How Are Electric Cars Different? (9 Important Factors)

If you’re thinking of buying an electric vehicle, there are a few things that will take some getting used to.

While plenty of people have adapted quickly to these small differences, it is a good idea to be aware of the differences between these types of vehicles and the cars or trucks you’ve been driving your whole life.

We also made a list of 7 things that are very different in electric cars.

1. Know Your Charge Mileage

Throughout your adult life, you’ve become accustomed to cars telling you how far you can go before you run out of gas.

With an electric car, this math changes to how far you can go before the vehicle run out of charge.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always as easy as ensuring that your car’s meter says you can further.

To start, there are several factors that go into determining how far your vehicle can go on the amount of charge it has left.

The speed of your vehicle, the number of stops it must make, and even the temperature outside can all affect your actual mileage per charge.

That means that running your car down to the last bit of charge remaining in the battery is probably a bad idea.

It is likely that your vehicle’s charge meter could be off by as much as ten percent.

In fact, many electric vehicle owners try to ensure that their battery never drops below 20%.

2. Know Your Charging Station Locations.

Depending on where you live, this may or not be something that takes a lot of getting used to. Large cities tend to have a lot of charging stations, with many gas stations and public options available.

Once you leave metro areas, however, it can become very difficult to find charging stations.

In fact, electric vehicles are barely sold in the Mid and Southwest parts of the country because of the lack of charging stations.

If you plan on just using your electric vehicle in metro areas, this won’t affect your daily life much at all. There are plenty of apps that will tell you where you can find a charging station for your vehicle, and usually there is a lot of availability.

If you plan on taking a road trip in the car, however, you’ll need to plan out your stops ahead of time.

3. Be Aware of Charging Station Charge Times

The amount of time it takes to charge your vehicle may also become a factor. There are three levels of charging stations.

Level 3 stations are the fastest, with the ability to charge about 80% of the battery in about 30 minutes. Level 2 and 1 stations are much slower, with a complete charge sometimes taking over 12 hours.

There are also lots of places to charge your electric car for free. Here’s a good list of places with free charging for your EV.

Typically, Level 3 charge stations will charge you a small amount of money to fill, while Level 2 stations will be free or cost less.

Level 1 stations are usually free.

These are most commonly found outside of shopping centers and other public venues that are using the charging station to entice customers to stay (and spend money) for a while.

For an electric vehicle driver, this means getting used to planning your trips a lot more. Spontaneous jaunts across town may become a lot more difficult if you haven’t fully charged your vehicle beforehand.

This may not be a factor if you charge your vehicle at home every night, but you will need to get used to plugging in as soon as you get home in the evening.

4. Keep Track of Your Charging Costs.

The cost of charging your vehicle is also going to be something you may have to get used to.

While many people buy electric vehicles to save on gas, they sometimes fail to consider the cost of charging the vehicle.

A lot of people wrongly assume that they can use the “free” electricity at their home and/or workplace, and never worry about paying to charge the vehicle.

While it is possible to avoid paying to charge your vehicle if you are extremely careful about planning your trips, you’l likely have to pay if you go somewhere outside of your normal routine.

If you’re using a Level 3 charge station, and it’s the only charging station available for several miles, expect to pay almost what you would pay to fill a gasoline tank about halfway. You’ll still save money on gas, but be sure to budget for charging costs if you’re going on a longer trip.

5. Know the Cost of Charging at Home

All newer electric cars can be charged at home.

With an electric car, you have to remember to plug the car in when you come home for the night.

With most cars only getting between 200 to 400 miles to the charge, you won’t be able to forget charging your vehicle for too many days in a row.

If you don’t have charging stations on your way to work, forgetting to charge may leave you stranded somewhere.

You will likely not have to do any serious electrical work in order to charge your vehicle at home, but you will need to make sure that you can park your car so that it can charge overnight.

That may mean rearranging your garage.

6. Know the Terms of Your Battery Warranty

Just like your cell phone or any other battery-powered device, your car battery will also degrade over time.

That means you will need to track the overall battery life of your car, as well as the amount of charge it’s carrying on a daily basis.

Because this has been such a big fear of many people who are considering electric vehicles, many car manufacturers offer a warranty on their batteries.

These warranties will often last for several years, but when they run out be aware that the resale value of the car can be greatly diminshed. As the battery degrades, the amount of distance it can travel on a single charge will decrease as well.

That means that if you’re someone who likes to hold on to their cars for more than five years, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a replacement battery, or start figuring out how you can charge the vehicle more often.

7. Learn About Your New Safety Features

Electric vehicles tend to come with a ton of new safety features. While most of these are available on new gasoline-powered vehicles, they may take some getting used to if you have never used these features before.

Some of them, such as back-up cameras and automatic high beams, will hardly interfere at all with the way you drive.

Other features, such as adaptive cruise controls and lane assist features, will take a lot of getting used to. These features are meant to warn you before you drift out of your lane or beep to tell you about a car in your blind spot before you change lanes.

Before you get used to the warnings, however, it can seem as if your car is constantly sending you warning signals.

While you get used to the alerts, you may want to turn off some of the safety features for a short period of time until you learn to recognize what each warning looks and sounds like and how to avoid it.

8. Be Aware of Rising Costs

Finally, you will likely need to start getting used to the higher cost of an electric vehicle and the maintenance that goes along with them.

While you may always have been able to find good used vehicles on the market, many people who make the investment in an electric vehicle tend to keep it until it starts to have problems with the battery.

That means that the only used electric vehicles you may find will need a lot of maintenance (read, battery replacement) in the near future. 

Since there aren’t a lot of private mechanics who deal with electrics, you’ll likely have to pay dealership prices if the car needs to be fixed.

9. Insurance costs more for electric vehicles

Another important factor to remember is the higher cost of insurance on EVs.

There are good reasons why insurance is more expensive with electric cars.


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