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Thursday, 7 May 2015

"It's the best car I've ever had," said Robbie Strickland of his electric car, a 2013 Nissan Leaf. "I have no regrets at all."

Before getting his Leaf, the Atlanta-based Strickland ran the numbers over and over again before making the decision to go electric.

"I'm very analytical about how much things cost. I spent two weeks studying the spreadsheet. I was the only person I knew at the time who was even looking at one," he said, adding that now he has multiple friends and co-workers with electric cars. "It was a leap of faith, but it paid off."

Strickland pointed out his Leaf is actually leased.

"Leasing gas-powered cars is usually a terrible deal," he said, "but you don't want to buy an electric car because the technology is always changing. They'll have one that goes twice as far in a few years, so leasing makes more sense."

But does the car save him money? Absolutely, Strickland said. He explained that prior to getting his Leaf, he owned a Nissan Maxima, which was paid off and in very good shape.

"My monthly payment for the Leaf is less than I paid to put gas in the Maxima each month," he said. Gas-powered cars also require much more maintenance, which can really add up.

"There are only a few moving parts in an electric car. There is no oil to change, and really nothing that can break down. There's almost no maintenance."

When it comes to charging, he said there are several options, all of which are simple and relatively inexpensive. The most basic one is using a regular home outlet, which can charge a car fully in about 18 hours. Using a charging station can shorten charging time to an hour or less. "I bought a charging station and charge mine at home," he said. You can also find charging stations in your area by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy's website.

As far as the size of the car goes, he said "it's bigger than you think it is," adding he can get his entire family - a wife and three kids in car seats — in his Leaf.

Strickland said he plans to stick with electric cars, and he anticipates they will become more and more economical as time goes by.

 "Prices will continue to go down, even more rapidly over time," he said.

"The battery — and everything about the cars — will only get better. I will not buy another internal combustion car again."

According to cbsnews.com, the price of electric cars has come down significantly over the past five years, and affordable leasing options are making the cars more attractive to consumers.

And don't forget about the tax incentives. A federal tax credit on all-electric cars of up to $7,500 is available, and this applies whether you buy or lease. Many states and electric utilities offer additional incentives that can add up to big savings. Consult the Alternative Fuels Data Center to see what credits and subsidies are offered in your state.

When it comes to operating costs, Consumer Reports found that all-electric cars like Strickland's Nissan Leaf cost about 3.5¢ per mile, compared to about 12¢ per mile for a gas-powered Toyota Corolla — but keep in mind that Consumer Reports also say that electric car might not be the best choice for you if you have a long commute, or live in an area with extremely high electricity costs.

Try one of the several online tools to help you figure out if driving all-electric can save you money. Check out the resources available at the U.S. Department of Energy, and their state-by-state comparison tool.

Ultimately, whether an electric car is a money-saving option for you depends on factors like your driving habits and where you live, so make sure you're taking advantage of all these tools to make an informed decision.

 

 

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