Electric vehicles are slowly but surely picking up momentum in the auto industry. They recently hit 11 percent of all global vehicle sales, and market analysts expect 23 percent growth by 2030.
Yet, EV technology remains unfamiliar to many, with limited access to charging stations. These hurdles have deterred potential buyers from making a purchase.
What qualities should beginner drivers prioritize in their search? How does EV preventative maintenance differ from gas-powered vehicles?
Let’s discuss these topics and break down the top seven most accessible electric vehicles for beginner drivers:
What to Look for in an EV: Most Important EV Qualities
The exterior design, interior seating, horsepower, and other obvious factors are still relevant for EVs. The car-buying process is essentially the same, except for one key detail: the battery. The most important EV qualities revolve around the battery.
Battery range is the gas mileage equivalent of EVs. As of 2021, the median range for EV batteries is 234 miles. Manufacturers design batteries to last the car’s entire life and include generous extended warranties for extra assurance. So you can expect your EV to exceed the 150,000-mile mark without much issue.
Some EVs charge faster than others because they have a smaller battery, meaning you can’t drive as far. While browsing your options, you must keep your driving habits and routes in mind.
Where are the nearest charging stations? What types of charging ports are available? There are three standard types of charging ports:
● Level 1: 120 volts, charges about three to five miles per hour.
● Level 2: 208 to 240 volts requires at least four hours to reach a full charge.
● Level 3: direct current (DC) voltage, charges at about 20 miles per minute.
Check out this video by Cars.com for more on charging:
Most public stations have level two and three ports. The level one port is the most common at-home charging option, which can be a problem for some EV owners.
A 120-volt outlet takes a full day to charge an EV, so you’ll need to use a public station eventually. If you are a homeowner, consider installing a level two charger to speed up the process.
Of course, the main reason for buying an EV is their environmental friendliness. They emit no harmful fumes or carbon dioxide, helping to preserve the local air quality and ecosystem. EVs produce significantly less carbon dioxide than their combustion engine counterparts, making them a great option for the climate. Contrary to gas-powered vehicles, the most eco-friendly EVs have the longest battery ranges and lifespans. The longer you own your EV, the more emissions you help reduce.
The upfront cost of your EV will likely be more expensive than a traditional car. This price gap will continue to shrink as batteries become cheaper. EV auto insurance also tends to be more expensive because of the higher down payment and costly repairs.
However, the most accessible electric vehicles are still less expensive to maintain than gas-powered cars. Oil changes, engine filter replacements, engine tune-ups, and other common maintenance tasks are no longer necessary. The only recurring task you need to worry about is battery preservation.
5 EV Battery Preservation Tips
The battery is an EV’s foundational piece. Its condition can drastically affect the car’s driving range and lifespan. Even the most accessible electric vehicles are easily susceptible to battery damage if you’re not careful.
Here are some must-know tips to remember to keep your EV’s battery in good shape:
1. Avoid Driving in Extreme Temperatures
Try to avoid driving your EV in extremely hot or cold temperatures. High temps can damage parts of the battery, causing it to lose oxygen and electrolytes that help power the vehicle. Cold temps slow the battery’s ion diffusion process, reducing its power output and shortening its life span. We know you can’t avoid driving in these conditions altogether, but every effort helps.
2. Choose Your Parking Spots Wisely
Just like our cell phones, laptops, and other battery-powered devices, an EV’s power starts to plummet when exposed to the elements. Choosing dry, moderate-temperature parking spots for your EV will minimize battery degradation. Home garages are ideal for EVs, as they often have climate control features and provide full protection from outdoor conditions.
3. Rest the Battery Before Charging
Get into the habit of resting the battery for several minutes before plugging in your EV. The battery needs to cool off and re-stabilize before connecting to a power source. Your patience ensures that the battery charges properly and doesn’t overheat in the process.
4. Don’t Always Charge to 100%
You should also be wary of charging to 100 percent. Electronics that frequently sit at 100 percent power work harder and have shorter lifespans as a result. Batteries tend to operate better at medium-high power than at full power. Eighty percent is an adequate number to aim for.
5. Don’t Rely on Fast Charging
While Level Three’s fast charging speed is convenient, it sends excessive amounts of power into the battery in a short period of time. Level Three chargers often put unnecessary strain on the battery and can shorten its range. Stick with Level Two at public charging stations and save the fast charging mode for emergencies only.
Top 7 Accessible Electric Vehicles for Beginners
The most accessible electric vehicles for beginner drivers are basic models that won’t overwhelm you. They look and feel much the same as traditional cars, so the adjustment period shouldn’t take too long.
Here are seven of the best options for beginners of all budgets and all lifestyles:
1. Best EV for Everyone: Nissan Leaf
Although the Leaf’s battery range is slightly below average at 150-266 miles, it checks all of the other boxes. This four-door hatchback fits all lifestyles and driving experiences, whether you just got your license or are looking for a new family vehicle. It has exceptional handling, lots of space, and user-friendly features such as one-pedal driving to help extend the car’s battery life.
Starting price: $28,040
2. Best EV for Road Warriors: Toyota Prius
The Prius has earned a reputation for great all-around performance. It has an absurd 640-mile battery range, safe handling, top-tier acceleration, and enough cargo space to handle all of your long-distance journeys. It’s also a hybrid, which allows beginners to slowly grow accustomed to the feel of EV driving and switch back to gas in a pinch.
Starting price: $25,075
3. Best EV for City Dwellers: Mini Cooper Electric
One hundred fifty miles isn’t a great battery range, but the Mini Cooper Electric is perhaps the most accessible electric vehicle for city dwellers. Its compact size makes it perfect for navigating busy urban streets, and a charging station is always nearby. If you’ve driven the standard Mini Cooper, you’ll find that the handling is almost identical.
Starting price: $34,225
4. Best EV for Car Enthusiasts: Ford Mustang Mach E
The Ford Mustang Mach E is the most accessible electric vehicle for car enthusiasts. It might not look like a traditional Mustang, but it has comparable power and acceleration. It reaches 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and has a phenomenal battery range for a sports car, reaching up to 300 miles on a single charge.
Starting price: $22,040
5. Best EV for Students: Chevrolet Bolt
The Bolt is a great EV choice for students on a budget. Its battery range of 247-259 miles beats other electric SUVs and matches more luxurious cars like the Tesla Model 3 for half the price. The headroom, legroom, and visibility are unmatched for a five-seater. Its sleek exterior design is sure to turn heads in the student parking lot.
Starting price: $25,595
6. Best EV for Families: Hyundai Ioniq
Families transitioning to EVs should look no further than the Hyundai Ioniq eSUV. Its battery range of 220-303 miles accommodates daily commutes, road trips, and all other family transportation needs. You can even charge it from home in just five hours, which is less than half the time of comparable vehicles. The kids will also love the touchscreen infotainment system.
Starting price: $24,965
7. Best EV for Skeptics: Volkswagen E-Golf
If you’re still skeptical about buying an EV, take a second look at the Volkswagen E Golf. The 150-mile range isn’t anything special, but it has comfortable seating, responsive handling, and a charge time of about six hours. Golfs are also notoriously fun to drive, having awesome aerodynamics for a midsize crossover.
Starting price: $32,790
Start Your Next Journey in an EV
There will be a learning curve in switching from a gas-powered vehicle to an EV. The driving experience and maintenance responsibilities are noticeably different. However, these growing pains are necessary for a widespread transition to EVs.
Start your next journey more sustainably in one of these accessible electric vehicles and set an example for others who are considering making the switch!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I get tax breaks for driving an EV?
Yes, the US Government offers a $7,500 tax credit for citizens who buy an EV. This credit now runs through 2023 as part of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Check out the full guide for more info.
How much energy does one EV save?
It depends on the model, but the average EV uses about 40-50 percent less energy than a similar gas-powered vehicle. Read the full guide for more on EV energy consumption and how to get the most mileage out of every charge.
Can my house’s outlets charge an EV?
Yes, most living spaces are equipped with 120-volt charging outlets that provide enough power for Level One charging. Read the full guide to learn more about charging your EV at home.
Can I trade in my current standard car for an EV?
Yes, most dealerships will happily accept your gas-powered vehicle. You might end up making more money back with this trade-in than you expected. Check out the full guide for the best EV cars to consider when you trade in.
References and Useful Resources
Car and Driver: EV Range: Everything You Need to Know
JD Power and Associates: How to Maximize EV Range
Motortrend: Six Ways to Extend EV Battery Life