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Unbox an Affordable EV

Updated: Dec 14, 2023



If you own a TV, you’re probably already seeing those ridiculous Christmas commercials that feature a family in festive holiday sweaters gathered around a new vehicle that has a big bow attached to it.  It’s their new car for Christmas. They’re such silly commercials.  Who’s the target audience, anyway? Orthopedic surgeons?  As if most of us will take their advice, drive down to the dealer, and get a BMW as a stocking stuffer.


But wait a minute. What if you could get a great vehicle for not all that much?  If you’ve always thought electric vehicles (EVs) cost too much, then you might not know that as supply chains have healed and inventories have normalized, EVs have come down in price quite a bit.  Many models are now within the budgets of those who don’t traditionally surprise their spouse with a car on Christmas Day.

     

Take the Chevy Bolt: a supremely competent A to B commuter car that fetches 259 miles of all-electric range, has a zippy 0-60 time of around 6 seconds, and can be fully charged at home for $8.50. A gently used Bolt with 30k miles may be had for ~$17k, and you may be eligible for a $4,000 used EV tax credit through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), bringing the effective cost of the Bolt EV before tax, tags, and title down to $13,000.   If you drive 15k miles/year, that’s an effective fuel savings alone of $1,100/year. With no oil to change, reduced maintenance, and longer vehicle life (300k-400k miles), that’s quite the deal.

       

To qualify for the used EV tax credit, several conditions must be met. The used vehicle must cost no more than $25,000, must be purchased from a licensed dealer, be at least two years old, and eligible income may not exceed $75,000 filing single, $112,500 head of household, or $150,000 filing jointly. A few other secondary conditions must be met, and you can find them all at: www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/used-clean-vehicle-credit.  Other used vehicle makes and models may be eligible but check with the IRS first and at the Dept of Energy’s website: www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxused.shtml for manufacturer eligibility.

    

Of course, as with any vehicle, due diligence is important. Make sure the vehicle does not have a salvaged or branded title, has not been in an accident, and does not have any recalls pending. When searching for an EV on an online clearinghouse like Autotrader.com, allow yourself ample distance from home when searching for a vehicle. A broader search will reveal more diverse inventory and an opportunity for lower pricing across dealers.

       

We recently bought a Chevy Bolt, and though we have a few EVs in our stable already, the “Marshmallow,” as my wife has named our corporate-white compact car, has exceeded our expectations. It gets us from A to B reliably, is super-efficient, cheap to own, and has good connectivity. It may be a no-frills car, but it brings a smile to each of our faces by doing what it says it will do so well. We zip around town, driving an average of 110 miles on electricity for the same $3.10 we would have spent on gas.

     

 So, with the holidays fast approaching, if you or yours is in the market for a new-to-you vehicle, check out current EV pricing. With enough earnest web browsing, even those of us without gobs of cash may find a nice EV pining for a home—and a bow.

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