Should Our Family Own Only Electric Cars?

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My wife already owns an electric car. What if I replaced my gas car with an electric one, too?

Ever since my wife got her electric BMW i3 a couple of years ago, I’ve been jealous of the performance. Electric cars have amazing torque, and this particular model is incredibly fun to drive.

Close up of blue BMW i3 electric car
My wife’s BMW i3

I was jealous, but I wasn’t quite ready for our family to have only electric cars. Hers can only go about 150 miles without charging, and sometimes less depending on conditions. So, I’ve been waiting for a couple of year for a better plug-in hybrids to come out, ones that would have longer all-electric range, like the BMW X5 45e (about 40 miles).

But now that longer-range plug-in hybrids are an option, and I have started running numbers on a few, a couple of issues jumped out at me. First, while I like the idea of having lots of cargo space—I had recently moved my son to college—I worried that one of those bigger SUV-sized plug-in hybrids wouldn’t fit in our garage. Second, someone pointed out to me that I’d basically have maintenance on two cars in one, one car with an internal combustion engine (ICE) and one with an electric motor and big lithium-ion battery. While the maintenance cost of an electric vehicle is not as high as that of an ICE vehicle, I wouldn’t have less cost than my current ICE vehicle; I’d have more.

A Little History

My wife has been fascinated with the idea of electric vehicles since she found out about the Toyota Prius in the early 2000s. In 2006, she bought a Prius, and the following year, mounting repair costs on our station wagon led me to swap it out for a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. We loved both of those cars.

A few years ago, my wife started looking to graduate to an all-electric car. We were further along in are careers, but we didn’t really consider Teslas because at that time they seemed beyond our means. (This was before the more affordable Teslas, like the Model 3, were readily available.) She settled on the i3, albeit with a Range Extender for some extra peace of mind.

White Tesla Model 3 in the mountains
Tesla Model 3 (Photo by Charlie Deets)

I wasn’t planning on trading in my old Highlander yet, despite it beginning to show its age. (Consistent heat in winter is over-rated.) However, a surprising strong wind storm one afternoon, and a neighbor’s tree, forced me to do otherwise. As I mentioned, I was waiting for longer-range plug-in hybrids to hit the market; so, to tide me over, I found a good deal on a year-old BMW X1. It doesn’t have as much room as the Highlander did, but we don’t need as much room as we did when we had young kids.

I really like my X1, and if there had been a plug-in hybrid version of it available when I bought this one, that would probably have been enough to scratch my electric itch.

“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.”

Federico García Lorca, Blood Wedding

My Present Dilemma

So, what do I do? The financially responsible thing to do would be to keep my current car for a few more years. On the other end of the spectrum, I could go to the local Tesla store this afternoon, and drive off something they have in stock.

Because I’m just a fallible human, I think the most likely outcome is that I will keep my car for a few more months while I research different electric cars. I have already test-driven a Tesla Model Y and a Ford Mustang Mach E. Lucky for my finances, both cars have wait times to order the exact car I want, and I’m definitely not going to settle when I take the all-electric plunge. I like to think that I will keep whatever electric car I choose for several years.

Silver Ford Mustang Mach E in showroom
Ford Mustang Mach E (Photo by Bram Van Oost)

Besides the Model Y and the Mach E, there are more and more options coming out this year. Given that I will go all-electric in the near future, which electric should I choose?

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