Beyond the Obvious, What Are the Key Differences Between Gas and Electric Vehicles?

Thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle?

You probably get the big difference: an EV is powered entirely by a battery, while a gas-powered vehicle uses the traditional internal combustion engine (or ICE). 

But despite all the recent buzz about EVs, you may not really know what to expect when you switch to driving electric. So here’s an overview of the key differences between the gas cars you’re used to and today’s up-and-coming electric vehicles.

electric vehicle

Costs

The upfront cost of an EV remains higher than a similar type of ICE vehicle. For example, the base price of a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck is around $40,000, while the starting price for the traditional ICE model is about $30,000.

Then there’s the cost of a Level 2 home charger, which you might want so you can charge your vehicle at home overnight (if you have a garage). These cost about $2,000 to install.

But the difference in these initial costs is narrowing over time. Plus, you may be able to take advantage of tax credits, like those extended and expanded in the new federal Inflation Reduction Act. Other state and local incentives may be available. Explore your options on this handy map

The most important thing to keep in mind? Upfront costs are only one part of the equation. Maintenance costs are another big factor. Here’s where EVs offer a significant advantage. With no oil changes, and a completely clean-running engine with fewer moving parts, electric cars require much less maintenance. In fact, a recent study by the Argonne National Laboratory found that total maintenance costs for EVs is 40% less than gas cars.

Driving Experience

The basic operation of an electric car is no different from an ICE vehicle. You’ve got a steering wheel, an accelerator pedal to make it go, a brake pedal to make it stop.

But the actual feel of an EV is quite different. You won’t hear the rumble of an engine because the electric motor is nearly silent. And because the car is so quiet, you might hear more noise from the road outside.

Most of today’s EVs can’t quite top out at the speeds of the most supercharged ICE cars. However, any electric now on the market is capable of exceeding the highest speed limits in the U.S. And most EVs offer faster acceleration because the engine’s response to hitting the accelerator is virtually instantaneous. Try it in any EV, and you’ll quickly feel the difference. 

Range

How far can you go on a full charge in an EV vs. a full tank in a gas car? 

Electric vehicle range is one of the hottest topics in zero-emissions vehicle discussions, with good reason. You want to be able to go about your day, or your road trip, without interruption – and especially without fear of stalling out!

On average, ICE vehicles provide greater range – roughly 300 miles on a full tank, compared to something in the 200s for a fully charged battery in most electrics.

But EV manufacturers have been making great strides in the range enabled by their batteries. You can go well over 300 miles on a fully charged Tesla Model 3, for example. By the way, here’s a cool study comparing the real range of popular EVs.  

Then there’s the question of what it will cost to achieve these ranges. And on that point, EVs have a solid edge, particularly if you’re able to charge your vehicle at home overnight. And even if you’re using public DC fast chargers, you can still go farther on $100 in an electric,  according to this analysis

Sustainability

EVs are zero-emissions vehicles. Every day, by driving electric instead of gas, you’re preventing significant CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere and adding to the climate crisis.

But are electric vehicles really more sustainable and environmentally friendly over all? ICE vehicle proponents have pushed back on this notion. They point to the energy-intensive process of manufacturing EV batteries. And the electricity that charges those batteries is often generated using high-emissions fossil fuels like coal. 

‍It’s true that the full electric vehicle supply chain isn’t perfectly green. But you can make it a point to find charging sources powered by more sustainable solar and wind energy. 

And the bottom line is that, even when we consider the effects of battery manufacturing and electricity generation, EVs still contribute fewer greenhouse gasses than ICE cars.

electric car charging

Refueling   

It seems odd to refer to charging as refueling, but for comparison’s sake, that’s what we’ll say. It’s the last big difference between electric and gas.

You know the drill with your old ICE vehicle. When the gas light comes on, it’s time to find a station and fill up. They’re generally easy to find, and the price is easy to see on a big sign. Once you spot your station, it only takes a couple of minutes to gas up and get back on the road.

With an EV, it’s different. If you’re lucky, you can charge your car at home overnight and never have to charge it anywhere else. For anyone else, sometimes you’re going to have to use public charging stations. 

First, you’ll have to find a charger. And although new chargers are coming online all the time, there aren’t nearly as many charging stations as gas stations out there. Once you find a charger, the cost varies widely. Meanwhile, the amount of time it takes you to charge will depend on the type of charger, how low your battery is and other factors. But suffice it to say that it will take longer than a couple of minutes. 

For these and other reasons, the current drawbacks of the electric charging experience remains one of the biggest barriers to widespread EV adoption. But we don’t want anybody to miss out on all the other great advantages of driving electric! That’s why, at Bluedot, we’re working o make charging simpler and more rewarding – including a flat fee of $0.30/kWh at any public charging station … and rewards for spending at nearby stores so you can make better use of that charging time. Sign up and get started here!

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