EVs for Environmentalists 101

Find out whether buying a green used vehicle is a smart move for you.

Find out whether an electric vehicle is right for you.

Are you going back and forth between buying a used electric vehicle (EV) because it’s good for the environment OR purchasing a gas powered one that might harm the planet, but could cost less and be easier to fuel up?


Here’s everything you need to know to make the right choice for you.


Start by understanding the types of electric vehicles on the market.

There are three types of electric cars. This could make the process of selecting the right ride for you a bit more challenging. However it also makes it more likely you could find an environmentally friendly option that works for your lifestyle:

  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are powered ONLY by electricity. Some examples of BEVs include:
    • BMW i3
    • Chevy Bolt
    • Honda Clarity
    • Tesla Models S and X
    • Volkswagen e-Golf.

Cars that run on electric power alone are definitely the best for the environment. They don’t emit gasses and other substances that are harmful to the planet. However, there are limits as to how far you can drive without needing to charge them up again. They’re generally ideal for urban and suburban dwellers that have relatively short commutes and use their cars mostly to run errands. They’re also good second cars for some families. If you’re a frequent road tripper or drive long distances every day, a fully electric car is probably not right for you.


  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) operate on both electricity and gas. Once the battery runs out, they switch to gasoline to power the ride. PHEV models include:
    • Chevy Volt
    • Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
    • Hyundai Sonata PHEV
    • Toyota Prius Plug-in.

These cars may not be as good for the environment as purely electric vehicles, however, they’re a decent compromise. You can drive them reasonable distances everyday on electricity. You’re also able to take them on longer journeys using gas.


  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) rely primarily on gas but also have electric components that improve fuel use. They use less gas, and emit fewer pollutants, than comparable standard models. Examples of HEVs include:
    • Honda Civic Hybrid
    • Toyota Camry Hybrid
    • Toyota Prius Hybrid.

HEVs are a great way to drive a vehicle that’s more environmentally friendly than a standard car, while avoiding the issues associated with EVs. They’re ideal for people who want to do the right thing for the planet, but not compromise their driving experience.


Depending on your lifestyle and driving habits, one of the three types of electric vehicles could meet your needs.


Compare the costs associated with electric vehicles versus gas powered ones.

The cost of owning and operating an electric car versus a conventional one is a top concern for most used car buyers considering both.


There are several factors you need to think about, including the purchase price along with the cost of fuel and maintenance.


Electric cars are generally more expensive upfront than gas powered models. However, since you’re planning to purchase a used car, some of the difference in the sticker price is lessened because EVs depreciate more quickly than standard models. Add to this the fact that the inventory of electric cars is up and you may find that the cost differential between an EV compared with a similar gas model may be less than you expect.


Where you live could also impact the cost of a used electric vehicle. They are generally less expensive in urban areas when compared with rural locations because the supply is higher. However, demand may be greater in these places, as well, which could increase prices.


When it comes to the cost of fuel, all factors considered, gas powered cars are more expensive to run than electric ones. Even when gas prices are low, as they are now, it usually costs more to power a gas car compared with an electric one. That differential is greater when fuel prices go up, which could happen at any time, especially during periods of global turmoil, like we’re experiencing now. The price of electricity historically doesn’t fluctuate as much as that of gas because it’s not as dependent on world events.


For those considering them, the cost of fueling a hybrid is less than a gas powered car and more than a fully electric one.


You can reduce the cost to power your electric vehicle by avoiding charging your car at home during peak times. These are periods when utility companies charge higher rates because electric usage is heavy, like when people are making use of air conditioning on hot days. Also, you can get free access to electricity if you use public charging stations. This is a good option for people who live in urban areas, where charging stations are common and readily available.


Beyond fuel, electric vehicles usually have lower maintenance costs. Changing oil, coolant and transmission fluid can add up over time for gasoline vehicle owners. Wear and tear on electric cars is also less because there are fewer mechanical components that wear out than on standard vehicles. Be aware that hybrids have maintenance costs that are more like gas powered cars than fully battery powered ones.


The cost of tire and brake replacement is similar for both types of vehicles. Auto insurance on EVs may be a bit more expensive than for standard cars because they’re usually valued higher than comparable gas models.


Another thing to consider: Find out whether electric vehicle tax credits are available in your area that could make owning one more attractive. Ask your used car dealer, talk to your tax expert or search online to find out for sure.


In the end, you need to consider all these factors when you do your cost benefit analysis. It’s the only way to know for sure whether EV ownership makes financial sense for you.


Evaluate performance.

The performance and handling of electric cars is different from those with gas engines.


EVs are often thought of as “quick”, while gas powered ones are viewed as “fast.”


Electric vehicles are quick because they get from place to place relatively quickly. Gas ones are fast because they achieve higher peak speeds. Even though a gas powered car can go faster at certain times, a comparable EV will arrive at a destination faster in similar driving conditions. Electric vehicles drive light and fast and provide dependable power. Gas powered ones are more powerful at times, but not consistently.


The only way to know for certain which type of car is right for you is to test drive a few comparable electric and gas models to see which driving style you prefer.


Shop around.

Do you have specific requirements for the type of car you need to buy? If that’s the case, your options with used electric vehicles could be somewhat limited. If you’re more open to the kind of car you buy, it’s likely that you’ll find an electric model that appeals to you.


In the end, used gas powered cars are readily available. There’s a decades long supply of them. You may need to shop around more to locate the EV of your dreams. They haven’t been around for as long, so they’re aren’t as many of them. However, it will be worth the extra effort if you do your due diligence and come to the conclusion that buying a used electric car is the right move for you and for the planet.







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