Is it worth switching to an electric car?

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Gas costs hover around $7 a gallon in California. Some people are spending $100 to fill their tank.

With little relief in sight, drivers are turning to another option: electric vehicles, or EVs. Although only about 3.5% of all sales are electric, that’s an 80% jump from the previous year, according to AAA.

“More Americans are buying electricity…and that’s for a lot of reasons,” said AAA’s John Treanor. “The pandemic and the microchip shortage seemed to help that. Some states will eliminate gasoline vehicles in the future. Also, it really motivates and is motivating the big car companies to invest in electrics. So for all those reasons and probably because they don’t want to pay so much for gas, people start to look electric.”

The non-profit organization Coltura highlights the benefits of switching to electric vehicles. Their research suggests that the savings from switching to electric vehicles are immediate because electricity is much cheaper than gasoline at an average of half the cost.

“The economics of switching to an EV are really good even for the average driver. So in California, EV drivers spend about seven cents a mile on fuel, and for a gasoline car it’s more like 21 cents a mile,” said Janelle London, co-CEO of Coltura.

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It may save you from spending a lot of money at a gas station, but charging an electric car may not be as convenient, depending on a few things. While electric cars can be plugged into a common 110-volt household outlet, charging can take a while. So you will have to find a nearby charging station. There are 100,000 in the US.

Many are free, but others cost around $20 or require a membership, and some are more powerful than others. A free charging station can take up to eight hours to fully charge, compared to a superpower that would take two hours.

But charging an EV can be more convenient with lots of incentives, depending on where you live. For example, California utilities offer a 30-35% discount to low-income customers, who may also qualify for a free in-home charger under the ‘New Clean Cars for All’ program.

And while it may still be cheaper to buy a gas guzzler right now, there are plenty of stackable tax rebates and grants at the federal, state and local levels to cut the cost by as much as $12,000. Drivers can also save on maintenance because electric vehicles have about 20 parts compared to 2,000 for a gasoline car.

Drivers can save another $1,500 to retire an old gas car from the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program. Plus, up to $5,000 off the cost of a used EV in select Bay Area cities.

Supply chain issues may be the biggest hurdle right now. And if you can find a new or used EV for sale, it may cost more than usual. Overall, it’s something to consider for people who put in a lot of miles in their gas guzzler that travels far and wide.

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