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With gas prices higher than ever, is it time to switch to an electric car? Here’s what we found out

PITTSBURGH — With gas prices reaching historic highs, more people are considering an electric vehicle than ever before.

“People, they’re starting to ask about the mileage”, said George Quay, who estimates he’s owned more than 40 cars throughout his life.

Now, his daily driver is a Ford Mustang Mach-E, and it’s his first electric vehicle.

And while his decision was based on acceleration and performance, new research is showing skyrocketing gas prices are becoming a much bigger factor for car shoppers.

“We’ve seen, historically, a correlation between rising gas prices and more interest in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles”, said Ford Regional Manager Paul Busek, “but I think now it’s even higher than in the past because overall interest in electric vehicles is higher.”

According to Kelley Blue Book, in the fourth quarter of last year, sales of pure battery-electric vehicles jumped 72% to a record 147,799, the best quarter ever for EVs.

Automotive research website edmunds.com found online searches for “green” vehicles jumped 39% in the weeks after gas prices started going up.

“It’s one of those things where you can easily chart these two side by side”, said senior manager of insights at Edmunds.com, Ivan Drury.

But experts say that even if you want an EV, it doesn’t mean you can get one right away.

High demand is outstripping limited supply.

Ford says you can order and get a Mach E in about six months.

The automaker’s website notes: “due to high demand, the current model year is no longer available for retail order”.

And Volvo electric car, Polestar, will be available in October at the earliest.

The cheapest new electric available, a Nissan Leaf, starts at about $20,000 after tax credits.

We found about a half dozen available on local lots.

But for a new Tesla Model 3, you’ll be waiting at least six months.

“I do not even know what gas prices even are now”, said Amy Carter.

When the pandemic began, business exploded for her side job assembling giant celebratory messages for Card My Yard.

“We went from doing 100 yards a year to 800 yards a year”, said Carter.

All of that extra business meant extra driving, about 25,000 miles a year, so her daughter suggested an EV.

Now, she plugs in everyday to the outlet they have outside their home in Hickory, Washington County.

“We are plugging in everyday and spending about 25 dollars a month in electricity”, said Carter, “(but for gas) we’d be spending 700 to 900 a month.”

But making that kind of math work to your benefit involves many factors.

Weighing the higher upfront costs of a standard EV, experts estimate that if you drive 12,000 miles a year, have a home charger and get the full federal tax credits, it will take about 2-3 years on average for the net savings to begin.

“It’s a good reminder: take gas prices into account if you’re buying a car”, said Drury, “but please don’t go out and try to buy a car just to save on gas; that is never a winning proposition.”

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