What is an electric vehicle (EV)?
An all-electric car operates only with electricity stored in an on-board battery. One or more electric motors power the car. EV’s, unlike gas-powered cars, emit no greenhouse gases and have no tailpipe emissions. Many currently available EV’s are listed here https://pluginamerica.org/
How far can an EV travel?
Currently, EVs available from multiple manufacturers can travel anywhere from about 100 miles to 400+ miles after a full charge. They can be charged overnight at home as long as there is access to at least a standard AC outlet. There is a growing network of public chargers that allow you to take longer trips. When purchasing or leasing an EV, choose the range that best fits your needs. A person using a car only to commute to and from work and for local errands could choose a car with a range between 100 and 250 miles. As a general rule, the higher the car’s range the higher the price.
Just as with gas powered cars, many factors can affect the range of an EV. Range is affected by speed, weather, terrain, and outside temperature. For example, the range of an EV will be lower in the winter and the very hot days in summer.
Are EVs safe?
EV’s have to meet the same Federal Car Safety Standards as gas powered cars.
How do you charge an EV?
There are three types of charging. Level I is the slowest, Level II is faster and Level III is the fastest method. Most EV’s include a 120-volt level I charger that plugs into a standard outlet. Homeowner-installed chargers and many workplace chargers are Level II types and require 240-volts. Level III, known as DC fast chargers are not practical for the home but can be found at many public locations throughout the US.
How do you find public chargers?
There are many apps available for both Android and Apple cell phones and many of these are also available for tablets and PC’s. A popular cell phone and PC app is Plugshare which shows charger locations, by type, throughout the country. Most EVs come with built-in navigation that can locate chargers. For example Tesla’s EVs have a built-in navigation app that shows you the chargers on your route and lists the time it will take to charge at each charger stop.
How long will it take to charge?
Time to charge an EV is based on these factors:
- Battery size. A smaller battery (rated in Kilowatt Hours or kWh) will charge faster.
- The type and capacity of the charger being used (slow AC or fast DC charging).
- The charging capability of the car itself. For example, a car with a very fast charging speed might charge up to 80% in 20 to 30 minutes.
How much does it cost to charge an EV?
That depends on the type of car and when and where you charge. Typically, a full charge costs much less than filling a car with gasoline. Here’s an example for at-home charging. Determine your cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) by looking at your electric bill. To get an accurate cost per kWh, take the total delivery service charges on a recent bill and divide by the kWh used (Total Supply Services) which takes into consideration all fees and charges to deliver electricity to your home. In Westford, the end number should look something like 24 to 31 cents per kWh. If you are enrolled in the Power Options Program (POP), the cost per kWh is fixed, unlike the cost of gasoline that can vary from month to month.
Let’s use a Tesla Model Y Long Range All-Wheel Drive as an example for charging costs. The EPA rates this Tesla model to use 28 kWh to travel 100 miles or 0.28 kWh per mile. If you drive 1000 miles per month, multiply 0.28 kWh x 1000 miles to get the amount of electricity used which is 280 kWh. Multiply 280 by $0.24 per kWh for home charging and you get a total cost of $67.20. In comparison, if a gas-powered car gets 25 miles per gallon, it takes 40 gallons per 1000 miles. At $4.00 per gallon, it costs $160 to travel 1000 miles. (It should be noted that public DC fast chargers can vary in cost so home charging will be less costly).
How long do batteries last?
The typical manufacturer warranty for an EV battery is 8 years or 120,000 miles.
What does it cost to maintain an EV?
Compared to gas-powered cars, EV maintenance is significantly less. No oil changes, transmission flushes, or tune-ups are required. The electric motor(s) that power the car require no routine maintenance. Brake pads last a long time since the electric motor(s) slow the car down using regenerative braking (the amount of regenerative braking is typically driver adjustable). A bonus to regenerative braking is that electricity is generated during braking and it recharges the battery. Typical maintenance will only involve rotating the tires, changing the cabin air filter, replacing wiper blades, and replacing tires at the end of their service life.
Some useful websites
- Green Energy Consumers Alliance – https://www.greenenergyconsumers.org/drivegreen Learn about electric cars and get support to switch.
- More EV – https://mor-ev.org/ List rebates available for certain EV’s purchased in Massachusetts
- EV Safety – https://www.goelectricdrive.org/why-go-electric/ev-safety Links to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website which has a tool to provide information about a given car you are considering for purchase.
- Charger Details – https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_infrastructure.html