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 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, 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.
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.
* Source: U.S. Department of Energy – Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Saving on Fuel and Vehicle Costs.
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.
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. EV driving range is typically around 80 to over 300 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 four to eight hours. A “fast charge” to 80% capacity can take 30 min.*Source: US Department of Energy
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 120V outlet or you can have a 240V charger installed in your garage or driveway. Known as “Level 2 EVSE equipment,” 240V 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 vehicle might not be right for you at this time if you don’t meet the criteria above, 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.
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:
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 two to five 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 percent battery charge or 60 to 100 miles of range for most EV models in about 20-30 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 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.