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Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars: What’s Right for Me?

In this article

  1. Electric Cars Vs. Gas Cars Cost
  2. Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?
  3. Why Should I Get an Electric Car?
  4. When Is a Gas Car Better Than an Electric Car?
  5. Final thoughts

Electric and gas cars each have their pros and cons. By doing your research on each, you can make an informed decision about which is best for you.

Catherine Hiles • July 21, 2022

There’s nothing quite like an epic road trip with friends, but when you hit the gas station to fill your tank, you’ll probably wince at the total showing on the pump when your tank is full. The rising cost of gas might have you considering buying an electric vehicle (EV) for your next car rather than a gas one. After all, it would feel fantastic to finally be free of the gas pump and volatile gas prices, right? 

Driving an EV would mean your trips to the gas station will be a thing of the past. But consider the benefits and drawbacks of driving an electric car before making the official switch. Let’s take a closer look at electric and gas cars so you can determine what’s best for you.

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Electric Cars Vs. Gas Cars Cost

A new car is a significant expense, but there’s a noticeable difference between the price of gas and electric cars. When you start researching different models, you’ll probably balk at the price of EVs compared to gas cars. 

EV technology is still relatively new, and EVs are not yet as widespread as gas cars, which makes them pricier. But some EVs are eligible for a tax credit to help decrease the price. Check to see if the car you like qualifies for this tax credit to save some money. If it does, you could pay a similar price to a comparable gas model.

Despite the higher initial price tag, EVs are generally more affordable to run and maintain than gas cars. Whether you charge your EV at a public charging station or via a home charging station, your fuel costs will be lower than they would be for a gas car. And since EVs have fewer components than gas cars, there’s also less maintenance. You can finally forget about routine maintenance like oil changes (though you’ll still need to rotate your tires regularly to help prolong their life).

There are some other hidden costs involved in owning an EV. But overall, they’re just as affordable, if not more so, than cars that rely on gasoline.

Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?

One of the biggest benefits of EVs is that they have no tailpipe emissions. But does that mean they’re better for the environment? The short answer is yes – but it’s complicated.

According to the EPA, one of the biggest myths about EVs is that they’re worse for the environment than gas-powered cars. Often, the electricity that powers EVs comes from coal power rather than from sustainable sources. But despite this, EVs are still more environmentally friendly than gas cars since they don’t emit harmful gasses into the atmosphere. And if your electricity comes from renewable sources like wind or solar, your EV is even more eco-friendly. Suddenly, those solar panels you’re considering don’t seem so outrageous!

Gas cars emit harmful carbon pollution from their tailpipes, making them less eco-friendly. Some gas-powered cars are more economical, but even the most fuel-efficient ones still emit carbon pollution. 

Why Should I Get an Electric Car?

An EV is a smart investment if you’re concerned about the environment and want to make more sustainable choices. Driving electric rather than gas reduces your carbon footprint and gives Mother Nature a leg up in combating climate change. Here are some of the main benefits and drawbacks of driving an EV.

Electric cars are cheaper to fuel than gas cars

A 2018 study by the University of Michigan found that the average cost to drive a gas vehicle was $1,117 per year, compared to $485 per year for an EV. That is a significant saving of $632 per year. Gas prices are much higher now, making the difference even more notable in 2022. 

To see how much more significant the savings could be today, let’s compare the price of gas in 2018 and now. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the average gas price in May 2018 was $2.99 compared to $4.55 in May 2022. That means a driver who uses 374 gallons of gas in a year would likely pay just over $1,700 this year compared to $1,117 in 2018. If 2022 EV costs were the same as 2018, you’d see a whopping savings of $1,215! These savings could even allow you to make an extra mortgage payment or take a much-needed weekend vacation.

Electric cars don’t require routine maintenance

If you’ve owned a gas car, you’ve likely heard about the importance of routine maintenance — and for good reason! Gas cars need regular oil changes to continue running smoothly and efficiently (generally every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on the car). On the other hand, EVs don’t need oil changes since they don’t use engine oil. 

EV owners can skip other types of maintenance, such as spark plug replacement. While EVs still need regular tire rotations, this service costs much less than a gas car’s oil change/tire rotation combo.

The government offers tax breaks on many EVs

The U.S. government offers a sweet tax rebate for buying certain electric vehicles. This deal can equal up to $7,500 back if you buy an EV. Some states also have tax rebates, sweetening the deal even further.

Not all EVs are eligible for this tax credit. It’s only available until an automaker has sold a certain number of cars. As of June 2022, EVs sold by Tesla and General Motors are no longer eligible. Ask the car dealer whether the EV you’ve got your eye on is eligible for the tax credit, and if so, how much you can get back.

EV charging infrastructure is limited in many places

Electric vehicles are still in the minority on the road, and EV charging infrastructure is often lacking. If you live in a populous state like California or New York, you’ll likely find a charging station pretty easily. But it’ll be much harder to find a charger if you live in a more rural state like Oklahoma or Idaho.

However, EV drivers tend to do most of their charging at home. Unless you frequently drive long distances, you’ll be able to juice up your EV enough at home to get you to and from work or around town. The lack of EV charging infrastructure isn’t a deal-breaker in this case.

It generally takes longer to charge an EV than to fuel a gas car

How long does it take to gas up your vehicle — maybe 5 minutes, max? It takes much longer to charge an EV, which can be off-putting for many drivers. Depending on the model and type of charger, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to charge an electric car.

That’s why it makes sense to plug your car in overnight at home while you sleep. Of course, if you’re taking a road trip, you’ll still have to use public chargers. Charging your EV could add extra time to your trip if your EV has a relatively short range.

When Is a Gas Car Better Than an Electric Car?

You might be thinking, “electric cars sound amazing; where can I get my hands on one?!” But EVs aren’t necessarily the best option for everyone. Here are some pros and cons of gas-powered cars.

You can fuel gasoline cars in any city and state in the country

One of the main drawbacks of EVs is the lack of charging infrastructure. The U.S.Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center has a handy map that shows the locations of public chargers across the country. States on the East and West Coasts have plenty, but there’s a severe lack of chargers in less densely populated areas. If you travel around the country often, the spotty availability of charging stations may push you toward a gas-powered car. After all, who wants to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no juice?

There are more diverse options for gas-powered vehicles

Some EV models may not be available for lease or purchase in your area. Automakers usually release brand-new EVs in states with good charging networks. If you live in a rural state, you’ll find fewer EV options than in a more EV-friendly state. In that case, a gas-powered car might be a better fit since you might not find an EV that fits your needs in your area.

You can still be eco-conscious even when you drive a gasoline car

You can still find ways to make driving more environmentally friendly, even if a gas car makes the most sense for you. For instance, you could choose a smaller sedan like a Honda Civic rather than a larger SUV like a Chevy Suburban. You can also commit to walking or cycling locally rather than driving the 1-mile trip for mid-week groceries. And there are ways you can drive more economically as well. Skip the hard braking and accelerating, slow down on highways, and avoid idling to save fuel. 

Driving a gas car doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a large carbon footprint.

Gasoline cars are dependent on oil

While renewable energy sources can power electric vehicles, gasoline cars are dependent on oil. Oil is becoming more scarce (and therefore more expensive), and it’s also bad for the environment to drill for oil. We all remember the devastating outcome of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

If the thought of depending on oil leaves a sour taste in your mouth, it might be time to switch to electric.

Final thoughts

Driving an EV has plenty of environmental benefits, but there are several factors to consider before choosing between an EV or a gas car. Do your research to determine which option is right for you, and you’ll be able to pinpoint what you need from your next vehicle.

If you have a gas-powered car and have been hit hard by rising gas prices, here are our best tips to save money on gas.

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