Kiss paying at the pump goodbye
September 11, 2018
If you do most of your driving around town and within 40 miles of your house you can essentially stop paying for gas. Before you consider an electric vehicle, you may have to consider your daily commute length in miles, whether you have a 220v plug inside of your garage or if you do not have a garage, if you have one nearby on an exterior wall. I have neither, but I do have a free charger 1 mile from my house which is not inconvenient to use at all. The best charging network in my area is Chargepoint. I recommend downloading the apps, and driving around looking at utility companies and city facilities to see what kind of free charging options may be near by. I have had no problems always charging for free and in fact in about a month, I've never paid for a charge. If you can charge within 1 mile of your house it's not inconvenient at all and the chargepoint app lets you monitor your charge and lets you see when chargers become available.
If you do have to pay for charges, the cost to charge this up 12x at home based on average electricity costs and about 1000 miles a month is about $20 in most of the country, maybe even less. If you live in CA or HI, you can expect double or triple that price. IN CA if you have PGE especially. We got ours used with 16k miles on it out the door for $9,600 as our main car and a gas guzzling 12-14mpg 20 year old SUV as our just in case we need to go far car (which we plan to replace with a 40+ mpg hybrid within 3 years or a used chevy BOLT or Tesla 3) Prior to getting this car I was paying about $280 on average and up to $500 a month for fuel. The payment + full coverage is $180 a month. If I dumped all the savings onto the payment I'd have it comfortably paid off in 3-4 years and then would just be racking up hundreds of dollars in savings every month until the battery breaks.
Biggest downside so far: Fiat dealerships are few and far between, they know they don't make money on repairs for these cars because there's not much to break on them other than some suspension and potentially some electrical components. We hit a curb and had to have it towed to a dealership, you have to request a flat bed, some tow truck drivers aren't familiar with how to tow these vehicles, and then the dealership lied to me about and told me the tire I had on the car was no longer produced and that I needed to replace all four tires.
Other downsides: FORGET about being able to use the A/C as you please and especially the heater. These two features eat up energy like you would not believe. If you live in a very warm climate and can't get by with the windows down, it might be a deal breaker. Same for very cold places. The seats are heated which is nice in cold weather but if you live in like Michigan or something it might not be enough.
The interior is pretty plasticky and the overall fit and finish of the car isn't great. We drove a spark too and just couldn't find one that was as great of a bargain, but the fit and finish is much better and the dealer network for Chevy is much larger than Fiat (at least where I live).
Battery cost is prohibitive. Things I've read online place a replacement battery at around $23,500 to $36,000. I did find re-manufactured batteries online for $3500 but IDK. In California, the batteries are mandated by law to be protected for 8 years or 100k miles. If the battery goes bad after that, it may be a big paper weight. The Spark is no longer made, but currently the battery replacement cost per the dealership was $6000.
Bottom line: This car is not for everybody, but if you do mostly city driving and especially if you're taking miles off of a car that is very inefficient, this could be the right car for you. There are definite trade-offs but they have been mostly a non-issue.