I Just Bought an EV and Here’s What I Learned

Blue electric vehicle charges at a campground

I love everything about my new car. It’s good for the environment, quiet, and powerful. When my last ride met an untimely demise, I knew I was going to get an electric vehicle (EV). I ended up learning a lot in the process.

Here are eight things you should know:

  1. Figure out your budget and range before you buy
    The most important things an EV shopper should consider are how much you can afford and how far you need the car to go on a single charge. I was not expecting to need to buy a car, so keeping costs low for a car payment was important to me. I also knew I was mostly looking for a commuter car, only driving roughly 20 miles a day, but wanted to make the haul to see family down the California coast a few times a year. I looked into two cars: The Chevy Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf. Both are economy cars with a few key differences. The Bolt has a longer range of 240 miles, vs. the Leaf’s 150. The Leaf has been around for about 13 years, so I knew it was reliable, but the Bolt has become very popular in the past few years. I ultimately decided on the Bolt for its longer range and other features.

    You’ll also want to check out the slew of federal and state rebates you may be eligible for. We have some tools on our website.

  2. You’ll save big on maintenance.
    No oil changes. No spark plugs. No smog checks. You’re basically driving a big computer. All those maintenance charges that your gas engine car required are almost non-existent. You will have to change the windshield wiper blades and rotate the tires, though. Consumer Reports found EV drivers spend half as much on repair and maintenance, saving $4,600 over the car’s lifetime. EVs also use regenerative braking technology, which means the energy it takes to slow down your car is put back into the battery instead of wasted on the pavement. This preserves your brake pads for longer and improves your range. You are basically one-pedal driving by only using the accelerator and adjusting your speed that way. Unlike a gas car, your EV will also stay at a complete stop without having to keep your foot on the brake. It takes some getting used to but is a fun and easier way to drive.
  3. Go to a dealer who knows about EVs
    I went to a few different dealerships before finding a sales rep who really understood EVs. It’s a big red flag if they try to sell you a maintenance package for a traditional gas car. I decided to opt for a warranty package since the car has so many computers and tech elements, but the battery already comes with a good warranty on its own.
  4. Get up and go!
    There is no warm-up for EVs. No engine to rev. You can hop in and go. Many cars offer features that let you remote start the car, so it is set to the temperature you want before you get in. Just remember to unplug first if you’re charging!
  5. IRA EV Blog PhotoWhen to charge for cheap
    I have hardly spent any money on energy since I got my car. I received a $500 EVGo credit (that also works at ChargePoint stations) with my purchase which will last me over a year of my usual charging. While the gas savings are great, there are more ways to get the most out of your charge and save. You can fully charge in less than an hour with a fast charger, but they are more expensive. I prefer to plug in at my work’s garage during my shift. It takes 7- 8 hours for a full battery. And the great news is that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is offering incentives to get more EV chargers on the road.
  6. Driving an EV will reprogram your senses!
    I was shocked at how strong gas smells to me after switching to EV. You just get used to it after years of going to the pump. Now that I don’t go to gas stations anymore, I can smell it so strongly when I’m near one. EVs are also so quiet. I can hear my music and podcasts more clearly now. There’s less rumbling and vibration from a gas engine to drown them out.
  7. Read your owner’s manual
    This is the best advice I can give you. I’m often delightfully surprised at discovering something new my car can do. I can adjust settings so my car can lock itself when I walk away. Tesla drivers can use their phones as their keys. EVs have a lot of special features. Dig in and find yours!
  8.  You’ll be part of a fun new club
    Seriously. I am a bit of an energy nerd, but once you start doing your research, you’ll find EV communities on Facebook or Reddit that can help answer your questions or raise bizarre ones like, “Can I take my EV through a car wash?” (The answer is yes, in case you were wondering.)

Pretty soon, you’ll be the EV-angelist. Happy EV exploring!

Kayla Boardman is a Public Information Representative for San José Clean Energy. She has been with the City for three years and is a San José native. She is passionate about the environment and making a difference in her community.