Electric vehicles offer many benefits, but they also have some disadvantages when compared to conventional gasoline-powered cars. One of the biggest questions prospective electric car buyers face is whether to purchase an all-electric vehicle (AEV), a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), or a gasoline-powered new car.

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An electric car is any vehicle powered by a battery charged by an external electricity source. There are many categories of Electric and Hybrid vehicles, including all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids that use both electric and internal combustion engine technology.

Electric cars are growing in popularity every day. Like conventional cars, there are certain benefits and drawbacks of using an electric vehicle compared to a gasoline-powered one. Here are the top few to keep in mind:

Pros Of Electric Cars
Cons Of Electric Cars
Electric cars are energy efficient Electric cars can't travel as far
Electric cars reduce emissions "Fueling" takes longer
Electric cars require lower maintenance Electric cars are sometimes more expensive

On the pros side, electric cars are energy efficient, are better for the environment, and don't require as much maintenance as traditional gas-powered cars. On the cons side, you can't travel as far between refueling, the actual refueling process takes longer than filling a car at a gas station, and upfront costs are sometimes a barrier.

Below, we'll explore these pros and cons in further detail.

Electric cars are energy-efficient

Energy efficiency refers to the amount of energy from the fuel source that is converted into actual energy for powering the wheels of a vehicle. AEVs, like offerings from Tesla are far more efficient than conventional gas-powered vehicles: AEV batteries convert 59 to 62 percent of energy into vehicle movement, while gas-powered cars only convert between 17 and 21 percent. This means charging an AEV's battery puts more towards powering the vehicle than filling a gas tank.

Electric cars reduce emissions

Emissions and carbon footprint reduction, including reduced fuel usage, is another pro for all-electric vehicles. Because they rely on a rechargeable battery, driving an electric car does not create any tailpipe emissions, a significant source of pollution in the United States. In addition, the rechargeable battery means much less money spent on fuel, meaning all energy can be sourced domestically (and often through renewable energy resources such as solar panel systems).

Improving battery technology in today's light-duty AEVs means they can drive 100 miles while consuming only 25 to 40 kilowatt-hours (kWh)  of electricity. Assuming that your electric car can travel three miles per kWh, the electric vehicle can travel about 43 miles for $1.00. By comparison, if we believe that gas costs $2.50 per gallon, an average gasoline vehicle with a fuel efficiency of 22 miles per gallon can only travel 10 miles for the same price. The distance traveled for a fuel cost of $1.00 is nearly four times as far as an electric vehicle.

Electric cars perform well and don't need much maintenance

All-electric vehicles are high-performance vehicles with quiet and smooth motors and require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, such as an oil change. The driving experience can also be fun because AEV motors react quickly, making them responsive with good torque. AEVs are newer than their gas-powered counterparts and are often more digitally connected with charging stations, providing options such as controlling charging from an app.

Electric cars can travel less distance.

AEVs, on average, have a shorter range than gas-powered cars. Most models range between 60 and 120 miles per charge, and some luxury models reach 300 miles per charge. For comparison, gas-powered vehicles will average around 300 miles on a full gas tank, and more fuel-efficient cars get much higher driving ranges. This may be an issue when looking at AEVs if you frequently take long trips. The availability of charging stations can make AEVs less suitable for activities like road trips.

Electric cars can take a long time to recharge

Fueling an all-electric car can also be an issue. Fully recharging the battery pack with a Level 1 or Level 2 charger can take up to eighty hours, and even fast charging stations take 30 minutes to charge to 80 percent capacity. Electric car drivers must plan more carefully because running out of power can't be solved by a quick stop at the gas pump.

Electric cars can be expensive

Electric vehicles (EVs) usually have a higher price tag upfront, though you can save money owning an EV over time since there is generally less maintenance on an EV, and it's less expensive to charge than fuel with gas. Also, while battery packs are more costly in EVs than conventional vehicles, they last much longer than the components of most combustion engines, and they come with 8-10 year warranties, so you're not likely to pay out of pocket for a replacement. EVs also have federal and sometimes state-specific incentives available to help reduce the initial purchase price. More and more automakers than ever are offering EVs, including BMW, Hyundai and Chevrolet.

Many of the same benefits of all-electric cars also apply to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. PHEVs are excellent vehicles for reducing emissions and reducing fuel usage. For short trips, your PHEV may not need to switch away from its all-electric motor, in which case the car emits no tailpipe emissions. PHEVs use 30 to 60 percent less fuel than conventional gas-powered cars. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced even further if the electricity is sourced from renewable resources.   

PHEVs also make great vehicles for those who cannot commit to a fully electric car because of driving and recharging needs. While AEVs are limited to their battery range, the fuel backup in a plug-in hybrid means that when the battery runs out, the vehicle can continue to run and even recharge it by using fuel. PHEVs usually have a better fuel economy than their conventional gas-powered counterparts.

Much like an AEV, one of the hurdles to owning a PHEV is how long it takes to recharge the battery. While PHEV batteries are smaller on average than those found in AEVs, a Level 1 charger may still take several hours to charge. A Level 2 charger can take one to four hours. In addition, while fast charging exists, most PHEVs do not have this charging capability.

Another factor to consider is cost: like AEVs, PHEVs have a higher price tag than many gas-powered vehicles. There are fuel savings, tax credits, and state incentives that can help offset these costs, and as the production of PHEVs expands, these prices may come down.

All-electric and plug-in electric cars are great for drivers who want to reduce emissions and fuel costs and drive premium vehicles. However, battery charging can take a long time which may not fit your driving needs. The upfront costs also make AEVs and PHEVs a significant investment. It's ultimately up to you to decide which car is the right fit. If reducing your fossil fuel consumption is a goal, you can take steps to further reduce emissions by integrating solar panel systems into your vehicle charging.

What is the downside to electric cars?

Some disadvantages to electric cars include that they can't travel as far as gas-powered vehicles, you need to find EV charging stations for them, and they incur higher initial costs.

Is it worth buying an electric car?

Electric vehicles can be less expensive than gas-powered ones because you'll spend less on maintenance and fuel.

What is the range of electric cars?

Most electric cars have a range of between 60-120 miles per charge with luxury cars having ranges of up to 300 miles on a full charge.

How do you charge an electric vehicle?

All AVE drivers have to do is find a charging station and plug it in wherever you park. You may need to use an app or debit/credit card depending on where you go.

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