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

Electric and Hybrid Car Basics

What is an electric car?

An electric car – sometimes referred to as an EV (electric vehicle) or BEV (battery electric vehicle) – stores energy in rechargeable batteries, and uses those batteries to power one or more electric motors. The battery is charged using an external charger through a charging port, and also via a process called regenerative braking. Because EVs run on electricity, no gasoline is required, and they produce no tailpipe emissions. They also have fewer moving parts than gasoline vehicles, making them less complicated and, over time, less expensive to maintain.

What is a hybrid car?

A hybrid car is a car that combines electric power with a gasoline engine to offer drivers improved fuel efficiency and performance. In the context of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy, hybrids use fewer fossil fuels and reduce emissions compared to a similarly powerful gas vehicle.A hybrid car supplements the gasoline engine’s output with a battery and electric motor. Thanks to simplicity and efficiency of the electric motor, a hybrid can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 35% – a significant improvement.

What is a plug-in hybrid?

Like a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is a gasoline- and electric-powered vehicle that uses a rechargeable battery to power an electric motor. The difference is that a plug-in hybrid has a larger battery, and the ability to charge that battery with an external power source – conventional hybrids rely on regenerative braking. The larger battery in a plug-in hybrid allows you to drive a significant distance on electric power alone. Indeed, they often have enough range to complete all of your daily commuting without having to use any gas if you plug in overnight. But, when you do want to take a longer trip, you still have the flexibility, range, and convenient refueling of a gasoline vehicle.

What is the difference between EV and hybrid cars?

The biggest difference between an EV (electric vehicle) and a hybrid car is that a hybrid still has a gasoline engine. If the battery runs down in a hybrid car, you can still drive it, and even recharge it, using gasoline power. On the other hand, unlike electric cars, hybrids still generate greenhouse gas emissions at their tailpipe; EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions.

What are 3 advantages of a hybrid car?

By combining an electric motor with a gas engine, hybrid cars offer improved fuel economy and performance compared to a gasoline vehicle. They also deliver reduced greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to the electric motor taking on some of the burden of moving the car around at low speeds.But the most important advantage of a hybrid car is that it fits easily into any lifestyle. You don’t need to change any of your driving habits; you just enjoy the improved economy and the satisfaction of doing your part for the environment.

What is the average cost of buying an electric car?

On average, the purchase price of an electric vehicle is still higher than a gasoline vehicle – in 2023, the average purchase price of an EV could be up to $10,000 more than a comparable gas model – a difference that is shrinking over time. However, while electric cars generally have higher suggested retail prices, they offer a lower cost of ownership, thanks to how much money you can save on fuel and maintenance. There are also many financial incentives available to buyers of electric vehicles. Federal, regional, and even local incentives can lower the total cost. The best-known incentive is from the federal government, with a tax credit of up to $7,500 available for certain models, if you meet certain conditions. Many states also offer EV incentives that can further reduce your cost.You can research available incentives using the GreenCars Incentive Tool.

How long do electric cars last?

Because their powertrains are less complex than gasoline cars, there is less to go wrong with the major components in an electric car. Properly inspected and maintained, we’d expect an electric car to last just as long, if not longer, than any gasoline car – and most manufacturers offer eight- or even 10-year warranties on battery components. Over many years, the battery in an electric car can degrade slightly, losing some of its capacity over time. It is normal to experience a five percent loss of range per 100,000 miles of travel. You can reduce degradation by: limiting the time you use DC Fast Chargers; keeping your vehicle at a moderate temperature; and accelerating more gently.

Electric Car Incentives & Financing

How do I claim the $7,500 EV tax credit?

The federal government offers a $7,500 tax credit on the purchase of an EV if it meets certain criteria for local production and the origin of its battery components. You also need to meet requirements for household income. If your vehicle qualifies and you are below the household income threshold, an authorized dealer can claim the incentive for you and apply the incentive as a discount on the vehicle.

Do hybrid cars get federal tax credit?

Conventional hybrid cars are not eligible for the federal tax credit, but they may be eligible for other benefits in some regions, such as access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. However, some plug-in hybrid vehicles qualify for the tax credit. The list includes the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, Chrysler Pacifica PHEV, Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring PHEV, and Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring PHEV.

Who is eligible for the EV tax credit?

Not all EV buyers qualify for the federal tax credit, even if the vehicle being purchased qualifies. Individuals must make an annual income $150,000 or less, while the income cap is $300,000 for couples who file taxes jointly – or $225,000 for those who file as the head of their household.

Electric and Hybrid Car Charging

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

While gasoline vehicles all “fill up” at about the same speed, different kinds of chargers will charge your EV at different speeds. Level 1 chargers plug into a 110-volt household outlet and really should only be used for plug-in hybrids. They will only add about 3 to 5 miles per hour of charging, making them inconvenient for electric cars.Most EV owners will charge using a Level 2 charger at home or work. Running on a 220-volt outlet, a Level 2 charger can deliver between 12 and 80 miles of charge per hour – meaning you can generally get a full charge overnight.Level 3 chargers, or DC fast chargers, are used to get a rapid charge when you’re taking a trip. They can deliver a charge rate of 3 to 20 miles per minute or more, and can fill most EVs in less than an hour.

How often do you have to charge a hybrid car?

You don’t actually need to charge a hybrid car. Thanks to the magic of regenerative braking, they can charge themselves. As soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator – and when you push down on the brake pedal – regenerative braking uses the electric motor to capture energy that would normally be dissipated as heat. In this situation, the electric motor actually works as a generator, and sends energy back to the battery – so it can be used to power the vehicle later. Plug-in hybrids, which have larger batteries than conventional hybrids, come with a charging cable. Depending on the model, some plug-in hybrids can drive somewhere between 25 and 60 miles on electric power alone, enough for many daily commutes. It’s recommended that you recharge a plug-in hybrid overnight so that you can do as much of your driving as possible in electric mode.

How does home electric car charging work?

To maximize the cost and convenience benefits of an electric car, you should charge it at home most of the time. Plugging in your EV overnight is convenient and also will help extend the life of your battery. All you need to do is plug the car in – just like you would a smartphone or laptop. Even better, the cheapest place and time to charge is at home while you’re sleeping, because many electrical utilities offer discounted rates during late-night hours.In order to charge at home, you’ll need to obtain a Level 2 charger – which is included in the purchase price of many but not all EVs – and have access to a 220-volt outlet where you park. If you don’t have such an outlet available, you will need the assistance of a professional electrician.

Who can install a home electric car charger?

If you do not already have a 220-volt outlet in your garage or by your driveway, you will need the help of a professional electrician. They will check your home’s electrical infrastructure and install any upgrades required to charge your EV reliably. You can get an estimate for home charger installation costs right here on the GreenCars website.

What is the impact of charging on my electric bill?

If you’ve been driving a gasoline car for a number of years, you know how much it costs you every week or month to put gas in your car. When you switch to an EV, the first thing you’ll notice is that you’re not buying gas anymore.But if you’re charging your EV at home, you will notice that your monthly electric bill will increase. How much it increases varies with the cost of electricity in your area. On average, charging your electric car will cost you less than half as much as fueling a gasoline-powered vehicle. Want to figure out how much your bill will go up? Divide the number of miles you drive per month by the EV’s miles per kilowatt-hour (mpkWh) rating; then multiply that by the cost per kilowatt-hour. For example, if you drive 1,000 miles a month, and your Tesla Model 3 gets 3.3 mpkWh, you will use 303 kWh of electricity. If your electricity cost per kWh is $0.25, you will spend approximately $76 on charging.

How do I find public charging stations for my EV?

There are now over 56,000 charging stations with over 160,000 individual charging outlets across the United States – and that number is growing every day. Finding public charging stations is easy. The best way is to use your vehicle’s built-in navigation system, which will help you locate chargers compatible with your car – and can usually provide information on the speed of the charger and whether it’s currently occupied.You can also use the charging station tool right here on GreenCars, to look up chargers anywhere in the country. Our tool lets you filter by charging speed to help you find the fastest charge possible. The PlugShare and ChargeHub apps are also useful resources for EV drivers on the go.

How much does public charging cost?

The cost of public charging for your EV can vary widely depending on the charging network you are accessing, the type of charger you are connecting to, and how long you are charging for. The least expensive type of public charging will be on a slower Level 2 charger; a super-fast Level 3 charger will be the most expensive. Depending on the charging network and the region, you might pay for electricity by the kilowatt-hour (kWh) or for the time your car spends connected to the charger. You’ll pay significantly more per minute or per kWh on a super-fast Level 3 charger – but will spend less time plugged in.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 EV chargers?

Level 1 and Level 2 EV chargers both operate on alternating current (AC) like you have in your home. Level 1 chargers plug into a 110-volt plug, like you’d plug your laptop into; therefore, they can only deliver about 3 to 5 miles per hour of charging – making them inconvenient for electric cars. Use Level 1 chargers only for plug-in hybrids.A Level 2 EV charger connects to a 220-volt outlet, like you’d plug your clothes dryer into. Depending on the electrical infrastructure, and the specific charger model, a Level 2 chargercan deliver between 12 and 80 miles of charge per hour – making it a great fit for charging your EV at home.

Electric and Hybrid Car Maintenance

How often does an electric car need to be serviced?

While gasoline cars have dozens of mechanical components that require service or repair, electric cars are much simpler. You won’t need to do tune-ups, oil changes, or change spark plugs, drive belts, or service transmissions. But, electric cars are still cars. They will still need service because they contain many hard-working components that make them stop, go, and turn. Tires, brakes, and suspensions are subject to wear and tear and should be regularly inspected according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, usually once a year.

Does cold weather affect electric cars?

Cold weather reduces the range of every car – including electric cars. But electric cars are affected more – ironically, because they are so efficient. Unlike gas cars, which use residual heat from the engine to warm the cabin, EVs use electrical energy to heat up the car and its occupants, which draws power and reduces range. You can reduce the impact cold weather has on your EV’s range by ensuring its tires are properly inflated for maximum efficiency; using the “eco” setting on its heating system; pre-heat the car while it’s plugged in before setting off on a trip; and using the seat heaters to warm your body to reduce the load on the electric heater.

How often should a hybrid car be serviced?

Owning and maintaining a hybrid will be no more stressful than a gasoline car. Indeed, the best thing about a hybrid car is how easily it will fit into your lifestyle and existing driving habits. If you’re coming from owning a gasoline vehicle, the maintenance intervals and costs for a hybrid should be roughly the same. That’s because your hybrid car’s gasoline engine will still need regular oil changes, service for its heating and air conditioning system, cabin air filter replacements, and more. Thanks to regenerative braking, a hybrid car’s brakes should last longer than on a gasoline car. However, due to the increased weight of the battery and motor, hybrid cars may need tire changes more frequently.

Can you take an EV to a regular mechanic?

The complex electrical systems in electric cars need special attention and diagnostic equipment – which means you’ll probably need to go to a dealer for service. EV batteries and their associated high-voltage systems require special training and equipment for proper handling. Car manufacturers require mechanics to be properly trained to service electric cars, and also issue dealerships special tools to work on them.Most electric cars also come many advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These sensors, cameras, and radar systems, provide additional safety and security – but require lengthy and complex calibration processes when they go wrong, which generally requires a dealer’s special tools and equipment.

Do hybrid cars require more maintenance?

A hybrid car should require no more frequent maintenance than a gasoline car. In fact, if you’re used to driving a gas car, the maintenance intervals and even servicing costs will be roughly the same. The only small difference might be that – due to the weight of the battery and associated hardware – hybrid cars may need tire changes more frequently.

How long do electric car batteries last?

The battery pack in an electric vehicle is made to last the lifetime of the vehicle. However, they do slowly lose the amount of energy they can store over time. This phenomenon is called “battery degradation.” You can limit battery degradation by only using Level 3 charging infrequently, and reducing exposure to extreme temperatures.Battery replacements are vanishingly rare, with only about 1.5 percent of EVs needing actual replacements, and because of the long eight- or 10-year battery warranties, these replacements are generally covered by the manufacturer. Many manufacturers are now training technicians to repair faulty cells in battery packs instead of completely replacing them.

How much does it cost to replace a battery in an electric car?

According to data from industry researchers Recurrent Auto, battery replacements are incredibly rare, with only about 1.5 percent of EVs needing actual replacements – and almost all of those replacements being done under warranty. (Battery warranties are generally eight to 10 years.)The actual cost of a complete replacement battery can be very high – in the tens of thousands of dollars – but most manufacturers are now training special service technicians to repair batteries by replacing faulty cells, instead of the entire battery pack.

Do hybrid cars need oil changes?

Because it still has a gasoline engine, a hybrid will still need regular oil and fluid changes, and at longer intervals, you’ll also need to think about spark plugs, transmission fluid, and other regular mechanical maintenance items. Your hybrid also will require regular inspections and maintenance of components like the climate control system, tires, brakes, and suspension.

What EV components require regular maintenance?

One of the best things about an EV is that you won't have to pay for tune-ups, oil changes , spark plugs, drive belts, or transmission servicing. But EVs are still cars. Because they are heavier than conventional gasoline vehicles, their suspension components will work harder, and will need more frequent inspections and maintenance. You should also expect to regularly have the climate control system and cabin air filters inspected and serviced. You will also be replacing tires on an electric vehicle more frequently. Make sure to find replacement tires that will support the weight and performance of your vehicle without impacting its range.

Is it expensive to maintain an electric car?

Electric cars are fundamentally less complex than gasoline cars, which means they should require less service and maintenance over time. With an electric car, you don’t need to pay for oil changes, tune-ups, spark plugs, and the service of other mechanical components. In normal use, regular maintenance on an electric cars should cost roughly a third as much as on a gasoline car. On the other hand, some items on EVs may require more frequent attention: expect to replace tires more frequently, and to service suspension components more often. The weight and performance of electric cars works these components harder, increasing their wear and tear.