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Should you get an electric car?

Should you get an electric car?

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Well, that's one way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels.

Well, that's one way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels.

Should you get an electric car?
One way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels is to switch from your gas- or diesel-fueled vehicle to an electric one. And while there are a few electric vehicles (EV) to choose from, there are lots of factors to consider when it comes to making the change.

Getting started

With advancements in technology and an increasing demand to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, there are now over a dozen fully electric cars available in the United States. As leading brands continue to roll out their own models, electric vehicles have become more financially attainable and are now competing in a market with traditional gas- or diesel-fueled vehicles. These range in price from $30,750 (2020 Mini Cooper SE) to $81,990 (2020 Tesla Model S). Up front, the cost of a fully electric vehicle is still higher than traditional vehicles but it can save you a substantial amount of money over time. If you’re able to manage those initial costs, it might be a worthwhile expense in the pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle.

This CNET article lists every EV available in the US today.

Sustaining sustainability

Being a driver of a gas- or diesel-fueled vehicle comes with a few stops at the fuel station every month and parting with increasing amounts of money to keep your tank full and car on the road. And they are relatively easy to find – often with more than one within a few hundred feet of each other. This is not the case for EV drivers, who have to find charging stations for their vehicles. It is possible to install a charging station at your home ($1,200 on average), and this is the method most EV drivers use in the United States. However, there is a broad range of public charging stations across the country, and the U.S. Department of Energy has created a charging station locator. These are usually located at the dealerships of the respective brands or can be found in the parking lots of airports, shopping malls, and grocery stores, but might take a bit longer to track down or off your usual commute.

The costs to fully charge an EV is less than half the cost of a full tank of gas but will range depending on the electricity costs within each state and the type of electric vehicle and its battery.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration maintains a chart of average per-kWh electric rates for all 50 states here.

Still coal powered

While EVs are free of the regular emissions we may be used to from the tailpipes of gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles, they still rely on electricity. Unless that electricity is sustainably or renewably sourced, EVs can contribute to the increase in carbon emissions. In the United States, 63% of electricity is generated from natural gas while only 18% is generated from renewable energy sources, making it likely that the electricity being used to charge EVs is not sourced from renewable energy. Despite this, switching to an EV is still a step in the right direction, and there are now over a million EVs on the road in the United States.

What to do if it’s not for you

If the start-up costs or maintenance convenience of an EV are too much to take on for you, there are still things to do to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to your commute. If possible, try to walk or cycle to get around your city. Alternatively, if there is public transport you can rely on (and is safe), try using the train or bus instead of driving. Ultimately the easiest, most reliable and convenient way to get around is usually with a private car – so the best you can do is try to keep your driving to a minimum and to try things like carpooling to work to reduce the number of cars on the roads. An additional tip for when you are driving is to be sure that your tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure can actually decrease your gas mileage and cause you to burn more fuel and release more carbon emissions.

One way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels is to switch from your gas- or diesel-fueled vehicle to an electric one. And while there are a few electric vehicles (EV) to choose from, there are lots of factors to consider when it comes to making the change.

Getting started

With advancements in technology and an increasing demand to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, there are now over a dozen fully electric cars available in the United States. As leading brands continue to roll out their own models, electric vehicles have become more financially attainable and are now competing in a market with traditional gas- or diesel-fueled vehicles. These range in price from $30,750 (2020 Mini Cooper SE) to $81,990 (2020 Tesla Model S). Up front, the cost of a fully electric vehicle is still higher than traditional vehicles but it can save you a substantial amount of money over time. If you’re able to manage those initial costs, it might be a worthwhile expense in the pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle.

This CNET article lists every EV available in the US today.

Sustaining sustainability

Being a driver of a gas- or diesel-fueled vehicle comes with a few stops at the fuel station every month and parting with increasing amounts of money to keep your tank full and car on the road. And they are relatively easy to find – often with more than one within a few hundred feet of each other. This is not the case for EV drivers, who have to find charging stations for their vehicles. It is possible to install a charging station at your home ($1,200 on average), and this is the method most EV drivers use in the United States. However, there is a broad range of public charging stations across the country, and the U.S. Department of Energy has created a charging station locator. These are usually located at the dealerships of the respective brands or can be found in the parking lots of airports, shopping malls, and grocery stores, but might take a bit longer to track down or off your usual commute.

The costs to fully charge an EV is less than half the cost of a full tank of gas but will range depending on the electricity costs within each state and the type of electric vehicle and its battery.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration maintains a chart of average per-kWh electric rates for all 50 states here.

Still coal powered

While EVs are free of the regular emissions we may be used to from the tailpipes of gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles, they still rely on electricity. Unless that electricity is sustainably or renewably sourced, EVs can contribute to the increase in carbon emissions. In the United States, 63% of electricity is generated from natural gas while only 18% is generated from renewable energy sources, making it likely that the electricity being used to charge EVs is not sourced from renewable energy. Despite this, switching to an EV is still a step in the right direction, and there are now over a million EVs on the road in the United States.

What to do if it’s not for you

If the start-up costs or maintenance convenience of an EV are too much to take on for you, there are still things to do to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to your commute. If possible, try to walk or cycle to get around your city. Alternatively, if there is public transport you can rely on (and is safe), try using the train or bus instead of driving. Ultimately the easiest, most reliable and convenient way to get around is usually with a private car – so the best you can do is try to keep your driving to a minimum and to try things like carpooling to work to reduce the number of cars on the roads. An additional tip for when you are driving is to be sure that your tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure can actually decrease your gas mileage and cause you to burn more fuel and release more carbon emissions.

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