Four Ars staffers bought electric cars recently—here’s what we got


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We have the electric 2019 Kia Nero.
Zoom in / We have the electric 2019 Kia Nero.

Timothy B. Lee / Ars Technica

On Friday the 13th, my wife and I went to a Kia dealer to pick up a Kia Niro. We took one of the last 2019 Niros on the plot, and paid $ 32,900 for a $ 41,000 listed car. Better yet, when we file our taxes next spring, we’ll get $ 7,500 in credit from Uncle Sam. So the post-tax cost would be only $ 25,400.

The electric vehicle options have improved dramatically since we last went to buy cars in 2017. I wanted to buy an electric car at that time as well, but the choices were slim. The Tesla S and Model X were far from our budget. My wife announced that the Chevy Bolt and Prius hybrids looked so funny. The Nissan LEAF was then rated at 107 miles – far short of road trips.

We tested the Ford C-MAX plug-in hybrid in 2017, but the plug-in feature seemed like an afterthought. The car had extra batteries stacked in the rear cargo area, leaving little room for charging. So we decided to buy a Subaru Impreza with an internal combustion engine. Cost: $ 25,200.

When we started looking for our second car in August, the options were much better. There were enough battery electric cars on the market that we didn’t even think of plug-in hybrids. My wife (primary driver) – drove a test Mini electric, a The BMW i3, a Nissan LEAF, a Hyundai Kona, And A. Kia Niro.

All of these vehicles were available for less than $ 40,000 – and less than $ 30,000 once tax credit is calculated.

Several factors ultimately sold it to Kia. It had more interior space and a longer range than Mini and BMW. These features weren’t essential as we could still use the Impreza for road trips, but they helped. Most importantly, I found the Niro to have the most comfort and driving pleasure of any vehicle I have tried. I was impressed by the elegant interior decor.

It’s a great time to buy an electric vehicle

Jennifer Ouellette of Ars Technica bought a slightly used 2017 BMW i3 last year.
Zoom in / Jennifer Ouellette of Ars Technica bought a slightly used 2017 BMW i3 last year.

Sean Carroll

In 2017, buying a battery-powered car meant making sacrifices. There weren’t many options on the market, and consumers faced choices between the short term and the high price of the sticker.

Today there are many options on the market, and they offer much better value for money. You can find electric cars to meet a wide range of customer needs and at a wider range of price points. Electric cars are close to par with conventional gas consumption. Once you factor in the $ 7,500 tax credit, you can say some have hit it. Our Kia Niro EV doesn’t have our Subaru Impreza collection, but it is a much nicer car in every other way. The net cost was almost the same.

Kyle Orlando from Ars Technica also bought an electric car recently. Bought a Nissan LEAF last year. The Leaf has been on the market for nearly a decade, and it has boasted of steadily improving its range. Today they are rated at ranges between 150 and 220 miles.

“The only thing that kept us pausing was the range,” says Orlando. “But once we really looked at how we drove, there were probably five trips a year when we were driving more than 150 miles.” He and his wife had planned to keep their old car – a gas-powered Toyota Camry – so they could do so on road trips.

Consider Chevy Bolt and the BMW i3. But Orlando rejected Bolt because he got bad reviews, and he wasn’t convinced BMW deserved the higher price.

“We were looking for a relatively cheap car,” said Orlando. “We are not huge cars people.”

Orlando says he was pleasantly surprised by the scent of the paper. His driving experience lied the stereotype that affordable electric cars were glorified golf carts. “When I return to the Camry now, the handling and acceleration are a bit slow,” he says.

Another Ars writer, Jennifer Owlet, bought a used car 2017 BMW i3 last year. I paid $ 35,000 for the electric vehicle, which was part of the company’s fleet and had only 1,700 miles. The $ 7,500 tax credit is only available to new car buyers.

Like Orlando, Ouellette was initially concerned about the car’s short range. But she realized that she and her husband would often use it to commute and run errands. Like Orlando, they also had a second car that they could take for longer trips.

“It’s small and sporty, with great visibility and a great interior design,” she told me. “It handles well, with active braking, and has strong acceleration.”

More options at the high end, too

Eric Pangeman 2019 Jaguar I-PACE.
Zoom in / Eric Pangeman 2019 Jaguar I-PACE.

Eric Bangman / Ars Technica

Ars Technica’s Eric Bangman fell in love with Jaguar I-PACE afterward His review for Ars last year. While Orlando and I mostly wanted cars that could take us from point A to point B at a reasonable price, the Bangeman was more demanding.

“I wanted something fun to drive because that’s an important part of owning a car for me,” he said. He was willing to pay a premium for a great experience. He ultimately paid $ 67,000 per vehicle with a $ 3,000 credit aid for a 2009 Toyota Prius. He earned $ 7,500 credit on his taxes the following year.

Bangeman had test-driven a friend’s Tesla Model S, but said he enjoyed driving the Jaguar more. “The I-Pace was the complete package in terms of look, range, performance and interior,” he told me. In his opinion, the interior of the S was not “polished.”

I-PACE’s relatively long range – around 230 miles – was also a consideration. He regularly makes weekend trips for around 200 miles. So while he found a lot to like in the Audi e-tron, its 200-mile range wasn’t enough for his needs.

The options for advanced electric vehicles are expanding steadily. It was an Audi expansion E-tron electric line. For clients who have money to burn, there is Porsche Taycan.

There is a file Lots of battery-powered electric cars Coming to the market in the US next year:

  • Ford will soon Start of delivery On the Mach-E Mustang and operating on the F-150 electric pickup truck.
  • Electric start Revian Aiming for shipment in 2021 (Tesla’s Cybertruck will likely not arrive before 2022).
  • Volvo XC-40 SUV It is expected to be released in the coming months.
  • Mercedes-Benz has several models on the way in 2021.
  • ID.4 Volkswagen crossover It is set to come to the US market next year.
  • Startup Lucid aims to fetch Lucid Air For marketing in 2021.

All of these options will enable more customers to find something that suits their needs and budgets.

That $ 7,500 tax credit might not last forever

President-elect Joe Biden wants to increase sales of electric cars.
Zoom in / President-elect Joe Biden wants to increase sales of electric cars.

Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

The federal government offers a $ 7,500 tax credit for the first 200,000 cars the manufacturer sells. After reaching this limit, the subsidy drops to zero over the course of a year.

My wife and I haven’t seriously considered Tesla’s Model 3 or Chevy Bolt because they have already reached the limit of 200,000 cars and their tax credits have been phased out. So while they had similar sticker prices to our other options, our net cost would have been much higher.

If the next two years see an electric car sales boom, as many auto companies hope, we will start to see other companies hitting the same threshold. Official numbers are hard to find, however One unofficial toll A year ago, Nissan, Ford and Toyota found them to be the best-selling electric vehicle manufacturers still eligible for credit.

Nissan was in the lead, with nearly 50,000 vehicles sold in the US before reaching 200,000. US sales of the Nissan LEAF were Anemia In 2020, so Nissan customers may enjoy the balance for another year or two. But only Nissan and the IRS know for sure.

The same is true of Ford and Toyota. Both have sold more than 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2019. They are unlikely to reach the 200,000 mark in 2020 or 2021, but they may do so soon thereafter.

The bottom line is that the next year or two will likely be a golden age to buy electric cars. Consumers will have lots of good options, and will also benefit from the tax credit. There will likely be more electric cars on the market in 2022 and 2023, but by then the more popular car models may not be eligible for Uncle Sam’s help.

On the other hand, it is possible that President-elect Joe Biden could extend the credit. According to him Campaign siteBiden wants “to recover the entire electric vehicle tax credit to stimulate purchase of these vehicles.” It’s not entirely clear what that means, but it could mean making Tesla and GM cars eligible for credit again and preventing the phasing out of other automakers. Of course, if Republicans retain control of the Senate, Biden will likely need help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put that into practice, so he’s far from a sure thing.


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