Electric car buying guide: Top 11 things to know before buying an electric car

Electric car buying guide: Top 11 things to know before buying an electric car

Electric vehicles are all the rage these days and from the variety of forms they have taken in recent times, electric cars stand out as the pinnacle of battery powered cars. The reasons are simple: they have the longest possible range, the highest power an electric motor can produce and offer the utmost luxury you can expect on your commute. All of this is usually wrapped in a much more futuristic ambiance for the traveler, with large screens in the front, eye-catching interiors and new-age driver assistance systems to make driving a cinch.

These clues make an argument that electric cars should sell like hot cakes. Well, they would, were it not for the very high price tags attached to it over the internal combustion engine options. Much of this cost stems from the need for large batteries, and as EV manufacturers push for increasing the range of their electric cars, these costs will only increase. At least until the time battery manufacturing techniques evolve to lower their costs.

Buying an electric car is not everyone’s cup of tea. While it’s a very attractive proposition, especially with fuel costs rising, choosing the right electric car for you can take time, research and a lot of brainstorming. To make this process easier for you, we’ve put together a list of absolute musts to keep in mind when selecting your next EV. These important aspects work regardless of the price range or capabilities of the electric cars, and should help you with whatever kind of budget you may have planned. Of course, the budget itself is a crucial factor. For others, read on.

If you’re planning to buy an electric scooter instead and want to go through the buying guide for it, click here. When it comes to electric cars, let’s start with the most essential functionality: the distance they travel.

1. Range:

Mercedes-Benz EQC Series Simulator

The most crucial factor in determining the best electric car for you, period. Keeping up to date with the recent happenings in the world of EVs, automakers are highlighting this as the main feature of their top line offerings. Electric cars with a claimed range of over 500km on a single charge are now on the market, and if you can afford the highest amount of money, there’s nothing stopping you or your EV from getting to your destination.

Some examples of such EVs in India are the Hyundai Kona, which can travel up to 484 km on a single charge, followed by the recently launched Tata Nexon EV Max, which travels 437 km in a similar scenario. The MG-ZS EV also has a productive range of 461 km on a full charge. Of course, real-world performance drops, but you can still expect to be able to travel well over 400 miles in one of these electric cars without stopping for a charge. That’s an easy ride from Delhi to Shimla in one go.

On the other hand, if you’re stuck with an EV that only travels a limited distance on a full charge, chances are you’ll spend much of your travel time, well, not traveling. Simply because charging an EV is not as easy as filling up with petrol or a diesel car. It takes time, well over an hour, even in the fastest charging scenarios. So it is impossible to drive an electric car without planning the charging schedule in advance. This brings us to the next point.

2. Fast Charging

Since EV makers mainly emphasize range, people often stay focused on it and forget to check this crucial element in an EV. If your electric car travels long distances but takes a long time to recharge, your travel plans may not be as spontaneous as you’d like. Choose an electric car that charges from 0 to full in as little time as possible.

By industry standards, the best electric cars in India charge from 0 to 80 percent in an hour. In the above examples, the Kona charges its battery in 54 minutes, i.e. via a 100 kW DC charger. The Nexon EV Max clocks 56 minutes at 0-80 percent via a conventional 50 kW DC fast charger, while the MG-ZS EV cuts this down to just 50 minutes.

3. EV type

Toyota Mirai

If this is your first bit of research into electric cars, you should know that there is not just one type of such vehicle on the market. EV serves more as an umbrella term for a total of four vehicle types: vehicles that are fully electric, vehicles that use an internal combustion engine supported by an electric motor (called a hybrid), hybrids that have plug-in charging and thus can run on motor alone , and finally the ones we call fuel cell EVs like then Toyota Mirai

Although the general principle of operation is the same in all types, the practical application is very different and each has its advantages and disadvantages. A hybrid engine can be used to increase the mileage of your petrol car, while a plug-in hybrid can use both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor separately at different times, expanding your options. A fuel cell vehicle can be refueled with hydrogen in minutes, but then it will be difficult to find a hydrogen filling station in India. So choose wisely according to your requirement.

4. Brand:

While this is a crucial factor, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to decide. This is because there are currently only limited electric car options in India, and depending on your budget, it is likely that you will only have to choose from a few of them. The best part, all the current names are known and reputed and will offer you only the best of products and services.

For a hint, know that Tata is one of the major players in the Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh price range. Mahindra also graces this space with its eVerito cost below Rs 10 lakh. Then there are foreign players such as Hyundai, Kia and MG Motors, which offer premium electric cars in the range of Rs 20 to Rs 30 lakh. The top offers are well above Rs 1 crore and come from companies like Audi, BMW and Porsche.

5. Performance

Electric cars have a big advantage over petrol or diesel cars here, thanks to the direct torque they can produce. You may have seen this in the many drag races between Tesla and top of the range cars. Torque might not be the performance aspect you’ll be concerned about. But what about the other specifics?

For example, the top speed varies from EV to EV. While electric scooters paint a bleak picture here, electric cars can give you a real speed sensation if you need one. Example? The Tigor EV can go as low as 120 km/h, but go further in the price range and you’ll see the Nexon EV Max boost this to 140 km/h while the Mercedes Benz EQC can hit 180 km/h.

Also Read: Electric Vehicle Companies in India: A List of Companies That Helped Boost EV Adoption in India

6. Battery Warranty:

Tata Nexon EV Max battery (Image: Tata Motors)

Electric cars come with very powerful batteries and stay far away from the problems of electric scooters like that of battery explosion. But you may still want to check the warranty that the EV manufacturer gives on their vehicle, simply because batteries are the most expensive part of an electric car and a simple failure in them can bring your car to a halt.

So it’s good to be sure with a long warranty for the battery of your next electric car. Most brands offer a warranty of eight years or up to 1.6 lakh km run on their EV’s battery. If you see a figure lower than this, you may want to reconsider your electric car choice.

7. After-sales service

Again, an easy choice to make based on the handful of reputable brands on the market. But even if you are assured of quality service on your electric car, it is wise to check where the service centers are located and how easily you can reach them. In addition, it is useful to know whether the dealer or the brand offers roadside assistance, because electric cars cannot necessarily be repaired by regular mechanics in the event of a breakdown.

8. Maintenance Costs:

Building on the service aspect of your EV, you also need to know how much the maintenance will cost you in the long run. Know that the maintenance of electric vehicles generally costs much less than combustion engine vehicles because there are far fewer mechanical parts in operation. Still, a detailed breakdown of when and how much your EV will charge you will be very helpful in the long run.

9. Driver assistance systems

Electric cars today often represent the pinnacle of automotive technology. This means you can expect many new features in your next model, including a large infotainment system, the latest connectivity options and, most importantly, essential driver assistance systems. You may want to check which of the electric cars offers the most for its price as these will definitely help you drive safer and easier on your travels.

10. Luxury Features

Porsche Taycan

Dependent largely on price, electric cars have a lot to offer those looking for luxury in their vehicle. From individual climate control to lighting systems, ventilated seats, voice command support, wireless charging and whatever, you name it and there’s just no way an electric car on the market doesn’t have this feature.

11. Price

It all comes down to the money you’re willing to spend on your next electric car. As we mentioned the different price ranges the current EV offerings are in, chances are you’ll get one that’s to your liking as well as your budget. Sure, you’ll have to spend more than you would for an internal combustion engine, but it’s a well-known fact that an EV pays for these costs over time by saving you from huge fuel costs. Calculate and make sure how much you can spend initially to maximize your profits in the future.

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