Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

How to Buy an Electric Vehicle

How to Buy an Electric Vehicle (EV)

by Randy Brooks, Rotary Club of Lake Chelan, Washington, USA

This article is the third in a series.  Use these links to access the previous articles:  Why Drive an Electric Vehicle? and Electric Vehicle Charging .

It’s probably safe to say that most Rotarians have experience buying a new or used car.  So what’s different about buying an EV?

Here are a few things to consider:

What are your vehicle needs, and your intended use for the EV?  Most of us drive less than 40 miles a day.  And, many of us have more than one vehicle in our household.  Could you do most of your daily travels with a small battery, short range EV?  And use another vehicle for longer trips, or rent a vehicle for longer trips?  You can even rent a large battery, longer range EV for long trips.  Or, do you want to own a large battery, longer range EV to meet all your driving needs? 

Rotarian Randy Brooks with his wife, Anne, their dog, Heidi, and their pre-owned 2013 Model S "Red Tess"


Once you have decided on your needs, and EV use, you can start to consider what EV would meet your needs, and budget.  There’s something for everyone!

Where can you find out what types, and models of EVs are available?  Things change quickly in the EV world, so it’s often hard to keep up.  The most comprehensive and up to date source I’ve found is Plug-In America.  Both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and 100% electric vehicles (EV) are listed.  A PHEV has an internal combustion engine (ICE) to extend the electric range for long trips.  A big advantage of an EV is that it does not have an ICE, so maintenance costs are greatly reduced.

 When looking at various EVs, there are several features to consider:

  • Range:  Will the EV’s range meet your needs?  Compare “EPA rated range” to compare apples-to-apples between models.  And remember, “your range may vary”, depending on driving style, terrain, and weather.
  • Rear wheel drive (RWD) or all wheel drive (AWD):  Most modern cars and SUVs have electronic traction control that makes even a RWD vehicle very good on snow & ice.  Of course, AWD vehicles are better.  But, do you live where you’ll need to drive on snow & ice, or off pavement?
  • Charging inlets:  All EVs have a J-1772 inlet, and cord, that lets you plug into a standard 120v wall outlet (Level 1), and use common Level 2 charging stations that have a J-1772 plug.  Even if you don’t plan to do longer trips that would be easier with DC Quick Charging (Level 3), a Level 3 inlet would improve the re-sale value of your EV.  And, once you get an EV, you’ll want to drive it everywhere.  Trust me!  There are two types of DCQC inlets, the Chademo (Japanese standard, but most common in the US), and the CCS (US standard, less common but more are being installed all the time.)  You might want to check to see what type of DCQC charging opportunities are most common in your area.  A big advantage of Tesla EVs is the nation-wide network of Tesla Superchargers.  If you’re planning to drive your EV on trips, it’s something to consider.


New, used, or lease?:  As with any car or SUV, depending on the make, model, and range of the EV you’re interested in, it could save you a lot of money to buy used, or “pre-owned”.  There are some great bargains available.  While used EVs are listed on common sources like, I encourage you to consider buying a used, lease return, or “inventory” vehicle from the manufacturer.  You’ll get the best warranty, service, and price, in my opinion. 

In addition to the usual used car issues to have checked (body damage, brakes, tires, etc.), it’s important to determine the condition and current range of the EV battery.  If the seller can’t determine the current battery capacity, take the EV to the manufacturer’s outlet, or an EV specialist, to get a good idea of the current range.

         Lake Chelan Rotary Club President Lester Cooper with his Model S Tesla


If you’re set on a new model, consider leasing.  Technology is changing quickly and it’s likely that new features and improved battery range will be available when the lease period is over. 

There are some amazingly low monthly lease payments available.  In some cases the savings in gas will cover your lease payment!

There are usually YouTube videos, or an owners forum, available for every make and model of EV.  Check these out to learn more about models that will meet your needs.

Then, take the plunge!  Once you go electric, you’ll never go back!

Happy EVing.  EV grin!