Megan Hall: Welcome to Possibly, where we take on huge problems like the future of our planet, and break them down into small questions with unexpected answers. I’m Megan Hall.

The time has come! Our family needs a new car, and I’m ready to go electric. But, which one should I buy? 

Here to help me out is our founder and Brown University’s Provost for sustainability, Stephen Porder.

Hall: Hi, Steven.

Stephen Porder: Hey, Megan, great to be with you. Again.

Hall: What qualifies you to give me advice on electric cars? I mean, you’re a professor, not a mechanic,

Porder: Totally. But I do think a lot about sustainability. And I do own two electric cars.

Hall: So you’ve done your research?

Porder: Lots of research.

Hall: Okay, here’s my situation. I’m hoping to buy a used electric car for under $25,000. Is that possible?

Porder: It is possible, but which one you buy will really depend on how you want to use it? 

Hall: What are some things I should consider?

Porder: Is it your only car? Or is it one of two in the family?

Hall: We kind of have one car that’s really the family car that does most of the driving. And then the second car is just when my husband and I both need the car, which is pretty rare.

Porder: That’s great. So that one should be the electric. And that really opens your options up because it doesn’t really matter that you have super long range or a huge charging network already in place. If you’re using that car for less than 100 miles a day, let’s say, there are lots of options.

Hall: Should I be worried about buying a used car? I mean, is the battery going to wear out?

Porder: So, the batteries are usually warrantied for something like eight years, or 100,000 miles or maybe even more? You definitely want to ask your dealer for a used car what the guarantee was on the battery. But I don’t think that should be a big concern.

Hall: What do you think I should buy?

Porder: Well, in the used car market, the first one in the market that was really successful is the Nissan Leaf. And they seem to be quite reliable. The downside to them is that their range is a little bit lower, like maybe 100 miles or 150 miles. But they’re not very expensive. A used one would definitely fit in your under $25,000 range.

Another one I would check out is the Chevy Bolt, it’s sort of a similar size has a little longer range.

Volkswagen has one as well, I’m not as familiar with and they’re a little newer, so I’m not sure how much the used market is.

And then finally there is now a Hyundai on the market knew that somewhere close to $25,000. So that’s another thing to think about.

Hall: I am sold on buying an electric car. But for people who aren’t yet convinced, give me your pitch.

Porder: Reason number one way, way, way more fun to drive. What’s the word for squealing your tires?

Hall: It’s a burnout.

Porder: I’ve never burned out before until I test drove an electric car.

Hall: I think you’d like do a burnout but whatever.

Porder: Okay, yeah, I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m losing credibility, left and right.

Number two, you wake up every morning with a full tank or full battery, you plug it in at night, you never have to think about it, you’re good to go.

Reason number three, it’s cheaper to drive. And it’s cheaper over the lifetime of the car. Because there’s way fewer parts to repair. There’s no exhaust, there’s no gas tank.

And the last one is really important. A gas car emits about seven times more per mile than an electric car.

Hall: And that even takes into account the carbon emissions that are created making the electricity that the car uses?

Porder: Absolutely, because electric motors are just way, way, way more efficient than gas motors.

Hall: So would you say if someone needs a new car, now’s the time, just buy an electric? There’s no reason not to?

Porder: Unless it’s your only car and you do a lot of long-distance driving. Absolutely.

Hall: Thanks, Stephen.

Porder: Thanks, Megan. Always happy to talk.

That’s it for today. For more information, or to ask a question about the way your choices affect our planet, go to the public’s radio dot org slash possibly. Or subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. 

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Possibly is a co-production of The Public’s Radio, Brown University’s Institute for Environment and Society and Brown’s Climate Solutions Initiative

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