By Jeremy J. Zacharias
When I made the decision to buy my Tesla Model 3 after it was first revealed in 2016, I knew nothing about what it meant to own and daily drive an EV. In 2016, only a small handful of all-electric cars were in production, including the premium Tesla Model S and X, the affordable but low range Nissan Leaf, and the new Chevy Bolt, which was crossed off my list after a test drive. Therefore, there was little to no information to quantify whether a mass produced EV with decent range was even possible or was a good life choice.
My decision in 2016 was based on a whim at the time and frankly, was entered into solely because my $1,000 deposit was fully refundable. I had to repeatedly convince my then fiancé that I was not making a horrible mistake. However, with no clear indication of when my car would actually be delivered, I set out to do my research while I waited. In the next two years before I received the much anticipated call from Tesla informing me that my Model 3 was ready for delivery, I fully researched why it was a great time to buy an EV. The more research that I did, the clearer it was of why I needed to ditch my ICE vehicle over an EV and why being an early adopter to an affordable EV was not as frightening as one might think. On the date of my delivery, August 31, 2018, I was fully ready to be an EV owner and learned a few things along the way. In this article, I share three lessons that I have learned in my experience and explain why you should also buy an EV right now.
- Federal Tax Incentives
The federal income tax credit was a major reason for my decision to purchase an EV when I did. Details regarding the federal income tax credit are located here: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml. To qualify for this federal incentive, the vehicle (1) must be made by an official manufacturer; (2) be treated as a motor vehicle for purposes of title II of the Clean Air Act; (3) must have a gross vehicle weight rating of not more than 14,000 lbs; and (4) must be propelled to a significant extent by an electric motor which draws electricity from a battery which has a capacity of not less than 4 kilowatt hours and is capable of being recharged from an external source of electricity.
However, those interested in purchasing an EV should act soon since the federal EV credit begins to phase out for vehicles at the beginning of the second calendar quarter after the manufacturer has sold 200,000 eligible plug-in electric vehicles. The bad news for consumers is that Tesla has now sold over 200,000 vehicles so the federal tax incentive is all but phased out. The good news, however, is that more manufacturers are entering this market, meaning that the full EV tax credit will be in play for auto manufacturers new to the EV market, such as Lucid or Rivian.
- Great state incentives to electrify your home and add property value
One of the most convenient aspects of owning and daily driving an EV is the home charging component. With my job, I would routinely begin the day with a full charge and would be nearly empty by the time I got home in the evening. With Tesla, I had the option of stopping by a Supercharger before I arrived home, but my home charging station, which will be the major option for most EV manufacturers, was the better and more convenient option.
When I was waiting for the delivery of my Model 3, I installed a 220 volt electric line in my garage. This project cost me less than $1,000, which added value to my home. My “electrified” garage is now a selling point to my home since a potential home buyer with an EV will have the infrastructure needed to be operational.
Additionally, with more states embracing the future of electric cars, more incentives are being offered for the purchase of an EV and for home charging. In my state of New Jersey, for example, Senate Bill 2252 created an incentive program for installing at-home electric charging infrastructure. The full Senate Bill is located here: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/PL19/362_.PDF. This Bill was signed by the New Jersey Governor on January 17, 2020. https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/20200117b.shtml. In Senate Bill 2252, a qualified individual can receive up to a $500 payment for installing a home charging station to further the electric vehicle future within the state. Various other states have similar EV programs incentives and can be located here: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/state.
Adopting to the EV lifestyle will allow you to install your home charging network before prices will increase, which it surely will. Additionally, utilizing home charging will allow you to take advantage of your states incentives for adapting to the EV life. Why not use the incentive while saving the environment at the same time?
- Early adoption equals early understanding
With any first production automobile or piece of technology, which an EV is a perfect blend of both, the worry is that your investment into an early production model will lead to nothing but headache and stress. The defunct Fisker Karma hybrid is a clear example of this, which failed due to numerous mechanical and quality problems, including the potential of catching on fire. However, with Tesla celebrating nearly 8 years in mass production and mainstream companies like Ford and Volvo investing in an electric future, these headaches are a thing of the past.
My experience owning an EV, once I got past range anxiety and charging each night at home, is extremely similar to my other vehicles. Accepting that owning an EV will not be as revolutionary as one might think is the first step of entering a market that will revolutionize modern mass transportation.
This early adoption will also lead to early understanding. How many of you reading this article really know how your vehicle works? Be honest. However, understanding how an EV works is quite simple. The technology has been around for over one hundred years and this simplicity of use translates to simplicity of adoption. Each of us own a cell phone or computer. The charging infrastructure, although on a greater scale, is no different for an EV.
Based on my experience over the past two years as an EV owner, one thing is clear: the future of transportation is electric. Adopting to the EV revolution now will ensure that you will be ahead of the game when EV transport is streamlined and will possess the knowledge necessary to capitalize when everyone else is trying to catch up.