Evaluating EV Facts over EV Hype

By KBB Editors 03/16/2021 8:51am

Tesla Model Y Electric vehicle

Sorting through electric car facts and hype is critical in deciding if an electric vehicle is right for you. Here are a few electric vehicle (EV) facts to consider when evaluating a purchase.

RELATED: How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

EVs are Just a Fraction of Total Industry Sales

Watching the coverage of Tesla or the latest EV announcements from mainstream automakers like the Cadillac’s Lyriq reveal, the Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV, or Volkswagen I.D.4 electric, one would come away with the impression that electrics account for a major share of new vehicle sales.

However, while Tesla has been able to sell over 200,000 electric cars in a single year, total industry share for electrics remains under 2% in a market that had been selling between 16 and 17 million units before the COVID-19 pandemic. EVs have a foothold, but until mainstream brands offer competitively priced electrics nationally, don’t expect the picture to change much. Other than Tesla, only the Chevy Bolt EV is available in most states.

Electric Cars Still Cost More Than Conventional Cars

Proof of the disparity can be seen in the price difference between the Hyundai Kona and the Kona EV. The Kona base model starts at about $20,000. However, the Kona EV, which costs around $38,000, is a higher trim model. Taking even the SEL Plus trim, the Kona tops $25,000.

Even with the federal tax credit of $7,500, the EV still comes in about $5,000 more than a well-equipped gas model.

Charging Infrastructure is Far From Mature

There are more charging stations popping up all around the country thanks to the efforts of Tesla and operators like ChargePoint and Electrify America. However, that infrastructure still needs to grow before it’s as convenient as refilling at a gas station. Not only is there a need to be more places to plug in, but there must be greater DC fast charging capability in order to make replenishing your battery as convenient as stopping for a fast food meal.

Range Remains an Issue

How far an EV can go between charges is an ongoing area of concern and anxiety. However, it is getting better. Already the Tesla Model S has a version that promises more than 402 miles of range. Even mass-market offerings like the Hyundai Kona and Chevrolet Bolt promise nearly 260 miles of range. Still, a large number of EVs, like the Nissan Leaf and VW eGolf are just now cracking that the 200-mile limit. Many others still have base battery pack ranges of about 150 miles.

Limited Model Choice

Currently, the types of EVs you can buy include primarily small hatchbacks. There are also a few higher-priced sedans like the Tesla Model 3 and Model S. Also on the spendy side are crossovers like the Audi E-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace Telsa Model Y and Model X. That’s about to change as there is a slew of promised pickup trucks like Rivian, GM’s Hummer EV, Tesla Cybertruck, and a Ford electrified F-150.

There will also be any number of performance EVs like the Porsche Taycan and full-size SUVs. However, remember that many of these offerings will compete in luxury or truck segments with price tags higher than $50,000.

Government Incentives Help, But They’re Not Permanent

The tightly touted $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles still exists. However, it is limited to the first 200,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrid sales by the manufacturer. At that threshold, the incentives phase out, cut in half over six-month increments until they are no longer available.

Currently, Tesla and GM have run out of these credits, Nissan will be next. As more electric cars and PHEVs become available and are sold, other makes will also lose the ability to offer the credits. While the possibility of extending the program has been raised, there is no current legislation to save the program.

Patience, Patience

Electric vehicles are a long-term product play by manufacturers. The industry just can’t flip a switch and undo over a century of progress in making internal combustion clean and affordable. The fact that about two percent of the market is buying electrics means that 98 percent aren’t.

Until electric cars become more affordable, offer greater range, faster charging, and more model choices, EV facts suggest the going will be much slower than the EV hype suggests.