Things you should know about electric vehicles.
Types of EVs:
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) have a battery and an electric motor instead of a gas tank and 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. It is important to note that a portion of the electricity supplied to your home, which in turn is used to charge BEVs, may be generated from carbon-emitting fuels such as coal and natural gas.
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 have an electric motor AND a gas-powered internal combustion engine, but don't plug-in for charging. Although HEVs can have substantial driving range on a single tank of gas, they still burn fossil fuel, produce carbon emissions, and require trips to the gas station and scheduled engine maintenance. HEVs may be an ideal choice for those with extended commutes and limited charging system access.
Range refers to the number of miles an EV can travel before the battery needs to be recharged. EVs typically have a shorter maximum range on a single full charge than fossil-fueled cars with a full tank of gasoline. However, EVs can be charged at home - no gas station required - and the overall operation cost is typically substantially less than a gasoline-powered vehicle. Most EVs have a driving range of 80 to 330 miles on a single charge. 78% of all commuters in America drive less than 30 miles per day,1 meaning, they could go multiple days without recharging an EV. If your daily commute is less than 250 miles per day, there is likely an affordable EV model that will fit your needs.
Long road trips can present challenges for today's EVs. Public charging infrastructure and battery technology is continually improving, but planning is still required for long trips. If you live in a household with more than one car, you can use an EV for commuting and use the other vehicle for long distance drives.
BUYER TIP: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 (30mi + 30mi + 30mi = 90mi). EV range varies significantly between models!
Charging your EV requires plugging in to a charger connected to the electric grid, also called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). There are three major categories of chargers:
AC Level 1
Provides charging through a 120V AC plug and does not require installation of additional charging equipment. Level 1 chargers typically deliver 2 to 5 miles of driving range per hour of charging. They are most often used in home applications, but sometimes at workplaces as well. Level 1 120V charging may require up to 24 hours for a full charge.
AC Level 2
Provides charging through a 240V AC plug and requires the installation of additional charging equipment by a licensed electrician/installer. Level 2 chargers typically deliver 10 to 60 miles of range per hour of charging. They are used in homes, workplaces, and for some public charging.
Provides charging through 480V 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 - equivalent to 60 to 100 miles of driving range for most EV models - in about 20-30 minutes of charging. This is the format used most often in public charging stations, especially along heavy traffic corridors. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles typically do not have fast charging capabilities.
EV batteries are typically designed to last for the expected life of the vehicle, but battery life should be considered when calculating the extended cost of ownership, as all batteries eventually wear out and must be replaced. EV battery replacement is typically costly – but gas-powered vehicle equipment such as motors and transmissions also require replacement. The rate at which batteries expire depends on the type of battery and how they are used. Many types of batteries are damaged by depleting them beyond a certain level. For example, some batteries degrade faster when stored at higher temperatures, when they are rapidly charged, and when they are fully charged. Review manufacturer information carefully when selecting an EV model.
The failure rate of some EV batteries already on the road is as low as 0.003%.2 There are also high mileage warranties on batteries available with many manufacturers. Several manufactures offer multi-year and 100,000+ mile warranties on the batteries in their vehicles.
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. When you use power generated from hydroelectric, nuclear, wind or solar resources, you are nearly eliminating the pollution your vehicle generates!
EVs produce no tailpipe emissions. Although the electricity used to power the battery may have been generated using fossil fuels, EVs usually show significant reductions in overall carbon emissions when compared to gasoline vehicles due to the highly carbon-intensive process of mining, pumping, refining and transporting fossil fuels.
Internal combustion engines are relatively inefficient at converting fuel energy to propulsion because 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. 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
The average U.S. household devotes nearly one-fifth of its total family expenditures to transportation, so saving on fuel can make a big difference in family budgets.4 Electricity is less expensive than gasoline, and EVs are more efficient than gasoline vehicles. Electricity prices are also generally much more stable than gasoline prices. On average, EVs can travel the same distance as a conventional vehicle at less than half the cost. Your savings could be even greater if your current gas-powered vehicle gets poor mileage.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) 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. And because of regenerative braking, brake systems on EVs typically last longer than those on conventional vehicles.
No Oil Changes: BEVs do not use engine oil, so they have no need for the oil changes normally required of conventional vehicles every 3,000 to 7,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer.
No Spark Plugs and Wires: BEVs do not require spark plugs and wires. By contrast, these components are typically replaced every 100,000 miles in vehicles that run on gas engines).
No Exhaust System: BEVs do not have mufflers or catalytic converters - two components of conventional vehicle exhaust systems that can fail and result in expensive replacements.
No Emissions Testing: BEVs do not burn fossil fuels and do not have a tailpipe, so they do not emit byproducts that need to be tested. States typically grant EVs an emissions exemption.
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
This FAQ is provided by ChooseEV. Some numbers and statistics in this content may be estimates and subject to interpretation. Many factors must be taken into account to determine the total cost of ownership of EV and traditional gas-powered vehicles. This information is provided to give consumers a general understanding of EV concepts and opportunities. Customers should review information from EV manufacturers before making a purchase decision.