Why I Wouldn’t Buy an Electric Car yet After Testing 19 of Them

Why I Wouldn’t Buy an Electric Car yet After Testing 19 of Them

  • Testing well over a dozen new electric cars has convinced me that I want one someday. 
  • They’re quick, quiet, and good to the environment. 
  • But I wouldn’t buy one yet. New EVs are way too expensive and used ones are lacking.

Enthusiasm for electric cars has never been higher. There are more models to choose from than ever before, and an increasing portion of Americans are eager to shun fossil fuels and buy something like a Tesla instead. 

After driving well over a dozen electric vehicles on the market today — from mainstream SUVs to burly pickup trucks and six-figure luxury cars — I’m sold on EVs too. But I wouldn’t buy one. Not yet, at least. 

At this point, they’re just too expensive and hard to find. And besides, charging stations aren’t widespread or convenient enough yet. 

The technology is amazing

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning.

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning and its magnificent frunk.

Tim Levin/Insider

I’m pretty certain that I’ll own an electric car someday — and happily, not just because the government mandates it. EVs simply have too many advantages over regular cars to ignore. 

They’re quiet and smooth. And in practically any electric car — from pedestrian Chevys to high-performance Porsches — smashing the throttle results in an instantaneous jolt of acceleration. It means EVs bring a bit of spice to a boring drive and are great at handling quick highway merges and passes. 

Since they lack all the bulky parts of a traditional drivetrain, manufacturers can add in extra interior space and storage options that weren’t possible before. Think things like totally flat floors, front trunks, and Rivian’s Gear Tunnel. 

All of those perks combined with an impulse to tread lightly on the environment means an EV is likely in my future. 

New electric cars are too expensive

The Tesla Model Y.

The Tesla Model Y costs close to $70,000.

Tim Levin/Insider

The way things stand today, buying a new EV is out of the question for price-conscious shoppers like me.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E starts at around $50,000, and you can’t get a Tesla for less than $47,000. Sure, some cheaper models are popping up, like the new $28,000 Chevrolet Bolt EUV. But EVs skew heavily toward the luxury end of the spectrum; the average battery-powered ride sold for around $65,000 in November.

And if you won’t settle for less than 300 miles of range, prepare to cough up at least $45,000 (before dealer markups).

There aren’t enough used ones available yet

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus and an older Leaf.

Tim Levin/Insider

People who are unwilling or unable to shell out for a new car buy used. And that’s what I’d do with my budget of $10,000-$15,000. But the market for electric cars is so young — and they’re so pricy to begin with — that there aren’t all that many appealing secondhand options in my budget. 

A search of affordable used EVs on Autotrader turns up plenty of old Nissan Leafs and limited-run EVs, but their ranges — 93 miles, 107 miles, 124 miles — don’t cut it for my driving habits. Extended trips with multiple refueling stops would be more trouble than they’re worth. 

Today, you can’t find a used EV with more than 250 miles of EPA-rated range for less than $24,000. But that should change as all the new Teslas, Fords, Kias, and Hyundais sold in recent years hit the used market. 

Charging is too inconvenient for me

The 2022 Polestar 2.

Charging the 2022 Polestar 2.

Tim Levin/Insider

Underdeveloped charging infrastructure is widely cited as one of the top reasons more people don’t buy more electric cars. And I guess I’m not special.

Having a garage or a driveway to charge in is a game changer for EV ownership. You can plug in, go to sleep, and be topped up by morning. But I live in an apartment building in New York City and don’t have either of those things. There are a couple of fast-charging stations around, but most charging options are relegated to expensive parking garages. My neighborhood has some of the few curbside chargers in the city, but they’re typically blocked by gas cars. 

Charging outside the city, where I do most of my driving anyway, isn’t a terrible hassle once you get used to it. (And particularly if you own a Tesla.) But I’ve had to deal with broken plugs and charging dead zones. 

Realistically, I could probably get over the inconvenience of charging. But it doesn’t exactly inspire me to stretch my budget by many thousands of dollars.

I look forward to the day when EVs are cheap enough to make sense for people with lower budgets and limited home charging options. Until then, I’m on the hunt for a hybrid.

Are you an EV owner with a story to share? Did you recently buy an electric car, sell one, or trade it in for a different brand? Contact this reporter at [email protected]