With the rapid advancement of electric vehicle (EV) technology and changing auto policies in some countries, the debate between electric cars and gas cars intensifies. Consumers are faced with a crucial decision when choosing electric vs gas cars. According to recent data, electric vehicle sales in the United States during the fourth quarter of 2023 achieved record-breaking numbers in volume and market share—a total of 317,168 EVs were sold, accounting for 8.1% of the market.

We invited electric car expert Christopher Van Wiechen to share his insights with consumers who are looking to make an informed choice when comparing electric cars vs gas cars. We'll discuss popular brands, limitations of EVs, and customer concerns revealed in online reviews. Additionally, Christopher explores the maintenance requirements and potential cost savings associated with electric cars and provides safety tips for EV owners.

Top EV questions covered in this expert interview:

Are Electric Cars Our Future?

Pauline: Hi guys. Today we're going to continue with the electric vehicles topic and we're going to talk with our expert Christopher Van Wiechen. Christopher, from being buried in a student loan and credit card debt, struggled to meet his financial goals to a consistent six-figure income. All thanks to a self-taught career in car sales. Please tell us about yourself and your experience with electric vehicles.

Christopher: I work at a car dealership here in Ontario, Canada. I have a YouTube channel where I film car reviews, walkarounds, and mostly automotive vehicle information. I work out of a Nissan dealership, so we do sell a lot of electric cars like the Nissan Leaf. I work for a dealer group. We also have Toyota dealerships and Kia dealerships. So, I do comparisons of the vehicles on a lot of electric and hybrid vehicles. I've posted a lot of content on YouTube, and that's where this knowledge has come from.

Pauline: In your opinion, will electric cars push the traditional vehicles out of the market? Is it our future?

Christopher: I don't think so. Maybe not in the near future. I feel there'll always be a demand for gas/petrol vehicles simply for that distance. Right now, our technology isn't sophisticated enough to do everything that we need for transportation, everything we need for supply chains and distribution. We just don't have the technology for electric vehicles to fill that void. There's always going to be a need for the gas, and you know what? Maybe 20-30 years down the line, that might change, but in the near future, like in the decade, I feel as though there'll still be gas and petrol vehicles.

What Are the Most Popular Electric Vehicles Brands?

Pauline:What are the most popular EV brands, and why do people choose them?

Christopher: I feel like Tesla is very, very popular. Mainly just for the name's sake. They've done very well branding themselves as the electric car. They were really kind of one of the first movers in terms of creating that brand around electric vehicles. So, usually, when people think of electric cars, that's the first brand that pops into their mind. So for that reason, Teslas are very popular. However, for the price point, there are different manufacturers. I know Hyundai does very, very well. The Nissan Leaf, the one I sold, was one of the global leaders in electric vehicles. Toyota is more on hybrids - they do a lot of hybrids- but I would say Tesla is number one. We have Hyundai. All the manufacturers are starting to play catch up to Tesla. However, Tesla is in that upper echelon of the pricing. I feel like Hyundai meets that smaller price point and less expensive price point.

What Concerns Electric Cars Reviews Reveal?

Pauline: We get many reviews in which consumers share their concerns about many car brands going electric - "I'm very concerned that Volkswagen may go all-electric. That would be a terrible mistake. We can't afford electric cars, and we don't have the infrastructure." 

What do you think about it? Should consumers really be concerned about it?

Christopher: Yeah, I think all it's going to take is maybe one manufacturer to do it. If they do it and that is successful, then maybe the other manufacturers will come along. But it's going to happen in a very slow period of time. I don't think, like I said, in the next 10-15 years, a car dealership will only sell electric cars. There'll always be a need for those petrol vehicles. They might slowly phase out, similar to a manual transmission. We slowly see the manual transmissions over time get kind of phased out and become more obsolete. I feel like it's going to go that kind of route where, yes, maybe some manufacturers will sell more electric cars than others. Some might be solely electric; some might not have any electric; some might have one or a few electric cars. So, it will just slowly phase its way out. But I don't think consumers need to be worried if they need an electric vehicle or if they're in need of a gas vehicle. There's going to be both options for a very, very long time. In the worst-case scenario, if they really need a gas vehicle and there's none available new , they can purchase a pre-owned vehicle that fits their needs.

What Is the Typical Lifespan of Electric Cars, and What Repairs Are Essential?

Pauline: What is the lifespan of an electric car?

Christopher: So, I have to educate people when they decide to purchase a vehicle to do their homework on electric vehicles, and they have to think long-term. Especially lately, a lot of customers have been coming to us, and consumers have been coming to us and they want an electric vehicle because the gas prices are through the roof, and they don't realize what their life is going to be like in the next years. You have to think about it for the next ten years because, essentially, that's going to be how long the car will last. It has a lithium-ion battery, so similar to your cell phone, the more you charge your phone in time, the battery doesn't last as long. When you buy your phone, the battery might last a full day-24 hours, and a year later, it doesn't last that full 24 hours. Two years later, it doesn't last that full 24 hours. The longer you own the phone, the more the battery deteriorates. It is similar in electric vehicles. The manufacturers have put systems in place to prevent battery degrading. However, it's still going to happen. 

So, I would say a fair estimate is maybe 120,000 miles. Ten years is like if you get ten years out of an electric car; if you get ten years out of any car, I think you've done well. So it all also depends on what kind of climate you're driving it in. If you're here where I live, there's a lot of snow, there's a lot of salt that increases the rust. So, it all depends. There are a lot of variables. How you maintain it is obviously a big factor, and how much driving you actually do. So, if you could get ten years in an electric car, that's well in terms of how long they've lasted; I've seen some 2012 Nissan Leafs that we've recently sold secondhand, which are now ten years old. So I would say the average is probably eight years. Ten years is good, and 12 years is great, depending on how you maintain the vehicle.

Pauline: Do electric cars need servicing? Is it more expensive than for a traditional car?

Christopher: It will also depend on what manufacturer you end up going with. Just like with petrol vehicles, maintaining a Mercedes is more expensive than maintaining a Volkswagen or a Chevrolet. The higher-end car, the more the maintenance is going to cost, and the more your oil changes are going to cost. And it's the same with the electric vehicles.

However, you don't need to do a traditional oil change like you would with a petrol vehicle or a petrol engine. You don't need to change the oil every 3,000 or 8,000 kilometers or 3,000 miles, mainly with an electric vehicle. You're going to be doing your tire rotations, brake servicing, fluid changes, and that's it. So I would say overall maintenance is less. 

The biggest issue with an electric vehicle is going to be the deterioration of the battery and how fast that battery is going to degrade over time. As I mentioned a few minutes ago, most people think that they can charge their car from zero to a hundred, which you want to keep in that 20 to 75% range to give the vehicle the most optimal charge and maintain the life of the battery. In terms of the pricing, it is relatively similar to the maintenance costs. If you were to get your car maintenance at a dealership, it all depends on the car you have and where you go. So, obviously, an electric Audi is going to have more maintenance costs than an electric Chevrolet or Ford vehicle.

Is Traveling in an Electric Car Convenient?

Pauline: Going on a journey. Is it convenient to drive an EV? How easy has it become to find a charger and how long does it take to charge an EV?

Christopher: It's hard for me to touch on that. I haven't gone on a week-long road trip in an electric car. I haven't gone on a day-long, long trip. However, based on what people have told me and the owners I know who have electric vehicles, it's not as easy as some think. 

Also, depending on where you're going, if you're traveling up to a remote cottage, you better hope you've mapped it all out and know how to make it on one charge - because as you get further away from urban environments, the charging stations become less frequent and things like that. There are a lot of times when people tell me they have to stop on their route to charge their car. Typically, an electric car, like 45 minutes, will take you from 20% to a full charge if you're at a fast charging station. And those can be kind of tough to find. A lot of people, what they'll do is if they're going on a road trip, they'll try to map out their charges and their kilometers and take them to how far can they go until they get to a charging station. Then they'll charge their car, and then they'll do that again. 

However, there are always those variables. For example, at a gas or petrol station, people aren't sitting there for 45 minutes pumping gas in their car. It's a five-minute thing, and they're out of there. But if you get to a charging station and there are already people charging their vehicles there, you have to wait for those people to finish, which could be 20 minutes to an hour, depending on when they started. Then, you have to wait for your car to charge once you get access to the charging station.

So, the variable is how busy the charging stations are. Where they are is another thing. So it also depends on where you're traveling to. But in the area where I live, there are a lot of charging stations, and most gas stations or highway pit stops will have them. It's just with electric cars being more and more popular when you get there, the chances of them being taken are higher. It's not like a gas station where if someone's pumping gas at the pump you want to use, you can wait for them to pull away, and it's a five-minute thing. You have to wait for them to charge their electric vehicle, and then you have to charge yours. So it could potentially be an hour or two taken out of your travel time.

What Are Tesla Pros and Cons?

Pauline: What can you say about Tesla, taking into consideration the high price of Tesla cars? Is the price for them worth it?

Christopher: Certainly, yeah. There are priorities that consumers have. Some consumers want to save money on gas, which is the big thing. Some consumers want to protect the environment and the longevity of our planet. That's why they go for Teslas. Some consumers see it as a status symbol, right? Or not a fashion symbol but a status symbol of owning a Tesla. 

So what do I think about them? I've driven a lot of them. They drive phenomenally. It's a phenomenal car to drive. The technology in the car is very well, like the auto cruise and the self-driving and the sensors and the parking and the integration with your phone. That's a level above what the traditional manufacturers are, and that's what you're paying for with the Tesla, for that higher level of technology and service integration with your phone. The other manufacturers are now playing catch up to those, I don't want to say inventions, but those breakthroughs that Tesla has made with the technology, and that's what being an electric car offers.

In terms of the pricing, yeah, they certainly are high in pricing. Wherever you are, you might get a subsidy from the government. Right now, I think they're paying up to 5,000 here where I am, that you get a tax rebate from the government, but you have to calculate like, 'Hey, how much am I spending on gas?' I usually tell customers to try to find their break-even point. So, if you're going to pay a higher tier for this car, then calculate how many years it's going to take for you. If you bought the lower-price gas car and put gas in it, did your oil change? What year will it take for that Tesla to be cheaper than the gas car? And a lot of people are surprised when they make that calculation. It's not in the third, second, or fourth year. It's usually in the fifth or sixth year. And that's just on the lower end—teslas on the higher price ones. Obviously, the longer you have it, the more you're going to save on that money, and people even trade them in very frequently. 

So there are a lot of factors, and I do appreciate the people who want to buy Teslas and protect the environment, but there's a lot of polarizing information about if a Tesla is better for the environment than a gas car. There's a lot of polarizing information there. Yes, it doesn't have any emissions, but are the batteries recyclable and things like that? So, I do really love the brand, and I'm glad that there's that option. And if I were to buy an electric vehicle, would I buy a Tesla? I would say no because I feel like there are cheaper electric car options out there that I could do without the higher-end technology that Tesla offers for paying the price.

Do Tesla Recalls Serve as a Warning Sign?

Pauline: Recently, we've heard a lot about Tesla recalls in the news. Can you please comment on these recalls?

Christopher: They're the first movers on a lot of technology that goes into these vehicles. And in any market, when you're the first mover, there's going to be hiccups. There's going to be kinks. There's going to be those types of issues. So I get it. And the one thing I like about the Teslas is how they are easy to service. I know the people in my area; if they have issues, they don't have to bring it to a dealership. The mechanics will come to them. You can do live updates over your phone and use the Wi-Fi in the car, which is pretty neat. 

In terms of the recalls, people get scared of the word recall. A lot of times, recalls are for the better. Obviously, they're improving the car, and it could depend on where the cars are manufactured, too, but a lot of people don't understand that. I'm pretty sure Ford has the most recalls in history. GM has the most recalls in history, and that's what they need to do their research fully. I think Tesla is just under a bigger microscope, so when they have one recall, it's more elevated than some of the other manufacturers.

What Are Safety Tips for Owning EVs?

Pauline: And the final question, can you please point out any safety tips that consumers should follow when it comes to owning an EV?

Christopher: I would recommend, like I just said, do your research, make sure you understand where you're going to be long-term. If you do plan on purchasing a vehicle, do you plan? Is your job stable? Do you plan on working at the same job for ten years of your life? Do you plan on moving to a different environment or moving to a different city? What is your long-term plan? And that's something people don't consider when they buy an electric vehicle. Some people buy an electric vehicle, and then a year later, they get a new job where they have to commute long distances. Then the electric vehicle isn't for them, and then they're selling that vehicle. And they always kind of lose in that situation. 

In terms of safety, I do feel that they are safe. Just be mindful of your charging, be mindful of where you connect your car to, but think about your long-term life. Do you plan on having kids? Because most of them don't have a big backseat. Do you plan on doing different jobs? Do you plan on doing different activities or different trips and things like that where an electric car might not benefit you? So, that's something that consumers need to consider before they purchase. 

They also need to consider what the electrical bill is. Do they have peak and off-peak times when they can charge their car? Do they have a garage? Because, if they don't have a garage, typically they're plugging a cord in outside their house, and they have an electric cord running through their driveway or something like that. So, there are a lot of factors to consider, which I've listed in a video on my YouTube channel, and I would recommend that people consider those factors quite a bit. If you plan on buying a Tesla, make sure you can afford the payments because the payments are really high. Just make sure you consider everything before you make a purchase.

Pauline: Thank you for the conversation. If you enjoyed the video, hit the like button. Subscribe to our channel not to miss any new videos.

The more research and information you gather before buying an EV, the more informed your decision will be. It includes reading auto reviews, consulting with experts, and searching online for various options. 

We thank Christopher for the valuable insights on electric cars' pros and cons and safety tips for EV owners. You're welcome to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Are EVs better than gas cars? Are they our future? For more expert interviews and tips, please subscribe to our YouTube channel

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