Article

All The Benefits of Owning an Electric Car

Ben Parker

Article Highlights

There could be a few reasons you’re reading this. One could be that you’re considering buying an electric car and you need some convincing. Another could be that you’re already convinced and you’re looking to reaffirm your decision. Or you’re looking to convince someone else, a friend, family member, or colleague. Well there are a lot of reasons to consider buying an electric car. I’ve collected a list of 45 reasons that hopefully will meet your needs whatever they may be.

1. Fuel Efficiency

Perhaps the most well-known benefit of owning an electric car is its fuel efficiency. Electric vehicles are able to use almost 80% of the energy to give power to the wheels. Standard petroleum burning cars lose two-thirds of their potential energy during consumption, leaving them at about 12-30% efficiency.

2. Fewer Emissions

Business Insider wrote an article in 2018 spelling out the state of CO2 emissions that the world is in saying, “The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere hasn’t been as high as it is now since long before humans existed.” The effects of this are potentially catastrophic. The article also details “CO2 levels will dramatically increase pollution and related diseases, potentially slow human cognition, cause extreme weather events, and broaden the ranges of disease-carrying creatures like mosquitoes and ticks.” 

Needless to say, we’re in dire need of some changes. Transportation makes up a huge portion of our global CO2 emissions. Electric cars have zero direct emissions (which are the emissions that typically come from your tailpipe exhaust) and have fewer life cycle emissions. In the process of producing, and operating an internal combustion vehicle there are a ton of emissions. 

The first emissions are produced when actually manufacturing the car, then when petroleum is extracted from the ground, where it’s turned into gasoline, then it has to be distributed to gas stations then finally burned in the individual vehicles. Electric cars are not completely carbon neutral and there are emissions in the production and manufacturing, but their effect is much smaller than conventional gasoline vehicles. Changing to electric cars is the first step towards removing up to a third of our CO2 emissions.This both will benefit the whole world but also wherever you live on a local level. 

3. No Exhaust smell

Living in Los Angeles, I’m pretty familiar with traffic. One part of traffic that will always stick with me is the smell of exhaust. The smell is a constant reminder of our CO2 emissions. And there are actually negative effects of inhaling CO2. It takes a high concentration of CO2 in the air for any immediately fatal effect to take place but consistent exposure to it can have lasting effects. One study showed that there can even be lasting cognitive effects of CO2 just from living with plants in your house.  

Because electric vehicles have zero direct emission, there won't be any more of those smells when everyone is driving electric.

4. Better for the Environment 

Electric vehicles are better for the environment than internal combustion vehicles. (Read “Can Electric Vehicles Save The Earth?) The subsequent benefit of fewer emissions is that the environment improves. There are a lot of things at stake when it comes to reducing our global CO2 emissions. This article is not supposed to guilt-trip anyone into buying an electric car (or maybe it is). But as a refresher, here are some of the ways that CO2 emissions affect the environment: increased global temperatures, pollution, more ticks and mosquitoes, hurricanes, fires, famine, stress, anxiety. I won’t say more, even though there are a lot more. 

There’s a definite domino effect that takes place when a portion of emissions is reduced, and if you can imagine when there’s 100% adoption of renewably sourced electric vehicles mother nature will give us all a big hug.  

5. Save the bees

Among some of the animals and insects affected by global warming are bees. 75% of all the crops that produce fruits or seeds that we eat require pollination. Bees are a crucial part of that pollination process, and their numbers are rapidly declining at roughly 30% per year. Global warming isn’t the only factor that’s making this population decrease, but rising global temperatures are killing off a lot of southern populations of bees. Similarly extreme seasons make the pollination timing difficult. 

So if you like food, then save the bees. One way you can do that is driving using renewable electric energy.

6. Sleep Better at Night - Carbon Footprint

One issue of being a child of the 90s is the ever-waking knowledge in my head of my personal carbon footprint. Although the production of electric cars does not have a smaller carbon cost than gasoline-powered cars now, it eventually will. This is only an economy of scale issue. As demand increases, technology increases, and with that carbon costs decrease. Many electric companies are actively looking to become carbon neutral. Polestar uses completely sustainable recycled materials for its car interiors. They’ve also built a factory in China that runs completely on renewable energy. You can read more about that here. Using an electric vehicle (powered by renewable energy) does actually offset your individual carbon footprint. So you may be able to sleep better at night knowing that. 

7. Less Cancer 

When we emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere a lot of toxic chemicals are collected in the air, and we may come in contact with them when heavy rainfall occurs. Also, the depletion of the ozone makes us more susceptible to skin cancer from increased exposure to UV rays from the sun. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences suggests that we can reduce these effects by using “energy-efficient power generation, lower vehicle miles traveled, [and] decreasing toxic outputs of fossil fuel-based transportation.” The WHO estimates that “Climatic changes already are estimated to cause over 150,000 deaths annually.” 

8. Fewer Heart Issues

Similar to cancer, heart and lung issues can be traced back to emissions. One study that evaluated the effects of climate change on heart attacks found that the warming planet would “increase the burden of temperature-related heart attacks.”

Here’s an excerpt from an article in Science Daily explaining this phenomena, 

“The environment can have a major effect on the human cardiovascular system. It has long been assumed that severe spikes in temperature increase the risk of heart attack. ‘In the case of very high and very low temperatures in particular, this has been clearly demonstrated. In this latest study, we wanted to see to what extent the heat and cold-related heart attack risk has changed over the years,’ explains Dr. Kai Chen, researcher at the Institute of Epidemiology at Helmholtz Zentrum München.”

9. Improve the air

Pollution kills more than 9 million people every year. CO2 pollution has been proven as a link to increased cases of lung cancer, allergies asthma, and cardiovascular disease. With zero direct emissions, electric cars do a lot to offset CO2 emissions. 

10. Maintenance Costs

Electric cars have fewer parts than conventional gas vehicles. The battery gives power to the motor, which gives power to the wheels, that’s it. This means that there’s no transmission, no oil changes, no spark plugs, no catalytic converter, radiator, or any other exhaust. In a comparison between a gasoline powered vehicle and an electric both driving 12,000 miles a year, the electric vehicle saved $627 a year just in fuel costs. Over five years that equates to over $3,000. 

Maintenance costs are also cheaper, AAA’s Your Driving Costs report revealed that average maintenance costs are growing, and have grown 8.9% since last year for standard gasoline vehicles. For electric vehicles the cost increase is not reflected. Electric vehicles have the lowest maintenance costs per mile at 6.6 cents per mile with SUVs being the highest at 9.6 cents per mile. 

The largest potential maintenance cost to electric vehicle owners is the battery. You won't have to worry about this unless you plan on keeping the car for longer than a decade. If you do plan on that, current costs put at getting an equal or better replacement at anywhere between five to ten thousand dollars. 

But, don’t let that stop you, there are a few other considerations. The first being that battery costs are decreasing very rapidly, and it can be assumed that in 10 years the cost for a replacement battery will be in the sub $5,000 range. Also, you may be able to reuse the battery, depending on what type it is. Some companies are discovering ways to replace individual cells that may have gone bad. 

If none of those options work, you may still be able to sell your old battery to help offset the cost of a new one. Regardless, prices will be much cheaper by the time this problem arises (if you’re buying a new electric vehicle). 

11. Life Expectancy

Electric cars are simpler than internal combustion vehicles, they don’t require an engine or all of the components needed to run one. Because of its simplicity, it’s more reliable and runs for much longer than a typical internal combustion vehicle.

12. Become Energy Independent

The inevitable goal of some electric car owners is to become energy independent. Harvesting your own renewable energy, most likely solar, and using that to charge your car and power your home. 

Buying an electric car is one step in becoming energy independent. It’s a growing trend that is happening in the United States. It’s estimated that there are 5,000 net-zero homes in the U.S. right now. California could be adding up to 100,000 a year CNBC reports.

13. Tax Incentives

This benefit won’t be around forever but in the United States, you can qualify for up to $7500 of federal tax credit for the qualifying purchase of an EV or a PHEV. The incentives have always been planned to phase out as adoption increases, but now President Trump is accelerating that process as he has a lot of vested interest in the gasoline and oil industries. In other states, like California, there are state incentives as well. 

We put together a guide to get you through all of the steps of getting the federal tax credit you can see here.

14. Rebates

Alongside all of the tax incentives, there are tons of rebates available for those who purchase an electric vehicle. In California (which is probably the best state to buy an electric car) there are over $23,000 of rebates available which I wrote about here. So an electric car may be cheaper than you expect!

15. Rebates for Chargers

Some of those rebates also go for home chargers. Different municipalities or power providers may even pay for a professional to come and install a home charger for you. So you get money to buy the car, and you get money to get a charger. 

16. Rebates for Used Electric

Some cities, like Los Angeles, even provide these rebates for buying a used electric car. The Los Angeles rebate is for $500. That’s a pretty significant amount. 

17. Regenerative Braking

This is one of the coolest, weirdest first experiences of driving an electric car. When you take your foot off of the accelerator the car uses the brake stopping power to recharge the battery. Regenerative braking also helps your car to recycle energy and increase its range and efficiency. 

18. Heating & Cooled seats

Not necessarily exclusive to electric cars, but some features that are becoming standard in them are heated and cooled seats. Which are great for summer, or winter, or playing pranks on whoever is sitting with you in the car. 

19. Preconditioning

Before you get to your car you’re able to turn on your air conditioning so the car is cooled by the time you get in. I can’t tell you how nice this feature is to have. 

20. Remote Connection

Many electric cars, like Tesla, allow you to have remote access to your car via an app from wherever you are in the world. 

21. At-home Charging

Another of the big benefits (if you have a home) is the ability to charge at home. Goodbye gas stations, hello driveway/garage. Cars spend nearly 95% of their lives parked at home or work. Being able to use that time to recharge that battery is real efficiency. The ultimate goal being sourcing your own power, perhaps with a Tesla solar roof and a Tesla Powerwall you can be ultimately independent.

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22. Early Adoption

Last year (in the United States) there were 328,920 sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles. In 2028 that number is predicted to be 3,000,000. Which is less than ten years away, so you can tell that we’re still on the upswing. So, anyone who buys an EV now is still technically an early adopter. That gives you the right to hold your nose up a little higher than all those gas-driving fools. 

23. Insurance Benefits

Alongside tax incentives and rebates, another benefit is auto insurance benefits. A few auto-insurers are rewarding their customers who drive, or purchase electric vehicles. Liberty Mutual, for instance, provides a discount for anyone who drives a hybrid or electric vehicle.

24. Driving Performance (Better Torque/Speed)

Depending on the car you get, you may experience a performance increase. In a typical internal combustion engine, the engine has to mix gasoline, with air to move pistons, which then have to reach a certain firing rate, for a bunch of other things to happen for the car to then eventually get up to speed. In an electric car as soon as you tell the battery to give power to the motor by putting your foot on the accelerator it goes. This means that the torque is the same from zero miles an hour to a hundred. 

25. No Shifting Gears

Another mechanical benefit to electric cars is that they don’t require a transmission that spares many moving parts that need fixing over time. It also means no jumps in RPMs, no jolting gear changes. 

26. Fuel Savings

Right now energy.gov reports that the average cost of gasoline is $2.25/gallon (which is so cheap) and the electric equivalent is $1.15/gallon. Some reports show that you’ll save at least $600/year on fuel costs from an electric car compared to a gas-powered counterpart. 

There are also some other good tools that you can compare the car that you’ve got right now versus an electric car and see just how much you’ll be saving. You can try this one here.

U.C. Davis EV Explorer allows you to put in your actual commute to see how much you’d save. You can find that here.

27. Storage Increase (No Engine)

Another benefit of not having an engine in battery electric vehicles is now having a “frunk” where the engine bay would normally be is now room for storage. So much room for activities! Tesla models take advantage of this space by offering both a trunk and a frunk. The Rivian R1T has a frunk, a truck bed, and an extra pull out storage space with 12 cubic feet of lockable storage.

28. Benefits to Local Economy

One that you may not initially consider is giving money to your local economy. Most electricity that we use comes from localized power plants. When you charge your car in your area you are contributing to the local economy as opposed to paying for fuel from a national chain of gas stations. 

29. Societal Benefits

Oddly enough using an electric car may actually have some benefit to the U.S. electric grid. Currently our electric grid has very limited storage capacity, but batteries in electric cars when charged can store some of this energy and offload it from the grid. A study that evaluated all of the benefits of electric cars even suggested that in the state of an emergency electric vehicles could be coupled and create a “grid-island” for a neighborhood during a crisis or weather disaster. 

30. Quiet Driving

This is a little subjective, but one benefit is that with no engine your car won’t make a sound. Well, it’ll make a little electronic hum but that’s it. For me personally, I do miss the sound of the engine, and the tactile feedback from the steering wheel when the engine vibrates the whole car. But equally as cool is feeling like you’re in a land speeder from Star Wars that seems to just float across the road.  

31. Sounds Pretty Cool

The sound is like a spaceship whizzing by, I’m sure you’ve heard one. If you really, really don’t like the sound of it though there is a company in the UK that makes a fake exhaust that sounds convincingly good like in this video here.

32. Safety - Tesla Safety Ratings

It was a big year for Tesla in 2013, one of the reasons why was the Tesla Model S receiving the highest-ever 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA’s highest rating is 5-stars so they never give out an award or rating above that but the Model S (when all the scores were considered) actually received a combined 5.4 safety rating. 

With no engine, there’s more room for what’s called a “crumple zone”. That made the Model S the least likely for occupancy injury.  The craziest part of the safety test that the Model S passed was the side pole intrusion test. The Model S “preserved 63.5 percent of driver residual space”, the next closest competitor was the Volvo S60 which is also a great car preserved only a mere 7.8 percent. The approach Tesla used to achieve this was the same approach that was used for the Apollo Lunar Lander. 

Luckily seven years later these high safety ratings are not reserved for one brand alone. There are a lot of options for extremely safe electric cars. The Volvo S60 also boasts a 5-star safety rating, as does the Volvo XC90. Even the Prius received a 5-star overall safety rating.  If you want to see how safe an electric car is you can check on the NHTSA website here.

33. Remote Software Updates

Love them or hate them, one big change that Tesla brought to the automotive world was hardware and software built for the end-user. The computer system on the car is responsible for numerous typical responsibilities like monitoring malfunctions or issues with the car, tire pressure, etc. but also more advanced things like Tesla’s Autopilot system (if you want to learn how self-driving cars work you can read my article about that here). What makes this even more special is that like the phone you’re most likely reading this on its software can be updated remotely and learn new tricks. Tesla’s cars are continuously receiving software updates that help them to really improve. 

34. The Newest Technology is Being put Into Electric Cars

Many of the companies working on electric cars are reserving their newest most cutting edge technologies for these cars. Many of the newer companies are even changing the form factor by which you interact with the car. Take for example Canoo, instead of having a typical dashboard in the car, you merely dock your phone and that becomes the dashboard, with a projected display on the front of the glass. 

If you want to read more about new technology in electric cars read this article about 10 companies that are changing the game for electric vehicles.

35. Long Term Savings

When you couple fuel savings, with fewer components, less maintenance, and a longer life-span the savings compound. Over its whole life, you really will save a lot of money from driving an electric car. A study conducted by Ingrid Malmgren (of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation) quantified the collective benefit value of electric car ownership, both to the owner and to the society at large. She found monetary benefit in the categories of economic development, national security, health impacts, environmental, maintenance, and fuel savings. Between all of those categories for one car there was $16,403 worth of benefits.  

36. Carpool Lanes

In California and a few other states, you can qualify for a Clean Air Access Vehicle badge that will grant you access to the HOV lane. This is a big benefit if you’re like my wife who has to commute 100 miles a day to work. 

If you want to know more about incentives and rebates available in California you can check out my guide here.

37. Self Driving Features

Similar to heated seats and preconditioning, many electric cars come standard with features like adaptive cruise control, lane assist, or even more advanced self-driving features like Tesla’s Autopilot. Which when used safely, is truly so nice, especially for commuters, or road trips. 

If you’re interested in learning about how Tesla’s autopilot works I wrote an article here.

38. Get up to Speed Quicker

With increased torque, you can get up to the speed of traffic quicker, and with regenerative braking, you can slow down to the speed of traffic quicker as well. It makes getting on and off the 405 in LA so much easier. 

39. Free Charging

Although fewer and fewer workplaces and stores are offering free charging, some still are. When was the last time you got free gas? I don’t think I ever have. 

40. Free Premium Parking

Companies that offer free charging in their parking lots tend to put those spots up right up in the front of the parking lot so while you get free charging, you also can waltz right in the front door from your car. 

41. Growing Resale Value

In the past few years, electric vehicles have suffered from rapid depreciation. Most of this can be attributed to the fact that the government will pay you to buy a new one. The second reason is due to the actual range these vehicles can drive. Government rebates and incentives are being phased out which will over time increase the resale value. Battery technology is rapidly improving and many cars are achieving over 200-mile range. So as this technology improves, which it will, and government tax credits are phased out, which they will be, resale value will increase. 

42. More Predictable Costs

At the time of writing this (spring 2020), we’re experiencing one of the most volatile times in oil ever. Over the past 5 years, oil prices have fluctuated and can be very easily manipulated by private companies. Electricity, however, is more predictable in its cost, and you can estimate more assuredly what your cost to drive will be. Electricity costs are much more stable because states regulate electricity utility costs. 

43. Casting a Vote for the Future

By buying an electric vehicle you are part of a bigger change. You’re helping push for a bigger move to renewable energy, and a cleaner future. You are telling the manufacturer of your vehicle, and other manufacturers what you want as a consumer. You’re voting for a cleaner future. 

44. No More Oil Changes

Without a transmission, you don’t even need to worry about oil filters, oil, oil changes or any of that.

45. It Doesn’t Have to be a Tesla Anymore

There are 45 different PHEV and BEVs available in the United States right now, that’s more options than there’s ever been. So you don’t have to get a Tesla, you could get a Prius, or you could not get a Prius. You can get whatever you want.

Conclusions

There are a lot of reasons to consider buying an electric car. From lower maintenance costs, and fuel savings, to driving something that sounds like a spaceship. We need to quickly change what kind of power we use, and how we use it, otherwise our earth is going to get a lot hotter. There are so many options for electric cars today that there’s something for everyone. It really isn’t a question of if you’re going to get an electric car, it’s a question of when. Electric cars will be the norm sooner than later because there are just so many benefits.