How to Go Electric for the First Time

December 5th, 2013

2013 Nissan Leaf

What’ll it be:

A new Nissan Leaf for less than $25,000, a new Chevy Volt for around $37,000, a new Cadillac ELR for $76,000, a new Tesla Model S for upwards of $80,000 or maybe the new BMW i3 or i8 or Mercedes-Benz B-Class electric?

A growing number of used electrics are also hitting the market. Prices for those range from the high teens to $400,000. (More on that later.)

How’s a car shopper supposed to decide the best course of action to go electric for the first time?

Read on, friends, for the answer awaits.

A few years ago there weren’t any options for mass-produced electric cars. In a very short period of time, cars that use electricity only have managed to break through into the realm of reality. In fact, there are enough options now, and more on the way, that shopping for electric cars now requires a hefty list.

For people who value saving money, the car with the lowest price and highest driving range makes the most sense. That’s where the Leaf is the clear winner. Available new for just over 21 grand (after the government rebate), the car offers the comfort of a traditional sedan and up to 75 miles of gas-free driving per charge.

Find one on the used market for under $20,000 and get even more bang for your buck.

Things get confusing, though, when higher budgets factor into the equation. The Model S can go almost 300 miles on a charge, but costs four times a much. The Volt offers a range of under 40 miles and costs almost twice as much as the Leaf, but has a gas engine that can provide hundreds of additional miles when the electricity runs dry.

Upcoming models include the Cadillac ELR, which is basically a Volt but will cost an absurd $76,000. The BMW i3 proudly shouts to the world that it’s electric, while the B-Class takes a more subtle approach to blend in with all the other compact cars on the road.

What’s the best route to take when getting an electric car for the first time?

Hands-down, the only way to go is with a used Leaf. The car has proven itself as reliable, is perfect for city commuting and has a price that is easy to swallow should the whole EV thing just not work out for you. It’s the perfect entry-level electric car.

Well, there is one more great option, but with current used prices between $180,000 and $400,000, the Commuter Cars Tango is probably still out of reach for most of us.

What’s the best car to go electric for the first time?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Nissan Leaf
Used Chevrolet Volt
Used Tesla Model S

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