Future of EVs is bright for American families

Written by: Karina Rovey, Middle-West TN Clean Fuels Intern

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Having a family often means that purchasing a vehicle comes with a myriad of additional considerations that single adults or couples may not have to think about. Add in electric vehicles, and what does the process look like? Are EVs even compatible with families?

To learn more about what it looks like to purchase an electric vehicle for a family, Karina Rovey of Middle-West Tennessee Clean Fuels sat down with Brandon Hood of Blountville, Tennessee. A father to two children aged one and six years old, Brandon is no stranger to the unique needs a family may have for a vehicle.

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“The big thing is how car seats are going to fit; is it going to meet our expectations as parents as well as still leave enough room,” Brandon said.

Currently, the electric vehicle market in the United States is heavily dominated by cars, sedans and small crossover SUVs, with fewer options for those seeking a larger vehicle. Two years ago, when Brandon and his wife began looking for an electric vehicle for their growing family, trial and error was a key component.

“Try everything, you’ve gotta find what works for your family – not every electric vehicle is going to work,” Brandon said.

By searching with intentionality, finding a great electric vehicle for your family is more than possible. 

For example, during their EV purchase journey, the Hoods reached out to a local electric vehicle owner, who let them check out his car and even test how their child’s car seat fit in the vehicle. A great way to find local electric vehicle owners such as these, Brandon suggests, is by joining Facebook groups in your area for electric vehicle enthusiasts.

In fact, the Drive Electric TN Facebook group is a great place to start. On pages such as these, it is easy to connect with drivers in the area who might let you look at or even test drive the electric vehicle you are interested in purchasing.

Ultimately, Brandon and his wife “fell in love with” the Kia Niro EV Crossover SUV, which sports a 239-mile EPA estimated range, 291 pound-feet of torque and even a dashboard that can direct you to the closest vehicle charger.

The Niro has been “fantastic,” Brandon raves. And with a larger body, it can comfortably accommodate car seats and personal belongings.

For families looking for a vehicle that is similar to the Niro (seats up to 5), there are many options, with some of the most popular listed below:

Some families considering purchasing an electric vehicle might also wonder what charging stops or family road trips might look like. The Hood family couldn’t be more excited for their first road trip in their electric vehicle to the beach later this year. Utilizing the A Better Routeplanner app, Brandon has already planned out the one charging stop they will need to make during their approximately 350 mile trip. “You plan lunch or dinner around that stop,” Brandon says, “once you eat, stretch, and use the bathroom, you’re pretty much ready to go again.” For antsy youngsters, a majority of charging stations are located in public areas with restaurants, shops, or attractions to keep kids occupied for the short time it takes for the vehicle to charge. 

The creation of a new generation of electric vehicle lovers is another plus of parents bringing an electric vehicle into the household. “My son is infatuated with electric vehicles at this point,” Brandon laughs. “Any time he sees an EV, he’s like Dad, an electric vehicle!” Frequent car show attendees, Brandon and his son love meeting other car enthusiasts and talking about their electric vehicle. For parents who love cars, sustainability, or both, driving an EV is a great opportunity to get kids excited about the future of electric transportation. 

Besides, the future of electric transportation for families is very bright. “There’s a lot of stuff coming out within the next 2-5 years and even next year, that will be a big game changer for people who need more than 5 seats in a vehicle,” Brandon says. In fact, many of these cars are already available in the European and Asian markets and will soon be available in the United States. Check out the stellar lineup of large family sized vehicle (seat up to 7) poised to join the market in the next couple of years:

When these vehicles arrive, “don’t be scared of the price tag,” Brandon said.

“I might be paying more in my car payment, but the benefits of [the vehicle] offset that payment cost – people don’t often consider that with an electric vehicle, you’re only paying around an extra $30 on your power bill, plus tire rotations and washer fluid.” 

Plus, families might also want to consider the tax credit incentives that may accompany an electric vehicle purchase. For example, depending on the manufacturer, certain vehicles are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.

Depending on where you live, your local power company may also offer incentives on home charging. As an example, the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) currently offers a $400 rebate for Level 2 charging infrastructure installed at a residence. The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga also offers EV incentives to customers within their service territory. Some local power companies also offer specific time of use (TOU) electricity rates to incentivize charging at certain times of the day.

Speaking with Brandon made one thing clear: while it may involve a couple of additional considerations, electric vehicles are family cars, and parents’ options will simply continue to grow in very exciting ways over the next handful of years.

So for parents out there: don’t shy away. The EV market is coming to you.

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