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Trading Chanakya Group

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Electric Car Buying Guide


Unique to EVs is the return of the RWD standard configuration. Many EVs have standard RWD with optional AWD (ID.4, Mustang Mach-E, Ioniq 5, EV6, etc.) versus the common front-wheel-drive layout of most mass-market cars and light- to medium-duty SUVs. FWD cars tend to behave more predictably in slippery conditions, though we only have limited experience with rear-drive EVs in wintry conditions. EVs are heavy because the large batteries by themselves can weigh a thousand pounds or more, so a compact electric SUV like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 at its lightest 4,200-pound curb weight can weigh a touch more than a three-row SUV like the Hyundai Palisade, which is at minimum 4,217 pounds. Because of this extra weight, traction might prove better than in a traditional RWD gasoline-powered car.

The average price of all new vehicles (gasoline and electric) per J.D. Power was $46,229 in February 2023, even as dealer inventories improve. EV starting prices average around $65,000 for the more than 40 models that are on sale or will be within the 2023 calendar year for which we have estimated range (EPA or automaker estimates) and retail pricing; EV prices span from under $30,000 to well over $100,000, and, as previously mentioned, are usually pricier than similar gas-powered vehicles.

If you're considering buying an electrified vehicle as your next car, you might find this new world daunting, what with all the unfamiliar acronyms, definitions, specifications and other things to consider. Accordingly, our first recommendation, borrowed from the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is as follows: DON'T PANIC.

We say this because the EV landscape really isn't that complicated if you have someone to talk you through it, which is the role we'll be playing here. At the highest level, there are several types of electrified vehicles to be aware of, from hybrids (HEVs) to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and fully electric vehicles (EVs), each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. So let's start there and then move on to charging, range, costs, performance and anything else we can think of that you should know before you buy.

Plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs, are an intriguing halfway point between EVs and regular cars. They offer both a gasoline engine and an electric battery pack that can be recharged by, you guessed it, plugging the vehicle in. Typically, PHEVs use the electricity stored in the battery pack first, then switch over to the gas engine when needed. PHEV battery packs are smaller than the packs in pure EVs, but you still get usable electric range before the gas engine kicks on. If you recharge every night and don't travel very far, it could be quite a while before you have to visit a gas station again.

As a side note, mild hybrid vehicles, or MHEVs, have much smaller battery packs and use their electric power to augment engine performance or power the car's electrical systems. These vehicles are generally best thought of as hybrids in name only since the driving experience and fuel economy aren't much affected. The function of hybrid technology here is to optimize the traditional gas-powered car, as opposed to the HEV strategy of employing dramatic powertrain changes to minimize fuel consumption. Examples of MHEV variants include such unlikely "hybrids" as the Dodge Ram 1500 and Jeep Wrangler (though the latter is also offered as a proper PHEV).

Most EV and PHEV owners will charge at home if they can. Due to their smaller battery packs, PHEVs can generally be charged overnight using a standard 120-volt outlet. Charging this way only adds about 2-3 miles of range per hour, but since many PHEVs offer fewer than 30 miles of electric range, most will be topped off by the time you leave for work in the morning.

But if you drive a full EV or even a PHEV with a more substantial battery pack (such as the Toyota RAV4 Prime or Volvo S60 Recharge), you're going to want to upgrade your home charging situation. A qualified electrician can install


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