Resources for Owners of Electric Vehicles
Rebates Home Charging Public Charging Range Considerations Maintenance & Performance Environment Other Resources

Rebates

EVs have rapidly improved and prices are dropping. Still, many of the cost advantages come after you have the car. Tax credits, rebates, minimal maintenance, and low "fuel" costs all improve the final cost.

Here are some credits/rebates (focus for CA Bay area residents, you may have other rebates in your area).

Home Charging

Gas cars refuel in minutes, so new EV owners may worry about charge time. But unless you regularly drive more miles daily than your EV's range, you can charge at home. Then refueling takes less of your time than a gas car does. You will not miss going to the gas station!

Here are some things to know about home charging.

  • Charging in a 110V outlet (Level 1 charging) will add ~6 miles/hour of charging. This may work for some users, but it means charging a depleted EV can take a long time.
  • A 240V charger (J1772 Level 2 charging) will extend your range ~20-25 miles/hour of charging. Installing one of these chargers at home is a worthy investment.
  • Some things to consider when buying a home Level 2 charger: (see charger options at Amazon)
    • Power: Most chargers are 30A to 32A, which delivers ~7.2kW. Some chargers do less (e.g. 16A) and will charge more slowly (useful if you don't have necessary wiring or want to save a little money).
    • Wiring: Chargers are either hard-wired (requiring professional installation) or plug-in (requiring an available 240V outlet). If you don't have 240V available on a separate circuit you will need an electrician.
    • Cord length: How long a cord will you need to conveniently reach your car?
    • Weatherproof: Will your charger be exposed to the elements? If so, get an all-weather charger.
    • Features: Some chargers have timers, remote control, web interfaces. These may be redundant if your car also has these features.
    • Looks: The charger's "look" may be relevant (low key, hi tech, modern, etc.) to the fashion-conscious.

Public Charging

Although many EV drivers never use public chargers, there are times when public charging can help. A work charger can effectively double your possible-commute-length. And, if your car supports fast charging, some public chargers can add as much as 200 miles of range per hour.

Range Considerations

Range is probably the most common concern of new EV owners. But EVs provide more accurate range information than gas cars, so with a little planning, running out of charge is no more likely than running out of gas. And while gas stations are very common, electrical outlets are even more common. In the unlikely event you do get into a low charge situation, you may be delayed, but you can plug in at a remarkable number of locations.

  • Think about your actual needs. For example, a 2017 Nissan Leaf goes about 100 miles on a charge (varies with conditions). If your daily needs are under 80 miles, then just charge at home when needed and range isn a non-issue. For longer trips, rent a car to match the specific trip. That way, you have the optimal car for both your daily and exceptional transportation needs.

  • If you regularly need to go longer distances, the Chevy Bolt will go between 240-280 miles on a charge (varies with conditions). With rebates, it's under $30K. Take one to Southern California with one 90 minute charge stop on Hwy 101 (fast-chargers every ~15 miles).

  • Be sure to download the PlugShare app for your smartphone and/or visit them online at www.plugshare.com. This service lists charging stations from all networks. It even lists individual EV owners who've agreed to let another EV-driver-in-need use their charger. It's a nice way to meet another EV driver — so consider listing your charger when you get one!

  • EV Trip Planner is a website that lets you get directions between two locations, and estimates you how much charge you'll need for the trip. Although it's only designed for Leafs and Teslas at present, it's easy to use it for any car. Just do a couple experimental trips where it estimates the energy usage for a trip and see how that relates to % of charge used by your car. If EV Trip Planner says a trip will use 20kWh, and that ends up using 50% of your charge, then you'll have to charge mid-way to take a 45kWh trip.

Maintenance & Performance

Hopefully you aren't attached to seeing your mechanic, because EVs require very little maintenance — rotating tires, refilling windshield fluid, and replacing cabin air filters. You won't need oil changes, timing belts, radiator fluid, or a hundred other things. EVs rarely need break maintenance, since practiced EV drivers can use regen to break and extend their range. The new Chevy Bolt's "L mode" and regen paddle lets you avoid almost all break use. This is also a reason to go pure EV, since hybrids still require much more maintenance (and usually have limited cargo space).

Most EVs perform much better than gas cars in the 0-40mph range, providing instant, silent, rapid acceleration. Above that, different EVs have differing performance characteristics. Some like the Tesla and Bolt accelerate exceptionally in 40+ range as well. Drive carefully!

Environment

This website doesn't cover the significant environmental benefits of EVs. However, the resources below do. For example, a tool from the Union of Concerned Scientists will let you see how much carbon your EV "emits" compared to a gas car. Our country may have failed the world regarding climate change, but it's nice to know that, combined with solar, people with regular incomes can dramatically reduce their carbon contribution.

Other Resources

 

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