Day Trips in the DMV Where You Can Charge your EV

At Steer, the safety and well-being of our team and members is the number one priority. The impact of the ongoing pandemic has resulted in changes to many of our service offerings to strictly adhere to all CDC and local municipality guidelines. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to our concierge team at (202) 556-3132.

 

However, on a lighter note, while we’re all hunkered down inside our homes, it doesn’t hurt to think about where we’ll go and what we’ll do just as soon as we’re able to hop in the drivers’ seat again. Instead of going stir-crazy, may we suggest planning your future trip as something to look forward to?

 

While planning trips, one issue for many EV drivers is range anxiety – you want to know how far you can go and how you’ll keep the car powered up along the way, since it’s not the same as stopping at the pump like they’re used to. DC, Virginia, and Maryland have quite a vast network of electric car charging stations in place. Here are some day trips you can start to plan, without the worry of knowing where to find the next charger.

 

Theme Parks, Natural Parks, & Other Local Attractions

Big theme parks often have dedicated charging stations, so if you live near a major park like Six Flags or some other similar attraction, you’ll probably be able to add this to your network. But there are also different types of park and rec areas that offer charging without fighting all of that theme park traffic. Take the iconic Rock Creek Park that bisects D.C.- there may not be any chargers directly in the natural areas around the parkway. Still, there are ample SemaConnect and Chargepoint stations and others nearby, clustered less than a mile away in neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and American University Park. If you want to hit some trendy spots down there, you should be able to plug-in with no problem. Or you can hike up to Rock Creek Park or enjoy a drive with the windows down on Rock Creek Parkway, enjoying some of the best scenery in the area.

 

Take a look at your local park network and see where municipalities may have put in charging stations. In many of these places, you can drive right up to a charging station from the road, as parks have added the electric vehicle facilities in easily accessible parking lots. Because of the way that small public parks are built, there is often an opportunity to optimize access.

 

Municipal Offices

 

Many municipalities and organizations want to be seen as thought leaders on the environment, so they have put in free electric vehicle charging stations for motorists.

 

These government and business groups see the electric charging station as something like a library donation. This public convenience benefits everyone and increases civic participation in ways that also promote energy sustainability.

 

This can work out to your benefit if you’re trying to get further around the northern Virginia area and beyond. For example, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, you can see that part of the county’s comprehensive “greening” of operations involved putting in electric car charging stations at public offices. PG County is also going solar in many exciting ways, which may make green energy more sustainable when you do power up.

 

Stadiums & Arenas

Lots of communities invest in electric car chargers around stadiums and arenas because these are economic hubs for visitors, and D.C. is no exception. While we’re still waiting to see how sports will resume this summer and fall, charging stations are open for use and available.

 

For example, if you go to the website of FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, you’ll see that they’ve installed no less than ten electric vehicle charging stations in various parking lots. Some of the stations are right outside the stadium itself and offer easy access for tailgaters. Check for stations in the stadium’s south purple permit lot and A-one platinum lot – you’ll see the attractive design and easy access of charging your car at the home of the Washington Redskins.

 

FedEx Field has recently installed massive solar arrays over the parking lot that provide the bulk of the stadium’s power needs. That’s impressive, and it’s another way that planners are integrating more support for electric vehicles into their building plans. That’s important for FedEx Field in particular, because of all of the daily traffic that the site sees regularly. The metro system helps – but traffic is a fact of life here and elsewhere in the area. EV design can help, if drivers combine their green ride with public transit.

 

Mall-Adjacent Charging Stations

Another way to make use of electric car chargers in Washington D.C. is to utilize some of the convenient stations near major landmarks down by the National Mall. There’s a ChargePoint charging station off of 12th St. and Independence Avenue, just a block from the Smithsonian Museum, and another one a couple of blocks south – that’s walking distance from the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, and other iconic landmarks. Up nearer to the Capitol, there is a ChargePoint station adjacent to L’Enfant Plaza and three more stations beneath the Museum of the Bible toward the Beltway. It’s worth noting that any of these stations are basically within walking distance of each other, so drivers hardly need to worry that they “missed a station” or that they’ll need to backtrack to get powered up.

 

You only have to go a little bit further into either Navy Yard or the neighborhood west of it to find additional charging stations if you happen to be a little further afield.

 

Having a half-dozen stations within a few blocks of the United States Capitol and the Library of Congress means that there’s quite a bit of access for electric car drivers. There is also a selection of stations scattered above the mall near Lower Senate Park and Judiciary Square, with adjacent charging networks is Union Station just to the north, offering walking access to so many famous landmarks.

 

Further north, you can get charging access near stations like Shaw-Howard University and Georgia Ave.-Petworth. This is handy for travelers who may be coming from further away and using the Metro system for the last leg of their journey. In fact, “pegging” EV car stations to the metro system is a very deliberate move. It allows for that interconnectedness that makes the D.C. area such a stalwart supporter of EV driving. When you have electric vehicle charging stations situated all along the METRO line, it can increase ridership on those routes, while also helping with the trend toward using a battery to power your car instead of a gasoline engine. This is something urban planners are looking at everywhere, with the idea of the “smart city” so much in vogue. Still, D.C. is “smarter” than a lot of cities – which is perhaps proper since it is home to the centers of the national government. Although it’s been a long time coming, new renewable energy efforts are underway in significant ways near our capital.

 

Airports

 

While air travel is currently on pause for most people, it’s helpful to know that when you’re ready to fly again, charging is easy and accessible in the Washington D.C. area where the local airports are major travel hubs. Airports are often a convenient source of electric car charging stations, and one good example is Baltimore-Washington International. Coming off of 295 to 195 south, you see a cluster of charging stations both to the east and west, and even more as you go down into the BWI parking areas. SemaConnect and other charging stations are located to the west of long-term parking and near BWI employee parking areas. With these charging stations integrated into the airport’s layout, electric car drivers have an advantage when it comes to powering up there.

 

Northern Virginia Charging Stations

 

Another way to get your electric vehicle powered up in the D.C. area is to utilize stations further out in Northern Virginia. Veterans of the highway 50 commute will know that Fairfax is a critical way station to the west, and the suburb has two central stations, a Tesla Destination station, and an EvGo station, as well as other auxiliary stations. There’s another station nearby in Centerville and a Blink charging station near Fair Oaks Mall. That’s quite a lot of coverage, and your GPS will most certainly have plenty of options for finding your next charge.

 

Having these charging stations available means drivers can plan their trips into the district in a way that allows them to power up to have enough range to get around where they need to go, and then come back to a suburb like Fairfax.

 

Suppose you’re coming in from Fairfax traveling east, and you want to visit the Hirshhorn and the Air and Space Museum with the kids. You can charge up as needed in Fairfax, and then again below the Capitol Mall as you explore. Having dual charging opportunities means that you can manage how you get power to your vehicle, ensuring that you never run out of energy. That’s a valuable accommodation in an area where you can’t always plan your trip to a T. 

 

Even if you decide to take extra time to drive around looking at presidential memorials, you’ll know there’s a collection of stations, both at the Capitol Mall and out on the fringes toward the beginning or end of your trip. That helps drivers to rest easy about any last-resort options.

 

Maryland Charging Stations

 

Up in Maryland, you have charging stations in Silver Spring as well as further out in Beltsville, Laurel, and beyond. On the west side, there are stations in areas like Rockville and Gaithersburg. For example, Rockville has several stations available, and we’ve already covered the way that PG County is moving to add stations, too.

 

The way that this network of electric vehicle charging stations is situated is essential. What it means is that electric car drivers who are motoring around this area will not have to worry about being stranded somewhere that doesn’t have accessible charging available. Prestigious suburbs have their fair share of chargers, so in extended travel, you need to plan ahead to be out near a particular spot and get more energy there.

 

Waterfront Electric Vehicle Stations

  

With the unique location of the nation’s capital in a sort of landlocked area, there are not a lot of beachfront electric charging stations around northern Virginia or D.C. However, as you go down near the Potomac River, you’ll see a collection of stations that keep this option available for EV drivers. Then, also, if you are likely to visit beaches relatively nearby, like Virginia Beach, you’ll see stations there, too.

 

Looking at a greater map of the mid-Atlantic area, you’ll see that Washington D.C. and its surrounding countryside represent one of the biggest electric vehicle hubs in the country. It’s a very reasonable place to drive an electric vehicle for this reason. Different states and areas are experiencing the electric car revolution in their own ways. The District of Columbia, as well as Virginia and Maryland, has some leadership that has invested in early efforts to accommodate renewable power and electric vehicle setups.

 

Steer is a great way to take advantage of this effective charging system, with EVs that get you everywhere you need to go in style and with the latest cutting-edge technology. Steer’s Concierge team will help you find charging stations in your area and answer any questions you have about charging, so you have complete peace of mind. Take a look to see how you can get behind the wheel of a high-performance electric car and experience the clean revolution yourself, without worrying about range anxiety.

 

Steer Member Feature – Noah

Curious about becoming a Steer member and want to know what it’s like?

Already a Steer member, and want to make sure you’re taking full advantage of all the perks and benefits?

 

Here is the next in what will be a continuing series of interviews with Steer members. We’ll feature real people in the DMV area that use Steer, to illustrate first hand what it’s like to have a membership and how it affects their everyday lives. We hope this series will help give readers a better sense of what it’s like to transition from a gas to an electric car, as well as how to get the most out of your membership.

 

Name: Noah Mchugh

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Current Residence: Washington DC

Favorite Steer Car: Tesla Model 3

One Word Description of Steer: “Personable”

 

Noah, tell us about yourself.

 

I’m a government contractor involved with National Security. I’m originally from Virginia Beach. Right now, I live and work in DC in an apartment that’s too small, but you know, it’s DC. 

 

I’m into cars and have been for a very long time. Photography is also a big hobby of mine and I try to do as much as I can. I’m trying to start doing it more now that work is freeing up a bit.

 

How did you first hear about Steer?

 

I was looking around at car subscriptions in the DC area and thought it would be an interesting thing to try. There are a couple others in this area but Steer interested me because it’s all-electric and I was getting tired of paying for gas. It seemed like it was definitely worth a try, so I sold my car and switched fully over to it.

 

What made you interested in exploring car subscriptions in the first place, as opposed to buying or leasing another car?

 

My entire life I’ve never outright owned a car. I’ve always had a car payment or lease payment or something like that. So to me, the fact that it’s essentially like a lease where you don’t own the car doesn’t really matter to me because once again, I’ve always had a car payment, so why not?

 

Then the fact that includes the insurance and just the ease of not having to deal with maintenance and not having to deal with all sorts of things. Even leasing cars, all that stuff still ends up being your problem, even though they say it’s not going to be. 

 

I don’t have to deal with the bank, and I don’t have to pay interest and all that stuff. It just made it so much more convenient to me than having to go get another car and put it down payment and deal with finance and all that all the stuff that I hate dealing with. Steer kind of just took all of that away, which I loved.

 

What were you driving before?

 

I had an Audi SQ5, a sport SUV, so it was quite the change from what I knew from owning so many Audis but definitely have been enjoying it.

 

What made Steer seem like a better alternative?

 

It took so much headache away. Even when you lease a car, you’re still paying interest. It’s only 3 or 4%, but still, you’re paying extra money on top of the money, and you don’t own the car, so it’s kind of money going nowhere. 

 

How long have you been with Steer?

 

I signed up in July, so a little over six months.

 

(Fun Fact: Noah was actually our first member on the Preferred 3 Plan)

 

Now that you have Steer, what are some things that you’re able to do now that you weren’t able to do before?

 

I have a support team when I have an issue with a car, which is awesome.  

 

If I have a question on how something works or there’s an issue with the car or anything like that, I can just literally text or call the number and someone gets back to me extremely quickly, which I love. When you own a car, Volkswagen or Audi don’t give you a local number you can call or text. I have to bring it in to the dealership and all of that just for a super simple thing.

 

So I really like that, and if there is an issue with a car, the team is really fast to help figure out what to do or swap me to something else while it gets fixed or anything like that.

 

Tell us about your experience charging the car as opposed to a gas vehicle.

 

It’s the first EV I’ve ever had myself. It’s definitely a little bit of an adjustment, you have to plan a little bit better. 

 

Luckily the Tesla does most of that for you when you’re traveling. It maps out where you need to stop and based on battery and distance and speed and all that stuff, but it’s something you need to take into account.  

 

At my apartment building, we can charge for free with level two chargers, which is awesome.

 

But if I need to go drive 60 miles somewhere and there’s not a supercharger in between here and there, I need to make sure that I leave my car charged, as opposed to having a gas car I can just leave my apartment and go to fill up the tank real quick and be on my way. So it’s just a little additional planning, but I think it’s still worth it. It’s definitely not gotten in the way.

 

Plus, when you’re doing a long-distance drive, that 30 minute stop at a supercharger is a nice little break every couple hours. I definitely don’t mind a forced leg stretch.

 

I also like not having to stop for gas, especially when it’s really cold or raining because there’s no standing outside. I just have to hop out of the car real quick, plug it in, and hop back in. Plus the money aspect. There’s no paying $40 or $50 to fill up my tank. It’s only about $10 on the Model 3. It’s great.

 

Would you say your membership has had any effect on your career?

 

Not too much because a car doesn’t factor too much into my job, but it is impressive to co-workers every once in a while when I drive up in a Tesla. Even though they’re becoming a lot more common, a lot of people haven’t seen them in person or sat in one, so people always enjoy it. 

 

But at least for me with my career, it hasn’t had too much of an effect, but it’s definitely saved me money, so it’s helpful in other aspects of life.

 

What about your hobbies?

 

Now that I have time to get back into photography, from now on, it’s going to be a much larger aspect. I’m getting back into the whole social media thing where I’m going to start building up that back up. I used to be really into it for a while and did a lot of promotions and partnerships, and I kind of let it relax for almost a year. But I started this past week building all that back up so it should definitely have a play in that soon.

 

Driving to new places or utilizing the car in photos?

 

Both. I’m going to start doing a lot more since a lot of my following social media is centered on automotive. I normally go to a lot of car shows and private care events around the country, so having it is going to play a much larger role.

 

What do you think we could do to improve Steer?

 

To Steer as a company, I can’t think of anything. 

 

The only issues I’ve had are some issues with a car, but nothing as a company. The people are awesome. Every time anyone’s had to bring me a car, I always feel like I’m being needy and apologize profusely, but everyone’s super nice about it and says it’s not a big deal, even though I still feel like I need to apologize. 

 

But everybody’s super responsive and helpful and friendly – just a way better experience than any dealership or anything I’ve ever had, so I can’t really think of a huge amount of things to change. So far, I haven’t had any negative experiences.

 

What’s your favorite car in the Steer fleet?

 

For long-range driving, the Model 3, because it has an actual center console and side door pockets. The Model S is definitely more fun to drive, but the Model 3 is more utilitarian. 

 

So for everyday driving around town or hanging out, I’ll take the Model S, but if I need to go somewhere and have things I need to transport, the Model 3 definitely makes more sense.

 

Steer Member Feature – Santos

At Steer, we pride ourselves on VIP service and ensuring that our members are not only happy with their vehicles, but also fully informed about how to operate them and taking full advantage of everything included within their subscription. 

 

With that in mind, here is the first in what will be a continuing series of interviews with Steer members. We’ll feature real people in the DMV area that use Steer, to illustrate first hand what it’s like to have a membership and how it affects their everyday lives. We hope this series will help give readers a better sense of what it’s like to transition from a gas to an electric car, as well as how to get the most out of your membership.

 

  • Name: Santos Andujar
  • Hometown: New Jersey
  • Current Residence: Alexandria, VA
  • Favorite Steer Car: Tesla Model 3
  • One Word Description of Steer: “Hassle-free”

 

Tell us about yourself.

I’ve been in the DC area for about a year-and-a-half. I’m from the New Jersey/Philadelphia area. I moved here to do a year of military service, and at the moment, I’ve completed my military service. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of online marketing and freelance social media marketing. So right now, I’m a self-employed entrepreneur.

 

How did you first hear about Steer?

It was either Facebook or Instagram where it first caught my eye. I inquired about some information, received a phone call, couldn’t say no to a nice start-up deal and figured I’d try it out. 

I was in the market for a car as well. I was actually leasing through Fair, and I was having a lot of problems with the car. So I gave it back and then at the same time I heard about Steer, and then that’s why I decided to go with Steer.

 

What kind of car were you driving before? 

I was driving a 2017 Hyundai Genesis.

 

What made Steer seem like a better alternative?

I think it was just the selection of vehicles. I like the idea of an electric vehicle, and the all-in-one price just works well for me. It might seem a little high, but when you really break down the numbers, you’re getting a really good deal.

 

Now that you have Steer, what are some things that you’re able to do now that you weren’t able to do before?

Even though I haven’t fully taken advantage of swapping in and out of the vehicles, I think just having that option if I was to need a bigger vehicle. Having that versatility is what I like the most.

I also like the low commitment month-to-month kind of thing.

 

Tell us about your experience with charging your car. Has it been an easy process to learn?

I’m in a Model 3 right now. This is my first time [with an EV].

I love it. I’m close to the Springfield Mall which has a supercharger, so me and the kids go take it to the charger, get some food, and it’s charged up by the time we’re done, so it’s very simple.

Even if I go take it to the family to New Jersey, I only stopped at one rest stop to charge up. It’s really not complicated. I think what I like about Steer is you kind of get a feel for if you like [driving an electric vehicle], and if you can do it, before, if say, I was to actually buy my own. 

But I’m used to the subscription thing, so I don’t have any urge to buy one. I like this method.

 

What effect has your Steer membership had on your career?

It was good content (good photos for Instagram, and video for YouTube), and it looks cool to be driving in a Tesla. I’m driving around in a Tesla, so everybody’s like, “man, he must be doing something right.”

If I show up to a meeting with someone and I’m pulling up in a Tesla, I think the perception is that I’m doing well, and it’s all about perception. If I pull up in a car that’s going to break down any day now, they might not take me as seriously as if I’m pulling up in a brand new 2020 Tesla.

For my Instagram photos, if I take a picture next to a Tesla, that’s getting more attention than the Hyundai Genesis I had before!

 

How are you using the car?

It’s my go-to. I drive it primarily, I take the kids to school, and it’s my daily driver.

 

Do you own/drive any other vehicles? 

We also own a Toyota Prius.

 

What do you think we could do to improve Steer?

I don’t have any complaints. Everything’s been smooth.

For the exchange of the cars, we met up where I was working in Arlington, so it’s really easy communication between the concierge with text. Everything’s really smooth. I honestly don’t have any complaints. 

I know when I read the comments to the ads, it’s always about the price, but I understand that it’s obviously business, and the deal is still there.

 

How does your family like it?

Through YouTube videos, the kids know about Tesla’s, and for them to actually be in one, they love it. They go to school and they tell their friends. 

While we’re waiting in line in the morning, we’re able to watch Netflix now. So they love the Tesla, and I’m like a “cool dad” now because I’m dropping them off in the Tesla.

 

Steer With Us!

At Steer, we’re thrilled to hear that Santos is happy with his Steer subscription. 

He’s taking full advantage of everything Steer has to offer, and he’s seeing the benefits in multiple areas of his life. To Santos himself, the experience has been great, both by upgrading his vehicle, as well as providing customer service to make his driving experience with us as hassle-free as possible. He’s seeing benefits in his professional life, both online and offline. And to top it off, his kids love it too! 

Electric Cars in the Winter: The Best Driving Tips & Techniques

It’s no secret; most cars don’t perform well in the winter. Many factors, including cold temperatures, icy roads, and snow, all affect how well your vehicle will drive during the season. Electric cars generally handle and perform just as well, or even better than gas-powered cars during the winter. Plus -you’ll never need to worry about freezing your butt off at the gas station every week!

Still, even for electric vehicles (EVs), cold temperatures and harsh conditions present a few challenges.

Whether you currently own an EV or are considering alternative options like a car subscription to drive them, you must understand how to maximize your EVs overall performance during the cold season. We created this guide and are sharing with you some of the best tips and techniques to follow when driving your electric car this winter. We’ll cover the following: Precondition, Braking, Control, Traction, and Tires.

Before we give you the pro-tips, let’s breakdown the actual challenges electric cars face during the winter.

Challenges

Ultimately it all circles back to one thing, the battery. Battery performance is the biggest hurdle for EVs to overcome in the winter because power and range depletion is simply unavoidable during cold winters for electric cars. EV batteries will get fewer miles and operate less efficiently when it is cold. You will see anywhere between a 10-20% decrease in total range when temperatures drop. In a test study done by AAA, the Chevy Bolt, an EV that usually offers 238 miles per charge, significantly dropped its overall range and only gave 209 miles in cold temperatures. Lower temperatures also really slow down your EVs ability to fully charge. Of course, all of this will vary depending on the EV you’re driving and the exact weather conditions. Another factor to take into consideration is the use of the heater in your EV. Since the ability to control the temperature inside your electric car is entirely dependent on battery power, using your heater for an extended period while driving can significantly drain it. Other challenges to consider when driving your electric car in the winter include handling, traction, driving habits, etc. 

Now let’s see how we can solve these challenges…

Precondition 

 A great feature most EVs have today is preconditioning. The feature allows you to conserve energy and heat for both the interior and the battery with a scheduled “start” time from the car’s control/charging setting if you are plugged in. Preconditioning is good practice and beneficial for a few reasons. First, you will operate more efficiently, which means you’ll get back some of those miles. Also, nobody likes getting into their car during those cold winter mornings. So when you precondition your EV, you won’t have to heat the vehicle using your battery’s reserves, and it will be warm and ready whenever you decide to leave on your trip. In some situations, you don’t have the option to plug-in your EV and precondition, so it’s essential to check the total range before leaving and leave extra cushion for your trips.

Braking

The regenerative braking – that feeling of instantly slowing down when you remove your foot from the accelerator – is excellent for control and efficiency in EVs. However, during the winter, the cold battery limits this feature. Here is another reason preconditioning and warming up your battery is vital. Until the car is warm and the battery can better capture the excess energy created from braking friction, regenerative braking will feel less intense. Some EVs, like the Tesla Model S, don’t even use regenerative braking until the battery is warm. If you’re driving a short distance and your battery never gets warm, you’ll notice that feeling of instant slowdown when you remove your foot from the accelerator is much less than what you’re used to. If it’s a long trip, you’ll feel regen (regenerative braking) operate as usual once the battery warms up. In some EVs, like the Teslas and the Chevy Bolt, even the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 to a lesser extent, the regen feature is really powerful that it offers many EV drivers the one-pedal driving experience. In this experience, EV drivers drive by only using the accelerator to speed up and slow down without ever touching the brake pedal. 

Control, Traction, and Tires

EVs do far better in the snow than traditional cars, mainly because of design and architecture. For all vehicles, the center of gravity is vital for control and handling. With this in mind, EV manufacturers design these cars by placing the heavy EV battery lower to the ground, which gives electric cars a lower-center of gravity. This design contributes significantly to the EVs traction and ability to handle in snowy conditions. Specific EV systems like stability control and anti-braking can further help your handling and traction by monitoring your speed, activating your brakes, reducing power, and preventing your wheels from over-spinning. It’s also essential to continually monitor your tire pressure, and in some cases, it may be necessary to invest in winter tires for your EV, but of course, this entirely depends on where you live. In cities like Washington, D.C. or NYC, where moderate winter weather and snow conditions exist, winter tires won’t be necessary.

Other Tips & Techniques

Here are some more tips & techniques to consider when driving your EV during the winter:

  • Eco-mode is an excellent feature that reduces power output in electric cars, and it’s hugely beneficial during the winter. It’ll help you maintain lower speeds, extend your battery range, and save you money. 
  • Try always to keep your electric vehicle garaged or in an enclosed parking space to ensure your battery doesn’t get even colder than it needs to be. 
  • It might be beneficial to download and use an app to know where charging stations are located before hopping in the car. This is a general rule of thumb for EV drivers any time of year, but extra important in the winter. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in freezing weather and run out of range with no charging station in sight.
  • As mentioned earlier, the use of the heater while driving can drain your battery significantly, so set temperatures appropriately and use some of the unique EV features like the heated steering wheel and seats to compensate. 
  • Finally, drive conservatively. Avoid sudden acceleration and braking, and don’t drive at excessive speeds. All these factors affect the range of your EV, but more importantly, this is just good practice when driving any car in inclement weather. Moderate driving will keep you and others safe on the road. 

Should I Lease An Electric Car? What To Know Before You Do

To lease, or not to lease. That is the question.

In fact, it’s an increasingly common question for people looking for cars today. Traditionally considered a financially preferred option to purchasing a vehicle, leasing is now becoming less and less ideal for those who want electric vehicles (EVs). But why?

There are many factors to consider when deciding to lease an EV in today’s economy. In this guide, we’ll explain all the major factors to think about when leasing an electric car. Also, we’ll reveal new, more flexible, and hassle-free options out there to consider.  

So let’s jump right in!

The Big Financial Picture

Perhaps the biggest factor you should take into consideration is the financial burden. 

The initial down payment is typically lower when leasing an electric car, or depending on how you negotiate, the down payment may not even be necessary. Also, month-to-month payments are typically lower when leasing but this depends on a number of different components including interest rate, length of the lease, mileage, and residual value.

It’s also important to consider tax credits when leasing an EV. Both federal and state tax credits are offered for electric vehicles, but this is not always available when leasing. Because the leasing company can choose to maintain entitlement to the credit, it’s essential to read the fine print of the contract to determine if this credit will be passed along to you. If not, the discount should be reflected in the cost of the lease. All this being said, incentives are changing and phasing out for many popular EVs in the year ahead.

Federal tax credits will be eliminated for Teslas as soon as January 2020; Chevy will not qualify after March 2020, and next up is Nissan. What’s happening? There is a significant stand-off between lawmakers and the Trump administration on tax credits for electric vehicles. Federal tax breaks for qualified electric vehicles first started back in 2008 and will phase out when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles per manufacturer have been sold in the U.S. Many EV manufacturers have reached or are close to reaching this threshold. The Trump Administration has proposed eliminating the $7,500 EV tax credit completely, while other U.S. lawmakers are looking to extend tax credits for the electric car manufacturers with a new “Driving America Forward Act” bill. Be sure you’ve done your homework here as dealerships can be less-than-helpful in explaining the full picture of available incentives. 

Understanding Maintenance Costs

When leasing electric vehicles, just like with a gas car, maintenance costs are another factor to consider. However, there are some differences related to the maintenance of an EV. 

Unlike buying, when leasing an electric car, you’ll almost certainly have mileage restrictions. Standard leasing contracts offer annual mileage limits of 10,000 to 15,000 miles. For some drivers, this is sufficient, but for those road warriors or long-distance commuters, this can be a major burden. Exceeding mileage limits is costly and can set you back financially in a significant way. Dealers, on average, can charge anywhere between $0.10-$0.25 per additional mile.

It’s also important to consider the battery when leasing an EV. How far do you typically drive? Does the vehicle you’re leasing have enough range to get you everywhere you need to go? As with any battery, the lithium-ion battery pack that powers an electric vehicle will eventually become less powerful over time. However, this degradation is gradual, and EV batteries typically come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you plan to lease a vehicle for a standard 3 or 5-year term, you don’t have to worry about the state of the battery life of your vehicle, but you do need to consider the overall battery range that you need.

When it comes to regular maintenance costs, there are some quick wins with electric cars. No more oil changes. No engine repairs or transmission fluids. But with continued use of any car, it inevitably goes through the standard wear-and-tear and will need to be maintained: tires, brakes, and increasingly in these tech-heavy cars, software upgrades. These types of repairs can add unforeseen costs and still take up valuable time. When leasing an electric car, most dealerships require you to pay out of pocket for maintenance costs, and it can undoubtedly add-up during the duration of your lease. Also, it’s possible when returning a leased car, for dealers to charge on anything they deem excessive, including tire traction, windshield wipers, front and back headlights, etc. 

Valuing the Intangibles: Flexibility 

Last but not least: we need to talk about flexibility. Ultimately when you lease a vehicle, one of the major benefits is the opportunity to exchange cars every 3 to 5 years. Lifestyles change all the time, your car should too. The two-seat convertible that you were driving for the last three years may no longer be viable in your current situation, and having this flexibility allows you to change cars based on the circumstances of your life. Or maybe you just love variety!

When it comes to leasing an EV, the motivation to have more flexibility and vehicle options is not drastically different. What is different, however, is the pace at which technology is advancing electric vehicles. Not surprisingly, this is happening much more rapidly for electric cars than conventional vehicles. What may be considered the breakthrough technology of the century for one automaker can quickly become yesterday’s news. Consider the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-PACE, or Hyundai Kona, here are three great, all-electric SUV options that offer over 200 miles of range. Just a few years ago, the Nissan LEAF was one of the few on the market, with only an 85-mile range and a starting MSRP that was higher than the current, refreshed LEAF with a 150-mile range. New and exciting models are being announced by auto manufacturers every day, like the mid-sized Tesla Model Y, an SUV with a 300-mile range that will be available in 2020, according to Tesla. For tech-savvy consumers or those still suffering from range anxiety (the fear that you won’t have enough battery range to make all your driving trips) leasing an EV can be ideal because they can turn in their ‘outdated’ vehicle at the end of a lease-term and opt-in for the newest EV on the market. The longest-range electric vehicles available on the market today far exceed anything we’ve seen in the last few years.

Leasing is Not Your Only Option

Ultimately, it’s important to consider all your options before committing to a multi-year lease. In recent years, alternative options to leasing and purchasing vehicles have gained popularity. Car subscriptions are one of these options, which offers you a wide variety of cars, services, and flexibility for a month-to-month fee. We’ve already covered how subscriptions work, so now let’s look at how a car subscription is different from leasing by comparing it to what we’ve mentioned about leasing above.

Financial: The biggest cost difference with a subscription is that the monthly fee covers the total cost of owning a car. The membership fee is fixed and transparent, with no down payment, registration, or titling fees. This can be beneficial if you want to reduce the financial burden that comes along with leasing a car. With everything included in one easy payment, there are never any expensive surprises. Car subscriptions typically come with insurance, maintenance, and repair costs, included and give you access to a variety of different vehicles to drive, not just one.  

Maintenance: Like many other subscriptions – clothing, movies, groceries – which are all about that VIP service experience, car subscriptions are no different. Compared to a lease, a car subscription covers not only the cost of maintenance, but also handles any service issues, accidents, or insurance claims. This eliminates the usual headaches of car ownership and gives you back valuable time in your day. Subscriptions also come with 24/7 roadside support and, perhaps, the most significant difference compared to a lease, there are no mileage restrictions. 

Flexibility:  Let’s be honest. People want the latest technology, and they want options. Perhaps this is what makes leasing a car so appealing. However, car subscriptions take this to the next level. When you lease a car, you’re still committed for a minimum of three years, and breaking this contract can be expensive. But with a car subscription, there are no commitments – some offer as short as 30-day, month-to-month memberships. You are also not locked into a single car. Imagine having a garage that is continually being filled with the latest EVs, and all you have to do is use the app to drive something different the next day. That is what you get with car subscriptions. Total freedom and flexibility are at the heart of what makes a car subscription valuable and different from leasing.  

Still Set on a Lease? 

Leasing a vehicle can be considered a sensible option for customers who want to pay a lower monthly payment and avoid taking out a loan or putting down the recommended 20% when purchasing a vehicle. 

Drivers who choose to lease an electric car will have additional considerations such as mileage restrictions, wear-and-tear, and fees that may be associated with ending a contract before it is set to expire. Leasing companies will impose additional charges for mileage overages and damage to the vehicle upon lease expiration.

After reading this post, you have already done more research on leasing an electric vehicle than most and are well on your way to making an informed decision on if you should lease an electric car. Consider all the factors and then make the best decision for you.

 

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