Electric Vehicle Buying Guide in 2023

PinkyWheels- Electric Cars buying guide: BEV, HEV, PHEV, Pros and Cons of living with an EV, EV Charging options, Essential Tips, Important battery facts list.

Salman Chaudhary, Founder Pinkywheels.com

Electric Vehicle (EV) Buying Guide

If you're considering purchasing an electric vehicle, Pinkywheels is here to provide assistance. In this comprehensive guide to buying EVs, we'll walk you through essential information about electric vehicles and offer tailored recommendations based on your preferences for an electric vehicle.

Key Points:

  • Introduction

  • Types of Electric Vehicles

  • Home Charging

  • Destination Charging

  • Driving Range

  • Financial Considerations

  • Driving Experience

  • Finding the Right EV

If the prospect of entering the world of electric vehicles seems overwhelming due to unfamiliar jargon, specifications, and other factors, take a deep breath. We're here to simplify the EV landscape for you. From hybrid vehicles to fully electric ones, we'll guide you through the essential aspects, including charging, range, costs, and performance.

Types of Electric Vehicles

The world of electrified vehicles can seem complicated with numerous acronyms like HEVs, MHEVs, PHEVs, BEVs, and EVs. In essence, there are three main categories: vehicles exclusively powered by gasoline, those solely powered by electricity, and those in between.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), commonly known as EVs, are the most recognizable electric cars. They operate purely on electricity and lack conventional engines. EVs rely on large battery packs for power, which can be recharged by plugging the vehicle in. Acceleration in an EV is powered by electricity from the battery pack to the electric motor. While EVs can be charged using a regular outlet, dedicated charging stations offer significantly faster charging speeds.

Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) bridge the gap between EVs and traditional cars. They feature both a gasoline engine and an electric battery pack, which can be recharged by plugging in. PHEVs primarily use electricity from the battery, switching to the gasoline engine when necessary. PHEVs offer usable electric range and can be ideal for daily commutes without relying heavily on gasoline.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) combine a gasoline engine with an electric motor but cannot be plugged in. They are refueled at gas stations and prioritize improved fuel economy. HEVs, like Toyota hybrids, have distinct driving characteristics aimed at enhancing efficiency.

An EV on a Charger
An EV on a Charger

Charging at Home

For most EV and PHEV owners, home charging is the primary method. PHEVs can be charged overnight using a standard 120-volt outlet. However, full EVs and some PHEVs with larger battery packs require Level 2 charging stations for quicker charging. These stations, installed by an electrician, use a 240-volt connection and significantly reduce charging times compared to standard outlets.

Destination Charging

Considering the average round-trip commute of around 55 minutes, most EVs are capable of covering this distance comfortably. Yet, for those who don't recharge daily or need longer range for road trips, destination charging options are important. Charging networks like PlugShare help locate charging stations. Rapid-charging stations, like Tesla's Superchargers and DC fast-charging stations, offer quicker charging times compared to standard Level 2 stations.

Driving Range

Unlike traditional vehicles where refueling is convenient, EV charging stations can be sparse. EVs offer varying ranges, with many newer models exceeding 200 miles per charge. The U.S. Department of Energy provides EPA range estimates for EVs. Real-world driving tests by Pinkywheels help validate these estimates.

Financial Considerations

EVs and PHEVs tend to be pricier upfront than gasoline counterparts. However, government incentives and tax credits can significantly reduce the cost. Changes in federal tax credit laws have made understanding these credits complex, but resources are available to guide you.

Additionally, EVs have lower maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts. Charging costs are generally lower than refueling, although actual savings depend on local electricity and fuel prices.

Driving Experience

EVs offer instant acceleration due to the nature of electric motors. Regenerative braking, which converts braking energy into electricity, affects the driving experience. Different manufacturers implement regenerative braking strategies, impacting range and driving feel. Customizable regenerative settings are common in modern EVs.

Finding the Right EV

With an increasing number of EV options, finding the right one might feel overwhelming. Pinkywheels has categorized the best EVs based on specific scenarios, such as families, long commutes, city driving, performance, and active lifestyles. Vehicles like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tesla Model 3 Long Range, Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo, Rivian R1T, and Ford F-150 Lightning cater to different preferences and lifestyles.

Tesla Model 3 specs
Tesla Model 3 specs

Six EV battery facts that every EV driver should Know

1. Unraveling Charging Time Mysteries

One of the mysteries that often baffles electric car drivers revolves around charging times. You might find it perplexing that car manufacturers provide charging time estimates that seemingly don't align with reality. But fear not – there's a rationale behind this.

The charging process is analogous to filling a cup of tea. As the cup nears its brim, you pour the liquid more gently to avoid wastage. Similarly, as an electric car's battery approaches 80% charge, the speed of charging is reduced to protect the battery's health. This means that the last 20% of charging takes considerably longer than the initial 80%. To optimize charging efficiency and courtesy to fellow drivers, consider unplugging your car at 80% if your destination or next charging station is within range.

2. Demystifying Charging Speeds

Charging speeds – a critical but often overlooked facet of electric cars. Unlike gasoline pumps that consistently dispense fuel at the same rate, EVs employ a more dynamic approach. Picture a nightclub bouncer managing entry – an electric car's battery management system ensures that the battery is charged safely and efficiently.

Charging begins at a modest pace and gradually accelerates until around 80% capacity, where it peaks before tapering off. Variables such as battery temperature influence this process. Cold batteries impede charging speed, but innovative solutions like the Citroen ec4's battery heat pump ensure optimal charging efficiency, even in colder conditions.

3. Factoring in Real-World Conditions

When acquiring an electric car, battery size, power, and range often monopolize attention. Yet, charging speeds – how quickly the battery replenishes – are equally vital but frequently overlooked. Unlike traditional fuel pumps, electric car batteries are prudent in managing incoming power to ensure longevity.

Consider a busy nightclub where the bouncer allows only as many patrons as the venue can comfortably accommodate. Similarly, batteries admit only the power they can safely handle, progressively speeding up charging before slowing down around 80%. Temperature conditions further impact charging rates, underlining the importance of a battery heat pump system for efficient cold-weather charging.

4. Accounting for Range Variability

Range anxiety is a common concern among electric car drivers, stemming from real-world deviations from standardized testing conditions. WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) consumption figures offer useful benchmarks, but they might overestimate actual range due to factors like temperature, driving style, and terrain.

Recognize that your daily driving conditions differ from controlled tests. External temperatures, road types, and climate control usage significantly influence energy consumption. Familiarize yourself with your specific car's range in your typical conditions to gain accurate insights and plan your journeys effectively.

5. Battling Cold Weather Challenges

Electric car performance in cold weather used to be a concern, impacting both battery efficiency and cabin heating. Modern EVs, however, feature innovative solutions like heat pump systems. These systems optimize cabin temperature and battery conditions, ensuring efficient heating while conserving energy.

The Citroen ec4's heat pump, for instance, draws in cold air, compresses it to release heat, and uses this warmth to heat the cabin and battery. Furthermore, the heat pump can even utilize heat generated by the battery to enhance overall efficiency.

6. Decoding Range Display Dynamics

The range display on your dashboard provides an estimate of how far your electric car can travel on current battery charge. It's a valuable tool, but its accuracy varies with driving conditions. Think of it as an estimate that adapts as you drive.

Your rangeometer takes into account battery charge, external temperature, and other variables to estimate your remaining range. However, it can't predict your future driving behavior, road type, or weather conditions. As you gain experience, you'll learn to gauge your car's real-world range based on these factors, ultimately alleviating range anxiety.

Optimize Your Electric Journey

Living with an electric car is a journey of understanding and adaptation. Armed with these battery insights, you can confidently navigate the nuances of electric driving. From managing charging expectations to accounting for real-world conditions, you're now equipped to make the most of your electric vehicle experience. As the landscape of EVs evolves, embracing these insights will undoubtedly enhance your electric journey.

So, charge up, hit the road, and enjoy the efficiency, sustainability, and innovation of electric driving.

Tesla Model Y on a charger
Tesla Model Y on a charger

Pros of EVs:

· Instant Acceleration: Electric vehicles offer instant torque and acceleration, making for a smooth and responsive driving experience, especially in city traffic.

· Lower Operating Costs: EVs have fewer moving parts compared to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, leading to lower maintenance and repair costs.

· Environmentally Friendly: EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, which is beneficial for the environment and public health.

· Energy Efficiency: Electric motors are more efficient in converting energy from the grid to movement, resulting in higher energy efficiency and lower energy consumption.

· Quiet Operation: Electric vehicles are much quieter than their gas counterparts, providing a quieter and more peaceful driving experience.

Cons of EVs:

· Limited Range: Some EVs have limited driving range compared to traditional vehicles, making long trips or commutes challenging without access to charging infrastructure.

· Charging Infrastructure: The availability and reliability of charging stations can be an issue in some areas, making it inconvenient for long journeys or for those without home charging options.

· Higher Initial Cost: Electric vehicles often come with a higher upfront cost compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, although this is gradually decreasing with advancements in technology.

· Battery Degradation: Over time, EV battery capacity can degrade, leading to reduced driving range and potentially requiring expensive battery replacements.

· Charging Time: While fast charging options are available, charging an EV still takes longer than refueling a gas vehicle, which can be a concern for those with busy schedules.

Two EVs parked on a beach
Two EVs parked on a beach