Electric vehicles: exploring the ins and outs of ownership

Buying electric why or why not
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 7:00 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Electric vehicles are getting more popular than ever. They’re touted for being better for the environment, but a lot of people are skeptical about them.

Our investigative team looked into what’s true and what’s not when it comes to owning an EV.

“You never have to buy gas, which means you never have to find a gas station. You never have to go by a gas station,” said Paul Russell as he reflected on the benefits of owning his Ford F-150 Lightning.

At first glance, Russell’s truck looks just like any other, but if you step a bit closer, you’ll see it’s fully electric.

“This truck here can do zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds, which is faster than any F-150 on the road,” explained Russell.

You may be seeing more EVs like his and others on the road than you realize.

Data from AAA shows a 65% increase in electric vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2022 compared to 2021.

The percentage of vehicle sales that were electric in 2016 in the U.S. stayed even with China and Europe according to the International Energy Agency, but the U.S. fell behind in the years after that, with China at 16 percent and Europe at 17 while the U.S. still sat at 5 percent in 2021.

ECU Environmental Economist Greg Howard said it’s a win to see more drivers in EVs but not a perfect solution.

“There are real benefits to moving away from gas, but it is not a guarantee that switching to an electric vehicle is driving your emissions to zero,” he explained. “It depends on how the electricity is generated.”

The other question that comes to mind? Cost. It may be more reasonable than many think.

“After taxes and tax credits, this one only cost me about $34,000,” Russell said. “The number one thing you have to your advantage to a consumer is definitely going to be the tax write off.”

Right now, those incentives can be as high as 7,500 depending on when and what you buy and whether they’re new or used.

The other concern some have is the availability of charging stations. Dealers here in eastern Carolina feel your options will continue to get better.

“You’re gonna have the infrastructure over time. It’s not here right now, readily available for everybody. But you can get a 240-charger put in your home,” vehicle dealer Scotty Turner said.

Those 240-volt chargers take about 10 to 12 hours for a full charge from empty, but most people aren’t running all the way to empty during the day, so that full charge time isn’t necessary. Depending on voltage, you can go from empty to full in as low as 45 minutes.

“It does take a little bit of planning, just to find where the chargers are, because they’re not as prevalent as gas stations,” Russell said. “But with just a little bit of forethought, you can make long distance trips pretty easy.”

Just like any other big purchase, the decision comes down to the person. But it’s important to not believe misconceptions.

One route a lot of folks take is in a family with two vehicles, for example, they use the electric vehicle for driving around town or for shorter trips and then use the gas powered or hybrid for longer excursions.