TAMPA, Fla. - Car manufacturers sold a record number of electric vehicles so far this year, and more sales are on the assembly line.
According to Kelley Blue Book, Americans bought almost twice as many electric cars in the first quarter this year compared to the same time last year. The growing popularity isn’t surprising to Tampa Hybrids co-owner Todd Thompson.
"The beauty about electric cars is you’ve eliminated the most problematic part of the car, your engine," said Thompson, who sells and services hybrid and electric cars. "With electric and hybrids cars the mileage is almost meaningless. You’re almost better off with high mileage because batteries age in time not miles. But as the miles go up, the price goes down."
Maintenance routines like oil changes, water pumps, spark plug replacements go out the door with electric cars.
"So there really is very little maintenance on electric cars. Tires, wiper blades, cabin air filters, that’s about it," said Thompson.
The most popular electric car is currently Tesla. Electric cars tend to be more expensive than most buyers can afford, averaging about $56,000 for an electric car in 2021. But more companies are working to make lower priced cars, such as the Nissan Leaf starting at $27,400 for a 2022 model. Buying used versus buying new for a better deal can vary based on the manufacturer.
"With the Tesla, there’s only a couple of models that pay to buy used. The Model 3 and the Model Y, you might as well just order a new one if you can wait because you’ll pay more for a used one in today’s market than a brand new one," said Thompson.
The main choice is between short range or long range cars, or how many hours you want to drive at one time.
"There’s short range electric cars like the Nissan Leafs, the Ford Focus electric, some of those you can buy for around $10,000, and they’re great second cars just to kind of zip back and forth to work with," said Thompson.
Kelley Blue Book said electric car sales made up more than 5 percent of all car sales for the first time ever. But less than one percent of cars on the road are electric, so it's still a growing market. Electric cars can be expensive, but car experts say drivers pay much less to maintain them in the long run.