The popularity of electric cars is exploding. In 2021 alone, electric vehicle (EV) sales doubled worldwide. This is despite the fact that manufacturers struggled to maintain inventory due to global supply chain problems.
However, not all electric cars are created equal. Some makes and models are significantly more reliable than others. If you’re on the market for a new EV, you need to understand how to choose a safe model. Here’s what you need to know about why EVs have become so popular and how to choose one that will keep you safe on the road.
Why Electric Cars Are Selling So Fast
The most obvious reason electric cars are growing in popularity is money. Electric vehicles don’t have the same fuel needs as a standard gas or hybrid vehicle. With gas prices expected to increase over the coming year, the ability to cut that cost entirely in favor of cheap or free electricity appeals to many consumers.
Meanwhile, the cars themselves are getting cheaper and more readily available. Compared to just ten years ago, there are now dozens more EV options, from tiny sedans all the way to pickup trucks. These vehicles are about on par with traditional gas-powered cars in terms of price, too. As such, it’s easier for the average consumer to find an EV they like in their price range. In combination, the increased availability and the lack of reliance on gas have caused EV sales to skyrocket.
Choosing a Safe Electric Car
If you’re considering becoming one of the many new EV owners this year, you need to make sure you’re choosing a safe car. EVs have come a long way, but the technology isn’t perfect yet. Before you potentially commit yourself to a lemon of a car, you should consider these four essential elements of EV safety with each car you check out.
1. Avoid Brand-New Year Models
This is a good rule of thumb no matter what kind of car you’re buying. Whenever a manufacturer releases a new year model, whether it’s a redesign or a completely new creation, there’s the potential for problems. These designs simply haven’t been road-tested as much as the second, third or fourth year model in a design series. There’s a greater chance of safety issues that snuck through the manufacturer’s testing process and may make your new car dangerous.
This guideline is especially relevant for EVs, though. Since EV technology is comparatively recent, most brands haven’t had time to work the kinks out of their fresh releases. It’s safer to choose a model that’s been on the road for a few years, like the Toyota Prius or Nissan Leaf, than a Chevy or Ford model just released this year.
2. Check the Battery History
The most significant difference between an EV and a gas-powered vehicle is the engine, for obvious reasons. EVs rely on massive batteries to run. These batteries are significantly more expensive and harder to find than a standard car battery. More importantly, unlike gas engines, these batteries usually need to be replaced after a certain number of years.
When you’re buying an EV, you should research the battery. Many companies make proprietary batteries for their vehicles, meaning that there’s no single brand you go to for a replacement. Each proprietary battery has its own strengths, weaknesses, and expected lifetime that you should consider when making your purchase. If a particular manufacturer’s batteries often fail early or cause engine fires, you’d be wise to look at other makes.
3. Pay Attention to the Driving Range
Another important consideration of EVs is their driving range. Most EVs have a range of 150-300 miles at this point, but that can be an important difference. If you have a significant commute or drive long distances, you need your EV to have the driving range to support those activities.
Don’t just take the manufacturer’s word regarding the range, either. Check Consumer Reports and driver reviews, too. These sources can give you a less biased range report for how far the car can go in real-world road conditions.
Choosing a car with enough range is especially important because charging stations aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations. If you’re driving somewhere rural and your EV dies, you may not be able to find a place to charge it. At best, that’s a significant inconvenience, and at worst, it could be actively dangerous.
4. Make Sure You Understand the Warranty
In California, car dealerships and manufacturers must give you a warranty when you buy a car. That warranty is critical protection if you happen to buy an EV with safety or performance flaws.
In general, a new-car warranty needs to cover:
- Critical engine components
Warranties may also cover:
- Electrical components
- Steering components
- Safety features
- EV batteries
You need to understand exactly what’s covered by your car’s potential warranty before buying it. Typically, manufacturers and dealerships that offer better warranties are more secure in the quality of the vehicles they sell.
You should also check the length of the warranty. Powertrain warranties, which cover the engine and critical systems, often last five years or 60,000 miles. Meanwhile, more comprehensive warranties like bumper-to-bumper options will usually expire after three years or 36,000 miles. Check your warranty to learn exactly how long you’re covered so you know how long you can hold the manufacturer accountable for mechanical failures.
Safe EVs Are Better for Everyone
An EV might be the perfect choice for your next car. By cutting your gas bill entirely without increasing your car payment, choosing an EV could help you save a significant amount of money over the vehicle’s life. However, that’s only true if you get an electric car that’s safe and reliable.
If you’ve already bought an EV and it’s not as reliable as you expected, you have options. You may be able to have the manufacturer repair, replace, or even refund the car entirely. You can learn more by discussing your situation with the expert California lemon law attorneys at Johnson & Buxton. Reach out today to discover your options for getting your electric vehicle fixed at the manufacturer’s expense.