Although electric vehicles (EVs) make up a mere sliver of the total car market, this trend is changing. Advances in battery technology and an increasingly robust charging infrastructure are making electric cars more appealing than ever.
By 2025, there are expected to be 36 million EVs on the roads in North America.
Electric Vehicle Considerations
Many of the major automakers now feature an electric vehicle in their lineup, including Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, Chevy, and Jaguar. When shopping for the ideal EV for a given driver, there are many things to consider.
Electric Vehicle Range
What are your transportation needs? Do you tend to go on long trips over the weekend or do you stick pretty close to home? This is important when purchasing an electric vehicle because it is ideal to have a car that serves your needs a vast majority of the time. There are now electric vehicles on the market with ranges above 200 miles.
Some EV owners rent a car occasionally when they need a longer range, or they find ways to charge while on the road. Some households have two or more cars and can swap around as needed to accommodate for range limitations.
Associated EV Costs and Emissions
Electric vehicles are now affordable to many car shoppers. Although the upfront cost is still typically more than a comparable gasoline-powered car, they do generally have lower operating costs because they run on electricity rather than gas. The exact cost per mile depends on the rate of your electricity and the efficiency of the car itself.
Keep in mind that some utilities offer lower rates at night when people are likely to charge their vehicles.
EV drivers will pay less in Louisiana, Washington, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Kentucky, for example, than drivers in Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, Alaska, and Connecticut because of the cost difference of the power. The price of gasoline also varies by location and tends to fluctuate more than the cost of electricity.
Also, the emissions associated with the electricity varies by source. EV owners who live in areas where much of their electricity is generated by fossil fuels may opt to install a solar system so they can run the vehicle with clean energy.
Federal Tax Credit for New Electric Vehicles
EV buyers can take advantage of a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing an electric vehicle. Tax credits are more valuable to taxpayers than write-offs because they result in a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes owed. That means that a $7,500 tax credit reduces your tax liability by $7,500. Speak to your tax preparer to get more information on how to benefit from a tax credit on your taxes.
Keep in mind that used electric vehicles do not qualify for the tax credit. Also, the tax credit doesn’t result in instant savings, as you will benefit from the credit after you file your taxes, which is probably months after purchasing the vehicle.
Driving an all-electric vehicle requires vehicle charging. Because home charging is so convenient, most EV owners do more than 80 percent of their total charging at home. This might change as more rapid chargers are available for EV drivers on the go, taking as little as 30 minutes to charge.
Knowing the charging options where you drive can help you determine what range you need from an electric vehicle, especially if you tend to drive longer distances.
It is possible to charge most electric vehicles with a 120-volt plug, but this takes many hours. Some EV drivers install a Level 2 charging station at home for faster charging.
Which Electric Vehicles Are Greenest?
When shopping for an EV, how can you determine which are the greenest choices among the leading cars on the market? There are a few criteria we can use to find the greenest EVs. Unfortunately, electric vehicles do typically produce more greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing process than gasoline-powered cars due to the batteries and the energy intensity of the manufacturing process. Plants that operate in areas with cleaner power will, therefore, produce greener cars.
Newsweek Green Rankings examines large companies based on energy, waste, water, and carbon productivity. Another criterion is how efficiently a given model uses electricity because this impacts the energy needed to operate the vehicle. This is a relatively difficult computation to make, but we partially ranked 2018 electric vehicles by the miles per kWh of electricity they consume, compliments of calculations by GreenTechnica.com.
Hyundai Ioniq EV
Hyundai has come out with an impressive line of green cars and the company got a high ranking from Newsweek Green Rankings, especially for energy productivity. The Ioniq EV is also considered the most efficient electric vehicle on the market, although it has a relatively limited range. With a 28 kWh battery, it travels 4.46 miles per kWh of electricity.
Although Chevy is known for producing gas-guzzling cars, General Motors is producing some high-quality electric vehicles. The Bolt is manufactured in Michigan, where half of the plant is powered by solar energy or landfill gas. The company received a Newsweek Green Ranking of #253 among the top 500 global companies and high scores in its water productivity. The Chevy Bolt is also a very impressive car due to its long range and relative efficiency. The 60 kWh battery can travel nearly 4 miles per kWh.
Tesla Model 3
Tesla is installing the world’s largest solar rooftop system at the Gigawatt manufacturing facility in Nevada. The battery manufacturing plant will be 100 percent solar powered and have on-site recycling. The rest of the manufacturing takes place in California and uses relatively clean grid electricity. The Model 3 itself is equally impressive by combining both rapid acceleration and efficiency. Its 72 kWh battery gets nearly 4 miles per kWh.
Nissan has an impressive lineup of efficient cars. The company is also known for being relatively efficient with waste but needs to make some water conservation improvements. The new and improved 2019 Leaf has a range of 150 miles, and the 38 kWh battery gets nearly 4 miles per kWh of energy.
Kia Soul EV
With a Newsweek Green Ranking of #338 among the top 500 global companies, Kia is a moderately green company with some fuel-efficient vehicles. The company is also rolling out solar roofs on some models that can boost car efficiency. The Soul EV is an electric version of a popular compact car that has a decent amount of cargo space and a roomy cabin but also has a relatively short range. Drivers enjoy that it has very little engine noise and the moderate price.
As news about the BMW diesel emissions cheating grows, trust in this brand as a green leader has waned. The i3 scores points for looks and interior but had been criticized for its limited range, which is improving. Its 27.2 kWh gets a bit under 4 miles per kWh.
With gas-guzzling vehicles like the Land Rover, Jaguar does not have a strong environmental reputation. Although the I-Pace is praised for rapid acceleration, it isn’t as efficient as other EVs on the market. With an 85 kWh battery, the I-Pace gets just under 3 miles per kWh.