Buyers of battery-powered cars are concerned about climate change, but lower costs are also a powerful attraction, according to more than 3,000 respondents to a request for stories about electric car purchases on The New York Times’s website. Driving on electricity is generally much cheaper than gasoline. Scores of respondents said they were using energy they generated from rooftop solar panels to charge their cars, potentially lowering costs even further.
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Electric car buyers used words like “love” and “awesome” to describe their vehicles. Many said they would never buy a gasoline car again, but many others said they intended to keep at least one conventional vehicle, because traveling long distances by electric car can be inconvenient and sometimes impossible because of difficulties in finding charging stations.
Electric vehicles are now becoming popular in places other than where they took off, like California, where 39 percent of all U.S. electric vehicles were registered as of June, according to data from the Department of Energy. Registrations outside California jumped 50 percent in 2021, compared with a 32 percent increase in the state.
In the long run, much wider use of electric vehicles will require many more affordable models. The Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt are among the few lower-cost battery-powered cars available, with several on the way, including a Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle, which will start at around $30,000. But it may be a while before there are enough affordable models, including used cars, which sell in much greater numbers than new vehicles. For now, Tesla, Ford Motor, Mercedes-Benz and other companies have focused on premium models that are more profitable.
Yet, many buyers are concluding that electric vehicles make economic sense even when they cost thousands of dollars more than similar gasoline vehicles.
Volatile gas prices, which hit record highs this year, swayed people like Tracy Miersch, a resident of Miramichi, New Brunswick. She drives 3,000 miles a month setting up merchandising displays for retailers.
“I had been kind of averse to all the new technology,” Ms. Miersch said, adding, “My purpose was getting rid of gas.”