Once you drive an electric vehicle (EV), you’ll see why EV owners love their cars. They perform better, are cheaper to operate, and require very little maintenance. Instead of paying high costs for gasoline/petrol, EV owners generally charge with cleaner energy where they live, at work, or somewhere in their neighborhoods. Plus, an EV can dramatically reduce harmful emissions, helping to create a healthier future.
$28,000 - $72,000
About the technology
Types of EVs: All-electric vehicles (also called battery-electric vehicles, BEVs) are powered solely by electricity, while plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) can run on either electricity or gasoline/petrol. When they run out of electricity, PHEVs switch to the backup fuel for their energy source.
Driving Range: Many BEVs are available with driving ranges from about 115 miles to well over 400 miles (185 to 645 km). PHEVs have smaller batteries and can normally travel between 15 – 55 miles (25 – 90 km) on a full charge.
Upfront Cost: EVs have higher upfront costs than equivalent gasoline/petrol vehicles, but incentives are sometimes available that make them more affordable.
Total Cost: They are generally more cost effective than gasoline/petrol vehicles when you consider the total cost of ownership. This is partly because electricity is cheaper per mile traveled and maintenance costs are lower.
Environment: A typical gasoline/petrol-powered car can produce more than 4 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. By driving an EV, you can easily cut these emissions by half or more.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Why consider electrifying your ride?
Once you drive an electric vehicle (EV), you’ll see why EV owners love their cars. They perform better, are cheaper to operate, and require very little maintenance. Instead of paying high costs for gasoline, EV owners generally charge with cleaner energy where they live, at work, or somewhere in their neighborhoods. Plus, an EV can dramatically reduce harmful emissions, helping to create a healthier future.
2. What are electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)?
While most vehicles are fueled solely by gasoline, an EV is powered by electricity. There are two main types of EVs. An all-electric vehicle (also known as a battery electric vehicle, or BEV) is powered solely by electricity. Another type of EV, the plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV), can run on both electricity and on gasoline. PHEVs normally have smaller batteries and shorter electric ranges (such as 15 – 55 miles) than BEVs. When they run out of electricity, they switch to gasoline for their energy source. This means that a PHEV will often operate on its electric motor while driving around town and on its gasoline engine for longer trips.
3. Are hybrid electric vehicles (such as the original Toyota Prius) electric vehicles?
No. Pure hybrid electric vehicles get all their energy from gasoline — they cannot be manually recharged like battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid EVs. Pure hybrids use a small battery and an internal combustion engine in combination that allows for greater efficiency. This, along with regenerative braking and other features, allows pure hybrids to achieve much better mileage and lower emissions than conventional gasoline vehicles.
4. How far can an electric vehicle drive after a full charge?
A host of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are available with ranges varying from about 115 miles to well over 400 miles. Those with shorter ranges are fine for local and city driving. Those with longer ranges can be used for long trips, especially given the increasing availability of fast-charging stations in many areas. Plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) have smaller battery packs than BEVs and can normally travel between 15 – 55 miles on a full charge. However, they have gasoline backup for longer drives, so the range is much less of an issue.
1. Are EVs expensive?
EVs generally have a higher up-front cost than gasoline vehicles, but many EV models are available in the US today for under $47,000 which is the national average new car sales price. Plus, state, federal, and utility incentives can take thousands of dollars off the price, making them even more affordable. Importantly, looking at the total cost of ownership, including the purchase cost (or lease cost), rebates and tax incentives, fuel costs, maintenance, insurance, etc., EVs can be cheaper than gasoline-powered vehicles without the hassle of going to the gas station and without generating local air emissions.
2. What’s the energy cost to operate an EV?
Gasoline is not only more polluting than electricity, it’s also more expensive. You’ll save on energy costs by switching to an EV. The level of savings will depend on a number of factors such as your electricity rates, your local gasoline costs, and your type of car. However, using average costs in the US, a dollar of electricity will take you more than twice as many miles as a dollar of gasoline.
1. Are electric vehicles dependable?
Since EVs have many fewer moving parts than a gasoline vehicle, they are significantly more reliable. In addition, they require much less maintenance because there’s no need to change the oil, spark plugs, etc. Furthermore, with regenerative braking, your EV’s brakes will last longer.
2. How long do EV batteries last?
Most EV manufacturers guarantee their batteries for up to 8 years or 100,000 miles and Tesla has reportedly designed its batteries to last for 300,000 to 500,000 miles. With any EV, there will be some battery degradation over time, and this translates into reduced range. For example, an EV with a 300 mile original range and 20% battery degradation after 10 years (which is typical), is still a 240 mile range EV and perfectly usable.
1. How much do cars contribute to emissions?
The vast majority of transportation emissions in the US and around the world come from cars and trucks, and nearly 60% of those emissions are from the cars that we drive every day. The typical gasoline-powered car will produce 4-8 tons of CO2 per year, so the purchase of this type of car generally means that 75 tons of additional emissions will be released into the atmosphere over an average car’s lifespan. An EV can cut these emissions in half, or much more if you charge your EV with electricity that’s largely produced from solar, wind, or hydropower.
2. What about the batteries? Are there emissions from their manufacture, and are they toxic?
Battery manufacture does result in additional emissions, but these are generally made up for in about a year due to the lower driving emissions of an EV. Regarding toxicity, the predominant battery type currently used in EVs (Lithium-ion), contains materials that can be hazardous if released into the environment. Accordingly, as with all types of batteries, proper recycling is required at the end of life, and recycling is now becoming more available for these types of batteries. Additionally, once aging batteries are no longer suited for EVs, they can often be repurposed in “second-life” stationary storage applications. Finally, the EV industry is working on solid-state batteries that should be smaller, safer, and longer-lived than conventional Lithium-ion batteries.
3. Will EVs require the construction of additional power plants?
Having more EVs/PHEVs on the road doesn’t necessarily mean more power plants will be needed. It mostly depends on when the vehicles are charged. Many conventional plants are only used during peak-demand periods and are idle during off-peak periods (such as at night). Charging EVs when excess generation capacity is available can reduce the need for new plant construction. In addition, with emerging vehicle-to-grid (V2G) approaches, electricity stored in vehicle batteries can be used by the grid during peak-demand hours, further reducing the need for new plants and also making the grid more stable.
4. How do the overall emissions compare to gasoline cars when taking power plant emissions into account?
An EV’s emissions will vary regionally, depending on the source of the electricity used to charge it. On average, however, EVs in the US produce 50 – 60% less emissions than gasoline powered vehicles, even when taking into account the production of the batteries. Also, with the increasing use of renewable electricity from sources such as the sun and wind (which have no greenhouse gas emissions from operations), the grid-supplied electricity used to power most EVs is getting cleaner all the time. Of course, when charged with 100% renewable energy, such as from rooftop solar, an EV will produce zero driving emissions.
5. What else can I do to reduce my transportation emissions?
Steps like taking public transportation, riding a bike (or an electric bike), and reducing your air travel are additional great ways to reduce transportation emissions. These approaches can also produce other benefits such as lower costs, reduced traffic congestion, shorter commute times, and improved fitness.
1. How quickly can you charge an EV?
The rate at which you can charge an EV depends on the car and the type of charger. Chargers are categorized as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. Level 1 charging means charging from a typical 120V home electrical outlet and will usually only deliver 2 – 6 miles of charge per hour of charging, which is fine for many home charging situations.
Level 2 charging involves charging from a 240V circuit, which usually delivers 10 – 60 miles of charge per hour of charging. This type of circuit can be installed in your home if you need that charging speed. This is the type of charger typically available at most commercial chargers and works for all EVs. Most charging stations that businesses supply for employees are Level 2, and these are also often available at public parking lots and garages.
Level 3 charging is also called fast charging and uses a 480V circuit. This technology can provide as much as 200 miles of range in 30 minutes or less, depending on the vehicle and the charger. This level is only available at commercial charging stations and is not always compatible with all vehicle types.
2. How do I charge an EV at home?
Many people worry that they will have to put in an expensive charger to power their EV. This is an option but not usually required. Your car will come with a portable mobile charger that can be plugged into any 120V wall socket as long as no other large appliances use that circuit. This type of charger will typically provide only about 2 – 6 miles of battery charge for every hour the car is plugged in. This will usually be plenty to cover most daily driving situations since most cars are driven less than 35 miles per day in the US. If you need more than that, a 240V circuit needs to be available in or near the garage or driveway. This allows for 10 – 60 miles of charging per hour.
Wall-mounted charging stations are sometimes installed at homes, but these are not required. Instead, you can use a portable charger that plugs into a 240V wall socket. On the car side, all connectors use the standard J connector and so there are no compatibility issues. (Teslas have an adapter that allows for the use of a J connector.)
3. How can I charge an EV if I live in an apartment building or am on a long trip?
An increasing number of apartment buildings are installing chargers, often at the request of their tenants. For those tenants without this option, charging at work is sometimes a good approach. Chargers at office complexes are normally Level 2 chargers that can add 10 – 60 miles of charging per hour. Another alternative is to find a Level 3, fast charger nearby, such as at a shopping center. Often you can charge up while buying groceries, taking in a movie, or working out at the gym.
4. How can I charge an EV on a long trip?
This is becoming easier all the time. More EVs are becoming available with ranges of 200 – 350 miles and more fast charging stations are being deployed every month. Tesla has done a great job of installing Superchargers along major highways in most parts of the US. They are strategically located so that it is possible to travel very long distances with just a few stops along the way. Other fast charging stations are also quite easy to find along major highways. Smartphone apps are available to help drivers locate chargers near their homes or along the route of an upcoming road trip.
1. What types of incentives are available for EVs?
Predominant among these is the federal tax credit of up to $7,500 that’s available for many EVs. Various other incentives are also available at the state, local, and utility levels. Taken together, incentives can take thousands of dollars off the sticker price, making them much more affordable.
2. How does the federal tax credit for EVs work?
The tax credit ranges up to $7,500 for the purchase of a new EV or PHEV, up to the purchaser’s tax liability. The credit doesn’t apply to leased vehicles and the dollar amount depends on the make and model of the vehicle. This credit comes directly off the taxes you would other side pay — it’s not a tax deduction. To claim the credit, you’ll need to fill out IRS Form 8936, Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit. As always, it’s wise to consult with a tax professional when dealing with tax issues.