What Should I Search For in my First EV?

Carlos Huerta

Table of Contents

    Acquiring a new electric vehicle is an important investment for your future, but llike any other investment, you should study your options. To enjoy the best EV experience you have to choose a vehicle that adapts to your driving needs, gives you a pleasant driving experience and that is an affordable option for you.

    If you are just getting started on the EV world and are looking for your first EV, then this article is for you. Here you will learn what is the best type of EV for you, factors to consider for your driving range, estimated costs for available battery electric vehicles, and other aspects that will help you make a wise choice for your electric vehicle

    Should You Go for a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) or a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)?

    EVs are usually categorized into Plug-In hybrids and pure EVs.

    Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), partially combine some of the benefits of pure-electric vehicles, while also having the combustion system of ICE vehicles. The electric driving range for these vehicles is relatively short since they rely more on the combustion engine, which is why they are a middle ground between both technologies.

    Choosing a PHEV for your first EV is a viable option if you are curious about getting started on EV technology, but are not ready yet to forget about your familiar combustion engine. The costs of a PHEV are also lower than those of an average BEV which makes them more attractive to many. Keep in mind however that PHEVs still heavily rely on internal combustion technology, which means they will still realease GHG emissions and carry on gas expenses as well. Also, since PHEVs still have a combustion engine, regular maintenance will still be needed although important repairs in the future may be more difficult than with other types of vehicles to do due to the higher complexity of having both technologies combined.

    Figure 1. Hybrid Vehicle Components. Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center.

    The full electric vehicle or BEV is powered by a battery-electric vehicle which replaces the gas tank with a traction battery pack. This component energizes the electric engine which converts electric energy into kinetic energy that is transferred to the wheels. While EVs feature zero tailpipe emissions, their actual carbon footprint depends on the type of energy used to recharge the EV battery.

    BEV’s are the option to go if you are ready to forget entirely about gas expenses, CO2 emissions, and all the drawbacks of ICE vehicles. Making the switch to a BEV now will give you better chances to apply for incentives and also will allow you to get used to the dominant transport technology of the future. Maintenance will also be simpler to do than a PHEV and the driving range nowadays is enough as to cover most EV drivers needs.

    Figure 2: Components of an EV – Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center

    Search for an EV That Better Adapts to Your Driving Habits

    Learning about the driving range and the efficiency of the vehicle is important to reduce the chance of range anxiety in the future. Let us see which factors should influence in your decision making to evaluate the performance of the vehicle.

    Consider the EV Efficiency

    The efficiency of an EV is usually measured in kWh/miles or kWh/100 miles. This is the amount of energy stored in the battery required to drive the vehicle for 1 or 100 miles. According to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the expected efficiency for an EV goes from 0.253 kWh/mile down to 0.535 kWh/mile.

    As you might expect, it is always better to choose the electric battery vehicle with the best EV efficiency, since this would make better usage of the energy stored inside your EV battery, although this will likely increase the price. A good EV efficiency value is considered anywhere between 0.25 – 0.3 kwh/mile while a bad efficiency is considered anywhere between 0.4 – 0.53 kWh/mile. You can check specific efficiency metrics on the Fuel Economy governmental website.

    Choose the Right Battery Capacity

    The EV battery capacity determines the amount of energy stored on a single charge, being one of the most important factors determining the driving range for a battery-powered electric vehicle. The average EV battery is estimated at 40 kWh, but there are EVs featuring larger batteries going from 70 kWh up to 100 kWh.

    Aiming for a car with a capacity anywhere between 40kWh to 50kWh should be a good approach to drive longer and be able to use commodities like the speaker or HVAC system without constantly worrying about the driving range. Also, keep in mind to check the EV battery warranty and choose the option that offers longer warranty periods. Many EV automakers cover the battery of your vehicle for 5 years or 60,000 miles, but some better EV models like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, or several Tesla models, feature a warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.

    Figure 3. EV Battery Design. Source: Laserax

    What Is the Expected Driving Range?

    The expected driving range for an EV is determined by the battery capacity and the full-electric vehicle efficiency.  The remaining driving range can be obtained by dividing the battery capacity by the EV efficiency. For instance, considering the EPA EV efficiency range (0.535kWh/mile to 0.253kWh/miles), a fully charged 40 kWh battery delivers from 74 up to 158 miles. A battery-only electric vehicle with an 80 kWh battery will deliver twice that range. Some of the most efficient EVs deliver from 124 miles up to 350 miles, or in extreme cases around 500 miles.  

    You should always pick an EV according to your driving habits. It is advisable to estimate your traveled distance from home to work and back. You could use a trip calculator for this or simply use Google Maps to get the mileague. You should aim to charge your EV only once per week, or twice in worst-case scenarios. For instance, U.S. citizens drive on average 11,443 miles per year or 220 miles weekly, choosing an EV with a 220 – 250 miles driving range should be enough in most cases.

    Search for Options that Adjust to Your Budget

    Finances should be specially considered when purchasing an electric vehicle. EVs still have high capital costs, however, these can be partially reduced thanks to government incentives.

    Capital Cost for an Electric Vehicle

    Considering the cheaper driving cost, lower maintenance, and additional savings of owning an EV, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for EVs is lower than for ICE vehicles, but the initial price remains higher. Some low-priced EVs feature initial prices that go from $27,000 up to $31,500, while luxury options go from $45,000 up to $120,000 for the most part.

    What Is the Actual Price After EV Incentives?

    Most pure EV and PHEV options (not all of them) are eligible for a Federal EV Tax Credit of up to $7,500. This $7,500 tax credit is available for U.S.-assembled BEVs that comply with this and other conditions, PHEVs are also eligible for the credit as long as they feature a 7 kWh or larger battery. A $4,000 credit is also available for acquiring used EVs cheaper than $25,000.

    Considering this incentive, many EVs are cheaper than their initial cost. For instance, the aforementioned costs would be reduced to $19,500 – $24,000 for an average electric car.

    What Should You Look for In Your Driving Experience?

    EVs are fun to drive, can accelerate rapidly, and feature relatively high speeds. To enjoy the best driving experience, it is important to consider this and some other factors.

    Acceleration & Driving Speed

    EVs feature an electric engine that requires no gear change and produces high torques at lower speeds, this results in higher acceleration rates. The high acceleration of EVs results in a much more pleasant and faster-driving experience, especially in an urban environment. The average EV goes from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds, we recommend getting an EV with this or a faster acceleration to enjoy this experience.

    The average maximum speed for EVs has been estimated from 140 mph up to 160 mph, which is more than enough for the average driver, therefore any new EV should suffice your driving speed needs.

    Type and Power Output of the EV Engine

    There are three types of engines installed in EVs: AC electric engines, brushed DC engines, and brushless DC engines. While some EVs in the market feature AC electric engines, the best and most popular EVs are being manufactured with brushless DC engines. We recommend going for this type of engine since it delivers a higher efficiency and better driving experience.

    Another aspect of the engine that you should look at is the power output, this will give your vehicle a higher torque. The average power for EV engines ranges from 40 kW up to 60 kW. Difficult landscapes where torque is key to obtain a good performance will require a power output on the high end of the range, however for most road cases 40kW will do the work. Keep in mind whether your regular landscape is mostly flat or if there are many ups and downs like in a mountain region.

    What Is the Best EV Body Style for You?

    Many different car body styles can adapt to your aesthetic and lifestyle preference. The good news is that EVs are being manufactured nowadays in all shapes and sizes. Here we list some of the most popular body types for EVs and the best models that are either available or will be coming shortly in the future to the market. Choose an EV with a car body style that fits your lifestyle.


    2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan
    Figure 4: 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan – Source: MotorTrend
    • 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan
    • 2023 BMW i7
    • 2022 Tesla Model 3
    • 2024 Lucid Gravity


    2022 Audi E-Tron Sportback
    Figure 5: 2022 Audi E-Tron Sportback – Source: Ccarprice
    • 2022 Audi E-Tron Sportback

    Sports car

    2023 Porsche Taycan
    Figure 6: 2023 Porsche Taycan – Source: AutoBlog
    • 2023 Porsche Taycan
    • 2023 Audi RS E-Tron GT
    • 2022 BMW i4

    Station wagon

    2022 Audi A6 Avant E-Tron
    Figure 7: 2022 Audi A6 Avant E-Tron – Source: AutoProyecto
    • 2023 BMW i5 Touring
    • 2022 Audi A6 Avant E-Tron
    • 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Shooting Brake


    Mercedes-AMG electric convertible
    Figure 8: Mercedes-AMG electric convertible – Source: TopGear
    • Bentley Continental GTC Electric
    • Mercedes-AMG electric convertible
    • Chevrolet Corvette electric convertible

    Sport-Utility Vehicle (SUV):

    Kia EV6
    Figure 9: Kia EV6 – Source: Kia
    • 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5
    • 2022 Kia EV6
    • 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E

    Pickup truck

    Tesla Cybertruck
    Figure 10: Tesla Cybertruck – Source: Carwow
    • Ford F-150 Lightning
    • Rivian R1T
    • Tesla Cybertruck

    What Should You Expect for Your EV Charging Experience?

    Finally, to enhance your charging experience you should choose a home level 2 EV Charger with an average power rating of 7-10kW. This will charge your vehicle in a decent amount of time (about 4-10 hours). However, keep in mind that the onboard charger inside the EV will limit the amount of AC power that you can inject into the vehicle. Many people choose the EV and later purchase the level 2 EV charger just to find out that the onboard charger of their EV is too low to make use of the full power of the level 2 EV charger.

    Always check the onboard charger of your EV options and take it into consideration at the time to select it. It is generally a good practice to purchase the electric vehicle while knowing already which level 2 charger to select.

    After keeping all of these considerations in mind, you will be able to successfully select a first electric vehicle that matches your needs and that gives you the performance that you require.

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