🌎⚡️ The best EV you can buy is...
One that's not enormous
The best electric vehicle you can buy.
The best electric vehicle you can buy is an e-bike.
Better yet, get a bus pass.
But we’re gathered here (in this specific article, at least) to talk about cars, so let’s do this.
The best electric vehicle is the most reasonably-sized electric vehicle you can afford.
Great news: There’s more options, better options, and more tax credits — and soon, point-of-sale discounts — available than ever before.
As of 2023, transportation still represents about 30% of total US emissions, so electrifying every vehicle (and reducing the number of vehicles in total) will go a long way towards decarbonizing your footprint, and the world.
What To Consider
⚡️ Your budget and IRA tax credits
⚡️ How and where you’ll charge your new EV
⚡️ Your specific range needs
⚡️ Electric car maintenance costs vs gas
What are the advantages of electric vehicles?
The benefits of electric cars
Good lord, where do I start?
Is it zeroing out your transportation emissions forever? Sure!
Is it how little maintenance they require? Maybe!
Is it that they have way fewer parts to break, like radiators, exhaust, or catalytic converts? Could be!
Is it more room in the car because they don’t have any of those things? Yep!
Is it better handling because of the enormous battery below the floor? Sure again!
Remember oil changes? Bye, Felicia!
Is it lower lifetime costs because of everything above? YEP.
EV’s use batteries and electric motors to zip the car around — and I do not use “zip” lightly here, friends, with 100% of EV’s power available instantly — instead of BURNING FUEL INCHES FROM YOUR LAP in a complex combustion engine.
Let’s talk grid emissions potatoes
As long as your regional grid is still pumping the dirty stuff, EV’s are going to have some skeletons in the closet.
But it’s still way better than gasoline powered vehicles, and it’s why building home solar, community solar, onshore and offshore wind, geothermal anywhere, short and long-duration batteries, and a metric shit-ton of HD transmission lines is pretty vital to decarbonizing the whole enchilada.
2023 Kia EV6 ($48,700-$61,600) Top-rated (91) at Consumer Reports and stylish as hell. The EV6 — and our other pick, below — are the tip of the spear for the Hyundai Motor Group’s EV revolution. It’s quiet, fast, capable of fast charging, got a 274 mile range, and 5 comfy seats.
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 ($41,450-$54,500) If every car looks the same now, the Ioniq 5 decidedly does not — it’s a minimalist and sexy hatchback and I want one. It’s got fast charging and less-annoying regenerative braking than competitors. Drive with 266-303 miles of range, depending on the model. Consumer Reports readers rated it one of their “Most Satisfying” cars.
*price at time of publication
How to Shop for an EV
In addition to our recommendations, there’s a growing variety of excellent choices. Huzzah! Thankfully, there’s also a number of reputable sites available to help you shop and filter cars based on manufacturer, model, type of EV, range, and other criteria.
PlugStar Shopping Assistant Drill down on your preferred option using a bunch of criteria, including where and when you plan to charge up.
PG&E’s EV Savings Calculator Provides relative cost savings versus equivalent gasoline cars over ten years (note: incentive pricing listed is California-specific)
Department of Energy’s Find and Compare Cars Check out MPGe (miles-per-gallon-equivalents) and total range for current and older, helpful for shopping for used cars.
EV Life Plug in your zip code to price out cars with all levels of incentives (and don’t miss their new EV Climate Loan — front your tax credits and rebates and save up to $200/month on financing).
MyEV Used EV’s for sale, searchable by zip code.
Is an electric car better than a hybrid?
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV’s) have both gasoline engines and batteries and electric motors, working together in some unholy combination to drive the car.
I’m kidding! It’s pretty simple, for your purposes.
PHEV’s usually drive a certain distance on the battery, and then the gas kicks in, if you need it, but for day to day purposes, you probably won’t.
So you plug them in to charge wherever is most convenient for you, and also fill up the tank at a gas station.
Electric vehicles (EV’s) run fully on batteries. No engine, no gas, can be recharged wherever is most convenient for you, whenever you need it.
Which brings me to the inevitable next question.
How much range do you need?
There’s so many EV options on the market now — and more coming every day. Most come with a range of over 200 miles, which is roughly comparable to a tank of gasoline. Range anxiety really isn’t a thing.
But if you do the math on your daily or weekly mileage, and have got the cheddar to spend a little more, you can get something with more range.
Big Questions To Ask
This guy again
How many years will an electric car last?
The cars should last as long as you need them. But what you’re really asking is “How long will the battery last?”
Concerns about EV batteries wearing out and requiring replacements have turned out to basically be a non-issue. Most batteries last the life of the car.
One estimate states that on average, batteries lost about 2.3% of their capacity every year, which means a 150-mile range car might lose 17 miles over five years (you can compare model degradation here).
Good news: the Feds mandate EV battery warranties at eight years or 100,000 miles. Some manufacturers will replace the battery if it reaches a specified reduced capacity percentage — usually 60%-70% — while under warranty.
The warranty for the rest of the vehicle varies by manufacturer. Ask them what’s up.
Do electric cars do well in cold weather?
Batteries, like humans, prefer temperate climates. Think 70°F. At both lower and higher temps, the range decreases a bit. Again, you can use Geotab’s helpful Temperature Tool for EV Range to check how the cars you’re considering perform as you slide the temperature up and down.
EV’s can’t change the weather (but they can change the climate, ahem), but they are are smart, and getting smarter. Most EV’s include a thermal battery management system to keep temps around that goldilocks 70°F. Many also use heat pumps to more efficiently cool and heat the interior, natch.
If you’ve ever drifted into a gas station on fumes, you know the emergency move is to kill everything you don’t need, like the A/C, like your Captain Picard rerouting power to the forward shields.
And since space heating is a big part of battery needs, some tips for extending range include:
Use heated seats and steering wheel. One, what a delight. Two, if your car’s got them, they can go a long way to saving juice
Keep your vehicle plugged in on super hot or cold days. This lets your car’s thermal management keep working without using the battery.
What size breaker do I need for a EV charger?
120V for a Level 1 charger, or 240V for a Level 2 charger. See below.
How long does it take to charge an electric car on 220V vs 120V?
Great questions. Let’s take a step back and talk about how to charge your new EV at home.
You can always charge your EV with the “Level 1” charger that comes with it, probably packaged with some other adorable accessories. It plugs into the same 120V outlet as your Nespresso machine or Apple Watch, which is ridiculous, but also explains why a Level 1 charger only adds 4-5 miles of range every hour, good for 40-ish miles per day.
If that’s (understandably) not fast enough charging for your needs, you can front some cash to install a “Level 2” charger (15-30 miles every hour), or “EVSE” (“Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment”). Teeeeeeechnically an EVSE is not the “charger” that converts AC to DC electricity, the “charger” is built into the car itself, Frankenstein is actually the doctor, and…is anyone still reading this?
Anyways — back to Level 2 chargers. They can cost between $200-$1000 with another $800-$1300 for installation, by an electrician. Get some quotes and try to use someone who does a lot of these.
You might need a permit, you might not, ask your electrician or local government. If an electrician is coming out — holy shit are they in short supply — get them to do anything else you possibly need at the same time.
Finally, you can also use “Level 3” chargers, usually found along highways and in public locations, and they can charge you up in as little as 20 minutes. President Biden has made sure there’s a lot more where those are coming from.
Is it cheaper to charge an electric car at home or at a charging station?
Over the long run, and if it’s available to you, charging at home is probably cheaper (The Department of Energy has updated data here). But home charging isn’t available to everybody (especially renters and urban-dwellers), so…it’s a work in progress.
Electric Vehicle Tax Credits (and EV Charger Tax Credits, too!)
There’s multiple tax credits available and that you may qualify for through our good friend IRA (the Inflation Reduction Act, you might have heard of it), including:
A 30% tax credit up to $4000 for used EV’s (love that circular economy for you), dependent on MSRP and income limits
Starting in 2024, this credit can be transferred to dealerships in exchange for a point-of-sale discount right off the top
A $7500 tax credit for new EV’s, dependent on MSRP and income limits
This credit will soon be subject to geographic manufacturing requirements (“Made in America”…ish) that may initially restrict the list of eligible models. More to come.
Similarly, in 2024, this credit can be transferred to dealerships in exchange for point-of-sale discounts right off the top
A capped 30% tax credit for EV chargers
This credit will soon be limited to households in low-income or rural communities
Want to cut to the chase and see what you qualify for, right now? Check out Rewiring America’s trusty IRA Calculator.
For more home electrification support, check out our other guides:
BONUS: Listen to our conversation with home electrification wiz John Semmelhack for a comprehensive overview of the whole process (or watch the episode on YouTube!)
Got questions? Shoot us an email at [email protected].