Electric Car Options

A family member recently experienced a major issue with their vehicle, a vehicle that is a one year older version of the same make and model that we have. It got me thinking about our next vehicle.

We haven’t yet paid off our current vehicle loan. We got zero percent financing from Kia when we traded in the Kia Rio lemon that they sold us only a few years before. This meant that we were upside down on our car loan (owed more than the new vehicle was worth). I don’t recommend anyone doing this. If it wasn’t for the high trade-in value we received for our previous vehicle and the zero percent financing, we would have gone elsewhere for our new one.

I am a bit of an Elon Musk fanboy, and have been keeping on top of the developments in all of his companies the best that I can. Of course, that means watching Tesla and their vehicles. Since the Tesla Model S first came out, I’ve been salivating over that car. When the Tesla Model 3 came out, I switched to thinking that maybe that would be our next vehicle. The announcement of the Tesla Model Y made me think that it would be an even better option than the Model 3, despite being a bit more expensive, it would likely have more cabin space and a more comfortable driving position. Of course, all of these vehicles, are premium in terms of cost, especially if you want any of the upgrades from the stock/standard versions that they often don’t even sell.

So when my sister-in-law let my wife know of the issues their car was experiencing, it got me thinking about what we would do in their situation. They were looking at a big, off-warranty, repair that would cost as much as one-third of the current used-value of the car.

Of course, we would pay it, but not be happy about it. What else can you do, especially when you are still paying off a vehicle? When you buy a vehicle with a six or seven year financing plan, you expect the vehicle to last at least that long, but if it doesn’t, and you are out of warranty. What do you do? This is the kind of problem that we see all over North America. Of course, the snide response is that you shouldn’t be financing for such a long term or to only buy what you can afford to pay for in cash, but those kind of responses aren’t really helpful or even realistic for some people.

The whole thing got my brain buzzing, and Annie pointed out that I should create a spreadsheet of all the current full-electric vehicles being sold in Canada and see which one would best fit our needs.

My gut instinct was to say that we are buying the Model 3 or the Model Y depending on what we can afford at the time.

But I jumped into Google Sheets, and started looking through lists of vehicles. I configured vehicles how I would want them using the tools that the different car companies provide and found out both the base-model and my-configuration prices. I looked at the expected range and calculated an expected winter range that was seventy-five percent of expected range. I also noted the financing terms that the different companies currently listed.

With all this data, I came to some conclusions:

  • Premium brands like Audi, BMW, and Jaguar are way too expensive with Audi and Jaguar having configured prices over $100,000 and BMW having a $65,000 vehicle with half or less range than the competition.
  • There seems to be three “standard” ranges of all-electric vehicles: around 200 KM, near 400 KM, and Tesla at around 500+ KM.
  • Most all-electric vehicles aren’t focused on self-driving features. Tesla seems to be leading the way here.
  • The typical financing interest rate seems to be around 4% for 60 – 96 months.

So, am I going to get a Tesla? Well, the Model 3 might still be in the running because I’m a fanboy, but with the longer range and the self-driving features, it would be a monthly financing price of over $800 for eight years. That’s no small amount and puts us at almost twice what we are paying now.

The three vehicles in true contention would have to be the Hyundai Kona Electric, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and the Kia Niro EV .

Kia Niro Ev

The Niro is a crossover vehicle that isn’t much larger than most mid-sized cars, but it looks like it might have a decent amount of head height. It has a range of around 385 kilometers which should be more than enough for most driving situations, including visiting family on the other side of Toronto.

The big advantage here is that Kia has been decent to us and would probably give us the best deal out of the vehicles listed here. Unfortunately, I worry about their quality control. It seems like Kia has become the budget brand for Hyundai.

If you didn’t already know, Kia is 51% owned by Hyundai, which is why many of their vehicles look similar.

The Kia Niro Ev starts at $44,995 but when I configured it with reasonable options, it came out to be $56,129. It is still eligible for a federal tax rebate, but who knows for how much longer.

The Kia website lists the finance price of my selected model to be $766.96 per month at a 3.99% interest rate for an 84 month (7 year) term.

Chevrolet Bolt Ev

It always confused me that the Volt is a hybrid and the Bolt is the electric vehicle, but also in contention after comparing variables is the Chevrolet Bolt EV, a compact hatchback looking car, provides up to 383 kilometers of range, only two less than the Niro.

I’ve watched a ton of reviews on this car, and the consensus is that the seats are uncomfortable, it sounds and looks cheap, but drives well. I think that description might cover most of Chevrolet’s non-premium offerings.

Interestingly, it seems to have more backseat room than the Kona, making it more comfortable for taller people like myself to sit in the back. Why would this matter? Well, on our trip to and from Florida this summer, I found myself in the back for a long time and realized just how small our Kia Forte is, and I didn’t like it. So having additional leg room in the back would be handy in rare situations like that.

The Chevrolet Bolt Ev starts at $44,800 and my configuration came out to be $54,230, so a little cheaper than the Niro. The Chevrolet website lists the financing for my configuration to be $691 per month at 1.99% interest over 84 months.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Listed as a sub-compact SUV, the Kona looks similar to the Niro in many ways. The Kona is a gasoline vehicle design that was converted to be an electric vehicle and the reviews that I watched seem to be impressed with how little they had to change externally and in the cabin to make that work.

The Kona Electric states that it has a range of 415 kilometers on a full charge. This is thirty kilometers more than the Niro, and thirty-two kilometers more than the Bolt. With an electric vehicle losing a solid chunk of range due to heating the cabin in the winter, or cooling it in the summer, having more base range means that after these reductions are taken into account, you still have an advantage over the others, and we don’t want to suffer too much range anxiety to switch to an electric platform.

This might seem a bit silly, but the Kona has ventilated front seats. That means that it can blow cool air on your torso, cooling you down faster on a hot day. For someone like me that runs hot, this can be a real treat. I bring this up not because it would make or break a vehicle purchase, but instead, it provides a little bonus if we went with the Kona.

The Kona starts at $44,999, which means it has the highest starting price, but after I add in all of my options, the vehicle ends up being $52,326.20, which is more than $2000 cheaper than the other two competitors in this post.

The financing listed on the Hyundai website for my configuration comes out to be $650.13 per month at a 3.79% interest rate over 84 months. This means it is over $100 cheaper per month than the Niro, and over $40 cheaper per month than the Bolt. So not only does it have more range than the other two, it is also less expensive and it comes in a turquoise looking blue that my wife and I both like.

In the end, the Hyundai Kona Electric would be our front-runner if we had to purchase a vehicle today and felt we could afford an electric one.

Conclusion

But, I hope that we don’t have to purchase a new car any time soon. We still have a few more years of paying off our current car, and then we hope to not have car payments for a little while so we can build up a solid down payment on a new vehicle. Our plan was always to run our current car into the ground, which means getting to the point where repairs are more costly and common than the value of the car. This might happen this year or next year, if my sister-in-law’s vehicle is any indication, or it might be three, four, or even five years from now when the car is a decade old.

When the current car ends up being replaced, we will definitely want an electric vehicle, but we aren’t willing to compromise too heavily on features, range, or price.

Ideally, we would get something like the Tesla Model 3 or Model Y, but at more than $20,000 more expensive than the vehicles listed above, I just think it is too expensive for us and will have to remain a dream car unless or until we have the financial means to make it happen.

2 comments

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  1. TAValonia

    That’s awesome – Tom and I were just talking about how electric cars are really starting to get some traction – thanks for doing all this research – even if it’s just for information sake in our world…

  2. Malcolm Peralty

    Thanks for the comment. One thing I was surprised about when doing the research is that there are at least 14 different all-electric vehicles for purchase in the Canadian market with a range over 150 KM and a bunch more are coming in 2020 and 2021. So I’ll likely have to take another look then. 🙂

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