What are EVs?
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 budget.* 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. EVs cost less to operate than gas powered cars. EV operation can be three to five times cheaper than gasoline and diesel powered cars, depending on your local gasoline and electric rates.
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.
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.
Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation, stronger acceleration and require less maintenance than gasoline powered internal combustion engines.
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.
Are EVs right for me?
Hover over each title to reveal additional information
Is your daily commute under 330 miles?
Do you frequently take long roadtrips?
Does your household have more than one car?
Do you have off-street parking at your home?
Weighing the pros and cons
Range refers to the number of miles an EV will travel before the battery needs to be recharged. Electric cars typically have a shorter maximum range on a charge than fossil-fueled cars. 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. It’s worth noting that 78 percent of all commuters in America drive less than 30 miles per day, thus if they are driving an EV, they can go multiple days without recharging. Many of today’s EVs have a range well over 100 miles per charge, with some models reaching more than 300 miles per charge.
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:
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 my require significant electrical upgrades to your home. In some cases the transformer that supplies power to your home may need to be upgraded.
Electric vehicle 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. Battery replacement is typically costly, but keep in mind that gas powered vehicle equipment, such as motors and transmissions, have a lifespan too. The rate at which batteries expire depends on the type of battery and how they are used.
The failure rate of some electric vehicles batteries already on the road is as low as 0.003%.* There are also high mileage warranties on electric vehicle batteries available with many manufacturers. Several manufactures offer multi-year and 100,000 mile+ warranties on the batteries in their vehicles. Review manufacturer information carefully when selecting an EV model.
* Source: Shah, Saurin D. (2009), Plug-In Electric Vehicles: What Role for Washington? (1st edition). The Brookings Institution. pp. 29, 37 and 43.
Purchasing an EV is a little different than purchasing a gas-powered vehicle. It is important to understand key elements, such as vehicle range-per-charge and how tax credits work. Typical steps to take when considering an EV include finding out if an EV is right for you, choosing an EV model, finding rebates, tax incentives, and discounts, test driving an EV, and installing a level 2 240V charging system.
Understanding your savings potential
The pre-set values below are an approximation of today’s electricity and gasoline rates. Customize the inputs to see what kind of benefits you might get when you switch from a gasoline-powered car to an electric vehicle (EV).
*Disclaimer: This tool is only intended to provide an estimate of potential savings. Actual results will vary. Customers may not realize similar energy savings or carbon emission reductions. Vehicle data is subject to change without notice. This is the estimated residential electricity rate for the utility. This rate may not include tiered or time-of-use rates. Rates change periodically. Utility does not warrant or represent that this data is accurate. In no event shall the utility or its suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to claims associated with the accuracy of this data or information.
A federal income tax credit up to $7,500 is available for the purchase of a qualifying electric vehicle. The minimum credit amount is $2,500, and the credit may be up to $7,500, based on each vehicle’s battery capacity and the gross vehicle weight rating. Your eligibility for income tax credits depends on your personal tax situation. We recommend speaking with a tax professional for guidance.
The credit begins to phase out for each vehicle manufacturer once they have sold 200,000 eligible electric vehicles in the United States (as counted from January 1, 2010). The IRS will announce when a manufacturer exceeds this production volume and will announce the subsequent phase out schedule on the IRS website.
A year of CO2 emissions
Utilities generate electricity from a variety of sources, including hydroelectric, coal, nuclear, natural gas and a variety of renewable methods, such as solar and wind.
What is CO2?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, accounting for about 82% of all human-related U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. Human activities, including driving gas and diesel-powered vehicles, are adding more CO2 to the atmosphere than our planet is designed to process through its natural cycles. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the significant increase that has occurred in the atmosphere over the last 200 years.1
Why do CO2 Levels Matter?
When energy from the sun reaches the Earth, the planet absorbs some of this energy and radiates the rest back to space as heat. The Earth’s surface temperature depends on this balance between incoming and outgoing energy. Increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere cause a portion of the heat that normally would radiate away for the planet to be absorbed, re-emitting heat to the lower atmosphere and warming the Earth’s surface. This adds up over time in the form of long-term global warming – it is not observed as a short-term local weather event.2
Global warming refers to the long-term warming of the planet since the early 20th century, and most notably since the late 1970s, due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions since the Industrial Revolution. Worldwide since 1880, the average surface temperature has gone up by about 1 °C (about 2 °F), relative to the mid-20th-century baseline (of 1951-1980).3
How can we possibly be producing that much CO2?
It’s chemistry and it adds up quickly. A gallon of gasoline weighs about 6.3 pounds, but it can produce about 20 pounds of CO2 when burned. Most of the weight of the CO2 doesn’t come from the gasoline itself, but the oxygen it joins with in the air. When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen in the fuel separate, then the hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water (H2O), and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2).
A CO2 molecule is made with one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. Carbon atom has an atomic weight of 12, and each oxygen atom has a weight of 16, giving each single molecule of CO2 an atomic weight of 44. Therefore, to calculate the amount of CO2 produced from a gallon of gasoline, the weight of the carbon in the gasoline is multiplied by 44/12 or 3.7. Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.5 pounds (6.3 lbs. x .87). We can then multiply the weight of the carbon (5.5 pounds) by 3.7, which equals about 20 pounds of CO2.4
What do all of these pounds of CO2 mean to you?
There is a lot science required to quantify the impact of the tons of CO2 that come out of your tailpipe and the rest of the tailpipes on our planet. The important thing to note is that transportation generates approximately 34% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.5 We have the opportunity to dramatically reduce this number by switching from fossil fuel-burning vehicles to vehicles that are powered by electricity generated through methods that produce less greenhouse gases.
1 National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases
2 United States Environmental Protection Agency – Climate Change Indicators: Climate Forcing. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-climate-forcing
3 NASA: Global Climate Change. Retrieved January 30, 2019, from https://climate.nasa.gov/resources/global-warming/
4 Physical and chemical properties of gasoline: Department of Energy (DOE), Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), Properties of Fuels. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/contentIncludes/co2_inc.htm
5 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2018). Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2016. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases
*Disclaimer: This tool is only intended to provide an estimate of potential savings. Actual results will vary. Customers may not realize similar energy savings or carbon emission reductions. Vehicle data is subject to change without notice. This is the estimated carbon emission rate for the utility. Utility does not warrant or represent that this data is accurate. In no event shall the utility or its suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to claims associated with the accuracy of this data or information.