So, you want to buy an electric car

Before you begin, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

What type of car should I buy?

The main factor to consider is how much range you need. Before you shop, try to keep a mileage log, keeping track of how many times you drive and how far you go each day for two weeks.

You’ll also want to decide Whether you want a fully electric car, or one that can switch to petrol when needed. Electric battery-powered vehicles are generally expensive, but achieve the largest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the largest fuel savings.

plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which are often cheaper when purchased in advance, It contains medium-sized batteries and gas-powered backup engines. (Not to be confused with standard hybrids, which run on gas engines paired with batteries that are very small and don’t save much money or carbon.)

Fuel cell electric vehicles, which use hydrogen gas instead of rechargeable batteries, are another alternative. But it must be filled at special hydrogen charging stations, which are not uncommon in Massachusetts.

Another important consideration: Do you want an EV with plugs for fast charging, which can cut hours from your charging time? Not all vehicles have them.

To help consumers choose the right electric vehicle for their needs, the Alliance of Green Energy Consumers has created a tool called Drive Green.

“You can sort, filter and say [something] Like, I want an all-wheel drive SUV that has an electric range of at least 200 miles, what are my options? And we’ll give it to you,” said Anna Vandersbeek, director of electric vehicles at Green Energy.

How do I get a discount?

Both the state and federal government have discount programs for electric vehicles. You’ll want to understand how it works before you make a purchase.

Massachusetts offers $2,500 discounts for all-electric and fuel-cell vehicles, and $1,500 for plug-in hybrid vehicles. You can check a List For all vehicles covered by the program site. Once you purchase your car, you have 30 days to fill out an online application, after which you can expect a check in the mail in a few weeks. But keep in mind that there are no discounts available for used carsAnd or for Vehicles that cost more than $50,000.

The federal government also offers tax credits to Up to $7,500 for electric vehicles. You can get it back when you file your taxes by filling out IRS Form 8936. The exact amount you can get depends on the size of your car battery and your income tax. If your tax liability is less than $7,500, you only qualify for the amount you owe — meaning if you only owe $4,000 in annual taxes, you can only get $4,000 back — and you can’t recover the remaining amount or credit toward next year’s taxes.

Like the electric vehicle discount program, MOR-EV, the federal incentive does not apply to used cars. It also does not cover all brands. Since the program was created to stimulate the industry, it only applies to manufacturers who have sold less than 200,000 units. Tesla and General Motors — which makes Chevrolets, Buicks and Cadillac cars — both exceeded that limit, so their tax credit was gradually being phased out. Nissan and Toyota are getting close, too.

Customers check out a Tesla X, at a Tesla showroom in Santa Monica, California. California’s discount program to entice more drivers to buy electric cars is becoming less generous, especially for those looking to buy luxury models.Richard Fogel/AFP/File

President Biden is proposing a policy that would increase and extend the federal tax credit to all manufacturers, which may be something to watch for in the coming months.

Where and how do I ship my car?

Charging an electric vehicle takes much longer than refueling a gas car, so you’ll want to plan on charging it when you are. parked for some time. There are three speeds for electric vehicle chargers: Level 1, which delivers approximately 2 to 5 miles per hour; Level 2, which gives you about 10 to 20 miles of range per hour; and DC Fast Charging, which can charge the car more than 80 percent in half an hour.

Massachusetts is home to 4,589 public charging stations. The easiest way to find them, Vanderspek said, is to download an app called PlugShare, which locates each station and shows the types of chargers available in each.

The Department of Energy has a similar tool on its website.

“It even tells you if every charger is available or in use, which is really cool,” said Staci Rubin, vice president of environmental justice at the Conservation Law Foundation. “It’s really useful for planning road trips.”

Many new electric vehicles also come with built-in apps for finding chargers. But relying on public chargers alone may not be viable, especially as more electric cars take to the streets. Although National Grid estimates that about 21,000 universal chargers will need to be on the road by 2025 to keep pace with Massachusetts’ electric vehicle goals, today, there are less than 25 percent of that number across the state.

What if I want a home charger?

If you want to charge your car at home, you may need a consultation to see if your electrical system has strong enough current and voltage, and whether There is enough space on the circuit breaker. Sometimes your utility company has this information, but you may need an electrician for advice.

Many homes can already support Level 1 charging units, available for under $150, that plug directly into 120-volt external outlets. Level 2 chargers typically cost $500 or more, and many homes require an electrical system upgrade to support them, which can cost thousands more. DC fast chargers require a 440V power supply, so they are not a viable option for home use.

If you don’t have an external outlet, you can simply use a long extension cord, but make sure you have one that can handle the current.

An electric car at a charging station in Assembly Square in Boston.Susan Crater / Globe Staff

Currently, there is not much financial assistance available to help offset the cost of purchasing a charger. Some utility companies are currently petitioning the state Department of Public Utilities to offer direct incentives to install home chargers, until they become available in the coming months.

What if I can’t stand any of this?

On the whole, electric cars cost more than gasoline cars. This is especially true at the moment, given that the prices of some vehicles are on the rise because the Russian invasion of Ukraine has increased the prices of raw materials. Existing discount programs do not make electric vehicles cheaper than gasoline-powered cars. The $1,000 you can save annually on gas doesn’t make up for this increased cost. As a result, as the Boston Globe recently reported, more rebates will go to wealthier households.

Legislative set pending Proposals could ease the financial pressure to buy an electric car for Massachusetts residents. One bill would expand the state’s rebates on electric vehicles and extend them to used cars. Another would create more incentives for low- and middle-income families, allow for more funding for the government’s rebate program, and expand public charging infrastructure.

Since many can’t afford the upfront cost of an electric car, the Robin Foundation is also calling for the state to provide incentives at the point of purchase. And at the federal level, President Biden’s proposal to build back better would lower the cost of buying an electric car by increasing tax credits and allowing agencies to collect them on the buyer’s behalf, enabling them to lower prices.


Dharna Noor can be reached at dharna.noor@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter Tweet embed.