Home » Does It Make Sense To Buy A New Gasoline-Powered Car In 2023? Autopian Asks

Does It Make Sense To Buy A New Gasoline-Powered Car In 2023? Autopian Asks

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To the surprise of absolutely nobody who’s been reading The Autopian, David is absolutely smitten with his BMW i3. So much so that he’s sending links to additional i3s into the work Slack, and recently proclaimed his desire to own an i3 “for the rest of my life.” Keep in mind, this is the same dude who helped engineer the current JL Jeep Wrangler, but his rationale for going with a carbon fiber BMW over the JL Wrangler he helped develop is very interesting. According to David, “I’m not buying a JL Wrangler because I think buying a new ICE today is a bad idea.” So, is buying a new gasoline-powered car a bad idea?

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On the one hand, there’s life in the internal combustion engine yet. According to the analysts at iSeeCars, the average first ownership period of a vehicle lasts for 8.4 years, well shy of California’s 2035 combustion engine ban. What’s more, the average age of a vehicle on American roads is 12.2 years according to S&P Global, so we’ll still see combustion-powered cars doing everyday duty for years to come. The clock may be ticking on new gasoline-powered vehicles, but we’ll be experiencing used ones for years to come. Then there’s the infrastructure argument — outside of the Tesla Supercharger network, a reliable public DC fast charging network in America is about as real as Bigfoot. While a laundry list of automakers have inked agreements with Tesla on NACS connector adoption and Supercharger network integration, those changes aren’t here just yet. If you can’t charge at home or at work, an electric vehicle typically isn’t a practical proposition.

On the other hand, the list of pro-EV arguments is also long. If you’re able to charge at home, topping off overnight is so convenient compared to freezing your nipples off at a gas station. The lack of required warm-up is awesome, the minimal maintenance is incredible, and current incentives make something like a Tesla Model 3 a financially shrewd move. In addition, electric cars can do more than reduce pollutants — they can give you back the one thing that’s finite: Time. In certain jurisdictions, you can drive an electric vehicle in HOV lanes without any passengers. If that gets you home from work twelve minutes sooner, that’s 24 minutes per day round trip, or 120 minutes per week to see your family, savor your morning coffee, or enjoy the little things in life.

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Of course, if you work from home, there are arguments both for and against EVs. If your annual mileage on a gasoline-powered car drops, the cost-per-mile typically increases as service intervals are based on both mileage and time, and lengthy sitting can cause fuel to go bad. In contrast, EVs require far less upkeep and as long as you keep them plugged in, are easier to store. The flipside is that if you’re a driving enthusiast who works from home, driving is likely more of a treat than it is for commuters, and rowing gears, hearing a characterful engine, or reveling in a lightweight chassis is a hobby rather than a utility-like expense.

So, does buying a new gasoline-powered car make sense in 2023? Now’s your time to take the wheel and steer the conversation. Sound off in the comments below, because everyone’s situation is different and it’s hard to categorize people into boxes.

(Photo credits: Tesla, Toyota)

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MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
4 months ago

If you live in an apartment or condo, the answer is yes, it makes sense.

Last edited 4 months ago by MAX FRESH OFF
Sc00t3r
Sc00t3r
4 months ago

Until cost effective battery replacement is a thing, I will never own an EV (BEV, PHEV or otherwise). I may lease one, but never own one. For now, ICE, ICE, baby.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
4 months ago
Reply to  Sc00t3r

Get an LFP battery. Those suckers don’t go bad like the more expensive ones do

Chad Geidel
Chad Geidel
4 months ago

I’m surprised at the lack of folks talking about PHEVs here. Today that’s really the best option for a large majority of USicans. Most driving is done within 30-40 miles of home and 120 is enough to charge even smaller batteries overnight. “Range anxiety” is simply not a thing with a PHEV.

Until we have a much better charging infrastructure (similar to our petrol infrastructure) then a Hybrid is likely the best option.

I wish more companies would make series hybrids, like the I3, but that’s another conversation. 🙁

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago

I expect it will make sense to buy a new ICE car (if our wise government masters allow us to) in 2033, 2043, 2053, 2063, and so on.

DT’s stated rationale for not buying a gas Jeep is fuel prices. But if we are being honest, if gas prices moving up and down in the range of $3-$5/gallon is a burdensome expense for you, quite frankly you shouldn’t be buying a new car anyways.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

This. Thank you.

Thevenin
Thevenin
4 months ago

It’s hardly a secret that I’m very pro-PHEV and pro-EV.

If you don’t have a reliable place to charge daily (home, work, etc), don’t bother. Don’t rely on DC charging for your daily needs, but the interstate networks are growing fast and NACS adapters will likely grandfather older models in, so you probably don’t need to worry long term either.

But all the talk about tradeoffs and which conveniences are worth more than others is a little pointless if they don’t have any PHEVs or EVs in the form factor you want. If you want a $50k crossover designed for the mainstream, you’re spoiled for choice. If you want a $30k station wagon, a $40k minivan, or a $70k sports coupe, you’re stuck with ICE.

They don’t make EVs or PHEVs for every corner of the market yet, and in my opinion, that is the most compelling argument for sticking to ICE.

Last edited 4 months ago by Thevenin
Greg
Greg
4 months ago

David should join Patrick at the EV rag! Maybe stop flying all over the world regularly. If he is worried about his impact on the world, that would make a bigger difference I’d bet!

Anyways, yes I did buy an ICE vehicle this year. And I’ll do it again.

MontanaMedic76
MontanaMedic76
4 months ago

ICE is still the best choice for lots of people from a cost and use standpoint. Especially living in extremely cold climates and remote areas like where I live in Northern Montana. The next generation of batteries and lower prices will maybe provide a different answer in another 5 or 10 years

Adam Atwell
Adam Atwell
4 months ago

Use case may differ (obviously), but for me if I could find a relatively inexpensive all-electric vehicle (Honda e, cough cough) to charge at home and commute to work when I need then that would be okay.
Otherwise… My next family vehicle will be a hybrid so I can drive it across the country if I want and not have to worry about mapping out my charge breaks. Most new vehicles should start moving to hybrid technology for the gas savings alone. Full electrification is still a ways off for most of the US, but hybrid offers better immediate impact.

Last edited 4 months ago by Adam Atwell
R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
4 months ago

I bought my first EV in 2023. Second car will be replaced by one, too. Many will eventually have this experience – I pretty much hate driving the diesel wagon now. ICE can be rented for trips, if needed, but will never be as pleasant as the EV experience. Everyone hates the future until they join it…

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago

Yes. Next question.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

Okay I have been saving this one for years. The reason for EV over ICE is really pollution and clean air. That is not a bad goal. But outside of large metro areas in the suburbs and rural areas we have really clean air. Don’t make me pay for your fetid cesspool. Now let’s just demand EVs in the cities that solves the real problem. However city folk seem to think what works for them works for everyone so we need that city in the desert with 600 people living in 600 Square miles to go EV. Why because that works for us. But does it? You have 8 5 million people living in 302 square miles. That is over 28,000 people per square mile. No way you can provide cars and chargers to satisfy that many people.

Chad Geidel
Chad Geidel
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

“Clean Air” isn’t about the pollutants you think it is. Your rural air is just as polluted as the air in the city. That is, it’s polluted with carbon dioxide.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Chad Geidel

I got 100 acres of open land around me. The plants love CO2. I might have too much oxygen.

Chad Geidel
Chad Geidel
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

You realize that’s an argument that has been debunked. By research. Right?

HiFlyGuy
HiFlyGuy
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Rural air pollution is just as prevalent and bad as urban air pollution.
https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/13739985

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
4 months ago

Much as I love cars, I also tend to analyze any major purchase like an accountant. The only feasible use case I have for an electric now is around town/around Chicago errands, which requires a fair amount of range, and there’s no way I’m paying the electric “premium” for a casual use car (we both WFH). We do too many long-distance road trips to places with sketchy infrastructure to consider an electric for our “nice” touring car.

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
4 months ago

Get them while you can.

There are a lot of factors:
-Do you qualify for the tax credits?
-Does the car qualify for the tax credits?
-How many miles do you drive per year?
-How much does gas cost you?
-How much does electric cost you?

Electric cars will improve every year, while ICE cars have hit their peak both because of how sophisticated they already are and because there will be no further significant investment.

An ICE car is a future classic and an electric car is future outdated garbage.

There are a lot of factors, some of which I outlined above, but I am fairly certain more people are irrationally buying electric cars than ICE cars. Including people that are harming the environment more buy buying an electric car than they would with an ICE car (e.g., the WFH guy with a Tesla).

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  Racer Esq.

Yeah inside 2 years EVs start paying taxes for their over weight cars tearing up the roads so about a 30% increase in expenses. Haven’t you learned?

Cerberus
Cerberus
4 months ago

If you’re not talking an appliance, I think it makes more sense to get an ICE today. If electrics were designed as they should be—to last decades with minimal cost—I would think otherwise, but they seem to be going the short-lived disposable consumer electronics route instead of the power tool one, so what is sold today is just going to be outdated junk soon enough, while the last of the more interesting ICE cars will be remembered (and maybe hold their value) as almost instant classics. I often lament the boringness of current ICE (even my GR86, a car celebrated for being analog and full of feel can’t hold a candle to my mk1 fwd 5-speed Legacy wagon in terms of feel and engagement and it didn’t have nannies that needed to be shut off, in turn locking you into a dumb linear tach gauge display), but even their relative mediocrity will be revered in the future for what the electrics aren’t.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

Well Mr Thomas may I opinion e?
1. As auto enthusiasts we all love our Mr Tracy. As a group I am sure 99% agree using him as a guide for car buying based on his history is a solid NO.
2.While California and NYC have decided EVs must be what everyone drives, the majority of the country isn’t sold. Now the elitist progressives may force the agenda on some that makesxm the ICE purchase cheaper and a better idea for the Free States. Seethe may force EVs to be the only vehicles sold new but I am driving my 2001 until I die or win the lottery.

D0nut
D0nut
4 months ago

I want to buy an electric car for our next family car, but I don’t think it’s going to work. First, there just aren’t that many electric 3-row cars to begin with, but I also need to get at least 200 miles of range, in the winter, because I don’t want to have to deal with the shitty charging infra.

The reality is that we will go PHEV.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  D0nut

That was the best answer all along Christopher Robin and we were led astray again by Henny Penny. Who should be the official Democrat Party Icon.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This is Autopian, not politopian; can we leave the weighted political labels to acrimonious Reddit threads, please?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Sorry you can’t have a realistic conversation about EVs without including the government. Most governments around the world are putting mandates that in 10 years they will be the only cars legally built. No thoughts on how or why just do it. You can’t avoid that aspect.

Nvoid82
Nvoid82
4 months ago

If it’s what you want? Sure, why not. If you need a transportation appliance, no. Buy a used 2013+ Prius, wait 3-5 years till things are really nice.

Boosted
Boosted
4 months ago

If having only 1 is my only option, yes get an ICE car. I have a fleet of cars, an EV is one of them. The EV has been great in 90% of my uses, the uses where it has not been great is road to certain national parks, 500 mile road trips. I live in CA where charging stations are plenty, but still not quite there for certain very specific use cases. If I could not charge at home, I don’t think my EV experience would be positive either.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
4 months ago
Reply to  Boosted

I just did a lovely 500 mile road trip this past weekend in our Niro EV. Went to Columbia SHP, Bridgeport CA, Mono Lake, and Yosemite. Yes we did have to be strategic about charging but ran into no real issues. We camped in the car one night in Bridgeport at an RV park, and despite it only having 120v 30A service got a decent charge. I agree that if I couldn’t plug in at home it would be a bit more annoying, but as long as you have a reasonable commute(less than 30 miles each way) I don’t think it would be too hard. People have to be mentally prepared, though. A hypothetical option with a 250 mile EV would be to top up 20 minutes on Thursdays at a location with a DC charger(either before getting home or after dinner), and then plan to grocery shop Sunday and fill up to 100%. However, how many people with a 30 mile commute can’t charge at home? I do have a few coworkers in that boat but it seems rare. I would hope that most people in apartments live much closer to work. At a 20 mile round trip commute, which is what I have, I can easily make it two full work weeks without charging if I wanted, even if I cap charging at 80%.

Boosted
Boosted
4 months ago

I tried to map from LA to Sequoia and there wasn’t a charging option close enough to make it work without too many compromises. LA to Vegas was good, LA to Mare Island was less optimal but was do able.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
4 months ago

I like EVs, but live in a rural area where even the gas stations have a hard time surviving. With low mileage Golf 7 TDI and Transit Connect van in my garage, I’m good for at least a decade. But a decade from now they’ll be few to no interesting cars available and my van is more than enough truck for my needs, so I’ll probably buy and horde at least one fast ICE car to get me through the next couple decades.

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
4 months ago

Well the answer depends on your situation of course. This is why ICE bans are dumb. I’m glad DT is enjoying his purchase, and he should be free to buy whatever car he wants.

If you can’t charge at home a BEV makes no sense. The charging network is ass and let’s be honest Teslas will be too once everyone is using it

Turkina
Turkina
4 months ago
Reply to  PresterJohn

My mom was interested in a PHEV, but then realized the apartments she plans to move to has no charging capability. So why pony up for the EV part when she can’t even plug into a 120VAC outlet at night? The world needs more fun hybrids, though.

06dak
06dak
4 months ago

It can make sense to buy ICE depending on what you are buying. Wrangler? YES. Civic? YES. Equinox? Well, maybe wait for the EV one or buy a PHEV. Truck to tow? HELL YES. Truck to get you to work? Maybe wait.

EVs are still in their infancy and ICE will still have it’s place for a long time. I can see by the end of the decade the transition being actually noticeable in suburbia, but far away from the city center it’ll still look like 2021.

This transition will take time no matter the political grandstanding.

Honestly I’d rather see our limited resources going to building EV delivery trucks, mail trucks, etc than passenger cars. Those work all day/every day and have to be a better use! Not to mention silencing the mail truck, UPS truck, Amazon truck, Fedex trucks that rumble down my street everyday.

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
4 months ago

Completely dependent on how and where you’ll use it.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
4 months ago

Yes, buying an ICE car still makes sense in 2023.

With the exception of the Bolt and Model 3, EVs haven’t really hit price parity with comparable ICE options. The price difference can buy a lot of gas and regular maintenance.

Also, not all use cases work with EVs.

My house is 100% EV, but our use case works perfectly with their advantages and limitations. I doubt we ever go back to having an ICE vehicle.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
4 months ago

I just bought a 2019 Kia Niro EV for $21k. Without any incentives it was $2.5k more than the average gas 19 Niro with similar mileage, and at parity with many I’ve seen online. It will save us $100-150 a month in fuel costs. Plus we are getting $5k in local incentives and $4k back from the irs. So our effective out the door price with incentives was $14k and the CHEAPEST gas Niro is $17k before tax. And then we are saving another $4-6k over the 3ish years I’ll hang on to it.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
4 months ago

That’s a good deal! I’m amazed they didn’t bump the price to $24,995 to come in just under the $25k limit.

The Niro is a seriously underrated EV. One of my coworkers is losing access to his Ioniq 5 because his wife is starting to prefer it over her ICE car. I immediately recommended the Niro because it has a similar vehicle to load system on the higher trim levels that she uses on his car.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
4 months ago

What amazed me was the number of dealers selling just above $25k who wouldn’t come down. Dealers seem to be oblivious about the incentives. Mine has 50k miles, I wouldn’t have bought it for any more than $21k.

For new cars, the Niro and Kona don’t really make much sense right now unless you get an amazing lease. The lease deals on the newer EVs are just too good, and you get faster charging and the heat pump.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
4 months ago

I am probably the target demographic for a BEV, but likely won’t be adopting one anytime soon. I have an old vehicle that will need replacement soon, and I’ve already started evaluating replacements, and none are BEV. Hybrids and PHEVs are on the list, but realistically I’ll probably be buying something that is ICE-only simply because most of the vehicles I like don’t have a hybrid or PHEV variant.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
4 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

What type of vehicle are you looking for?

Ryanola
Ryanola
4 months ago

What about battery degradation? Will a BEV last the average age of the typical car on American roads? My 2015 Mercedes B250e works great, still charges to 80 miles, have a friend with a 2017 Tesla X, battery is significantly degraded. My powerwall is only puts out 68% of its total 5 years later. Tesla won’t warranty powerwall, as they go by how much charge the battery accepts (SCAM?), not output. Will people be stuck replacing $20,000 battery packs to keep their cars on the road? Also, my gas cars go 500 miles on fill ups, great for road trips. Electric cars aren’t ready for everyone yet, but they’ll get there.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
4 months ago
Reply to  Ryanola

Liquid cooled batteries seem to last about 15 years and you can get refurbished ones for replacement. LFP batteries, which I think are the future, don’t really degrade

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