Is an Electric Vehicle (EV) Right for You?
Most of today's electric vehicles have a driving range-per-charge between 50 to 330 miles. If your daily commute is under 250 miles per day, there is likely an affordable EV model that will fit your needs.
Buyer Tip: When you're looking at EVs, be sure to check the "range-per-charge" for the vehicle. This is the number of miles the car can typically drive between full charges. For example, if the range per charge for an EV is 100 miles and your daily commute is 30 miles, you should be able to go about 3 days between charges (30 miles + 30 miles + 30 miles = 90 miles). EV range varies significantly between models.
Long road trips can present challenges for today's electric vehicles. Public charging infrastructure and battery technology is continually improving, but planning is still required for long trips. There are many EV models available with a range-per-charge of 150 to 250 miles. There are some high-end EVs that can get over 330 miles on a single charge.
If you live in a household with more than one car, an EV likely represents a big opportunity for your family to save a lot of money, while improving the quality of our environment. Use an EV for commuting and use the other vehicle for long-distance drives... it's just that easy!
Plugin electric vehicles require charging. Charging can be done with a standard 120 Volt (V) outlet or you can have a 240 V charger installed in your garage or driveway. Known as "Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)," 240 V charging reduces charging time substantially, is more energy-efficient and some EVSE models allow you to schedule charging times, which may allow you to take advantage of special electric rates.
EVs cost less to drive and pollute less, period. An EV uses electricity that is typically generated from sources that are cleaner than burning gasoline or diesel in a vehicle.
An All-Electric Electric Vehicle Might Not Be Right For You At This Time If…
- You commute 300+ miles per day.
- You do not have off-street parking, it may be difficult to charge your EV at home.
- You regularly take long road trips, EV charging may not be convenient. Note, BEVs have ranges from 80 to more than 300 miles per charge, which is similar to the range of some gas-fueled cars.
But keep in mind, EV range is steadily increasing every year, and there is probably a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) that would be a good fit for you. While PHEVs still use gasoline and require oil changes, many models have an all-electric range that will meet your daily commuting mileage needs.
Things You Should Know About EVs
There are various types of EVs available; these are the 3 most common:
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs or AEVs)
Battery Electric Vehicles have a battery and an electric motor instead of a gas tank and an internal combustion engine. Sometimes BEVs are also referred to as “All Electric Vehicles” or “Plug-in Vehicles” (not to be confused with Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles). They run entirely on electricity and do not produce any exhaust from the burning of fuel.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles have an electric motor and a gas-powered internal combustion engine. Some PHEVs operate exclusively, or almost exclusively, on electricity until the battery is nearly depleted, then the gasoline-powered engine turns on to provide power. Like Battery Electric Vehicles, PHEVs can be plugged in to charge the battery when the vehicle is not in use.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
Hybrid Electric Vehicles have an electric motor and a gas-powered internal combustion engine, and don’t plug-in for charging. HEVs can have substantial range on a single tank of gas, but they still burn fossil fuel, produce carbon emissions, require trips to the gas station and scheduled engine maintenance. An HEV may be an ideal choice for those with extended commutes and limited charging system access.
Vehicle Charging Options
Charging your EV requires plugging into a charger connected to the electric grid, also called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). There are three major categories of chargers, based on the amount of power the charger can provide:
AC Level 1
Provides charging through a 120 V AC plug and does not require installation of additional charging equipment. Level 1 can typically deliver 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging. Level 1 is most often used in home applications but is sometimes used at workplaces. A full charge may take up to 24 hours with level-1 120 V charging.
AC Level 2
Provides charging through a 240 V plug and requires the installation of additional charging equipment by a qualified electrician/installer. Level-2 chargers typically deliver 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging. Level 2 is used in homes, workplaces, and for some public charging. Level 2 charging systems provide slight energy efficiency benefits over level 1 chargers – savings estimates vary based on length of charge time.
Provides charging through 480 V AC input and requires specialized, high-powered charging equipment and special equipment in the vehicle itself. DC Fast-Charging can deliver an 80% battery charge or 60 to 100 miles of range for most EV models in about 20 to 30 minutes of charging. This format is used in public charging stations, especially along heavy-traffic corridors. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles typically do not have fast charging capabilities.
Depending on how far you drive each day, you may be able to meet your driving needs with basic level-1 charging at home. To reduce charging time, you may want to install a 240 V level-2 charging system. This may also provide you with additional functionality (like cost estimation or remote on/off). Be sure to consult with an electrician and/or your utility before purchasing a high-amperage charging system, as some high-power systems may require significant electrical upgrades to your home. In some cases, the transformer that supplies power to your home may need to be upgraded.
EV Battery Information
Emissions & Energy Efficiency
EVs produce no tailpipe emissions. Even when the power is generated using fossil fuels, electric vehicles usually show significant reductions in overall global carbon emissions over gasoline vehicles due to the highly carbon-intensive process of mining, pumping, refining, and transporting gasoline.
Internal combustion engines are relatively inefficient at converting fuel energy to propulsion as most of the energy is wasted as heat. Electric motors are more efficient in converting stored energy into propulsion, and electric-drive vehicles do not consume energy while at rest or coasting. Additionally, regenerative braking can be used to recapture energy during braking. Typically, conventional gasoline engines effectively use only 15% of the fuel-energy content to move the vehicle or to power accessories, while electric-drive vehicles have on-board efficiency of around 80%3.
Electric cars are not completely environmentally friendly as there can be significant issues to consider related to energy and material use in the manufacturing process. This may include energy-intensive manufacturing processes or the mining and refinement of chemicals and materials.
Reduced Operating Costs
The average U.S. household spends nearly one-fifth of its total family expenditures on transportation, thus saving on fuel can make a big difference in the average family’s budget4. Electricity is less expensive than gasoline and EVs are more efficient than gas-powered vehicles. Electric prices are also generally much more stable than gasoline prices. On a national average, it costs less than half as much to travel the same distance in an EV than a conventional vehicle. Your savings could be far more substantial if your current gas-powered vehicle gets poor mileage.
Reduced Maintenance Requirements
Battery Electric Vehicles (or BEV) require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because there are fewer fluids (like oil and transmission fluid) to change, and far fewer moving parts. EVs require minimal scheduled maintenance to their electrical systems, which can include the battery, electrical motor, and associated electronics. Because of regenerative braking, brake systems on EVs typically last longer than on conventional vehicles.
No Oil Changes: BEVs do not require engine oil, thus there are no oil changes (normally required every 3,000 to 7,000 miles; requirements vary by automobile manufacturer)
No Spark Plugs and Wires: BEVs do not require spark plugs and wires, thus no replacements (estimated replacement at 100,000 miles on gas engine)
No Exhaust System: BEVs do not have mufflers or catalytic converters, two components of your exhaust system that can fail and result in expensive replacements.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) and Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) have an electric motor and a gas motor. Cars with gas motors still require the standard maintenance a regular gas-powered vehicle requires (oil changes, spark plugs, and wires, exhaust systems, etc.), but at less frequent intervals.
1 U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Omnibus Household Survey.
2 U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, Maintenance and Safety of Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles.
3 Shah, Saurin D. (2009), Plug-In Electric Vehicles: What Role for Washington? (1st edition). The Brookings Institution. pp. 29, 37, and 43.
4 U.S. Department of Energy – Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Saving on Fuel and Vehicle Costs.
Electric vehicles, a smart transportation choice.
Electric Vehicles (EV) Cost Less to Operate than Gas-Powered Cars.
Depending on your local gasoline and electric rates, EV operation can be 3 to 5 times cheaper than gasoline and diesel-powered cars.
Never Go to the Gas Station Again.
Electric vehicles do not require gasoline and can be charged at home with a standard 120V outlet or a 240V level 2 charger can be installed for faster, more efficient charging.
EVs are Environmentally Friendly.
EVs have no tailpipe emissions. The power plant producing your electricity may produce emissions, but electricity from hydro, solar, nuclear, or wind-powered plants is generally emission-free.
EV Performance Benefits.
Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation, stronger acceleration, and require less maintenance than gasoline-powered internal combustion engines.
EV Driving Range & Recharge Time.
EV range is typically around 80 to over 330 miles on a full charge. The average American’s daily round-trip commute is less than 30 miles. Fully recharging the battery pack can take 4 to 8 hours. A “fast charge” to 80% capacity can take 30 minutes.*
*Source: U.S. Department of Energy