What you should know about buying an electric car

ommuting in Metro Detroit will never make anyone’s list of favorite hobbies, but at least we can make it more cost-effective. We’re seeing more and more electric vehicles – EVs for short – on our roads as automakers expand greener offerings and make them more affordable for drivers.

There are some key differences, though. For one, EVs aren’t hybrids. Hybrids are powered by both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and never have to be plugged in. EVs are all-electric, and can be charged by home-charging stations (installed in your home) or simply a standard plug that just takes longer to charge.  The other thing to know is your own commute.

“It depends on how far you drive and in what conditions,” says Sam Abuelsamid, a senior research analyst with Navigant Consulting. “A typical EV gets between 3 and 4 miles/kilowatts-per-hour of electricity. At 3.5 miles/kWh and the national average of about $0.12/kWh, driving an EV costs about $0.03/mile. At $2.40/gallon for gasoline, a 20 mpg car costs about $0.12/mile. 

“You also need to factor in that you never need oil changes in an EV,” Abuelsamid says. “They tend to be very reliable and there are a variety of federal and state tax incentives (toward purchasing an EV).”

Thinking about taking charge? Here are four EVs worth test-driving.


Tesla Model S

MSRP: Starts at $66,000*

For: The stylish environmentalist. Tesla may be better known in Michigan as a thorn in the side of auto dealers because of the company’s direct-sales approach, but there’s no denying that the Model S’s well-appointed cabin, tech-forward features and top speeds make it a damn fine American luxury car.

Ford Focus Electric

MSRP: Starts at $29,170*

For: The buy-American die-hards. The Ford Focus Electric is assembled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, making it the perfect get for Detroit Three loyalists with a green side.

Chevrolet Bolt

MSRP: Starts at $30,000*

For: Those always up on the new-new. Unlike the similar-sounding Volt, which is a plug-in hybrid, the Bolt is all-electric. It’s Chevy’s second EV (the other is the Spark EV) and debuts this fall in dealerships, meaning you can be the first on the block to have one.

Nissan Leaf

MSRP: Starts at $29,010*

For: Those making the safe choice. The Leaf is America’s best-selling, all-electric, highway-capable vehicle, earning popularity for its reliability and mileage range.

For a full list of electric vehicles for sale in the U.S., visit www.plugincars.com.

*MSRPs include estimated federal tax incentives.

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