Home » I Want To Buy A New Car But The Transition To EVs Makes It Feel Risky

I Want To Buy A New Car But The Transition To EVs Makes It Feel Risky

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This may come as a surprise to many of you who have for years been reading about my many old cars (my youngest is 29 years old), but I want to buy a new car. Maybe not a brand new one, but one from the last decade. I’ll get into the reasoning behind why I no longer want to solely drive old junkers, but it really doesn’t matter because I’m stuck. Logical or not, I feel that if I buy the EV I want today, it may be obsolete in a few years, and if I buy an ICE today, it may be…obsolete in a few years. Here, allow me to explain.

Here are the two cars I’m debating purchasing:

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  1. A 2023 Jeep Wrangler JL Sport 6spd (a vehicle I helped engineer)
  2. A 2015 BMW i3 (also an engineering masterpiece)

I’m considering purchasing one of these machines because the 405 here in LA is a monster that swallows small old cars, and my large-ish Jeep J10 is just too thirsty for the $5/gallon gas. Plus, I’m realizing that having a new-ish car can help socially. It’s really not about me having a commute and needing reliability, because my cars are actually quite reliable (especially the J10), it’s really more about me growing up a little bit.

To be honest, I really want to buy a BMW i3, because I want to practice what I preach, which is that people with commutes should drive EVs if they can, since the real joy of ICEs — the joy of driving (especially a stick shift) and listening to a nice exhaust note — is often lost during a boring commute, anyhow. Plus, as an engineer, I consider the BMW i3 to be a fascinating machine, with its carbon fiber body mounted to a frame, propelled by an EV powertrain with a battery that can be topped up by a motorcycle engine-derived motor that BMW calls a “range extender.” Here, you can learn more:


The problem is, a used i3 costs $15,000. This isn’t horrible, per se, but I’m not convinced that it won’t be worth less than $5,000 in five years — and that’s a lot more depreciation than I’d like to deal with. I say this because if, in five years, we can all get used Chevy Bolts that offer 250+ miles of range for $10 grand, then why would anyone pay anything near that for an i3 with only 75 miles of EV-only rage?

Image: Bob Smith BMW

I realize I’m making a big assumption that we’ll be able to get high-ish-range EVs for cheap in five years, but it’s really not that big of a stretch. The Chevy Bolt only costs about $26,000, and after a $7,500 federal incentive, it can be purchased, in theory, for under $19,000. That’s dirt cheap, and the Bolt won’t be the only machine in the coming years to offer that kind of smoking hot deal.

Will the i3 be left in the dust? Will my $15,000 purchase seem foolish? It’s already starting to look foolish in the context of that Bolt deal I could get today (again, in theory).

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Image: Jeep

That brings me to the Jeep Wrangler JL. ICEs aren’t going away for good anytime soon, and when I said “obsolete” in my first paragraph, I really didn’t mean technically obsolete. I just mean obsolete to those on the market for a new car. If I buy a JL today, especially here in California, will it depreciate like crazy in the next five years as more people have EV options, as EV infrastructure grows, as EV incentives ratchet up, and as fuel prices remain high (and possibly increase — again, who knows?).

Honestly, both of these purchases seem high risk if I care about depreciation. A Bolt less so, since it’s an EV and offers decent range.


It’s a tough time to buy a new car. At least, for me it is, though maybe I’m overthinking things. Maybe depreciation is just part of owning a new-ish car, though as someone who’s never bought a car that has depreciated, I’d like to own something that, at least from a basic technological standpoint, won’t be outdated in a few years. Maybe the problem is that the two cars I’m considering are already outdated.

Surely I’m not the only one facing this dilemma?

[Writer’s Note: I think the solution to EV hesitation is that if you can charge at home or at work and would like an EV, buy an EV that you like for other reasons than its powertrain. Think of it like buying a performance car: The AMGs, M cars and Corvettes of ten years ago can’t keep up with their modern equivalents in a straight line, but they’re generally more tactile, lighter, and simpler. The BMW i3 is outdated as an EV but it’s a cool feat of engineering with innovative construction, a lovely interior, and a funky form factor. The Ford Mustang Mach-E will likely be outdated in a generation but its inclination towards oversteer is fun and its buyer might love its styling. The Tesla Model 3 will eventually be outdated but it has a huge aftermarket community, good packaging, and the Supercharger network is an incredible feat of infrastructure. Every car eventually becomes outdated, but the great ones give us something to love once the new car smell wears off. -Thomas Hundal]

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1 year ago

Life doesn’t make much sense, we’re just blobs of matter who can magically think. The new(ish) car doesn’t have to make sense, buy The Vehicle You Want Most, or at least The Vehicle You Want Most But Can Also Afford.

Life’s short, get something fun. Damn the man, save The Empire!

1 year ago

Either are great options for you David. At first, I was shocked and saddened by this grownup approach to life. But the more you think about it, these two vehicles make sense. The BMW will be a BMW, and parts will go wrong and it will give you great content to write about. The Jeep is brand new, but Jeep dealers will almost assuredly be as bad as a Kia dealership which will give you again more content to write about. Actually! Maybe you could live stream or live tweet the entire process. Also, we might get a glimpse into warranty repair content and what it is like to have a car so new that some mythical company is willing to stand behind a vague guarantee of things being rightish with the vehicle. No matter what you buy, I think it is required that there be a road trip involved to pick it up.

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