Should You Buy An Electric Car?

Posted by: Dan on 30/05/2016

Category: General

Should You Buy an Electric Car?


Scroll through your social media feed or visit any news website, and you’ll be hard-pressed to not find news about a soon-to-be-released electric car.

From Toyota to Hyundai, BMW to Tesla – and even rumours surrounding models being developed by companies like Apple – electric cars are popping up all across the auto industry.

A recent U.K. study found that consumers are supporting this shift in the auto industry. While there were only 3,000 electric cars in the country during 2013, by May of 2016, that number had surged to over 60,000.

But although electric cars are indeed a growing segment of the automobile industry, they also come with some unique challenges, and are quite different from your standard petrol vehicle. So, is this the right time for you to buy one? Here are some things you should take into consideration before making a move.

The Upfront Cost

Electric cars are a big investment up front. Even famed vehicles like the Tesla 3, which is being promoted as an affordable electric car, still have a hefty price tag. While pricing in Australia has yet to be announced, in the U.S., the Tesla 3 will cost $42,000. Australians are likely looking at a price of at least $55,000 to take ownership of one.

While the Tesla 3 is certainly a stylish-looking car, there are many other models in the electric vehicle market that are well-designed but priced much lower.  

While the price of electric cars will come down over time, it’s probably safe to say that over the next decade, they won’t be all that different from their petrol-powered counterparts in many ways.

The three key questions facing a potential buyer of an electric car right now are: Would this car suit my lifestyle long term? Is this the right time for me to buy one? And, if so, is there a model available for me within my target budget?

Here’s an in-depth look at some of the factors that should inform your decision.

The long-term view

The big appeal of an electric car is the potential cost savings over the long term. While gas prices may be low right now due to the ample supply of oil around the world, prices in oil are volatile, and they’ll go back up again one day.

This contrasts with electricity prices, which are far more stable – and it’s also a sector that has some strong competition within many Australian markets that helps keep prices low.

It should also be noted that electric components can save you money in a range of areas, not just in terms of the battery.

It’s true that if your entire electric engine fails, you’re looking at a potentially expensive repair. But since electric cars do not have as many components within the engine – like the internal combustion setup used for petrol-powered vehicles – there is less likelihood of serious or ongoing faults occurring. This does come with a caveat, however...

Logistical support

While we may be in the last years of locally-made Ford and Holden vehicles, you’ll still be set for years to come in terms of receiving aftermarket support for service and repairs, given the wide availability of parts and suppliers of these iconic vehicles.

The same is true for brands like Toyota, Kia, Mitsubishi, and more.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many electric car makers right now – and this is a core factor when weighing up whether now is the right time to buy or not.

Unquestionably, the great advantage of the electric car is the diminished need to refuel, as well as the absence of a traditional fuel injection engine – with fewer moving parts, the prospect of a fan belt going awry is certainly lessened. And when something does go wrong, it’s just a simple matter of heading down to your local mechanic for a quick and affordable replacement part.

Environmental efficiency

Another one of the main appeals of electric vehicles is the quality of their environmental efficiency. Besides that, there are a number of advantages for owners of electric cars – everything from tax credits, to a reduced insurance bill, to discounted memberships at institutions supportive of new electric vehicles, like museums and car shows.

There are also the little things. Depending on what model you buy, many owners find an electric car provides a smoother and quieter drive overall. The latter can be an unnerving feeling at first – and not entirely welcome if you are a long-term fan of a big roaring V8 engine – but the unique and intuitive driving experience an electric car offers has won many formerly ‘petrol-only’ car lovers over to the ‘pro-electric’ team.

The bottom line

Like early adoption of any other technology, the question always is, “Do you want to get early access while also paying more?” Do you feel an urgent need for the technology and advantages offered? Are those things you’ll actually utilise?

Ultimately, at some point there will be a clear shift in the market to electric cars. And given their environmentally-friendly nature, this is certainly a good thing.

In the meantime though, the question of whether you buy one of these vehicles in six months – or six years – is something to weigh up carefully. While electric cars offer much promise and excitement, with all of the other factors discussed above, it may just be best to wait a little longer to own one.

Similar to installing solar panels on your roof, the question is upfront cost versus long-term investment. But your enjoyment is also a factor. If you drive every day, love your cars, and feel you’ll be driving an electric car for the long term, then purchasing one now may be a wise investment for you. If not, there are some other great cars on the market to choose from for your next purchase.

Have you purchased an electric car recently? Are you looking to buy one soon? Let us know the factors behind your decision in the comments below.

Image: Pixabay