Are electric cars worth it?

If you're considering buying an electric vehicle (EV), you should weigh the advantages and disadvantages compared to a regular gas-powered car first. For example, EVs tend to have a higher price tag, but they also cost less to "fill up." Your finances, where you live, and your driving needs may also influence whether it's the right time to buy an electric vehicle or wait.

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How much does an electric car cost?

According to Kelley Blue Book , the average cost of an electric vehicle (EV) in July 2023 was $53,469, while the average price of a gas-powered car was $48,334. While EVs tend to cost more on average, the pricing gap is getting smaller as more and more electric cars hit the market.

So, should I buy an electric car?

Before deciding to purchase an EV, consider the advantages and disadvantages compared to a regular gas-powered car, or even a hybrid. For example, if you take long road trips throughout the year, then you might need to research what charging stations are available along your route in advance.

What are the advantages of electric vehicles?

  • They're pretty quiet, and also very fast

    Electric vehicles lack engine noise, so the ride is quiet. If you think you'll miss the noise, some electric vehicle manufacturers have an option to add engine sounds. Acceleration is also much faster for an EV than for a gas-powered car, and their lower center of gravity makes them more stable.

  • Rebates and tax incentives abound

    There are tax incentives for EVs at the federal, state, and local levels that can lower their price tag. In fact, EVs that meet certain criteria may be eligible for a federal tax credit worth up to $7,500.

  • Charging costs less than filling up

    Prices at the pump vary, but J.D. Power reports that the average American family spends $5,000 annually on gasoline. In contrast, a new home charging station costs $1,000 to $2,500, including installation. And the bill to charge up at home may cost as little as $60 per month, or $720 annually, according to As for on-the-go charging, it's generally cheaper to fill up a battery than a gas tank, but it ultimately comes down to the cost of both electricity and gas in the area where you're charging up.

  • You'll never need an oil change

    EVs require less maintenance, which could save you more in the long run. Oil changes, new spark plugs, timing belt replacements — these are all maintenance needs that you no longer have to worry about (or pay for) with an EV.

Consider a hybrid versus an EV

If purchasing a new electric car is outside of your budget, but you're interested in electrifying your next ride, then a hybrid may be worth looking at. Full hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles use an electric drivetrain to move, which is supplemented by an internal combustion engine that either takes over when the battery dies or charges it up to extend the car's range. Learn more about the differences between hybrid cars and electric cars.

Are there disadvantages to electric vehicles?

  • Range anxiety may complicate long road trips

    "Range anxiety" refers to a common concern over how far an electric vehicle can go on a single charge. While EVs tend to have a shorter range than gas-powered vehicles, their range has been growing. Most now have at least a 200-mile range, and the number of public charging outlets nearly doubled between 2019 and 2023. However, cold weather can reduce an electric vehicle's range and affect charging time, so where you'd be driving matters too. Temperatures in the single digits may cause a significant drop in range compared to the advertised range.

  • Battery packs don't last forever

    According to J.D. Power, electric vehicle batteries may last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, with most manufacturer warranties lasting for eight years or the first 100,000 miles. However, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a narrower estimate of 12 to 15 years for EVs driven in moderate climates. If your battery dies after the warranty expires, a new one may run you anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.

  • You may pay more to insure an EV

    Since EVs tend to cost more than gas-powered cars, coverage for physical damage may also cost more. EVs also tend to have higher repair costs, especially if the battery pack requires repairs. Learn more about insurance for electric vehicles.

Pro tip:

Compare the ownership costs and emissions for up to eight vehicles at once — including EVs — using the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Cost Calculator.

Common questions about electric vehicles

How does charging an electric car work?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are three levels of EV charging equipment. Level 1 uses a 120-volt outlet and adds 2 to 5 miles of range per hour. This is the same type of power outlet you can find in your home. Level 2 uses 208- or 240-volt service and adds 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging time.

Most public charging stations use Level 2 charging equipment. You can install a Level 2 charger at home, though you'll need to hire an electrician for the installation if your home isn't already wired for it.

Level 3 chargers, also known as DC fast chargers, offer the fastest charging times, ranging from 60 to 80 miles for every 20 minutes of charging time. Level 3 charging is only available from public charging stations. Learn more about how to charge an electric car.

How long do electric cars last?

According to Kelley Blue Book, electric vehicles last just as long as gas-powered cars since they have far fewer components subject to wear and tear. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory also estimates that modern EV batteries may last anywhere from 12 to 15 years in moderate climates (eight to 12 years in extreme climates), which aligns with the nationwide average age of a car at 12.5 years.

What are the environmental effects of electric cars?

One benefit of an electric car is that it doesn't produce tailpipe emissions. In contrast, a typical passenger combustion engine vehicle emits around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Gas-powered vehicles also produce the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide.

Overall lifecycle emissions are more complicated. Manufacturing an electric vehicle involves extracting and processing minerals for the batteries, which generates emissions. The point in an electric vehicle's lifetime when a gasoline car's emissions surpass the EV's varies. The source of electricity used to charge the vehicle makes a difference. In the U.S., coal-fired plants produce 23% of our electricity. However, a recent lifecycle analysis found that an EV charged from a coal-fired grid would contribute fewer carbon emissions than a comparable gasoline car.

Learn more about the challenges and benefits of EV adoption.

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