By Sean Tucker
We’re in the early days of a shift more radical than most of us have ever seen. Only the rise of the internet can compare.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that most of the world’s economy, much of global politics, and much of your every day have been shaped by the internal combustion engine (ICE). Wars have turned on who had access to oil. Fortunes have been made and lost building the approximately 2 billion ICE cars – 1.3 billion still in running condition. And many of us feel a deep romance connected to the vehicles we’ve owned.
That all has to go away. Fast. Electric cars are the future. No matter what Autotrader’s executive editor Brian Moody says about gasoline-powered vehicles, with each passing day, EVs are becoming the present.
The change won’t be linear. Studies already show it accelerating. As more of us see electric cars in our neighborhoods, more of us start to picture ourselves in them. Recent research from our parent company, Cox Automotive, shows that more than a third of new car shoppers now consider a hybrid or an electric car.
So when should you make the jump? Here are five reasons to do it the next time you buy a car.
1. They cost little to operate
Electric cars are more expensive up front. But once you park one in the driveway, the savings start to show up.
As gas prices rose this summer, electricity prices stayed steady. That left some electric vehicle owners smiling past the gas station.
But EV savings aren’t limited to the cost of fueling up. EVs have fewer moving parts than ICE cars. There are no spark plugs or timing belts to change. There’s no transmission fluid to drain. You can even skip the oil changes.
To be fair, we should point out that recent changes to federal tax incentives have left the actual cost of buying an EV in question. The $7,500 federal tax break on most EVs helped offset the higher purchase price. Right now, it’s in flux as manufacturers scramble to meet new requirements to help their buyers qualify.
But a key requirement of any good car purchase is that it offers predictable costs over time, and the mechanical simplicity of EVs will reset everyone’s expectations of what driving should cost.
2. They’re fun to drive
If you haven’t been in an electric car yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. America fell in love with speed long ago, and electric cars are fast . Shockingly fast.
Last year, Kia /zigman2/quotes/206019389/delayed KR:000270 +2.91% announced an electric hatchback, the EV6 GT, with a 0-60 time of less than 3.5 seconds. Just a decade ago, that kind of speed off the line was accessible only to owners of exotic cars with quarter-million-dollar sticker prices. In the EV era, you can get supercar speed in a Kia.
You’ll meet driving purists who insist that EVs just don’t feel right and pine for the days of mechanical steering linkages and pneumatics. But we’ll let you in on a dirty little secret — even most of today’s ICE-powered cars use electric power steering. Even the current Porsche 911, the icon of steering feel, uses the same sort of electric power steering as an electric vehicle.
3. Many concerns about EVs are overblown
But what about charging networks, you’re probably asking by now. Shouldn’t you wait to go electric until public chargers are as common a sight as gas stations?
Well, do you have a gas pump at home?
Almost certainly not. But you do have electricity at home.
As America goes electric, charging stations aren’t going to pop up at every gas station. They don’t need to. Americans are just going to make a mental shift to refueling at home.
Department of Transportation Statistics show that the average American drives less than 30 miles daily. The shortest-range EV on the market has more than three times that much range.
And yes, charging on long road trips is annoying right now. But with three states (California, Massachusetts, and Washington) already committed to banning sales of ICE cars by 2035, charging networks will expand.
4. You’re going to do it eventually
Those ICE bans also raise an important point – you will need to buy an electric car eventually. Gasoline-powered vehicles are on the way out.
It will take decades before they’re truly rare. But you’re probably going to drive your next car for a long time. The average vehicle on American roads is over 12 years old. Buying an ICE-powered car now doesn’t just mean choosing to drive one now. It probably means choosing to drive one for a decade or more.
Many leading automakers say they won’t even be selling ICE-powered cars a decade from now. Some have promised to stop producing them completely, often by 2030. Others have said they’ll build them in small numbers a decade from now. But virtually no automaker says it will still be producing a mostly-ICE lineup for long.
You face a choice between going electric now or later. Why be the last one in your neighborhood?
5. Lastly, the climate is an emergency
Unconvinced? Turn on the news.
Nearly a third of Pakistan is underwater as we write this. of people have been displaced. The American west is parched, with rivers running dry and apocalyptic fires spreading every summer . Heat waves in China have disabled hydroelectric dams and left millions without power .
Earlier this summer, parts of the Middle East hit a wet bulb temperature of 95 degrees F. A what, you ask? A temperature at which humans can die in the shade with infinite water to drink after just six hours. At that point, the U.S. National Weather Service’s “heat index” is 165 degrees.
The Environmental Protection Administration says transportation emissions are now America’s leading source of pollution. Not even power plants do as much damage as we do with our gas-powered cars.
And no, it’s not entirely on you to fix that. It’s on policymakers and industry. They’re starting to respond, at long last, by putting more electric car options in front of you.
Take one. You’ll save money, enjoy the drive, and feel better about being part of the solution.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.