Those who buy a car relying partly or entirely on electric power usually do so to save money at the gas pump while reducing their environmental footprint. The best electric vehicle (EV) for you will depend on your needs. Below, we’ve broken down some of the different technologies to help you find what would be best suitable.
Conventional hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, have been popular for many years now. These vehicles offer exceptional gas mileage — roughly 50 miles per gallon — in addition to an impressive range of travel on a single tank of gas. While hybrid vehicles do have batteries that are charged automatically by the engine, these cars rely on the gas engine most of the time, meaning they are not truly “electric vehicles.” Hybrid technology works great in city driving conditions, utilizing electric power when idle or at low speeds, and switching to the gas engine in its ideal efficiency range at higher speeds.
A plug-in hybrid vehicle is similar to a hybrid, except it is capable of having the battery charged by a charging station, allowing the car to be driven a certain range without using any fuel. One popular example of a plug-in hybrid is the Chevy Volt, which has an electric range of about 50 miles before the battery is depleted and the gas engine has to fire up. For many Americans, a 50-mile range is ample for their commute to work and back.
There are also some plug-in hybrids that are programmed to start the gas engine automatically every couple of months to ensure the internal workings stay properly lubricated. The plug-in hybrid is a great option for those who typically drive short distances, but also need the assurance of long-range capabilities that come with gasoline engines.
While fully electric battery-powered vehicles run using high-tech software, they are actually some of the least complex automobiles on the market. The mechanical simplicity of a car that is powered solely by a large battery means less — and usually more affordable — maintenance. And, because these vehicles are fully battery powered, they are truly zero emission.
While fully electric cars tend to have a much more impressive range than plug-in hybrids (many newer models have a range of 200 miles or more), there are some drawbacks. In order to achieve such an impressive range, these cars require a much larger battery. Batteries take up a lot of space and are very heavy, so fully electric vehicles typically sacrifice cargo room and handling in order to allow drivers to travel such great distances.
When it comes to plug-in vehicles, it is important to consider the time required to recharge the battery, which can average eight hours. Most people can charge the car overnight, but if you won’t always have the opportunity to do so, it may be better to consider a hybrid or plug-in hybrid instead of a fully electric vehicle.
Like any other category of automobile, the price of EVs varies widely, but generally the upfront cost is higher than a comparably equipped gas vehicle. As battery technology improves, prices are trending downward, while range capacity is getting higher.
One major expense to consider when buying a plug-in electric car is the up-front cost of installing a charging station at your home. EVs come with a standard 120V charging cord, but typically, these will only charge your car at a rate of 3-5 miles per hour. As a result, most people elect to install a level 2 charger (240-volts) at their home, which costs around $1,000.
Get charged with PEC
The biggest challenge with owning an electric vehicle is the limited range. While major improvements have been made in recent years, charging stations are rarer to find relative to gas stations. To encourage drivers of electric cars to feel comfortable visiting our service territory, PEC has installed charging stations at our Johnson City Headquarters and Marble Falls District Office. With the growing range of EVs and available charging stations, exploring the Hill Country is more accessible.
Most electric vehicle charging occurs at home, and PEC is able to offer our members support through our Time-of-Use Rate. This rate option offers members economy prices for energy used at night, which is when most drivers of electric vehicles charge their cars.