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What are the different types of plug-in electric vehicles?

The types of plug-in electric vehicles are:

BEVs run entirely on electricity stored in batteries and are recharged by plugging in at home, work or a public location. Full function BEVs are freeway capable with an operating range of 60+ miles, and generally take 6-8 hours to recharge at 220-volt power.

PHEVs run on a combination of electricity and gasoline, and have the ability to be plugged in for a charge. Their all-electric range varies by model, but generally is about 10-40 miles before the vehicle begins to operate like a regular hybrid. PHEVs are attractive because they are capable of all-electric short distance trips as well as long distance driving in regular hybrid mode.

Why should I drive electric?

Plug-in electric cars deliver all the features and safety of a regular gasoline car with additional benefits. With lower fuel costs (electricity vs. gasoline) and lower maintenance costs, PEVs cost less to own over their lifetimes than comparable gasoline vehicles. Also, PEV drivers get high performance, smooth acceleration, great torque and quiet comfort from their vehicles.With a PEV, your fueling station is as close as the nearest electrical outlet. And, if preferential parking, discounts on auto insurance, access to HOV lanes, purchase incentives, and the “thumbs up” sign from other motorists isn’t enough – then at least you know your PEV is significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cutting down on air pollution.

How far can I drive?

It depends upon your choice of PEV and your driving style. Pure battery electric vehicles can generally go 60 – 120 miles on a full charge, which is plenty of range for most people(the average Californian travels less than 30 miles a day). If more range flexibility is needed, however, a plug-in hybrid might be a better fit. They can generally run on battery alone for 10 – 40 miles, and then continue up to 400 miles as a gasoline-electric hybrid.

What should I know before buying a PEV?

The first step is to determine how far you typically drive each day, which will help you evaluate which of the 2 types of PEVs are a best fit. For distances up to 80 miles a day, a battery electric vehicle might suit your needs. For longer distances, a plug-in hybrid might be a better choice.

The next step is to figure out your recharging options. Most people will recharge at home; however, it is good to find out if you can recharge in public such as at your work or some other public location.

When recharging from home, you need to figure out if your standard 120-volt outlet is enough to meet your needs. If you prefer a faster charge, then you need to look into a 240-volt charger.

The last step is to figure out any kind of incentives there might be for your new PEV. Your car might be eligible for government rebates or perks such as being able to drive in the HOV lane with only one occupant. Check out our PEV Buyer and Owner checklists for more information and resources.

Is there anything different about driving electric?

Electric cars are astonishingly quiet, and at the same time, are capable of exhilarating acceleration and rapid braking. In addition, with a battery electric vehicle, there are no more side trips to the gas station because you can charge at home, at work, or in a public charging station while you do other things.

Plug-in electric vehicles are extremely efficient and are loaded with all sorts of high tech gadgetry. Most plug-in electric vehicles have a display screen which gives the driver loads of useful information. They also are equipped with regenerative braking, which captures kinetic energy during braking to provide battery recharging while driving.

Will switching to an electric car save me money?

Yes, compared to gasoline, electricity is more cost effective. How much money that can be saved depends on the electricity rates offered by your utility. There are many onling tools that help you explore and calculate your costs, including the U.C. Davis EV Explorer.

In North America, the average electricity cost is 12 cents per kilowatt hour. Compared to gasoline, 60 cents of electricity can take you as far as a single gallon of gasoline which costs upwards of $4.

It is possible to save even more if you charge at night, or during off-peak hours.

Battery-powered cars also have lower maintenance costs because there are fewer moving parts to service and repair.

Are there any incentives for buying an electric car?

Yes. There are incentives at the federal, state and local levels for PEV vehicles as well as charging infrastructure. A Federal tax credit of up to $7500 is available, with the amount of your credit depending on how big the battery in your electric car is.

In California, the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project offers rebates of up to $2500 for the purchase of the cleanest new plug-in vehicles. Plug-in hybrids classified as AT-PZEVs and battery electric vehicles classified as ZEVs are eligible. Purchase of these vehicles also makes you eligible for a Clean Air Vehicle decalthat allows you to drive soloin the carpool lane.

Other local perks, and discounts on such things as electricity and insurance are available to PEVs as well, which are found on our incentives page.

Do electric cars benefit the environment?

PEVs are a real benefit to the environment. Reducing dependency on gasoline cuts down on harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but PEVs also have very little or zero smog emissions as well. Operating on pure battery power is the cleanest option (as with pure battery electric vehicles), but even plug-in hybrids generally have very clean gasoline engines even when they are running in hybrid mode.

What do I need to know about charging my electric car?

PEV drivers find charging to be easy and convenient, since most charging occurs at home, at night. Filling up your “tank” while sleeping is a great perk, but taking advantage of off-peak electricity rates can also lower your fuel cost to less than $1 per gallon. Daytime charging, when needed, can take place while your car is parked and you are busy doing other things, such as working or shopping.

The time it takes to charge you car is dependent on a few factors – the type of PEV you own, how far you travel each day, and how fast you need your car to charge up. For someone who commutes about 40 miles per day, it would be possible to totally recharge overnight using a basic 120-volt household outlet. With a 240-volt charging station, the time to recharge could be halved. You will need to decide which charger will best fit your driving needs. See our charging section for more information.

Is charging my electric car safe?

It is safe to charge your electric car – even in inclement weather when you may be exposed to water. Plug-in electric vehicles are equipped with numerous safety features to prevent electrical mishaps. Charging equipment is required to be safety tested and certified.

Two of the main safety features on a plug-in electric vehicle are the charging cable and ground fault interrupt system. The charging cable is designed so that it must be connected to your vehicle in order for the current to be turned on. The ground fault interrupt system is very precise and sensitive so that if it detects the slightest current leakage, the charger will shut off automatically – preventing accidental shock.

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