If you’ve ever driven around in an electric vehicle (EV), one of the first things you probably noticed was the lack of noise. There’s no whine of the ignition when you crank it up or roar of the engine when you motor off. Just a low hum, regardless of your speed. That might seem like a minor benefit in the grand scheme of the electric vehicle market, but those quiet engines speak volumes about how EVs differ from conventional, gas-powered cars – and why so many people are gravitating towards them.
Worldwide electric vehicle sales are expected to surpass $800 billion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research. EV sales in North America are expected to grow by 27.5 percent over the next several years to more than $194 billion. Much of that growth will be driven by industry leader Tesla, which dominates the U.S. market with a share of around 80 percent. However, other key players are also jockeying for a piece of the action, including BMW Group, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford and Daimler AG.
Why are so many people buying electric vehicles these days? The short answer is: ecology and economy. EVs are better for the environment than gas-powered cars because they emit less pollution. EVs are also more efficient, converting more than half of the electrical energy from the grid to the car – a much higher conversion rate than gas-powered vehicles, which only convert roughly 17 – 21 percent of the energy stored in gasoline.
If you’re unsure about the benefits of owning an electric vehicle, here’s a quick look at a few of them:
Reduced emissions: Electric vehicles are not carbon-free – the electricity used to run them is powered mostly by fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum. However, EVs still produce a lot less air pollution than conventional cars. According to data compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a gas-powered car would have to get 73 miles per gallon to equal the emissions produced by the average EV in the U.S. What’s more, many EV owners use electricity powered by solar and other renewable energy sources, making them nearly emissions free.
Lower costs: The UCS estimates that using EVs adds up to median yearly fuel savings of around $770, simply because it’s a lot cheaper to charge an electric vehicle at home than it is to fill a tank at the gas pump. You also save money on maintenance and repairs with EVs because they don’t require oil changes, spark plugs, timing belts or routine engine maintenance. Lower maintenance costs can save EV owners more than $1,500 over the life of the vehicle compared to gas-powered cars. Meanwhile, the cost to purchase an EV keeps falling. According to a recent Quartz report, research house Cox Automotive found that average EV prices in mid-2019 fell 13.4 percent from the previous year to $55,600. Those prices have continued to drop this year as EV makers roll out more buying incentives to deal with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Performance: Electric vehicle enthusiasts don’t just drive them for the environmental and cost benefits – they also dig the way EVs can generate instant torque the moment you hit the accelerator. There’s no need to keep powering through different gears to reach the premium speed. And because EVs have a low center of gravity, they’re easier to handle than most conventional cars.
Convenience: One huge benefit of EVs is that you can plug them in at home and charge them overnight rather than having to fill them up at the gas station. It only takes a few seconds to plug in your electric vehicle, then you can forget about it until the next morning, when you basically have a full tank to ride around on. Even when you’re away from home it’s becoming easier to find places to recharge thanks to apps like PlugShare, ChargeHub and Google Maps, which all help drivers search for nearby EV charging stations. Efforts are also underway to ramp up the commercial installation of charging stations over the next few years, including putting more at shopping centers, airports and restaurants. In some regions of the country, EV owners can even use highway and bridge express lanes, pay reduced tolls, and use special parking spots.
Tax perks: Depending on the type of EV you drive, you might be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount varies based on the capacity of the battery you use. Some states and municipalities also offer tax incentives for EV owners.