Think you can’t afford to make the switch to electric? Think again!

Buying a vehicle, any kind, is an expensive cost that isn’t feasible for a lot of people. Buying an ELECTRIC vehicle can be even more prohibitively expensive, because they are typically priced at 10 – 30% more than an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicle.

But with the move towards greener energy, and a long-overdue need to transition to low/no carbon transportation options, it’s more important than ever that people ditch those gasoline and diesel vehicles for something that won’t have the same carbon footprint.

First of all: SHOULD you get an electric vehicle?

One of the first things that people often bring up when I say I drive an electric car, is the impact that those vehicles have on the environment.

There is no question that an EV production does impact the environment. It’s estimated that the carbon footprint of an electric vehicle is approx 20% higher initially than an ICE vehicle [source]. However (and this is really important, folks) that deficit drops off within the first 1 – 3 years of driving your electric vehicle [source].

And don’t forget, though the mining for lithium is damaging [source] choosing to drive a gas guzzler instead based on that one fact completely ignores how ICE vehicles still:

  • Utilize mining and extraction/production for their own lead batteries [source]
  • The continued impact of producing, using, and disposing of fluids for ICE vehicles [source]
  • The necessary use of fossil fuels (and the impact their production has on the environment) [source]
  • The ongoing carbon emissions belched out of the vehicle every single time it’s engine is running [source]

Focusing on the lithium production is good to do when you are acknowledging that any choice you make will have a carbon footprint. But focusing on it because you believe it negates the benefits of driving an electric vehicle is something that is not based on facts or science [source].

Another thing you should consider…

Is where your electricity comes from.

EV detractors never fail to bring up coal or other “dirty” energy sources when they try to discredit the benefits of owning an EV, believing that if an EV is charged and the power comes from something like coal, then it automatically cancels out the lack of carbon emissions from driving it, RIGHT?


Less than 10% of Canada is powered by coal [source]. Even if you charged your EV and your energy comes from coal, it still has less of an environmental impact than if you were driving a fossil-fuel vehicle and your house was powered by coal [source].

The majority of Canada’s energy (60%) is from hydroelectricity [source].

Where I live (B.C.) 80% of the province is powered by B.C. Hydro using hydro electricity, a renewable and “green” energy source [source].

Again, even if your power comes from “dirty” energy, the impact on the environment is still less if you chose to drive an EV over a fossil-fueled vehicle.

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is still….

  • To take public transportation
  • Walk
  • Bike
  • Work from home
  • Etc.

But if you absolutely need to have a vehicle, then ELECTRIC is better than FOSSIL FUELS!

Once you’ve weighed the pros (numerous) And the cons (battery mining). It’s time to figure out how to afford an Electric Vehicle!

How I was able to afford my EV….

First of all, I knew I couldn’t afford a new EV. Here’s a great list of the ones currently on the market in Canada [source].

My budget was under $20,000 CAD.

That left me with the only option of buying USED.

There are lots of used EV’s on the market. This is a great article about how to pick one [source]. Keep in mind some of these important factors:

  • The km’s on the vehicle (the higher the kms, the more the battery will degrade. EV’s are most effective up to 100k kms. They slowly loose efficiency after that, but they are still useful!)
  • How far you drive in a day
  • Where your charging stations are
  • If you’re going to charge at home
  • What is the range on the vehicle
  • What’s the range YOU need for your day-to-day driving?

To determine the answer to a lot of those personal questions, try this activity:

Keep track of your kms driven daily, and weekly. (This will give you an idea of what you need in terms of “range”)
Take note of WHERE you drive. Are there hills? Lots of lights? Highway driving? (All of this will give you an idea of how much energy you’ll use in your daily life)
Assess your home and work. Can you put in a charger? Or would using a Level 1 charger be fine? Or do you plan to use charging stations? If so: are any convenient to your commute?
What’s the climate where you live? (Using climate control will eat up your battery power!

Once you’ve figured out how much you’ll need to drive, the terrain, and where/when you’ll be charging, you can figure out what range you need.

Remember: city driving uses the least power, highway driving uses more [source], regenerative breaking is helpful but don’t rely on it [source], going uphill will chew up your power, using climate control will also reduce the available range [source].

What I found….

I live 17 kms from my workplace and most shopping centers. So that should mean I’d need a vehicle with minimum 34 kms range to do 1 round trip between charges, right?


I live on a dirt road, at the bottom of a hill, and I drive on the highway to get to work. That means that, in real world use, I need approximately 50 kms to get to work and back. How you drive your vehicle will also factor in.

But wait…

I also live in Northern Canada. Which means I use the climate control in the winter. My EV also looses range in the winter. [Check out my blog post all about how EV’s work in the winter!!].

So in the winter months, I need approx 60 – 70 kms to get into town and back.

That’s the minumum I need for range in an Electric Vehicle.

Yours will be different!

Now that you’ve figured out your needs…

You can figure out what you can afford!

Look for EV’s within your price range that have enough range for you to get home and back multiple times. Maybe you’ll buy new? Maybe you’ll buy used? Either way, you’ll have to see how you can afford it…

Here’s how I calculated it:

Add up everything you spent on gas in a month

Add up all your other ICE vehicle specific amounts (oil change costs per year, divided by 12 to get your monthly average)

That right there is the base of what you can afford for a monthly payment, without any of your costs going up.

For example:

Yes, my penmanship really is this bad. I’m a nurse, not a calligrapher!

OUR SUV: $250/month gas

Approx $10/month oil changes (average)

= $260

Then, what I did was I took 1 luxury/non-essential expense that I was willing to cut out. For me, it was eyelash extensions (RIP MY EYELASHES ;_;)

I spent approx $140/month on eyelashes (yes, it’s ridiculous. Don’t judge me. It’s one of the only things that I do for myself)

FOR ME, that meant I could afford approx $400 on payments for my electric vehicle, without dipping into my budget for anything else in my life.

FOR YOU, that might look different.

Take what you spend on gas and oil. Then take what you can afford in addition to that. Then you have your payment.

The important thing about determining if you can afford an EV, is to remember that you will not be spending any money on gas or oil changes. Your electricity bill will go up by a little, but not a lot.

Now, you can find your EV!

Example: My EV costs

USED 2016 Chevy Spark EV with 24k kms on it: $16,000

Monthly payments: Approx $350

Monthly electricity costs: Approx $10 – $20

Additional insurance (because this vehicle was newer than my old one): $60/month (on top of the regular insurance costs that I’d been paying before)

Total monthly expenditure:

Math is fun!

$520 (approx)

-$260 that I was previously spending on my ICE vehicle each month

Total: $260/month


That’s totally something I, personally, could afford, and when I stopped getting my eyelashes done (a worthy sacrifice to lower my carbon emissions!) then I was actually only spending an extra $120/month on my EV.

We will be buying another EV this year, and we are going to go with a new vehicle. Because gas prices have gone up so much, we are currently spending approx $300 – 450 on gas each month for our minivan.

We expect to be paying approx $300 – $400 more per month once we get a new EV, in addition to our used Chevy Spark.

So that’s it! That’s how I was able to afford a (used) EV on a tight budget.

Good luck with your journey to reduce your emissions and make the switch to all-electric, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles!

-Em Van Moore (EV Enthusiast!)


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