Money Matters: Costs and savings of electric cars

Education Resources, Finance 411,

Charging stations are popping up across the country to power the growing number of electric cars on the road.

Consumer reporters, have you tackled the costs and savings associated with owning (or leasing) an electric car?

Now might be a good time to do so – federal tax credits for purchases of Tesla electric vehicles (EVs) are set to end on January 1, 2020, with those for Chevy and Cadillac models sun setting April 1, 2020.

Why the specific dates for different cars?

Here’s an overview: Federal tax credits of up to $7,500 per EV vary based on the exact model of vehicle, with the credit based on the vehicle’s electrical output, and on the number of vehicles the manufacturer has sold. Once a producer, like Tesla, has sold 200,000 qualified EVs, the amount of the credit for that manufacturer’s vehicles decreases over time. A complete list of EV models and their current credit amounts is available here.

That’s just one consideration for those thinking about buying electric vehicles. In addition to the varying federal tax credit, the upfront costs of purchasing an EV (if you’re leasing, you don’t get the credit) can vary widely.

So do state tax credits (Colorado’s is the most generous) as well as separate state and electric company rebate programs, which help offset increased electric bills or the cost of installing charging stations. What are your state’s credits? What incentives to electric companies in your area offer?

Maintenance is another factor. Electric cars don’t require gas, of course, but also don’t need oil changes. On the other hand, some manufactures recommend increased break maintenance (others suggest less frequent break maintenance is needed). And what about costs for electronic parts and new batteries?

Here is one calculator to check for costs and savings over time.

Is buying an electric car worth it? That’s up to each member of your audience to decide, but you can help viewers, listeners and readers make informed decisions by reporting on the news they can use in your market.

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education.