FAQ

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about electric cars, hybrids, batteries, range and more.

Where can I get maintenance done on my vehicle?

It is suggested that maintenance regarding the internal system be performed by a trained technician at the dealership. If the repair is performed outside of the dealership and something goes wrong, it may void your warranty.

Basic maintenance such as hosing down corrosive materials (i.e. road salt) from underneath the body of the car with plain water can be done at home. In addition, adjusting tire pressure, replacing windshield washer fluid or replacing the windshield wiper blades are all maintenance that can be done every 7,500 to 15,000 miles at home.

What maintenance is required for an electric car?

Driving an electric car requires a lot less maintenance than a gas-powered vehicle. There is still some long-term maintenance required, but the frequency and costs are lower with an EV.

About two dozen repairs and periodic maintenance normally required in gas-powered vehicles are no longer required with an EV. This means no tune-ups, oil changes, emissions tests, engine air filters, drive belts, transmission checks, spark plugs, mufflers and more.

As an EV owner, you will be required to maintain your tires, battery care, brake service, updates from the manufacturer and general maintenance (wiper blades, washer fluid, etc.).

What should I ask when shopping for an electric car?

Asking questions about the warranty is always important. Some important questions to ask include:

  • What constitutes battery degradation? Will they replace the battery if it goes below certain capacity (usually below 70%) during the 8-10-year battery warranty period?
  • Which tax credits and incentives are available to me?
  • Are there any promotions on charging networks?  (Automakers work with dealers to provide discounted rates or even free charging for a certain period.)

Are some dealerships better at selling EVs than others?

Certainly. You may find some locations are more enthusiastic and knowledgeable than others when it comes to electric cars. If sales associates aren’t familiar with EVs, they may suggest a gasoline-powered vehicle instead of trying to sell something they don’t feel comfortable with.

Because EV buyers often know what they want before entering the store, it’s not uncommon for them to be more educated about EVs than the sales associate.

Do I need to sign up with specific charging networks?

While charging at home is ideal, there are moments you will need to have access to public charging.

Being a member of a specific charging network will help process payment faster. It may also give you a chance to join on a pay-as-you-go basis or a discounted subscription plan. It is a good idea to be part of a network so that, if you are unable to locate a free Level 2 public charger, you at least have other options available.

How much does public charging cost?

Costs can vary based on several factors such as location, time of day or membership to a charging network. The property owner may also add costs into the rate.

For instance, let's assume that you are at a mall and the cost for charging is 38 cents per kWh. Around the corner, a similar system may charge 18 cents a kWh. Another may simply be free.

How does public charging work?

Public charging stations are becoming increasingly common and are simple to operate. There are a number of apps and websites available that are designed to help you find charging stations — PlugShare, ChargeHub and Open Charge Map, to name just a few. Some will let you know if the station is currently being used.

Public charging typically uses Level 2 or Level 3. Level 2 is the most prevalent type of public charging. The charging stations are typically in public parking lots, parking garages, near universities or rest stops on highways. Level 1 is also available but will generally be in areas that require longer parking times such as hotels, government offices, airports, etc. These longer-term charging points also generally tend to be free.

Using a public charging station is easy. To start, push the button on the connector to lift the holster. Then, plug the charger into the outlet on the EV. You may have an indicator on the dashboard that shows the car is charging. You can also see on most apps how much your car has charged. When you’re done, simply scan the station with your card or mobile device, unplug and place the holster back in the charger.

How do I find public charging stations?

With the growth of EVs, charging stations have become more common. They are increasingly available at hotels, universities, malls, highway rest stops, libraries, retail and public parking lots, and more. Check out our Charging Network Map to find charging stations near you and across the United States. You can also use a helpful app from PlugShare, ChargeHub or Open Charge Map, to name a few. In addition, private developers, utilities, state regulators, and business owners continue to expand their offerings of public chargers.

Do I need to inform my utility company that I’ve bought an EV?

If you want to install an at-home charging station, it is advised you reach out to your local utility company to ask if you require a permit for an EV charger or if an inspection is necessary. The utility may provide additional rebates or offer you a special rate.

Another reason to tell your utility company about your purchase is because many utilities are working hard to ensure there is ample power to meet the needs of the growing EV market. Notifying them helps the utility plan for future power supply so they can better manage their grid operations and provide better service.

What is the impact of charging on my electric bill?

The cost to charge your electric car (EV) will depend on your location and local utility rates. For instance, a person living in Nebraska can expect to pay a lot less to charge their EV compared to a person in Hawaii, where electricity rates are expensive.

EVs generally cost less to fuel than a comparable gasoline-powered car, as electricity rates tend to be more stable than gasoline prices. For instance, the average residential electricity rate in the U.S. as of February 2020 is 12.85 cents per kWh. This hasn’t changed much from five years ago when it was 12.29 cents per kWh. The average person driving 15,000 miles per year can expect to pay close to $600 per year. However, price can vary depending on your location, time of charge and the vehicle.

Who can install my home charger?

Any local certified electrician can install the charger. Expect to pay $300 to $2,000 depending on the complexity involved. Utilities and charging station manufacturers can recommend installers to use. Some utilities may require local building codes and permits, including inspections. Make sure to ask your local utility if any additional information is required.

What is home charging?

Simply, home charging is when you charge at home. Charging your electric car at home is economical and convenient. You can use a Level 1 charger (slow but economical) or a Level 2 charger (fast and more costly).

What other incentives and tax credits can I get?

There are various other incentives and tax credits available from different sources. These sources can include:

  • States — States can provide tax credits and rebates for residents. Some states have rebates based on income level. Other non-monetary benefits such as high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access or special parking perks may be available in your state. The Alternative Fuels Data Center has a helpful webpage where you can search the incentives and rebates in your state.
  • Municipal — Local towns and counties can provide benefits and rebates.
  • Utilities — Most utilities offer residential electric rates that cost only a few cents per hour, with some even offering special EV rates, such as off-peak rates or time-of-use rates, to lower fuel costs even further. They can also provide grants and discounts on installing charging stations or discounts on the purchase of an electric car.
  • Nonprofits/Employers — May provide incentives or discounts to their members or employees.
  • Automakers — May provide additional discounts or rebates on EVs.

What is the Federal Tax Credit? How does it work?

The federal tax credit for a new EV is between $1,875 and $7,500. The credit begins to phase out for a brand once 200,000 qualifying vehicles have been sold by that manufacturer.

If you buy an EV, you can choose to reduce your income tax owed by the credit amount your vehicle qualifies for. This is only a tax credit based on the income tax you owe. Let us assume you buy a Nissan Leaf, which is eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, and you only have $3,000 in taxable income for the year. You will only receive a credit for $3,000. In other words, you won’t be able to reduce your taxable earnings below $0 for the year.

To search by vehicle, you can go to the U.S. Department of Energy website or the IRS website, where there is a list of qualified EVs and PHEVs. Please note that a plug-in hybrid will not be able to qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit as the tax credit amount is based on the size of the battery.

How do I charge my electric car?

An electric car is charged by plugging into an at-home charging station or a public charging station. There are three levels of charging:

  • Level 1 is the simplest and most inexpensive way to charge your car. It also takes the longest. On a Level 1 charge, most cars charge at the rate of 3-7 miles of range per hour. For instance, a 2020 Nissan Leaf with a 149-mile range may take over 20 hours to fully charge.
  • Level 2 is a faster way to charge your car, which is why many owners decide to install a Level 2 charging station in their home. A Level 2 charger can enable the owner to recharge at the rate of 20-30 miles per hour. For instance, with the 2020 Nissan Leaf, a recharge from an empty battery to a full charge can take just six hours.
  • Level 3 chargers, also known as DC Fast Chargers (DCFC), can recharge an EV from zero to 80% capacity in 30 minutes or less. For instance, the 2020 Nissan Leaf can use a DC fast charger and charges in about 30 minutes.

Why should I drive an EV?

For starters, electric vehicles (EVs) are simple. They have few moving parts and they don’t require replacement parts and refillables such as oil, spark plugs, filters and much more. With a reduced need for frequent upkeep, EVs often have lower maintenance costs.

EVs also enjoy the benefit of cheaper fueling costs. Most electric utilities offer residential electric rates that cost only a few cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), with some even offering special EV rates such as off-peak rates or time-of-use rates to lower fuel costs even further. The historical price of electricity is also much more stable than other fuel sources.

EVs are also more efficient than gas vehicles. While gas vehicles are only able to convert about 12-30% of the energy stored in gasoline into driving power, EVs are able to convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power the wheels — that’s more than double the energy conversion of gas vehicles.

What is a full electric car?

A battery electric vehicle (BEV), or full electric car, is a type of electric vehicle that runs purely on electricity. It stores its energy in rechargeable batteries and uses at least one electric motor to propel itself.

What is a plug-in hybrid?

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a type of electric vehicle that uses a rechargeable battery to power an electric motor as well as another fuel, such as gasoline or diesel, to power an internal combustion engine or similar propulsion system. PHEVs typically run on electricity until the battery is depleted. When this happens, it will automatically switch over to the internal combustion engine for power.

What is a hybrid?

Also called a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), a hybrid car uses both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor powered by an electric generator. An HEV can switch between the internal combustion engine or the power stored in its battery pack to drive the vehicle. Generally, when traveling at high speeds, an HEV uses the engine for power. When driving locally at slower speeds, it uses the stored power in the battery. The basic principle behind HEVs is to be efficient.

What is an EV?

As the name suggests, an electric vehicle or EV runs completely on electricity. There’s no petrol or diesel powering the engine – in fact, there’s no engine at all. That’s because EVs run on an electric motor that you can charge at home, or at an electric car charging point.

EVs have far lower carbon emissions than traditional petrol and diesel engines, which means they’re better for the environment. And they can even be zero emission if they’re powered by 100% green electricity.

What is a plug-in hybrid vehicle?

A plug-in hybrid vehicle, or PHEV, works by combining a traditional petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. This means that PHEVs can be plugged in and charged from mains power, just like EVs – but they’ll need petrol or diesel to run for long distances.

PHEVs have lower carbon emissions than traditional combustion engines, but they’re not as green as EVs.

How much does it cost to maintain my EV?

You can charge your EV while you sleep for about $3.00 per 100km, depending on the model. A fast charge can cost up to $10 for 100km, and takes about 20 minutes. For an average daily drive you won't be using all your battery power, so it could cost $1.00 to recharge the next night. That's $15 a fortnight – or less.

What are my charger options?

There are three main types of EV charging – rapid, fast, and slow. These represent the power outputs, and therefore charging speeds, available to charge an EV. Note that power is measured in kilowatts (kW).

Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an EV, and predominantly cover DC charging. This can be split into two categories – ultra-rapid and rapid. Ultra-rapid points can charge at 100+ kW – often 150 kW – and up to 350 kW, and are DC only. Conventional rapid points make up the majority of the UK’s rapid charging infrastructure and charge at 50 kW DC, with 43 kW AC rapid charging often also available.

Fast chargers include those which provide power from 7 kW to 22 kW, which typically fully charge an EV in 3-4 hours. The most common public charge point found in the UK is a 7 kW untethered Type 2 inlet, though tethered connectors are available too for both Type 1 and Type 2 connectors.

Slow units cover chargers rated between 3 kW to 6 kW and are best used for overnight charging, usually taking between 8-12 hours for a pure-EV, or 2-4 hours for a PHEV. Typically referred to as 3 kW points, slow chargers can be rated at up to 6 kW on Zap-Map, with 5.5 kW commonplace for lamppost-based charge points, whilst three-pin plugs often charge at 2.3 kW. EVs charge on slow devices using a cable which connects the vehicle to a three-pin or Type 2 socket.

What is the Federal Tax Credit?

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the income tax you owe. Tax credits reduce the amount of income tax you owe to the federal and state governments. ... In most cases, credits cover expenses you pay during the year and have requirements you must satisfy before you can claim them.

Where can I get maintenance done on my vehicle?

It is suggested that maintenance regarding the internal system be performed by a trained technician at the dealership. If the repair is performed outside of the dealership and something goes wrong, it may void your warranty.

Basic maintenance such as hosing down corrosive materials (i.e. road salt) from underneath the body of the car with plain water can be done at home. In addition, adjusting tire pressure, replacing windshield washer fluid or replacing the windshield wiper blades are all maintenance that can be done every 7,500 to 15,000 miles at home.

What maintenance is required for an electric car?

Driving an electric car requires a lot less maintenance than a gas-powered vehicle. There is still some long-term maintenance required, but the frequency and costs are lower with an EV.

About two dozen repairs and periodic maintenance normally required in gas-powered vehicles are no longer required with an EV. This means no tune-ups, oil changes, emissions tests, engine air filters, drive belts, transmission checks, spark plugs, mufflers and more.

As an EV owner, you will be required to maintain your tires, battery care, brake service, updates from the manufacturer and general maintenance (wiper blades, washer fluid, etc.).

What should I ask when shopping for an electric car?

Asking questions about the warranty is always important. Some important questions to ask include:

  • What constitutes battery degradation? Will they replace the battery if it goes below certain capacity (usually below 70%) during the 8-10-year battery warranty period?
  • Which tax credits and incentives are available to me?
  • Are there any promotions on charging networks?  (Automakers work with dealers to provide discounted rates or even free charging for a certain period.)
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