How I Chose Which Plug-In Car To Buy

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Sierra Club. Author credit goes to Gina Coplon-Newfield.

I’m pleased to say that I finally bought a plug-in car! As the lead electric vehicle (EV) advocate on staff at the Sierra Club and as someone who cares deeply about the need for our country and my family to slash emissions and dependence on oil, I was giving serious thought to switching to an EV. I was definitely feeling guilty about driving a gas-guzzler. Sure, a lot of my trips were by foot, bus, or train. But there were many car trips too, and they were dirty ones.

Maybe you’re in the same position I was in a few months ago. You want to switch from a gas guzzler or even a hybrid gas sipper, and you’re intrigued by all the new plug-in vehicles on the market.

image via Shutterstock

Which one should you buy? There are a lot of appealing options. After studying this issue thoroughly, I’ll tell you that the ideal plug-in vehicle is different for each person and depends on a lot of factors.

How many miles do you drive your car each day? The majority of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. The Nissan LeafFord Focus EV, and Honda Fit EV go 70-100 miles on a full charge. The Mitsubishi iMiEV goes 60+ miles. TheTesla Model S can drive about 265 miles. Certain factors such as heat, air conditioning, and hills may reduce these distances, so give yourself some wiggle room.If you need to drive further than these distances on rare occasion, purchasing an all-electric while renting or car-sharing a gas-powered car (ideally a hybrid) may be a good option. If you take frequent long trips and rely on one car, a plug-in hybrid like the plug-in Prius (electric range of 11-14 miles) or an extended range EV like the Chevy Volt (electric range at about 35 miles) might be the best choice, given the back-up gas engine.

How many vehicles in the household? If you have more than one vehicle in your household, one of those vehicles is gas-powered, and your typical daily driving is 70 miles or less, then purchasing an all-electric may be the best choice — and you can rely on the gas-powered vehicle for longer trips.

Want to slash oil dependence?  Devastating oil spills, the disturbing influence of Big Oil on our political system, the fact that the U.S. expenditures on foreign oil equal half the federal deficit, the extent the U.S. military will go to protect oil interests, and the alarmingly high amounts of carbon we send into the air from burning oil are just a few examples of the need to move beyond oil. In fact, a recent report by Environment America shows us that the U.S. can save 2,634,747 barrels of oil in 2015 if just 469,000 plug-ins are sold by that year (many think this is more than achievable). All-electric plug-in vehicles rely on no oil, and plug-in hybrids rely on very little.

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