15 Important Things to Know Before Buying Your First Electric Vehicle

Getting into the world of electric vehicle ownership is more common than ever in 2024, and the decision can be pretty daunting. People have driven gas-powered cars and trucks for generations; moving toward an all-electric future can be intimidating.

I’m in the market for an EV and have dedicated a lot of research to the subject, so I consider myself an invaluable resource. While buying your first electric vehicle may seem overwhelming, it’s more straightforward than you think. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Battery Range

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Most prospective buyers consider an EV’s battery range the most critical factor. Since gasoline is no longer the most common fuel, knowing how far a typical charge will take you is crucial. Not all EV batteries are created equal, but you’ll pay more for more extended, longer-range batteries.

Target a battery range that approaches 300 miles. That seems like the “sweet spot” regarding overall value while still letting you drive for hours without recharging.

2. Its Expected Depreciation

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In 2024, the EV market is going crazy as manufacturers fight for market share. Many have drastically cut prices on new vehicles, predictably leading to high depreciation on many EV models. That being the case, it may not be the best time to buy a new electric vehicle.

However, leasing a new EV is becoming more attractive every day. Let someone else worry about your new car’s depreciation, and enjoy driving an electric vehicle stress-free.

3. How You’ll Charge It

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Complicating your decision further is figuring out how you’d charge an electric vehicle. Will you install a home charger and rely on your own electricity? Will you rely on public chargers? These are the questions you must ask yourself before purchasing.

Fortunately, manufacturers like Kia, Hyundai, and others offer complimentary charging for the first few years of ownership, which is a great perk.

4. Public Charging Availability

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If you decide to charge your EV using publicly available chargers, you inadvertently open up another can of worms. The infrastructure of public chargers in the United States could be better, to say the least. You’ll need to identify and track down where the closest chargers are.

You may get lucky and find a reliable one near your home or work. However, public charging may be so far away that buying an EV may not be worth the trouble.

5. Cost of Ownership

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While EV owners don’t worry about routine maintenance like oil changes and spark plug replacements, there are still plenty of factors to consider when discussing the cost of ownership. For example, the lifespan of a typical set of tires is dramatically decreased due to the high amount of torque pushed to the wheels of many EVs.

What that means is straightforward: if you have a heavy foot, prepare to pay an arm and a leg in replacement tire costs over your vehicle’s lifespan.

6. Lifestyle Changes

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Make no mistake: your day-to-day life will dramatically change if you pull the trigger and buy an electric vehicle. You’ll suffer from range anxiety (the fear of running out of battery), and you’ll inevitably be overly protective about your new toy. Plus, you’ll be faced with being an early adopter. Who knows how the industry will change in a few years?

Ultimately, every prospective owner must ask themselves if they can handle significant lifestyle changes.

7. Insurance Costs

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Conventional wisdom suggests that the myriad safety features and technological advances found in EVs would make their relative insurance costs vastly more affordable than those of their gasoline-powered counterparts. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

In 2024, EV repairs are prohibitively expensive. Parts and labor are expensive, and those potential costs are passed along to you, the owner, in the form of ever-increasing insurance rates.

8. The Warranty

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As exciting as owning an electric vehicle is, the industry is still in its infancy, resulting in a fuzzy future regarding current technology found in electric cars and trucks. It’s essential to have a clear, comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty on any new EV purchase.

Thankfully, most automakers provide generous warranties that cover EV-exclusive aspects like batteries and tech features, but who knows how long these manufacturers will extend something so valuable for free?

9. Dealing With Dealerships

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Although companies like Tesla have embraced a direct-to-consumer model for selling their EVs, not all manufacturers have followed suit. Of course, this means being at the mercy of individual car dealerships when searching for your next vehicle.

Many people have sworn off going to a dealership again, and I don’t blame them. I’ve encountered many dealerships that lack customer service. Unfortunately, if you want to forego the dealership experience, you really have only one option: Tesla.

10. Differences in Trim Levels

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In the never-ending race to extract as much money from buyers’ pockets as possible, EV manufacturers offer many different trim levels for each model they sell. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the differences between each. Buyers are often surprised to discover that many “base model” EVs have an alarming lack of amenities.

Although EVs are as high-tech as they come, you still have to pay a premium for the latest creature comforts, such as heated/ventilated seats, wireless smartphone charging, and other bells and whistles routinely found in most non-electric vehicles.

11. Its Popularity

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Sometimes, you don’t want to “keep up with the Joneses” and drive the same car everybody else drives. That’s okay. However, suppose you live in California and feel this way. In that case, that means you’re crossing any Tesla off your list of prospective purchases. I lived in San Diego for a decade, and it seemed like everyone drove a Tesla.

Offerings from companies like Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Ford are impressive EVs in their own right. They can easily make any driver stand out in a crowd.

12. Possible Infotainment Issues

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If you’re anything like me, you’re hopelessly addicted to Android Auto, the in-car interface that allows you to use your phone to power your vehicle’s infotainment screen. (Apple offers a similar solution with Apple CarPlay.) However, not all EVs have this capability, so purchasing a car from Tesla (for example) means you’ll be without a convenient feature you’re used to.

However, the EV world is fiercely competitive, and many manufacturers develop proprietary user interfaces. Ultimately, it’s a “buyer beware” situation.

13. The Manufacturer’s Reputation

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Many EV manufacturers have popped up in the last decade or so with varying degrees of success. None are more successful than Tesla, so buying a car from Elon Musk is a dependable investment. Unfortunately, purchasing an EV from Fisker, on the other hand, is risky, considering they are reportedly on the brink of bankruptcy.

Sometimes, prospective buyers must make tough decisions. Still, in most cases, sticking with well-established EV makers is the easiest.

14. Road Trip Issues

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Suppose you’re someone who loves to drive the open road in search of endless adventures on a full tank of gas. In that case, you’re most likely giving that up when you agree to jump into the world of electric vehicles! While road trips are possible with EVs, there will be a definite adjustment period.

It’s not as easy as stopping at a gas station to fill up your tank during road trips. Instead, you must search for a public charging station, start the process (assuming no other EVs are using the charger), and wait. It’s not uncommon for EV drivers to take up to an hour to sufficiently charge their vehicles.

15. Used vs. New

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Thanks to the aforementioned depreciation issues EVs currently face, there is a wide difference between buying new and used. Do you want the peace of mind of purchasing a new car with a full warranty? Or do you want to save your hard-earned money and buy an electric vehicle that’s only a few years old?

Both options have trade-offs, and you’re the only one who can answer the “new vs. used” question in the end.

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