Check the boxes on these critical considerations before buying or leasing your first EV.

Needs And Budget

As with shopping for any kind of vehicle, you should choose a model that you can afford and meets your essential needs. Is the passenger compartment sufficiently roomy to transport your family and/or friends in comfort? Is there enough cargo room in the trunk or rear hatch to facilitate a typical trip to the grocery or warehouse store? Where is the nearest dealership where you can get the vehicle serviced?

Operating Range

Perhaps the most critical electric vehicle buying consideration is how many miles a given model can be driven on a full charge. Many of the latest EVs can run for more than 200 miles, while older models in the used market may be limited to around 80 miles. More is better in this regard to stem so-called range anxiety, but depending on your driving habits you may not have to pay top dollar for a longer-range EV. If your daily commute is nominal and you have close access to shopping and recreation, an EV having a modest operating range may suffice. Range can be less of an issue if you also own a conventionally powered vehicle that you can drive worry free over longer distances. Be aware, however, that an electric car’s range can be adversely affected by factors like ambient temperature (especially extreme cold and hot weather), use of accessories (primarily the heater and air conditioning), and your driving habits (an EV uses more energy at highway speeds than it does around town).

New Or Used?

Choosing a new electric vehicle ensures you will be getting the latest features and technology, the automaker’s full warranty, and perhaps a longer operating range on a charge than with an older model. On the other hand, used EVs are especially affordable due to a combination of circumstances. Older limited-range models are downright cheap and can prove to be an economical alternative to a gas-powered car for getting to and from a commuter rail station and running local errands. Newer used EVs are often sold as certified pre-owned models that come with an extended warranty and other perks. You’ll find an extensive inventory of pre-owned EVs listed for sale here on MyEV.com.

Lease Or Finance?

A large percentage of electric vehicles are leased for two or three-year periods rather than purchased outright and financed. While this guarantees you’ll be making perpetual car payments, leasing does have its advantages. Monthly outlays and down payments are typically lower with leasing, and you simply return the car to the dealership at the end of the term. This ensures you won’t be saddled with a hard to sell EV with what could be dated technology down the road. On the down side, leases come with strict mileage limits with excessive penalties for exceeding them. If you return a leased EV in less than excellent condition, you’ll be charged “wear and tear” fees. And leases are difficult and costly to get out of should you become unable to make the payments or decide you want a different vehicle. If you’re financing, be sure to shop around for the lowest rates and see what the automaker's financing division is offering. But keep in mind that the best lease and financing deals are typically restricted to those having excellent credit.

Home Charging

Most electric vehicle charging is done at home where it’s cheapest and most convenient. While it’s possible to charge an EV via standard 110-volt house current, it does so at a snail’s pace. It can take anywhere from 12 hours to more than an entire day to fully replenish a drained battery, depending on the model. You’ll want to consider spending a few hundred dollars to have an electrician install a dedicated 240-volt line and outlet, like those used for heavy-duty electric appliances. Called Level 2 charging, it roughly cuts the time to fully replenish a battery in half. Check with your energy provider to see if they offer lower off-peak rates for nighttime charging. You should also think about buying a dedicated wall charging station for added safety and convenience. You can purchase either of three popular units from supplier ClipperCreek directly from MyEV.com via a link embedded in any of our used-EV listings.

Public Charging

Take stock of where public charging stations are located near where you live, work and shop, as you never know when you may need a fresh jolt of kilowatts away from home. Most EVs can now take advantage of what’s called Level 3 charging (also known as DC Fast Charging) via public stations that can bring the state of charge up to 80 percent in around 30 minutes, depending on the vehicle. A number of websites, including PlugShare.com and PlugInAmerica.org feature interactive maps that show the locations of public charging stations, what type of charging they support, and even whether or not they’re currently in use. Many take credit or debit cards, while some require you to join the provider’s charging network and enable a unit via a special card or a smartphone app.

Road-Trip Ability

Unless you plan on using an EV strictly for commuting and short haul use, you’ll need to do some homework to determine whether taking an extended road trip is viable. Here again you’ll need to determine where public chargers are situated along a given route from each other to ensure you won’t become stranded along the way. Importantly, you’ll need to figure out how far away they are from each other to ensure they’re comfortably within your vehicle’s range.

Tax Credits And Incentives

Most new electric vehicles are eligible for a one-time $7,500 federal tax credit. Be aware, however, that you won’t be able to take advantage of the full amount if you owe less than $7,500 in taxes. If you’re leasing an EV, the credit will typically be figured in as part of the deal. The exceptions here are Tesla models and General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt EV. Their credits are being phased out since the automakers sold 200,000 electrified vehicles, which is a provision of the legislation that created them. Some states sweeten the deal with financial incentives of their own. Your local power company may offer a rebate to help cover the cost of having a home charging station installed. Also check automakers’ websites to see if they’re offering cash rebates and/or cut rate financing or lease deals to further cut your costs.

Warranty

As with other vehicle types, electric cars and crossovers come with a warranty and their terms vary from one automaker to another. A comprehensive (also called "full" or "bumper-to-bumper") warranty covers most repairs except for wear-and-tear items. A separate powertrain warranty pertains to the electric motor, transmission, and other major components. Coverage is in effect for a set number of years or miles driven, whichever comes first. Most automakers also throw in roadside assistance services for a specified period. Automakers cover an EV’s battery pack separately for 8 years/100,000 miles or longer, and it transfers automatically to subsequent owners. You’ll want to go over a given model’s warranty terms carefully via the automaker’s website to check the terms and exclusions.

Test Drive

Never buy any vehicle whether new or used, gas or electric without giving it a thorough test drive. Make sure any EV you’re considering is sufficiently comfortable and that its performance meets your expectations. Put the vehicle through its paces in local traffic and on the highway, paying close attention to how it accelerates, brakes, and takes the curves. Get a feel for how easy it is to park. Ensure you can easily read the instrumentation and work the audio system and climate control while driving without undue distraction. Keep an eye on the state of charge indicator to get an idea of how quickly it consumes battery power.