5 reasons why you should wait to buy an electric vehicle – MarketWatch | CarTailz

America’s automakers are going electric, but you shouldn’t. Not yet.

To be clear, if your lifestyle calls for a car, you should plan to buy an electric car. Ultimately.

Eventually, electric vehicles will be equal to or better than gasoline-powered cars in almost every way. Switching to electricity for our transportation needs will slow down the horrors of climate change and even pay off foreign policy. And electric cars will soon be your only option.

But the longer you can wait, the better electric cars and the infrastructure that supports them will get. And there’s a good argument that for the environment, it’s best not to help build another car until you have to.

also read: What California’s Gas Car Ban Could Mean For You — Even If You Don’t Live There

We are in the early days and the early days are bad

The first roadworthy, gasoline-powered car built in America appeared in 1893. By the late 1920s, the industry was maturing, with a largely stable lineup of manufacturers and recognizable technologies from car to car. You could drive from one city to another, relying on you to find fuel and qualified mechanics who know how your car works.

In between? It was a disaster.

Manufacturers came and went by the dozen every year. Automakers were often locally famous—you could buy a Davis in Indiana, but if you busted the oil pan like Pa Joad while driving through Illinois, you were out of luck. They only had Coey-Mitchell and Eldredge cars there.

Cars ran on different fuels that you couldn’t reliably find everywhere. Early gas stations required you to scoop fuel from huge above-ground tanks and carry it to your car in a watering can.

Hand-cranked starters backfired, breaking drivers’ arms so often that doctors dubbed the injury a “chauffeur’s fracture.”

Today, the owners of the first electric cars are not quite as rough. But there are significant parallels between that time and ours.

Cash: Four valuable lessons I learned on an electric car road trip

The infrastructure is getting better

Imagine if different brands of cars built different shapes of filler holes for gas tanks. Imagine if every gas station had nozzles for one or two brands, but no gas station had them all.

This is what charging electric cars looks like at the moment. Tesla TSLA,
-1.47%
Plugs come in one form. Hyundai HYMTF,
-1.83%
Ioniq 5 plugs come in a different one. Older Electric Kia 000270,
-2.21%
Soul models use a third. Cars using one type of charging station cannot use the other. Some Nissan NSANY,
-1.52%
Leaf EVs even come with two different charging ports to maximize the chances their owners can use more chargers they come across.

These chargers are also unpredictable. In a recent study, 72% of EV owners said they had recently encountered a non-working charger.

But electric cars make up less than 3% of the vehicles on American roads today. This number is growing fast.

The assumption will not be linear. It’s going to snowball. A recent study found that 5% is a critical tipping point. Once 5% of new car sales are electric, 25% will arrive quickly.

Many of these problems will worsen as adoption progresses, forcing the industry to address them. Chargers are becoming more reliable as the user base – and the complaints – increase.

The industry might even be forced to adopt a single charging port. After all, every gasoline car sold today uses the same fuel nozzle. This only happened when economies of scale made it necessary.

This has not yet happened with electric cars.

Read: The pros and cons of plug-in hybrids and your guide to buying

The service gets better

If you’re buying a gas-powered Nissan, you know where to take it for repairs. You can take it to a Nissan dealer or an independent repair shop. Either one can easily get the parts that one needs.

If you buy an electric Nissan Leaf or Ariya, Nissan’s nationwide dealer network can still carry out repairs. But these independent stores? Few have invested the time and money in training technicians to service an electric car.

And what happens when you buy from an electric car startup without local dealers?

Some, like Rivian RIVN,
-3.29%,
send technician to you. But if you need a repair that technicians can’t perform in your driveway, they’ll have to tow your car to the nearest service center, which can be hundreds of miles away. In the case of Rivian, you will also be charged for the journey.

Others are still working on a solution. Startup Lordstown Motors RIDE,
-2.52%
hopes to use Camping World CWH,
-1.47%
Branches as service centers.

All of this will get better. Some startups will go the way of Coey-Mitchell and Davis Motor Company. Local garages will adapt to repair EVs as this skill becomes a competitive necessity. The parts supply networks that these shops rely on will eventually provide everything needed to repair an aging Kia EV6 SUV if there are aging Kia EV6 SUVs.

But not yet.

See also: Does driving an electric car really save money? A miser keeps the numbers

The cars are getting better

Another thing about those early cars – they weren’t very good. It took a few decades for the market to weed out the best ideas and engineers to solve the problems that made cars uncomfortable.

The same will likely apply to the early electric cars.

Newer electric vehicles are already significantly better than they were just a few years ago.

For example, first-generation electric vehicles such as the Hyundai Kona electric car were developed to run on gasoline and were retrofitted to run on electricity.

Second-generation electric cars, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 sold alongside it at the same dealerships, were designed from the ground up to be electric cars.

The Kona EV has a transmission tunnel in the middle of the car, although electric cars don’t use transmissions. The Ioniq 5 is roomier because it has a flat bottom.

What will third generation electric vehicles look like? You can make even more dramatic jumps. ToyotaTM,
-0.65%
and Nissan say they are a few years away from perfecting solid-state batteries that charge faster, offer longer ranges and weigh less than the lithium-ion cells in today’s electric vehicles. As manufacturers perfect solid-state battery technology, today’s EVs will look like flip phones in the smartphone age.

Keeping the car may be better for the climate

Finally, there is the environmental argument.

If you need to buy a new car, buying an electric car will do more to help fight climate change than buying any other gas-powered car. But do you need to buy a new car?

The carbon dioxide that comes out of your car’s tailpipe is only a tiny fraction of the CO2 that your car produces. Most emissions from a new car come from the manufacturing process. Several studies have concluded that the best way to reduce CO2 emissions is to build cars as little as possible.

Buying an electric vehicle to reduce your carbon emissions is like spending $10,000 on a program that saves you $1 a week.

Going electric now means volunteering to own one of the first electric cars at a time when the infrastructure to support them is patchy and EV technology is in growing pains. Buying one in just a few years could get you a better car when the infrastructure to support it is more mature.

Also on MarketWatch: US throws 300 lbs. plastic per person and year. Why we’re getting worse and worse at recycling.

You’re funding far less carbon production by keeping your existing car than by replacing it.

Switching to electric vehicles probably makes sense if you need to replace your existing car. But don’t do it until you have to.

This story originally continued Autotrader.com.

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