Our Guide to Electric Vehicles
Last Saturday, we hosted an Electric Vehicle (EV) Test Drive Experience event at the KREMC facility. The purpose of the event was to allow our members to test drive an EV, learn about how they work, and ask questions without the pressure of a sale.
If you had the opportunity to drive an EV at our event, we hope the experience was valuable and educational for you! If not, or if you’re still curious about EVs, this guide will help you develop a better understanding of how they fit into our electrical grid and why it’s important to learn about them. We’ll also break down some of the misconceptions about EVs and counter them with facts and statistics.
The Difference Between Driving an EV and a Gas-Powered Car
Many people are not aware that the experience of driving an electric vehicle is different from driving a gas-powered car with an automatic transmission. Electric cars work a little differently and it may take time to adjust to driving one. Similar to a gas car with automatic transmission, there are two pedals,
the throttle, and the brake. However, while an automatic transmission works its way up and down the gears according to the car’s speed and the load being placed on the engine, EVs only have one gear.
This means the torque that gas-fueled cars must gradually build up is available immediately in an electric vehicle. As a result, the acceleration from a standing start can be very rapid as the power is directly applied to the wheels.
You’ll find this momentum levels off as you reach higher speeds, so the acceleration between 40 mph and 60 mph won’t be as dramatic, but it will still be comparable to a gas-powered car.
EVs also use something called regenerative braking. When you take your foot off the gas, the car automatically starts to apply the brakes. Doing so helps to charge the car’s battery.
With a little forward planning and awareness of road conditions ahead, you might end up physically braking less, as regenerative braking uses torque to slow the car. While this feels a bit different than standard braking, it is something you’ll get used to the more you get behind the wheel of an electric car. You will most likely adjust to the differences of driving an EV after just a few miles.
Common EV Questions
Q: Can our electric grid handle the demand of electric vehicles?
A: Yes. Many people ask this question because of issues they have heard taking place in California. Electric vehicles are not solely to blame. The overall demand created by a larger population and more frequent heat waves has contributed to California’s strained grid.
Most experts agree that our electric grid can indeed support EVs. The adoption of electric vehicles will occur gradually. Charging EVs during off-peak hours helps manage the electricity demand. Many resources focus on advancing energy technologies and improving grid resiliency. If you purchase an EV, please let KREMC know so we can ensure your charging experience will be as efficient as possible.
Q: Are EVs worse for the environment than gas cars?
A: No. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with an EV over its lifetime are typically lower than those from an average gas-powered vehicle, even when accounting for manufacturing.
Q: Do all electric cars use the same charger?
A: No. There are three distinct charging levels (listed below), as well as four competing plug standards, most of which are incompatible with each other. Adapters can be purchased to enable two otherwise incompatible connectors to charge a vehicle.
Q: What type of outlet is needed at home to charge an EV?
A: It depends on the type of charging station you plan on installing in your home. There are three types of charging stations:
· Level 1 stations are a 120-volt single-phase AC of up to 16 amps. However, they are limited to 12 amps delivering a charge rate of up to 1.9-kilowatts (kW) or approximately 5 miles of range per hour of charging. Level 1 units can be used with standard household wall outlets since they are 120 volts and typically available in your home.
· Level 2 stations require a 240-volt unit and allow for a wider range of charging speeds. Their 80-amp power rating delivers a charge rate of up to 19.2 kW or up to 60 miles of range per hour charging time. This type of charging station is suitable for most EVs. It requires exclusive charging equipment and a dedicated electrical circuit of 20 to 100 amps.
· DC level 3 stations use a 480-volt unit and deliver a charge of up to 80% in only 30 minutes or up to 249 miles per hour of charging. This type of charging station is not compatible with all EVs.
Q: How much will it cost to install a home EV charging station?
A: Again, it depends on the type of charging station. On average, a level 1 charger costs $300-$600 for the charger itself and $1,000-$1,700 in installation costs. A level 2 charger costs slightly more at a price of $500-$700 for the charger and $1,200-$2,000 for installation. DC level 3 chargers are much more expensive, with a cost of $20,000-$50,000 for parts and upwards of $50,000 for installation.
There could be additional costs if your home requires any major electrical updates.
Q: How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?
A: It depends on the type of charging station you use, your EV’s battery capacity, and how much you drive. It’s important to note that the speed at which an EV battery charges is always limited by the maximum amount of power it can handle. If an EV has a charger that can handle 350 kW, it will charge much faster at a DC charging station than a vehicle that can only handle 50 kW.
Q: Is it true that EVs don’t last as long as gas cars?
A: No. To ensure the safety and endurance of EVs, federal rules now require automakers to cover major components, like the battery and electric motor, for eight years or 100,000 miles. Some EV automakers even offer a lifetime guarantee to help assure prospective buyers that EV lifespans are as long as gas cars.
Q: Do EVs require special maintenance?
A: In general, no. Battery checks are typically the only unique type of maintenance required. Since EVs don’t have traditional transmissions or engines, there’s less to maintain, break down, and repair. Reduced repair and maintenance costs are one reason people purchase EVs.
EVs by the Numbers
If you're interested in learning more about electric vehicles, check out our sources and further reading: