You have questions about electric cars. We have answers (Part 3)

Welcome to part 3 of our series on questions people have about electric cars. Let’s look directly at the remaining questions, starting with:

Maintenance and electric cars

Q. How much does annual maintenance cost for a typical electric vehicle compared to a typical gas-powered automobile?

A. We often see this question. On a recent thread at reddit EV Forum, a number of posters said their most common maintenance expenses were windshield washer fluid, windshield wipers, a cabin filter, and tires. It should be noted that everything cars have the same needs.

Look at it this way. A typical internal combustion engine and transmission combination has 5,000 or more parts that roar, hiss, and spin. The probability of failure increases with the complexity of the machine. The powertrain of an electric car has between 3 and 10 moving parts. Fewer parts means fewer things to break.

In general, you can expect much lower costs to maintain an EV. Other benefits of the EV lifestyle include significantly increased life for brakes and rotors. Regenerative braking can eliminate the need to use mechanical brakes in almost any ride. It’s different and takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s one of the features of electric cars that people say they like best.

Q. With my gasoline vehicle, I can often complete a repair in 1-3 days. What does the time, cost and complexity of repairs look like with electric vehicles?

A. Individual experiences vary. Supply chain issues are wreaking havoc on all vehicle owners today. It will eventually subside, but I have a friend with a Ford F-150 who has a problem with his transmission. He was unable to get an appointment with his local dealer to 4 weeks. An independent transmission shop told him it would take 4-6 weeks to get the parts needed to fix the problem. He also had a problem with the valve train last winter which took the dealership 3 weeks to fix.

It’s hard to extrapolate from one person’s experience, but it’s fair to say that repairs to an electric car shouldn’t take longer than a comparable problem with a conventional car.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV, image courtesy of Chevrolet

Q. The costs of electric vehicles seem to be biased towards people in well-paying, above-average jobs? What electric vehicles could be considered reasonably affordable for “every man/woman” earning around $50,000 a year?

I will link to a similar question and answer in Part 2 of this series. New cars today are ridiculously expensive, but used car prices are just insane. These are just not normal times.

That being said, the model for introducing new technologies has always been to reach out to the more affluent customers first, as they are more likely to influence the thinking of others. We saw this when personal computers and flat screen televisions hit the market. Tesla wanted the Model S to compete with the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A7. The theory is that profits from these cars would help pay for cheaper models to come later.

Cheaper electric cars are coming to market. The Chevy Bolt starts at less than $30,000, and that’s before any federal or local incentives. Add them to the mix and the net price drops closer to $20,000 than $30,000. The newly announced Chevy Equinox EV will be available next year and will start at around $30,000. These are prices ordinary Americans can afford.

Q. I often hear that buying an electric vehicle is aligned with taking steps to care for the environment. What is the relative environmental impact of buying an electric vehicle versus going meatless?

A. These questions seem separate, but they have a common thread. The primary consideration for every human being today is to reduce or eliminate the emissions that cause the Earth’s average global temperature to rise.

Only about 25% of the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline is used to move a conventional car. Imagine if three quarters of all clothes or food were thrown away in landfills. People would be outraged. But we ignore the waste associated with internal combustion engines because most people don’t.

Automobiles powered by gasoline or diesel engines emit large amounts of pollution, primarily carbon dioxide, but also fine particles so small that they pass directly into the bloodstream through our lungs, causing cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Do we really want our family and friends to breathe this stuff?

Meat accounts for 60% of all emissions from food production, according to The Guardian. We need food to survive, but we also need to reduce our total carbon emissions in order to live in a sustainable world. We can get closer to this goal by reducing the amount of meat we raise and consume.

Q. For people who cannot be persuaded to adopt an EV based on environmental concerns, what “individualistic” argument can be made as to why an EV is simply a better car and a superior driving experience?

We’ve covered many features of electric cars that many people find appealing. Here’s a tip. Drive a. Hertz and many other companies now have them in their rental fleets. For many people, the power, agility, lack of exhaust smell, convenience of recharging and lower operating costs all contribute to a superior driving experience.

Takeaway meals

My brother-in-law certainly had a lot of questions. I hope I answered most of them intelligently. Questions are welcome. For a professional seller, they buy signs. People who have no interest in a product smile and nod, but don’t ask questions. People who ask questions are a sale waiting to happen. I had a former manager who said that when people start asking questions, get ready to fill out the purchase contract!

This list of questions is by no means exhaustive. Many of you will have your own questions. The best advice we can give you is to talk to people who drive electric cars. Do your research online. Use resources like reddit where you can find answers to your questions from a community of EV owners with real-world experience who are happy to help others discover the benefits of electric cars.

Every new technology follows a predictable pattern. It starts with early adopters, transitions to early adopters, and then moves on to traditional buyers. Electric cars are now at a turning point. Now is the perfect time to join the electric vehicle revolution.

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