On March 31, 2016, Tesla introduced its Model 3 all-electric car and began taking reservations for the new model scheduled to start production in mid-2017, with delivery to dealerships beginning by the end of the year. With a base MSRP of $35,000 before government incentives, it’s the lowest priced car in the Tesla lineup and is expected to have an electric range of a little more than 200 miles. One week after the introduction, Tesla had received more than 325,000 reservations, totaling an estimated $14 billion in implied future sales, which Tesla feels makes it the biggest product launch ever.
While many have caught the fever for electric vehicles (EVs), you may be wondering if it’s the right choice for you and your family. Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide.
- Save on gas. For many, this is the main benefit of an electric car. How much money will it save you? It depends on your driving habits, but the average American spends between $2,000 and $4,000 on gas each year, according to AutoTrader.
- Lessen your environmental impact. Electric cars emit zero emissions while driving, and the emissions over the car’s lifetime are an estimated one-half of their gas-powered counterparts, according to a 2015 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Reap tax benefits. Federal tax credits for an all-electric or plug-in hybrid car can be as much as $7,500. State or local incentives may also be available. This can bring the cost of buying your new vehicle down considerably—often lower than a gas-powered equivalent.
- Save on maintenance. With fewer moving parts than a combustion engine, EVs can be less costly to maintain.
- Enjoy performance. It may surprise you, but many reviewers report that driving an electric car is fun, particularly because of its extremely fast acceleration capabilities.
- Limited driving distance. Range anxiety is the fear of your battery running out of charge while not in range of a charging station. Most electric cars have a range of about 80 to 110 miles per charge, according to Edmunds. If your daily commute to and from work is more than that, an EV probably isn’t a practical solution, unless your at-work parking offers a charging station. In general, driving an EV requires more planning to be sure that your battery has enough charge to get you to and from your destination safely.
- Cost of charging. While you may be able to find free charging at some retailers and parking garages, for the most part, you’ll have to pay for the electricity to use a retail or home charging station.
- Home charging station costs. You’ll likely want the convenience of a home charging station, unless you live in a condominium or apartment complex that already has one. Home charging station installation costs vary, but are estimated to be about $500 to $1,500, according to Edmunds.
- Battery replacement. While batteries are predicted to last up to a decade, they do lose their charge over time. Replacing a battery is costly for now, often estimated in the thousands of dollars.
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While electric cars aren’t for everybody, their popularity is undoubtedly on the rise. If you’re in the market for an electric, hybrid or traditional gas-powered car, get an auto loan pre-approval at Navy Federal Credit Union before you shop, so you know exactly how much you can afford to spend. It can give you additional buying power and keep the amount you spend within your means.