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4 factors to consider when shopping for your first electric car

It’s finally time. You’ve decided to make the switch and join the zero-emission club. Buying your first electric car comes with a whole new experience. Once you feel the instant torque, upgraded technology, and smoother drive, you will never go back. Now the question becomes how do you choose which electric car to buy? Here are a few factors to consider.

How to choose your first electric car

Like with any major purchase, it’s good to know your options and what to look for. You wouldn’t blindly buy a house without knowing how the inside looks or feels. The same holds true when purchasing an electric car.

Americans are buying electric vehicles (EVs) at a record pace as new electric models appear in showrooms. According to Cox Automotive, electric cars accounted for 5.6% of the total auto market this past quarter, more than doubling from 2.7% in 2021.

Tesla remains the dominant brand, yet most major automakers at this point have introduced their own electric models and are beginning to scale production.

With more options than ever, where do you start? It’s not as complicated as it may seem for first-time buyers. However, there are a few things you should consider before choosing the right EV for you. Here are a few tips and considerations for selecting your first electric car.

Hyundai IONIQ 5 Source: Hyundai

Price and incentives

Yes, there are incentives to buy electric cars. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August, extends the up to $7,500 tax credit for new electric car purchases and provides a $4,000 credit for used ones.

For an EV to be eligible, though, it must meet strict battery sourcing and assembly requirements. You can find a list of electric cars eligible for the tax credit here.

Several popular EV models make the list, including:

  • Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV
  • Ford F-150 Lightning
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Tesla Model 3
  • Tesla Model Y

The average price for an electric vehicle in September 2022 is just over $65,000. However, that doesn’t mean that all EVs cost that much. For example, here are a few of the most affordable electric cars on the market and their starting prices:

Starting price
2023 Chevy Bolt EV$25,600
2023 Chevy Bolt EUV$27,200
2023 Nissan Leaf$28,040
2023 Hyundai Kona Electric$33,550
2023 Volkswagen ID.4$37,495
Most affordable electric cars list
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Source: Chevrolet

Driving range

Another huge consideration when buying your first electric car is how far it will travel on a full charge. The range is one of the most critical factors for drivers. Do you mostly commute to work? How often do you travel long distances? Do you live in a house or an apartment?

These are a few questions you may want to ask before deciding which EV is right for you. Here are the electric cars with the highest range and their starting prices to make it easy for you.

Range (est.)Starting Price
Lucid Air Dream Edition520$169,000
Tesla Model S375$109,490
Tesla Model 3 Long Range358$62,990
Mercedes Benz EQS350$102,310
Tesla Model X 333$120,990
Tesla Model Y330$67,990
EVs with the longest range in 2022
Tesla Model S Source: Tesla

Vehicle type

Why not choose a car you love driving? Electric cars offer a driving experience that’s superior to their gas-powered counterparts. With instant torque, you can feel the power behind the wheel. Furthermore, because they have no internal combustion engine and fewer moving parts, EVs are quieter and offer a smoother ride.

At the same time, you don’t have to give up your favorite type of vehicle by switching to electric cars. Automakers have introduced an EV in every category to fit all driver styles. Below are a few examples in each category.

Electric car model
SedanTesla Model 3
Kia EV6
Tesla Model Y
Hyundai Kona EV
Chevy Bolt EV
Chevy Bolt EUV
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Polestar 2
Volvo C40
SUVHyundai IONIQ 5
Volkswagen ID.4
Rivian R1S
Jaguar I-Pace
Chevrolet Blazer EV
Audi e-tron
Kia Niro EV
Mercedes EQS
TruckFord F-150 Lightning
GMC Hummer EV
Rivian R1T
LuxuryTesla Model X
Lucid Air
Types of electric cars
Kia Niro EV Source: KIA

Charging considerations

Last and certainly not least is charging availability. If you own a home, it’s ideal to have a charging option at home. This way, every morning you wake up, you will have a fully charged electric car ready to take on the day. It’s common for about 80% of charging to be done at home.

To state the obvious, it’s best to place the charger where you typically park. However, not all EV models will have the charging point in the same location (some are near the back, while others can be in the grille).

The next thing you will want to factor in is the charging speed. Most new EVs will come with a level 1 charger, the slowest equipment using the standard 120-volt connection. Level 1 can take ten or more hours to charge your EV.

You can upgrade to a level 2 charger, but it will require a 240-volt power source. Meanwhile, Level 2 charging units can fully charge an electric car in around 3 to 8 hours.

For those who don’t own a home, it’s okay. There are charging options for you, too. You can always talk to your apartment manager to see if EV charging installation is viable (it makes a good investment)

If that’s not an option, plenty of public options are available. Automakers like Tesla are building their own Supercharging network, allowing drivers the freedom to go anywhere. Meanwhile, federal funding is contributing to the rollout of a national EV charging network.

Other companies, such as ChargePoint and EVgo, provide chargers to private businesses and for public use, expanding access further.

Most electric vehicles use the latest in connected technology, letting you know when and where to charge so you know exactly how far you can travel.

Which electric car will you choose first?

Your ideal first electric car will depend on several factors, including your budget, travel habits, and lifestyle. To get you started, here are a few of my top electric vehicle choices for first-time buyers:

Starting PriceRange (est.)
Tesla Model 3$48,490267
Hyundai IONIQ 5$39,950303
Volkswagen ID.4$42,495275
Kia Niro EV$39,450253
Hyundai Kona$34,000258
Tesla Model Y$67,990330
Chevy Bolt EV$25,600259
Top electric cars for first-time buyers

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Avatar for Peter Johnson Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is covering the auto industry’s step-by-step transformation to electric vehicles. He is an experienced investor, financial writer, and EV enthusiast. His enthusiasm for electric vehicles, primarily Tesla, is a significant reason he pursued a career in investments. If he isn’t telling you about his latest 10K findings, you can find him enjoying the outdoors or exercising