Plug-in cars are like other cars in many ways. They meet the same safety standards. They have plenty of room for passengers and cargo. They’re practical for everyday use, with options for fast-charging and long-distance driving.
But that’s where the similarities end.
Driving a plug-in car is exciting. Electric motors accelerate quickly – but very quietly. Some electric cars can reach speeds over 100 mph – creating a new, exhilarating driving experience. They’re highly efficient – and very smart. Sophisticated screen displays give drivers more information – and control. Electric vehicle have a regenerative braking system that captures and restores energy to the battery when the car comes to a stop. With fewer moving parts, plug-in cars require little maintenance.
Owners of plug-in cars soon get used to driving past the gas station – while feeling good about saving money and the environment.
There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles: the Battery Electric vehicle and the Plug-In Hybrid electric vehicle, which generates energy from both a battery and an internal combustion engine. Battery Electric vehicles are powered by electricity stored in battery packs with a typical range of 70 – 100 miles although some can travel up to 300 miles per charge. Plug-In Hybrid vehicles have smaller battery packs allowing for 10-40 miles of range on electric only power before the ‘range extending’ internal combustion fires up to keep you going as far as the gas tank can take you.
Check out Battery Electric and Plug-In Hybrin models in the virtual showroom at PlugInCars.
Low speed battery electric cars are also available. The Low speed EVs are referred to as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV). The NEV industry has slowly been developing over the last decade with over ten existing manufacturers. The South Bay Cities Council of Governments is piloting the use of NEVs and other Local Use Vehicles (LUVs) in the LUV program. Follow this link to read more about the LUV program.
One of the most important decisions a plug-in electric vehicle owner will make is how to charge their vehicle. Most plug-in electric vehicles will charge at home although some will choose to charge primarily at work where workplace charging stations are available. Make sure you plan where and how you will charge your electric vehicle before you buy one. There are two standard charging “levels” most commonly referred to as level one (slow charging), and level two (faster charging).
Level One . Charging at Level One is done on a standard 120-volt outlet that typically won’t require customers to make modifications to their electric panel or home wiring. The electrical draw is the rough equivalent of a 1500-watt personal hair dryer. Most plug-in hybrids will take four to six hours to fully charge at Level One. A battery electric vehicle will take 12 to 24 hours for a full charge. The ideal configuration for Level One is a dedicated circuit that can be used for the electric vehicle charge connection.
Level Two . Charging at Level Two is done on a 240-volt rated charging unit and will likely require customers to make changes to their electrical panel and add a new circuit (if one is not available) in their home similar to that used for an air conditioner or electric dryer. Most battery electric vehicles take three to six hours to fully charge at Level Two. When upgrading your electrical infrastructure to support a level two charger you will likely need to get an electrical permit and may need to contact your electric utility provider for support. Southern California Edison has a number of online resources for prospective Electric Vehicle buyers to help plan how to charge your new vehicle.
Depending on which charging level you select, you may need to upgrade your home electrical system. A third type of charging equipment called DC fast charging is slowly becoming available along highway corridors to help EV motorists to drive longer distances. DC fast charging uses high voltage industrial strength charging equipment to charge an EV battery up to 80% of a full charge as little as 30 minutes. Electric Vehicle drivers will want to locate publically available charging stations when taking longer distance trips, and it is a good idea to plan where you will charge before you get there so you don’t get stuck with a low battery. There are many web based or smartphone based apps to help you find publically available charging stations. Two of the applications most commonly recommended for this are offered at ReCarGo.com and PlugShare.com