19 Jul Top 5 Tips For a Successful EV Test-Drive
Want to take an electric vehicle out for a spin? Plan ahead to get the most out of your test-drive.
A test-drive is a fun and easy way to get acquainted with EVs and can help solidify your decision to buy. To get the most out of your experience, you’ll want to plan ahead. From finding an EV-savvy salesperson, to confirming the car’s availability the day of your appointment, consider these top five tips for a successful test-drive to get the most out of your experience.
Do your research. If you’re planning on test-driving an EV at a local dealership, call first. You’ll want a dealership where there’s a dedicated EV person. If, when the dealer picks up the phone, you’re put on hold and then transferred several times because they’re not sure who you should talk to, that’s not a great sign. Many dealers these days that sell a good number of EVs have an EV specialist on staff, a person that keeps up with online EV forums and enthusiast groups and knows and understands the technology. This is who you want to help you with your test-drive.
Make an appointment. Pick a day and time that will work for you without having to rush, and confirm the exact EV you want to test-drive is available on the dealer’s lot. Not all dealers carry all electric vehicles. Also, make sure to ask that the vehicle is fully charged when you arrive for your test-drive. A recent Sierra Club secret shopper report found that dealerships hadn’t properly charged their EVs 14% of the time. Call again the morning of your test-drive to confirm the car is on the lot and will be fully charged by the time you arrive.
Know your numbers. Walk into your test-drive with basic information about the vehicle you’ll be driving—its range, the times it takes to charge. This information can be a good conversation starter, and learning more about the vehicle ahead of time will help you ask the salesperson informed questions. Print out some stats or leave an information page open on your smart phone so you have your research on-hand.
Find out if scheduled maintenance is required for the car you’re interested in, and what types of maintenance you should expect. It will help you decide if purchasing a maintenance package makes sense. Some owners have reported somehow winding up with a maintenance package that includes oil changes, an unnecessary feature for EVs.
Understand the perks. By knowing the incentives for buying an EV, you’ll better understand the true cost of the car you’re trying out. EVs are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. City and state tax credits, vouchers and rebates are also available across the country. For example, in Colorado, residents get a $5,000 state credit when they buy an EV, taking the total cost of buying an EV down by more than 40% in some cases. For incentives in your state, check out this interactive map.
Know what to look for. When you test-drive an EV, it’s a good idea to replicate how you’ll be using the vehicle on a daily basis, if possible. Maybe you’re a musician and you cart a keyboard and a guitar with you to work every day. Will they fit in the vehicle? Maybe you have a tall teenager. Will he be able to fit comfortably in the back seat? Or, you have twin babies. Is there space for two car seats in the back seat with room for another passenger in between? Bring your family along, plus any items you’ll regularly have in the car to see if everything fits.
Pay attention as you get into the car. Is it easy for you to get in, or do you have to stoop down to avoid hitting your head? Is there enough space for your body in the driver’s seat? Is it easy to adjust the seat? Play around with the features even before you put the car into drive. Take a look at the dashboard. Are the gauges easy to read? Is it easy to see out of the mirrors? What does the radio sound like? Does the Bluetooth work? If features don’t make sense or aren’t working, ask the salesperson to explain.
Try to test the car in a variety of settings, rather than just zip around the dealership. Take the vehicle on the highway to see how it handles speed. Take it up a hill. Pay attention to how it accelerates and what braking feels like. Consider asking your co-pilot—if you’ve brought someone along for the ride—to take notes on what you like and what you dislike about the vehicle.
Once your test drive is over, if you’re not quite ready to buy, take a night to think it over. Often, a good night’s sleep can help clarify your thinking. Don’t hesitate to follow up with the dealership with any questions or concerns, or to ask to take the EV out for one more spin.
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