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What to consider when buying an electric vehicle

Posted at 10:29 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 01:29:02-04

To help ease the pain drivers are feeling at the gas pump and counter rising inflation costs, some are weighting the option of trading in a gas-powered car for an electric vehicle.

Getting a chance to buy one, having a regular place to charge it and getting around in extreme heat or cold are just a few factors drivers should consider before forking out thousands for a car some enthusiasts believe are the way of the future.

We took our questions to the president of the Phoenix Electric Auto Association, Jim Stack.

At his Chandler home, he has two drastically different electric vehicles in his garage: A 2016 Chevy Spark which he bought for over $20,000 and his wife’s 2020 Tesla Model Y which he bought two years ago for $54,000.

“I got it for my wife for Valentine’s Day. So hey, what did you get your wife,” he joked.

Stack charges both of his EV mostly in his garage.

He’s able to save money on his power bill thanks to solar panels on his roof.

The Spark uses a standard charger found on most EVs. With 120 volts coming through a three-prong outlet, charging the Spark from near empty to a full battery could take 10 hours.

When Stack plugged in his Spark after a day of city miles, the Spark showed it would be fully charged at 1:15 a.m.

However, drivers can get a faster charge with a 240-volt charger plugged in through a large appliance outlet, like the one you plug a dryer into. A full charge is closer to three hours.

When the battery is at 100% on the Spark, Stack says it can drive 80 miles or more but much of the distance depends on A/C use, how aggressive the driver is on the accelerator and how hot or cold it is outside.

Stack said if an EV battery outlet on the car gets too hot or too cold, it won’t charge properly, and a driver could have to wait for a more moderate temperature to get a complete charge.

The standard EV charger does work on a Tesla, but they need an adapter.

A full charge in the Tesla Model Y can take Stack about 200 miles.

The bigger the car, the longer the charge so Stack says he charges overnight.

“If I do it on the 240 (volt) it may take 8-10 hours,” he said about getting the Tesla to a full charge.

The demand for Teslas has put potential buyers on wait lists that can last for more than six months. Because of supply chain issues and demand, the same applies for other EV makers.

“The (micro)chips are short on every vehicle, it’s holding them up,” he said.

If you’re looking to take an EV up North on I-17 to Flagstaff or down I-10 to Bisbee, plan ahead.

Tesla has software installed in the car to show the closest charges. Other EV drivers may have to rely on an app to find a plug in.

The absence of a charging station is a leading deterrent for some drivers to avoid buying an EV but that is slated to change in the coming years.

The City of Phoenix laid out plans to install 500 EV chargers by 2030 and the state of Arizona is expected to use more than $76 million dollars to install a network of charging stations across the interstate system and other highways.

On maintenance, Stack said he’s never once had to bring in either of his EVs for mechanical repairs nor does he ever worry about the price of gas.

Kathrin Jackson was charging up her EV at Fry’s on Chandler Blvd. She said she hasn’t needed any repairs either and relies on public places and businesses to charge her car.

Her only payment is a monthly car note.

“I spend $85 a month and I drive a lot,” said Jackson.