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Electric Vehicles 101: 2024 EV Buyers’ and Owners’ Guide

We’ve put this Electric Vehicle Guide together for those just getting their feet wet in the EV world. But we think you’ll find a few golden nuggets even if you’re a die hard EV owner like us. Our EV adventure began in 2016 with the purchase of a Tesla Model S with Full Self-Driving (FSD) after Elon Musk’s video was released showing his Tesla driving him to work hands-free and dropping him off at the front door of the office building before parking itself after waiting for pedestrians to cross the street. All fabrications as we would later learn. When our car unexpectedly died in the middle of nowhere leaving us stranded 200 miles from the nearest Tesla dealer, we sold it.

Lesson #1: Never buy any car that you can’t get fixed in a timely manner by a repair shop near where you live and/or frequently travel.

Following our Tesla debacle, we purchased a Jaguar I-Pace followed by a Tesla Model X, then a Kia EV6 and last week a Mustang Mach-E GT, Performance Edition. So we’ve been around the block (several times).

In our 7+ years of EV ownership, here are our take-aways.

Lesson #2: If you’re dead set on owning a Tesla, DO NOT PURCHASE FULL SELF-DRIVING. It was promised in 2016 and every year since. It’s not even close to working safely and reliably. In fact, I’m amazed it is still allowed on public streets. If you really want full self-driving, buy a GM product with Super Cruise or a Ford product with Blue Cruise. Both work flawlessly.

Lesson #3: Unless you have a way to charge your vehicle regularly at your home, don’t buy an EV. If you really still want to be part of the EV revolution, buy a hybrid (PHEV) that can keep itself charged. Using public charging facilities to keep your vehicle charged is not only time-consuming, but it’s also expensive. Pricing at most public EV chargers is almost as costly as gasoline, and a fill-up typically takes 40 to 60 minutes as opposed to 5 minutes at a gas pump.

Lesson #4: Avoid long road trips in an EV. It’s nerve-wracking, expensive, and time-consuming. A neighbor of ours in Florida drives his EV from Washington, D.C. to the beach and has to make five or six charging stops along the way. I’d sooner shoot myself. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford a second car, an EV makes an excellent, cost-saving, around-town car especially if you can charge it in your garage. For example, in Florida, charging in your garage costs roughly 5 cents per mile of charge. That’s less than one-third the cost of driving a typical gas-powered vehicle.

Lesson #5: We would never own another vehicle without Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Elon calls it Auto-Pilot on the Tesla. It’s available on virtually every modern vehicle for an extra charge. While it won’t drive you to your destination and still requires that you keep your hands on the wheel, the stress of driving is greatly reduced. Be advised that all LKA systems are not created equal. On a Tesla, the feature is an all or nothing deal. You cannot make minor steering corrections without first disengaging auto-pilot by yanking on the steering wheel. With the other vehicles we’ve owned including Audi, Nissan, Infiniti, Jaguar, Range Rover, and Mustang, you can make steering adjustments without disengaging LKA, a much safer approach.

Charging Your Electric Vehicle

There are three types of charging systems for EVs: Level 1, 2, and 3. Level 1 chargers can be used with any 120 volt, 20 amp A/C outlet and provide about 3-5 miles of charge for every hour of connection. Level 2 chargers are typically installed in garages or office building. They require a 240 volt, 50 or 60 amp connection and provide 20 to 25 miles of charge per hour. Level 3 chargers are expensive and are typically found at commercial charging stations such as Tesla Superchargers, Electrify America, EVgo, and many others. They can provide 50 to several hundred miles of charge per hour. Prices vary depending upon local costs of electricity as well as supply and demand. The two questions you should be asking are (1) where’s the nearest Level 3 charger to my current location when I have 20% of range left and (2) which chargers have the best pricing per kWh. Our favorite cellphone app to obtain this information is Chargeway. It can be configured to show Tesla Superchargers or CCS chargers or both with pricing and charge availability. Chargeway includes over 80,000 charging stations from over 40 networks throughout the US and Canada. Add your EV and it automatically shows stations that match your EV’s plug type and power levels as well as pricing and charge time estimates. Once you’ve identified your vehicle in the app, you can further refine the settings in the Filters option. We typically set Green (J1772/CCS) to 6 and 7, Blue (CHadeMO) to 7, and Red (Tesla/NACS) to 7 since Mustangs can use both CCS and Tesla V3+ Superchargers (with adapter).

Finding Information About Electric Vehicles

Our favorite source of news about EVs is Electrek.While the editor was originally a Tesla FanBoy, he has sobered up a bit since his Tesla tried to kill him a couple times. Another great source of information are the forums for Tesla, Rivian, and the Mach-E.

Current Deals on Electric Vehicles

Before you start shopping for an EV, you first may wish consider which electric vehicles current;y qualify for tax rebates. Also worth a careful review are which vehicles include free charging. Finally, it’s a good idea to check recent news articles documenting price reductions on particular EVs. For example, just last week Ford dramatically cut the prices on all 2023 Mach-E vehicles and brought back 0% financing. If you’re dead set on a Tesla, the best time to purchase is the last week of every quarter when Tesla is attempting to meet sales goals.

Something We’ve Missed?

If you’ve got a tip that we’ve overlooked, feel free to share it by leaving a comment below.

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