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3 things to consider before making the jump to an electric car

They’re fast, fun and eco-friendly, but electric vehicles aren’t right for everyone (yet).

They’re fast, fun and eco-friendly, but electric vehicles aren’t right for everyone (yet)

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Switching to an electric car is one of the biggest decisions you can make to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Electric vehicles (EVs) are fast, fun — did we mention really, really fast? — and they're slowly making their way from niche to mainstream status. Making the jump to an electric car isn't for everyone though. For starters, if you don't have a garage, driveway or some other convenient place to recharge an EV overnight, owning one would be rather inconvenient. Here are three other factors to consider before making the switch.

1. How much does it cost? 

It's been more than 10 years since Tesla launched its first car, which seems like a long time. Compared to the 120-odd years we've been driving gasoline powered cars though, EVs are still the new kid on the block. As is the case with any new technology, EVs are expensive.

For example, the Hyundai Kona Electric — a small, all-electric SUV — starts at $44,999. The gas-powered Kona costs $21,199. Ouch. Similarly, the electric Chevrolet Bolt hatchback starts at $44,800. For the same price, you could be driving a Cadillac SUV.

The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV (Source: Chevrolet)

You'll make back some of that price difference since you'll never have to buy gas again. Sticking with the Hyundai Kona example, Natural Resources Canada estimates the electric version would cost $452 to recharge over a year of driving (20,000 km), while keeping the gas powered Kona's tank topped up would set you back $1,612. 

2. How far do you drive? 

Range anxiety is real, but it turns out that most Canadians don't drive very far every day. Of the 12.6 million of us who commute by car, the median distance to work was just 8.6 kilometres, according to Statistics Canada. Even those with long commutes — 57 km each way, as defined by StatsCan — would be fine with an electric car.

New EVs offer 200 to 600 km of driving range on a single charge. The question you need to ask yourself is how often you'll want to drive longer distances. How far away is your cottage or favourite campground? Are you planning a cross-country road trip? Longer drives are certainly possible in EVs, but you'll need to plan your route around the growing network of charging stations.

The 2020 Hyundai KONA (Source: Hyundai Canada)

3. Where do you live?

Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a hefty discount on the price of an electric car.

In an effort to get more Canadians to switch to EVs, the federal government is offering up to $5,000 back when you purchase or lease an EV (for a term of at least 48 months). To be eligible, the vehicle must have a starting price of less than $45,000 (for vehicles with six seats or less) or $55,000 (for vehicles with seven seats or more). Check this list to see which vehicles are eligible.

If you live in Quebec or British Columbia you can add provincial incentives on top of the federal amount. Quebec offers up to $8,000 off eligible EVs, while B.C. offers up to $3,000.

The 2020 Tesla Model 3 (Source: Tesla)

Those incentives, combined with the fact that there are more electric vehicles to choose from every year and that driving ranges keep getting better, means that making the switch to an electric vehicle is now more viable than ever.

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