BY JULIA ANDERSON
Nik Miles knows a thing or two about cars, the automotive industry and where it’s headed.
With electric vehicles grabbing headlines and some two-thirds of Americans now open to buying electric, we thought it was time to talk to Miles, a nationally known “car guy” and principle at ourautoexpert.com.
Smart Money co-host, Pat Boyle, and I covered the basics with Miles: -- How to buy an electric car, what’s out there and when to buy. Click here for the video on YouTube presented by TVCTV public television in Beaverton, Ore.
The landscape is changing so fast that it is hard for buyers, dealers, and reviewers like himself to keep up with new offerings, new technology and performance enhancements, he said.
Battery technology improvements are the big driver.
“We are seeing advances in battery ranges in the 250-mile range and are starting to see 300-mile ranges before recharging,” Miles said. “It’s crazy how fast the technology is going.”
Next year (2022), he expects there will be at least 100 electric vehicle brands and models on the market from lower-cost commuter cars to high-end luxury models tempting the rich.
Moving to electric
Ford Motor Co. now says that 40 percent of its vehicles will be electrified by 2030. Next year, Ford will start making an all-electric F-150 truck called the Ford F-150 Lightning. The company will start production in late 2022 of its first fully electric cargo van. You can order its Mustang Mach-E, right now. Priced at $42,895.
A Nissan Leaf sells right now for between $31,670 and $40,520. That’s before the possible $7,500 federal tax credit on the purchase. (See below) The Chevrolet Bolt EV is priced at $40,000.
Cadillac will be in production in late 2022 with the Cadillac LYRIQ, an electric luxury sedan. BMW will soon offer the BMWiX, a fully electric “sport activity vehicle.” Volvo said it will be all-electric by 2030.
Toyota, long in the hybrid business with its Prius, will be out with its first all-electric SUV soon. The company intends to sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles worldwide by 2025.
“Toyota is clearly the market leader with the most hybrids out there,” Miles said. He expects Toyota to do it right when it makes its move into electric.
After more than 100 years of gas- and diesel-power engines and gas stations to go with them, it is no surprise that interested buyers may be a bit overwhelmed by the new technology and its reliability.
THREE buying TIPS from Nik Miles at ourautoexpert.com.
Tip No. 1: Don’t buy, lease!!! The technology is advancing so fast that an electric car you buy today or even tomorrow will be out of date with old technology in two or three years. The resale value will be questionable. “When your lease is up, you won’t be stuck owning an outdated vehicle,” Miles said.
Tip No. 2: Don’t go out looking at what’s electric. Instead, thoughtfully (my words) consider what you need in a vehicle. What fits your lifestyle. Then look at how much money you can spend.
“After all that, start looking at electric cars,” he said. “Do it the other way around (looking first) and you end up with something that doesn’t work for you.”
Tip No. 3: Test drive and test drive some more. “Test drive everything you can get your hands on,” Miles said. “Test driving doesn’t cost you anything. It will make a big difference.”
Because our interview with Miles was to pick his brain on the basics of electric vehicles, we left a lot of questions unanswered. Cost could have been a big topic. Research again will pay-off. At www.fueleconomy.gov, the U.S. Dept. of Energy provides a table showing federal tax credits available by brand and model, if you buy hybrid or all-electric.
For example, you get up to a $7,500 federal tax credit when you buy a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD. But there are quotas and other considerations to gain these tax credits. Automakers are allotted 200,000 buyers per eligible EV buyer. When that number of buyers have used up the credits, they’re gone for the rest of the year.
Bottom line on cost: You can get into an electric vehicle for a little as $7,500, if you buy used. Or go for a luxury car such as the Tesla long-range Model 3 with a battery range of 353 miles for $50,190. There is a lot more coming to address every price category and user preference.
This is another area deserving in-depth buyer research. How will you charge your electric car battery and how long will it take? Must you invest in upgraded 220-volt or 240-volt outlets at home to get a full charge in a reasonable amount of time? How much will all that cost? Will cold weather affect battery range and performance? We didn’t talk with Miles about any of this.
He observed that the door on the electric car market is only just beginning to open. “We are in the pre-fireworks stage of electrics, he said.
A big unanswered question: How reliable is the nation’s power grid? Can existing electric power companies, their generating capacity and infrastructure supply enough power to juice up all these electric batteries every night? What happens if we begin experiencing more brownouts and blackouts like those that already have occurred in California. Will we be walking to work?
Electric car technology is just getting started. Exciting but a lot to think about before you buy. Thanks, Nik!
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