Challenges Buying an Electric Car (Part 2)

Me Standing With My New Vw Id.4 In Front Of My House
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It’s time for an update to our saga of buying an electric car and (spoiler alert) I’m happy to say that  this one has a happier ending.

As you’ll recall if you read Part 1 of this story, we had come close to buying our first electric vehicle in August of 2022 but had the chance to do so snatched from us, ironically, by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act among other things. 

Twelve months later, a recurring family situation caused us to take another stab at the problem. 

Our son had been the proud recipient of a 13-year-old and rather beat up Lexus back in the spring of 2022. The idea behind giving him that car was just to let him see if owning a car was going to be a good thing for him.

He lives in Boston where there is ample public transportation, nowhere near enough parking and where it’s by no means certain that the cost and hassle of owning a car is worth the benefits. The only way to find out for sure was to test it and that old Lexus gave us the chance to help him do that.

18 months later, he had come to enjoy owning a car but the now 15-year-old Lexus is on its last legs (or wheels). Lots of things had started to go wrong and he had received an estimate for repairs that was about twice as much as the car was worth. Time to move on.

When he mentioned to his mother that he was thinking of buying a new car, the whole idea of us getting an EV resurfaced. We had a terrific VW Passat (I love that car) that we could sell to him and we’d take the Lexus back for the sole purpose of trading it in for that long awaited EV.

Buying a Used Electric Car

First stop was the website of our local VW dealership. You may recall that I was a little ticked off with these guys at the end of Part 1, due to the pitiful offer they had given me for the trade-in of my VW Tiguan. But I’m over that now. I do genuinely like these guys so they were the natural first choice. 

And guess what, they had a terrific deal for a used ID.4 Pro S AWD. This car only had 7,000 miles on it, brought back to the dealership by someone who found that they weren’t quite ready for the switch to EV after all.

The cost was almost $10,000 less than the price of a new one, and the Inflation Reduction Act meant that it was eligible for a $4,000 tax credit. Compared with what we had been quoted a year before, that seemed like a good deal.

But just as we were starting to figure out the details, we got an unexpected call from the dealership. The car in question had been totaled when it was hit by another car that veered onto the forecourt from the adjacent main road. The car was just sitting there minding its own business waiting for me to buy it when it was hit at 6am. 

I was really starting to believe this whole idea was cursed.

Buying An Electric Car Is More Challenging When The One You'Re Planning To Buy Gets Wrecked While Standing On The Forecourt.
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Leasing or Buying an Electric Car

Now that the option of buying a used electric car was off the table, the very idea of buying one at all came under scrutiny. The previous time I had gone through this process, in the summer of 2022, buying was really the only option I’d considered. 

I hadn’t leased a vehicle in almost 20 years and the last time I had, I used up the allotted mileage so quickly that I was pretty much forced to buy it out at the end of the lease or I would have had to pay thousands of dollars for the extra miles. I do sales for a living and do drive quite a lot, although less nowadays than I used to. 

But an article I wrote for this website a few months ago had got me thinking that a lease may be a better way to go. 

Is it Better to Lease or Buy an Electric Car?

While I’ve been happy with the VW brand when it comes to ICE vehicles, my faith in them has been tested ever since I started to look into buying an electric car. And while I’m rooting for them to get their act together and successfully transition into the all electric future, it’s by no means certain that they will.

I’m not willing to bet tens of thousands of dollars on them succeeding.

The charging network they’ve set up is not very well regarded compared to Tesla’s, current models of the ID.4 do not offer bidirectional charging, which I’m on record as believing is the future of charging. While I love the ID.4, I also know that there are other EVs out there that are getting better reviews and higher ratings.

So a 3-year lease is a way for me to hedge my bets a little and not tie me into five or six years of car payments for a car that may look very outdated in a few years.

Finally We Have Our Electric Vehicle

It took a lot longer than I would have expected and ended up being a far-from-easy decision but I’m very pleased to announce that, as of August 31, 2023, we finally have an electric vehicle. The decision to lease, rather than buy is one that I’m very comfortable with. 

Buying An Electric Car Took A Lot Longer Than Expected But We Finally Did It
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I do think it will change the way we think about driving, possibly leading us to rent cars when we have long trips to make, rather than drive our own, ans also rethink how we allocate driving between our two vehicles, depending on what kinds of trips we’re using them for.

We’ll learn a lot more about what it’s like to live with an EV over the coming months and we’ll be sure to post those lessons here. Stay tuned.

Cost of Owning an Electric Car vs a Traditional ICE One