Are electric vehicles the best choice for teenage drivers (assuming that upfront costs aren’t an issue)? That’s an interesting question, one where I’d have to lean towards saying yes… with caveats, that is.
I’d argue that the main reasons supporting this position are the limited single-charge driving ranges (making it harder for the kid to just drive off somewhere on an unannounced holiday); the reduced operating/fuel costs (most of us remember gas money being a limiting factor in traveling, I assume); and safety (with regard to many different things).
With regard to limited driving ranges — given that most electric vehicles (EV) possess ranges well under 100 miles per full charge, the potential for mischief is somewhat lessened. And, for that matter, the necessity for forethought and planning is strengthened, probably both are good things when dealing with teenagers (especially those who have been gifted access to an automobile despite their undeveloped brains and lack of personally gathered resources).
As far as operating costs and safety, sister site Gas2 provides some interesting thoughts:
An electric car can save you money on fuel. The federal government estimates that driving 25 miles in an electric car costs about $1.00. Even with gas at an 8-year low, there are very few gasoline powered cars that can match that figure. If your choice is to lease a new EV or pass down that 10-year-old Civic sitting in the driveway, which one do you think will cost more to repair and maintain?
Insurance for an EV is usually substantially less, an important consideration when it comes to adding a teenager to the family insurance policy. Best of all, many EVs come with very attractive lease rates. A new Nissan LEAF can be had for just $199 a month for 36 months with $2,399 due at signing. If you live in California or Oregon, FIAT will lease you a 500e for only $139 a month with just $1,999 down. That’s doable even on McDonald’s wages.
Sure that old Civic or Corolla you have is already paid for, but is it as safe as a new car? Safety standards are improving all the time. Newer cars are just better made than older cars. The Chevy Spark EV and Ford Focus Electric are Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The LEAF and 500e got marked down after a new small overlap frontal crash test was added in 2014, but lots of other cars got caught out by that new addition to the testing protocol. You can bet every manufacturer is working furiously behind the scenes to fix that issue.
Good points all around. I don’t have any kids, so the question is just a mental exercise for me. Nothing on the line. But the arguments seem pretty solid. The only real barrier to my eyes are upfront costs — which can be mitigated to some degree by taking companies like Nissan up on their attractive leasing options.
What say you? What’s the better choice for a teenager, an EV like a Nissan Leaf, or a gas guzzling SUV or truck (which will probably never have anything — or anything useful — in the back)?
Image Credit: Nissan
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