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Electriccar hero
• Mar 12, 2024



It's been a long road for electric cars in the United States.

The first electric cars appeared in the world in the 1800s with a series of inventions from different people in the U.S. and Europe, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

It took more than a century for electric car sales to exceed one million in the U.S., according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). For context, total U.S. car sales reached 15.5 million in 2023, according to NADA.

"The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States has seen notable progress in recent years as EV sales reached new heights and automakers ramped up investments in production capacity," according to a report by TD Economics.

There are many benefits to owning an electric car, such as the environmental impact and not having to worry about the price of a gallon of gas or when to schedule an oil change. But there are also considerations that people should note about their specific situations before deciding to go electric, including access to charging stations, how many miles you drive each week and even the weather in your town.

Lawrence Kunath, a Product Manager for TD Auto Finance and Alex Bean, Senior Manager, Retail and Commercial Strategy for TD Auto Finance, provided some insights to help people decide whether an electric car is the right choice for them.

Understand the cost of going electric

Electric cars were quite expensive when major automakers came out with the first models. In recent years, a wide variety of newer models helped narrow the price gap and put EVs more in line with the prices of many gas-powered cars even though they still lack the variety of size models and other features that gas cars offer.

"People need to do their own homework," Lawrence said. "They need to shop around and find out what incentives are being offered right now. For instance, effective January 1, 2024, for EVs that qualify, U.S. tax rebates of up to $7,500 for a new EV, and $4,000 for a used EV can be used as a down payment at the time of purchase. In the past, the rebates could only be taken advantage of when filing your tax return the following year."

There have been substantial incentives in recent years, including tax credits from states and the federal government. Lawrence suggested that consumers go to their state government and the IRS sites to learn more about possible current tax incentives. Other potential good informational sources include automaker websites and Kelley Blue Book, according to Alex.

Some automakers are offering financial help with installation costs for an electric charger at a residence, and utility companies in some states are offering discounted rates on off hours. To learn more, consumers should visit their utility company's website to find out about any programs they offer.

The charging situation

Being able to charge your electric vehicle is a requirement, but it can be either an easy task or one that is complex and time consuming.

If you live in a single-family home, installing a charger may be the easiest solution, despite significant upfront cost, particularly if you must upgrade your home's electrical circuit box. While some automakers help with the costs, you could potentially be looking at thousands of dollars, which may be cost prohibitive to some.

Complications can arise when you live in a residence without a charger or if you are on the road frequently. According to Statista research, the U.S. had over 138,100 public charging outlets for plug-in electric vehicles in May 2023, with California leading the way with nearly 45,000.

With over 2.5 million electric cars on the road, that's about one public outlet per 18 cars.

The 2022 Infrastructure Act set a target to increase the nationwide network of chargers to 500,000 – including high-speed chargers – no more than 50 miles apart on major highways. States such as California have also instituted their own targets for increasing the number of chargers.

"It's getting better, but the infrastructure isn't quite there yet," Lawrence explained.

So, if you are unable to have your own charger, you may need to identify where chargers are located, how crowded they get at the times you would want to charge and explore combining tasks such as charging while you are grocery shopping.

The time to get a full charge with a range from 200 to over 300 miles can vary from less than an hour with high-speed chargers, to 40 hours or more if using a regular household outlet.

"You have to look at the normal range for your car, your daily activities, and where within those activities you have access to a charger," Alex said.

Depending on how much you drive daily, you may only need to charge your car once a week. But, if you drive long distances on a regular basis, it's important to consider the time it will take to charge your car.

The weather matters

Extreme weather impacts the performance of all cars, but electric cars with lithium batteries are greatly impacted when temperatures dip below freezing. Charging a car can take much longer in the cold with the total miles in each charge being reduced by about 12 percent. When outside temperatures dip to 20 degrees, range can be reduced by about 40 percent, according to AAA.

"In the winter, your battery uses electricity just to warm itself," Alex said. "Your range drops significantly, and it varies based on manufacturer. If you live in Michigan, winter charging is going to require much different planning than if you live in Florida."

To recap, remember it is important to consider your specific location's weather, the miles that you expect to drive and your access to a charging station, and cost, when determining if an electric vehicle is the best choice for you!

For more on personal finance topics

If you have more questions about other personal finance topics that matter to you, visit the Learning Center on TD Bank’s website. You can find out more information about TD Bank's services at td.com.

We hope you found this helpful. This article is based on information available in March 2024 and is subject to change. It is provided as a convenience and for general information purposes only. Our content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment, or financial advice or to indicate that a particular TD Bank or third-party product or service is available or right for you.

For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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