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Long-Term Electric Vehicle Ownership: Pros and Cons

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author photo by Doug DeMuro

There's no doubt that electric cars are all the rage right now. Sure, you may not have one yet, but a steadily increasing number of shoppers are buying them, drawn to the practicality, environmental benefits, tax savings and low-cost driving experience. But what happens in a few years when leases expire and electric vehicles become more common? Is it a good idea to own an electric vehicle (EV) over the long term? We've listed a few pros and cons below.

Pros of Long-Term EV Ownership

If you're searching for benefits from long-term electric vehicle ownership, you'll no doubt find many. Of course, the biggest is fuel savings. While gas prices have hit a lull right now, there's no telling whether they might come back up in the future. That means your savings could become even greater over the next few years compared to drivers in traditional gas-powered cars.

But saving fuel isn't the only EV cost improvement over a typical car. Since electric motors don't have many of the complex moving parts found in a gasoline engine, EVs won't develop the same problems. For instance, you'll never have to get an oil change in an electric car. You'll never have to replace a timing belt or a head gasket, either. And while electric vehicles may eventually require battery replacement (see below), the motor itself is likely to last longer than a standard gasoline engine.

Cons of Long-Term EV Ownership

Unfortunately, electric vehicles aren't perfect. There are still a few drawbacks to owning one over the long term, and the biggest relates to batteries. The problem is that an electric vehicle's batteries will eventually require replacement, much like the battery in your cellphone or your laptop. The cost of replacing an EV battery can be very high, with many estimates ranging around $5,000 or more. Many automakers have warranties that will cover a battery replacement (the Chevrolet Volt's, for instance, is eight years and 100,000 miles), but you may have to cover the cost yourself if the battery fails after the warranty expires.

Another potential drawback is resale value. As electric vehicles age, shoppers will likely shy away due to the possibility of an expensive battery repair. This could lead to dramatic declines in resale value, especially as electric vehicles near the end of their battery warranties.

The final potential drawback to long-term electric vehicle ownership is collision repair costs. An electric car isn't built like a gas-powered one; instead, it houses many fragile battery packs in areas that could be easily harmed in a collision. If a collision happens, these battery packs may need to be replaced -- and that means a big repair bill. Of course, your insurance company will take care of it, but you may end up paying more for insurance as a result. For instance, you might choose to go with comprehensive coverage or a lower deductible where you wouldn't with a gas-powered car.

Good Idea or Bad Idea?

If you're interested in owning an electric vehicle over the long term, we certainly wouldn't try to stop you. They're often cost-effective, practical cars that can save drivers lots of money -- and help the environment. But before you embark on a long-term ownership experience with an EV, we suggest you consider the potential drawbacks that we've listed.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Long-Term Electric Vehicle Ownership: Pros and Cons