EVs Can Let You Avoid High Gas Prices, but Make Sure They Fit Your Lifestyle

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Consumers wary of the recent surge in gas prices might be thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle so they no longer have to worry about sticker shock at the pump. Before taking the plunge, though, make sure it is a good fit for your lifestyle — because driving an EV often requires a lot more logistical planning than driving a gas-powered car.

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The main challenge comes in finding available charging stations and finding the time to charge up. This is not much of a problem if you don’t drive long distances, because you can charge up at home and get by fine. You might not even need a dedicated home charging station — you can plug your car into a standard household outlet to charge it, though that takes a long time.

However, if you travel long distances frequently, either for business or pleasure, you’ll have to do a lot of planning ahead of time. You can’t just pull into a gas station and fill up in a couple of minutes. You have to find enough charging stations along your route — and set aside enough time to power your EV up again.

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Fully charging an EV can take anywhere from 30 minutes to half a day, Kia noted on its website. It all depends on different factors. For example, larger batteries take longer to charge than smaller ones. If you’re charging from an empty battery, you’ll obviously need more time to charge it.

The maximum charging rate of the vehicle itself also plays a part, as does the maximum charging rate of the chargepoint. Even the weather plays a role. It tends to take longer to charge batteries in cold weather, especially if you use a rapid charger.

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Jordan Ramer, CEO of EV Connect, wrote in a recent column for Forbes that there are three basic types of EV chargers: Level 1 AC (L1), Level 2 AC (L2) and Level 3 (DC Fast Charging, or DCFC).

Most L1 chargers are found in consumers’ garages and carports and take eight to 12 hours to produce a full charge. L2 chargers typically take four to six hours to fill the battery of an average passenger EV. DCFC chargers are designed to fill a battery to 80% of capacity in 10 to 40 minutes.

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The upshot is that even the fastest chargers take much longer than pumping a tank of gas. If you live a lifestyle in which you’re always in a hurry, EVs might not be a good fit.

Another challenge is ensuring you’ll have plenty of charging options once you’re out on the open road and away from densely populated areas with plenty of charging stations. Most EVs have a much shorter range than gas-powered cars.

For the 2021 model year, the median driving range of all-electric vehicles was 234 miles vs. a median range of 403 miles for gasoline vehicles, according to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. That’s a sizeable difference even with more long-range EVs coming on the market.

As Ramer noted, decades of gas-powered auto travel have ingrained the traditional gas station experience in drivers’ minds — something that might be hard to let go of when you shift to an EV.

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“Getting a full tank should be fast, convenient and reliable,” Ramer wrote. “Historically, EV sales and the buildout of charging infrastructure have been plagued by legacy perception issues. Most notable of these issues is the fear of becoming stranded without a charging station nearby, commonly called range anxiety.”

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Range anxiety typically comes from the combination of uncertainty about the availability of EV charging infrastructure and drivers’ “chronic over-estimation of the amount of energy required for a given drive,” Ramer added.

On the bright side, President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, signed into law last fall, aims to build 500,000 new EV chargers across the country over the next half-decade, The Verge reported. That will go a long way toward easing range anxiety. But you’ll have to wait a few years to get there.

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