Why now might be a good time to buy an electric car

Despite the limitations of electric cars, there are some strong advantages to owning one even now. This is especially true if you don’t drive great distances, and tend to keep your driving to less than 100 miles a day. If that describes your driving habits, here are some benefits to consider:

Saving money on gas. This is the most obvious and tangible benefit of owning an electric car. At current prices, if you are buying 15 gallons of gas to operate your vehicle every week (or driving about 300 miles per week), then you’re spending over $50 per week on fuel. That’s over $2,600 per year that you won’t have to pay if you have an electric car. Sure, your electric bill will increase to cover the cost of charging your car, but it won’t approach the amount of money you are currently paying for gasoline.

Protecting the environment. Since emissions from gas-powered cars are the leading source of air pollution, you’ll be doing your part to clean up the environment by driving an electric car. There is some environmental impact from the electricity that is being used to power your car, but since much of that comes from hydroelectric and nuclear power – an increasing amounts from solar and wind – the negative impact will be far less than for gas-powered cars.

Avoiding the worst of the next gas crisis/price spike. You’ll the counting your blessings if another gas crisis or major price spike hits and you already have an electric car. As a result, you will miss the worst effects of the rise in the price of fuel, but also of the endless hours waiting in line for a reduced amount of gas (we had that situation here in Atlanta in 2008, but it also happened twice in the 1970s). At a minimum, an electric car will allow you to get to and from work so that you will be able to earn a paycheck during the worst of crisis.

Getting in ahead of the herd. If some sort of gas crisis does occur – and you shouldn’t bet against it – an electric car may turn out to be a strategic asset. The price of these cars will soar as gasoline prices rise, but since you purchased yours already, you will have one in the lower price.


Electric car prices are falling steadily

As the technology improves and electric cars gain popularity and sales, prices on them are coming into line with that of conventional vehicles. While they are still more expensive than comparable economy cars, electrics are now reasonably priced compared to other vehicle types. If you are looking at full-sized cars, luxury cars, or SUVs, you may want to take a look at electrics. They can be less expensive, and provide many or all of the benefits listed above.

As a way to increase sales of electric cars, some manufacturers have even cut their prices, or are offering preferred financing deals, and even selling the cars at a loss. They see electrics as the wave of the future and worth subsidizing for the time being.

According to Kelly Blue Book, here are prices for five popular electric vehicles:

  • 2014 Chevy Spark EV $29,650
  • 2013 Nissan Leaf $27,495
  • 2013 Fiat 500e EV $32,600
  • 2013 Ford Focus EV $35,995
  • 2014 Chevrolet Volt $39,995

Admittedly, these prices will rise with the addition of certain options. And electric cars are not without their limitations. The Nissan Leaf is unable to drive as many as 100 miles per day (a common limitation of electrics) and may not work if your job is upwards of 50 miles from home, or you like to go on long trips.

But all limitations notwithstanding, electric cars offer certain undeniable advantages. And as prices come into range with other vehicle types, those advantages become worth paying for.

How about you all? What do you think about electric cars? Has the time finally come? Or, do you think that the technology and price structure still need more time?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/chryslergroup/8229193772/sizes/