Auto manufacturers are producing more electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes as drivers recognize the benefits of electric transportation.
Northern Electric Cooperative has compiled answers to some of the basic questions members have about electric vehicles. To learn more about EVs please call a Northern Electric Member Services Representative at 605-225-0310.
What Is An Electric Vehicle?
Electric vehicles are different than normal combustion-engine vehicles because they use batteries and stored electricity to power the automobile instead of solely relying on gasoline.There are three main categories of electric vehicles.
- Hybrid - A hybrid electric vehicle has both a gasoline engine and an electric motor with a battery. It is not possible to plug in a hybrid vehicle to recharge the battery. Instead, the battery is charged by the gas engine while you are driving the vehicle. Hybrids are designed to improve fuel economy.
- Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) - PHEVs have larger batteries than hybrids but still use a combination of gasoline and electricity to move the vehicle. The vehicles shift to the gasoline engine when the battery is depleted. PHEVs can be plugged into an outlet to charge the battery.
- Battery Electric Vehicles or Electric Vehicles (BEV) (EV) - Battery electric vehicles operate strictly on an electric motor and the charge from the onboard battery. These vehicles are charged only by plugging them into an outlet.
Is An Electric Vehicle Right For You?
The main item to think about when considering an electric vehicle is the distance you drive every day. Most new battery-only electric vehicles (EVs) have a range of up to 200 miles. The average person drives 40 miles every day to commute to work and run errands. So, most new EVs will meet the needs of the average daily driver. EVs can easily be recharged overnight at home so they are ready for the daily commute the following day.
If you frequently take long trips you may want to consider a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). PHEVs use a combination of an electric motor and a gasoline engine to power the vehicle. PHEVs have the ability to drive using gasoline once the battery has been depleted. PHEVs need to be plugged in to recharge but can operate in gas-only mode.
How Will You Charge The Vehicle?
There are three types of electric vehicle chargers.
All electric vehicles come with an adapter that can be used to plug a vehicle into a standard 120-volt residential outlet. This is known as level 1 charging. Level 1 is the slowest type of charging for an electric vehicle, however, it does not require installation of any additional charging equipment. It takes one hour of level 1 charging to power an EV for up to 3-5 electric miles.
Level 2 chargers can be found at hotels, restaurants, and various public locations. Level 2 chargers can also be installed in a home or a garage if a 240-volt outlet is available. Level 2 charging is three to five times faster than level 1 charging. It can charge an EV to drive 10-20 electric miles for every hour the EV is plugged into a level 2 charger.
DC Fast Charger
Charging an EV at a DC Fast Charge station is similar to filling a gasoline engine at a fuel pump. DC Fast Charge stations can charge a depleted EV battery to 80% capacity within 30 minutes. DC Fast Charge stations are typically installed in high-traffic areas and gas stations where drivers can stop for a break during road trips.
How Much Will It Cost To Operate An Electric Vehicle?
The purchase price of electric vehicles can be higher than a normal gasoline vehicle, however, the higher price is often offset by lower ongoing maintenance costs of the vehicle. Energy costs to operate a battery-powered EV typically run around $590 a year while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) cost around $720 a year. A gas-powered vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon typically costs $1,320 a year for gas and maintenance.