Electric Highways

Spirited Reasoners will be relieved to know that this week’s blog post will not consist of the usual political rant. Instead, we’ll be imagining how our every day lives are likely to be changed by the advent of electric vehicle (EV) technology.

Like most of you, I’ve been wondering when the time will come when I finally trade in my gas-powered, internal combustion engine car for something less dependent on fossil fuels. I thought it might be last month, until I actually paid a visit to a local new-car dealer (whose name shall remain anonymous). There, I rediscovered the original meaning of the term “sticker shock.” Up until that point, I actually thought I’d be making out like a bandit based on the blue book value of my trade-in vehicle. Here’s how my calculation looked:

Inflated blue book value of my three-year-old car = $26,000

Sticker price I’d seen in 2021 for a comparable model = $26,000

Out of pocket cost for my brand-new car = zero (but of course I expected some additional expenses for taxes and related fees.)

It all looked great on paper; that is, until the salesman at the new car dealership informed me that (a) the same supply shortages that had sent my used car value soaring had also sent new car sticker prices soaring; (b) the actual price of the new version of my car was now $32,000 plus a “dealer premium” of $4,000, thus totaling $36,000 rather than the $26,000 I was expecting; and (c) the exact version of the new vehicle I wanted wasn’t actually on the lot, but they were hoping it would arrive some time in the next month, depending on how things worked out at the Port of Los Angeles.

Suffice it to say that I still own Old Reliable.

Now, back to the topic at hand. Is now the time for me to swap out my gas-powered vehicle or not?

Based on my one (admittedly anecdotal) experience, I am now much warier about any cost savings I might accrue by switching. In fact, I fully expect to pay a hefty premium, not to mention what I expect to be an ever-increasing price for electricity, as demand for it increases. But, oddly enough, my shopping experience has made me aware of a more urgent problem I need to be considering: Given the impact of the passage of the new federal infrastructure law, how long will it be before the value of my gas-powered vehicle falls precipitously, as more and more electric charging stations appear, making EV driving more convenient? In other words, how long before demand for cars like mine dries up, and the blue book value of my car begins to plummet? Wouldn’t it make better sense for me to make the switch now, while demand for my gas clunker is still so high?

I’m starting to feel antsy. Suffice it to say that there will come a point when I’ll need to get used to making sure my new car is plugged in before I drop off to sleep every night.