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Electric Vehicle Buying Electric Vehicle Incentives

Electric Car Federal Tax Credit Explained

 

You may be wondering what is an electric car federal tax credit. The US government provides people incentives to switch from gas to electric cars and will give you up to a $7,500 tax credit to make the change. This article will cover why there is an electric car tax credit, who qualifies for it, and how it works.

 

Why a Tax Credit for Electric Cars

With all the talk of climate change and countries needing to curb their emissions, switching from gas to an electric car can help. Transportation contributes  29% of total emissions, with cars being a leading contributor. According to the US Department of Energy, the average gas car produces 11,435 pounds of carbon emissions each year. In contrast, the average electric car produces only  3,774 pounds of emissions per year. By providing an electric car federal tax credit, the government is curbing carbon emissions, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and helping fight climate change.

 

Who Qualifies for the Tax Credit

To qualify for the electric tax credit, you need to meet the following criteria.

  • Purchased a car or truck that weighs less than 14,000 pounds and draws energy from a battery of at least four kilowatt-hours.
  • You must have purchased a new electric car on or after 2010 and be the original owner.
  • Only the first 200,000 electric vehicles sold by manufacturers will qualify for a rebate.

Electric car federal tax credits can range from $7,500 to $2,500. The closer a manufacturer gets to selling 200,000 electric cars, the smaller the tax credit becomes. You can get the latest availability on electric car federal tax credits by visiting the Department of Energy website or visiting Electric Driver. Beyond tax credits, you should also look into electric car rebates and tax credits from your state and utilities.

 

What Cars Qualify for the Tax Credit

To find what vehicles are, get an electric car federal tax credit; the Energy Department has a list of eligible vehicles. Also, keep in mind that carmakers that have sold over 200,000 electric cars do not qualify for the tax credit. For example, if you buy a Tesla, you do not get any federal tax credits. Instead, look to newer electric car makers or traditional carmakers starting to make electric cars like Ford. Electric Driver lists which vehicles are eligible for the electric car federal tax credit.

 

How Do I Claim My Tax Credit

To claim your electric car federal tax credit, you will need to fill out IRS form 8936 when you file your taxes. Typically you would file for the electric car tax credit when the same year you bought your electric car. However, in some cases, you may be able to amend your tax return and file it later. You have up to three years to file for the electric car federal tax credit. You can learn more about the electric car federal tax credit eligibility on the IRS website. 

 

Other Electric Car Incentives 

Beyond federal tax credits, there are other incentives available for electric vehicles. For example, back in 2018, when I bought my electric car, my local electric utility provided electric car incentives. Specifically, the electric utility provider at the time offered a $500 electric car credit and another $500 rebate for buying an electric car charger. Keep in mind that offers change, so you need to research what rebates and incentives are available in your area. You can learn more about state and local rebates by visiting the Department of Energy website and your local electricity provider.

Electric vehicles can also save you time, money and reduce harmful carbon emissions. To learn more about how you can benefit from owning an electric car, visit Electric Driver or read our guide.

 

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Electric Vehicle Research Electric Vehicle Selection

Using Needs-Based Search to Find the Right Electric Car

Over 61% of car shoppers do not have a specific car in mind when buying a new vehicle. Instead, shoppers are looking to find a vehicle that will best meet their needs within their price range. Car sites provide search methods that cater to the shopper that knows what vehicle they want. Electric Driver created a needs-based search to help shoppers find the right electric car for shoppers that do not have a specific vehicle in mind.

 

What is Needs-Based-Search

Whenever you buy a product or service, you are looking to address a need. For example, when my wife and I had our son, we outgrew our Camry; we needed a safer vehicle with decent mileage that could seat seven people. We ended up buying a new 2011 Highlander, which we kept till we bought our electric car. Whenever you shop for an electric vehicle, you probably have s set of needs you are looking to address. Needs-based search is designed to help you find electric cars that most closely meet your needs within your price range. We have defined needs into the following:

  • Price Range:  Your price range will help Electric Driver filter out vehicles to only show you vehicles that meet all your criteria. If Electric Driver cannot address all your criteria, we will show electric cars that most closely meet your needs.
  • Seating: The following criteria: Electric Driver will ask you how many people you need to seat at the minimum.
  • Battery Range: The minimum distance you will want to travel on a single charge is another crucial factor. Typically you should think of many miles you need to cover your daily driving. Also, if you live in an extremely hot or code environment, I recommend you factor in an extra 20% range. 
  • Location: Electric Driver will ask for your location to show you how many electric car chargers are available near where you live. It would be best to be confident you have a charger where you travel if you need to charge.
  • What Matters Most to You: What is important to you is what you will you to evaluate each electric car you see. We have nine criteria you can use to find vehicles best meet your needs. Some of the criteria we came up with to define needs-based search are listed below.

 

Electric Driver needs-based search matches you with the top three vehicles that fit your needs.

 

Needs-Based Search Criteria

    • Safety: If you are looking for a safe vehicle, selecting safety will help identify secure options. Electric Driver will show you the safest cars that meet your criteria. What Electric Driver uses to filter out the safest vehicles is how well each car fared in crash tests and safety features that help reduce the severity of an accident.
    • Performance: If you are looking for a fast electric car, you will select performance. The performance we filter vehicles based on their top speed, acceleration, horsepower, and the drive type (Think two-wheel or all-wheel drive).
    • Cost to Drive: For those of you who want a vehicle with a low operating cost, you would select cost to drive: What cost to drive will show you cars that will have lower electricity bills, maintenance, and insurance costs. The idea is to lower your monthly cost of owning an electric vehicle.
    • Autopilot capable: Choosing autopilot will show you cars that have the self-driving option. Electric Driver will show you how the autopilot systems will differ and how much the autopilot systems will cost.
    • Infotainment: For those interested in navigation, streaming capabilities, and entertainment within your vehicle, infotainment capture these needs.
    • Cargo Capacity: Selecting cargo capacity will show you the cars with the largest storage space within your budget and other criteria.
    • Reliability:  Selecting reliability, Electric Driver will show you electric cars with the best warranty and the least reported issues.Complaints and recall information to help you form your opinion on the most reliable electric car.
    • Charging Time: If you want to spend the least amount of time waiting while charging, Electric Driver can show you electric cars that quickly recharge based on your budget and criteria.

 

Ranking Your Needs 

Speaking of what matters to you, not all needs are equal. Electric Driver allows you to choose what need is most important to least order. All you need do is decide what is most important to you first, the next most important need, and so on. Once you are ready to proceed, Electric Driver does the heavy lifting. Electric Driver searches through all available vehicles models to show you what electric cars best fit your needs. Visit Electric Driver to find the right electric car using a needs-based search or check out our guide.

 

 

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Electric Vehicle Research EV Environmental

Electric Car Emissions Versus Gas Vehicles

I have owned an electric car since 2018 and believe they produce fewer emissions than gas cars. What I wanted to know was much less emissions do electric cars create versus gas vehicles. Before I go any further, I want to point out where electric car emissions occur. The electricity used to fuel electric cars makes a certain amount of emissions. 

Where your electricity comes from determines how much emissions are created. So I set out to answer how much fewer emissions an electric car makes versus a gas vehicle. 

Gas Car Average Emissions

First, I tackled the question of how much emissions does a typical gasoline vehicle produces. The Environmental Protection Agency has a nifty tool they made which gives you the emissions of a gas car. If a person travels around 13,500 miles using a gasoline car, you create about 5 tons of carbon emissions per year. The more complicated part of the answer is to calculate how much emissions does an electric vehicle create.

 

Where Does Your Electricity ComeFrom?

A vast majority of people get their electricity from their local utility. Since most people’s electricity comes from their utility, we need to understand where your electricity comes from. Depending on which state you live in you your power will come from one or more of the following sources:

  • Coal
  • Petroleum
  • Hyrdo
  • natural gas
  • nuclear
  • renewables

Your electricity will come from a combination of the power sources to create your electricity. For example, If you live in Missouri, coal is a primary source of electricity. However, California’s electricity primarily is generated s from natural gas and renewables. As a result, you will see a higher level of emissions per kilowatt in Missouri versus California. 

 

Electric Car Emissions

Once you know where your state’s electricity comes from you, need to consider the efficiency of an electric car. Assuming you travel 13,500 miles per year, each electric vehicle will have so many miles per kilowatt. The question is, how many kilowatts does it take for a specific electric car model to travel 13,500? Finding and calculating the emissions data is quite a chore. Initially, I spent about a week building a model in an excel spreadsheet to figure out the emissions by electric car by state.

 

Electric Car VS. Gas Emission Feature

After figuring out the electric car emissions versus gas vehicle answer, I believed showing based on their location and the electric car they drive, how much carbon emission they take out of the air is powerful.

Electric Driver based on your state shows you how much of your electricity comes from hydro, renewables, nuclear, coal, natural gas, and petroleum. Electric cars, regardless of what state you live in, create fewer emissions than using gas. 

If you want to learn about Electric cars, please visit our website, Electric Driver. Electric Driver is designed from the ground up to help you demystify, find and buy the electric vehicle for you. You can learn more about how we have aligned our experience to meet your needs better here, or visit our website and see for yourself. Also, if we do not have a feature or answer a specific question, please drop us a note. We love feedback and working towards creating a better electric car research experience.

 

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Electric Vehicle Research

A Better Way to Research the Right Electric Car

 

What electric car best fits our family’s needs was the question my wife and I faced back in 2018. Our aging Toyota Highlander needed several thousand dollars in repairs. Instead of sinking more money into an old vehicle, we decided to buy a new car. Owning an electric car appealed to both my wife and we knew very little about them. So I began to do my homework on electric vehicles and see if they made any sense.

Researching electric cars ended up taking more work than I expected. My search took me to numerous car websites, message boards, and discussions with electric car owners. The big, well-established car sites provided cursory information while enthusiast electric car editorial sites spoke to the converted. Getting information a first-time electric car buyer would find useful was difficult to find. In the end, we bought an electric car and have been very happy with our purchase. But, looking back, I thought to myself there had to be a better way to research the right electric vehicle.

 

Research Starts with your needs.

When you look to buy a product or service, you search for a solution to your problem. In our case, when we wanted to buy an electric car, we needed a vehicle that could seat seven, travel at least 200 miles on a charge,  be safe, reliable, and we wanted to cut our monthly gas bill. Our list of needs served as a checklist to evaluate which electric cars were contenders. Whenever you shop for a high-priced item like a car that will stay with you for years, spend the time determining what is important to you. Your needs are what will guide you to a better purchase decision. 

Electric Driver's survey feedback of biggest concerns car shoppers have when buying an electric car.
Electric Driver compiled the top concerns car shoppers have when considering a vehicle.

 

When We Shop We Compare 

when considering a purchase, you make decisions, evaluate between multiple imperfect options, and find the solution that best meets your needs. Whether it’s deciding which college to attend, what movie to watch, or what car to buy, our nature is to compare and evaluate trade-offs between available options. In our example, our search at the time had us selecting between two choices, a Tesla Model X or Tesla Model Y. When using our list of needs to evaluate each vehicle, the seating was the tiebreaker for us. The Tesla Model X won out in the end because the seven-seat option was roomier and had more interior space.

You need to know what is important to you going into the shopping process in order to make better decisions.  Make sure you do your homework and leave no stone unturned when looking for suitable options to evaluate. The worst feeling is purchasing a high-priced vehicle only to find out your search overlooked a better option. 

 

Car Search is Broken

Now that we have covered the importance of needs and suitable vehicle options, we need to discuss the car sites you look to aid you in this effort. Unfortunately, the big-name car sites many of us turn to have several shortcomings that end up doing a poor job of meeting our needs as consumers. The first shortcoming begins with how these car sites help you search. Like we discussed, whenever you turn to buy a product, you are looking to fulfill a need. In my case, our family needed a safe, reliable, seven-seat electric car with a 200-mile range.

 Today, Car sites prompt you to search for a car by body site or vehicle model. You are forced to look through pages of content searching for electric cars that best fit your needs.  The search by body style or model works well if you know what car you are looking for but is of little help if you have not settled on a specific vehicle.

 If you have not settled on a vehicle, searching through countless pages of information is time-consuming, and unless you look at every vehicle, you may miss out on a vehicle candidate that meets your needs.

Electric Driver collected feedback validating 61% of people considering a car are looking at more than one option.
Electric Driver validated that most shoppers do not know what specific electric car to buy.

 

Display Ads lead to Poor Experiences.

Part of the reason car sites make you look through countless pages is financial. Most publishers make money by displaying advertisements on their websites. Therefore, the More pages car sites show you, the more money they make. As a result, they have an incentive to show you as many pages as possible when you visit their website.  Any feature that will reduce the number of pages you will consume makes these car websites less money. Therefore many of these car websites place a gauntlet of pages in front of their visitors. 

The last but vital reason car sites do a poor job of covering electric cars again is financial. Gas-powered cars make up 98% of the automotive market. As a result, car sites focus most of their resources and mindshare to make money off the gas-powered auto market. As a result, electric cars are not a major priority for most car websites at this time.

 

A Better Way to Research Electric Cars

Having experienced difficulties researching, finding the right electric car, we decided there had to be a better way. Electric Driver is my opportunity to create a better way to research and find the right electric car for you. We believe electric cars are the present and the future. Therefore Electric Driver’s only focus is electric cars. Focusing exclusively on electric cars allows us to create an experience completely dedicated to addressing the unique needs and questions that arise from electric car shopping.

Helping Shoppers Transition to EV owners

Electric cars can save you time, money and reduce your emissions, leading to a healthier environment. Our goal is to help show you the benefits of owning an electric car. We feel once you experience these benefits electric cars provide, you will have a hard time going back to a gas-powered car. Before we go on, I won’t ask for your help. When visiting Electric Driver, if you do not see an answer to an important question you have, please let us know. We want to create a better experience and need your help creating this better way to research electric cars.

 

Start With Needs-Based Search

As we mentioned earlier, any shopping journey begins with knowing what needs are important to you. For example, when my family was shopping for an electric car, we needed a safe, reliable seven-seater that could go 200 miles on a single charge. So when you turn to Electric Driver, our job should be to find out what is important to you and only show you electric cars that most closely meet your needs. Our solution is what we call a needs-based search. We ask you to tell us how many people you need to transport, how far you need to drive on a single charge, and what criteria are important.

Electric Driver then goes to work matches you with the vehicles the most closely match your needs. The specific needs we use on Electric Driver result from countless interviews and feedback from people like you. 

Electric Driver's needs-based-search matches you with top three vehicles that closely meet your needs.
Electric Driver needs-based search matches you with the top three vehicles that fit your needs.

 

Helping You Compare and Evaluate

Once you enter your information into Electric Driver’s needs-based search, we go to work. First, our website goes through all available electric cars to find which ones best meet your needs. Then Electric Driver presents you with the top three electric cars that most closely meet your needs within your budget. Next, based on your needs Electric Driver shows you evaluate all three vehicles and shows you the trade-offs between all three options. Furthermore Electric Driver also identifies which vehicle is the closest match. If for some reason, you do not like a specific vehicle, you can replace it with another electric car of your choosing. Once you have identified a potential candidate, you are ready to learn more about that specific vehicle.

Electric Driver's comparison page
Electric Driver’s comparison page helps you evaluate between vehicles to determine which one best fits your needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic Overview plus the Pros and Cons

Once you have identified a vehicle you want to learn more about, we have more detailed information. Our approach is to help give you a picture of what it would be like to switch from your gas-powered car to an electric vehicle. For example, a question many people have is how much money I would save if I drove an electric car. Electric Driver can estimate how much you could save by switching to an electric car. In the background, we use gas and electricity prices in your state to give you a local estimate.

The image below is the overview section for a 2021 Tesla Model 3 to illustrate what you can expect. We also share with you some benefits and drawbacks of owning an electric car.

Electric Driver 2021 Tesla Model 3 Overview
Electric Driver’s overview shows you how much you can expect to save in electricity costs versus gas plus other essential information.

 

Estimated Cost To Own an Electric Car

Another question you may have is how much does it cost to own an electric car. Specifically, how much can I expect to pay for maintenance, electricity, and insurance? Electric Driver provides estimated costs for maintenance, insurance, and electricity based on each specific electric car. In addition, electric Drive estimates cost based on what state you live in and what electric car you are considering. We also provide an estimate of what a gas vehicle would cost to own to help you visualize what you can expect to save by switching to an electric car.

Electric Driver Cost to Driver displaying insurance, electricity and maintenance estimates
Electric Driver Cost to Drive provides you with electricity, insurance, and maintenance cost estimates based on your location.

 

Electric Car Environmental Impact

Understanding what kind of environmental impact switching from a gas to an electric car is not clearly understood by many people. You know electric cars are better for the environment but probably don’t have a deeper understanding. Electric Driver set out to find out more about the environmental impact. Electric Driver developed a feature to give you insights into the environmental benefits of owning an electric car. We created an electric car model-specific feature that shows how much carbon emissions you will save.

Electric cars are a good choice for the environment, but they do not eliminate emissions. Specifically, when you buy electricity from your electric utility, you may be creating some emissions in the process. Each state has various means they generate electricity including, coal plants, petroleum, hydroelectric, nuclear, or renewables. For example, electricity from coal creates more emissions than electricity from renewable resources. Electric Driver gives you insight into where your electricity is coming from and how much emissions you create.

Rest assured, the emissions from electricity is in most cases, will be much less than what a gas-powered car creates. Ideally, the better option is to buy your own solar panels and further reduce your environmental emissions. Below is a rendering of our environmental impact feature, which should be available in August 2021.

 

Electric Driver provides environmental impact by model
The image shown is a rendering of our environmental feature that should be released in August 2021. The feature will show you how much emissions are saved and where your electricity comes from within your state.

Understanding your Electric Car

Once you have a leading contender, the next step is to learn more about the specific electric car. Specifically, you want to see how the electric vehicle could fit into your life.  Now looking beyond you core needs is acceptable because you are trying to figure out how this vehicle can fit into your life. Understanding the warranty, reliability, and other features will help you visualize what owning this electic vehicle would look like.

 

Electric Driver vehicle specs of a Tesla Model 3
Displayed are safety, reliability, warranty, and charging information for a Tesla Model 3.

 

EV Charging In Your Area 

An Important yet overlooked question people may not consider is an electric vehicle charging in their area. Your electric vehicle will do most of its charging at home overnight, but there may be times you need to charge away from home. Therefore, you will need to have electric vehicle charging infrastructure in your area.

Electric car charging for Tesla Model 3 in Orange, CA shown.
Electric Driver also shows you a map of available chargers in your area.

 

No Display Ads on Electric Driver

We want to create a better way to research the right electric car, and display ads will get in the way. By skipping display advertisements, Electric Driver can remove unwanted distractions. By having Electric Drive be display advertisment free you are free of influence  allowing you to be clear-headed when selecting the electric car that is right for you. 

 

An Electric Car Centric Experience

Electric Driver wants to make finding the right electric car easy for you. So Electric Driver created a unique electric car research experience designed to help you identify and select the right electric car with ease and no distractions. If you encounter a question on your electric vehicle journey that we don’t answer yet, let us know. We aim to get more people to save time, money and reduce their emissions by owning an electric car. 

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Electric Vehicle Ownership

Electric Car Range in Extreme Heat

 

How far electric cars can travel in extreme heat is a question many people ask. To answer this question, you have to consider several factors. I will go through what factors can impact the distance you can travel on a single charge. I recently took a 495 mile trip from the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Orange, California, in our 2018 Tesla Model X in one of the hottest days on record

 

Electric Car Models Impact Range

Your electric car will determine how far you can travel. The model you choose will also determine how many miles per kilowatt you will be able to travel. To get good mileage, you want to select a light vehicle with the biggest battery possible. For example, we were driving an older, heavy Tesla Model X with a 75-kilowatt battery and a 237-mile range on our road trip. Assuming we had normal driving conditions and were not driving fast, our Tesla Model X would be able to travel 3.1 miles per kilowatt of electricity.

 

Extreme Heat Reduce Range

Electric Car range is reduced by extreme heat. Extreme cold or hot temperatures put additional demands on your electric battery resulting in reduced range. For example, the road trip I recently took had us traveling through the Movaje desert in heat over 120 degrees. Due to the extreme heat, we had to blast our air conditioning, resulting in consuming electricity faster than average. According to AAA, extreme temperatures can reduce battery range up to 41%, but this depends on your driving conditions and which electric car you own.

 

Speeds and Driving Uphill Reduce Range

With a gas-powered car, how fast you drive affects how many miles you get per gallon. Electric cars are no different and burn through their electricity faster with high speeds. Since electric vehicles run on electricity, the miles per gallon equivalent is how miles per kilowatt.

With our 2018 Tesla Model X under normal driving conditions, we would get 3.1 miles per kilowatt. Our road trip conditions were far from typical, however. We had our air conditioning blasting to keep the 120-degree heat at bay. My wife was driving 70 to 85 miles per hour, and we had hilly roads. Consequently, due to the driving conditions and heat, the Kingman to Baker portion of my road trip, which was 143 miles ate up 207 miles of my battery. The extreme conditions resulted in an extra 64 miles of electricity to be expended to travel 143 miles. One last point before I move on. My example was not representative of a typical range loss but rather how driving conditions can reduce range.

 

Braking and Downhill Driving Increase Range

At one point in our Kingman to Baker leg of our road trip, the estimated we would arrive at our destination with nine miles to spare. Range anxiety crept in as we did not want to get caught in the Mojave desert with spotty cell phone coverage and 120-degree heat. As a result, we reduced our sped the rest of the way to around 55 miles, and lucky for us, we ran into a few downhill stretches of road.

The result of driving downhill is it allows electric cars the opportunity to create electricity. We ended up benefiting from the downhill driving and got to Baker with 34 miles of charge left in the battery. The lesson here is unlike gas cars which see worse fuel economy with frequent braking, and electric cars’ fuel efficiency improves with braking. Regenerative braking is a technology that takes the friction from braking and converts a portion of that energy into electricity. The result is braking allows you to create some electricity while driving, slightly increasing your range.

 

Getting Home and Road Trip Lessons

Our 495-mile trip took us 10 hours and four stops to charge our batteries along the way. Our electric vehicle handled the heat like a champ. Several cars were on the side of the road overheating, but our electric vehicle had no issues outside of increased electricity use. In case you are wondering, charging an electric car looks like let me provide some detail. First, your electric vehicle will provide you with directions to a charging station.

Our Tesla trip planner charging a course through the Mojave desert in extreme heat.
Here is a picture of our trip planner guiding us to the next charging station.

These charging stations tend to be near the freeway offramps and next to food, restrooms, and shopping. Depending on how many miles you need to replenish, charging can take 20 to 60 minutes. In our case, each stop at the charging station took about 30 to 45 minutes per stop. However, we did not feel the wait because, during each stop, we either had a meal to eat, picked up some snacks, or took a restroom break.

In case you were wondering what it cost to charge our car, we paid nothing. We pay nothing for charging because back in 2018, Tesla offered free lifetime charging. Unfortunately, Tesla phased out lifetime charging in 2020, and it is no longer available. So now you can expect to pay $.40 per kilowatt of electricity when charging away from home.

 We reduced our emissions on our trip, which feels good, saved money, and had a pleasant, trouble-free road trip.

I hope to have shed some light on how extreme heat reduces electric car range. If you are interested in learning more about electric car ranges and how much it costs to drive, visit Electric Driver or visit our guide on selecting the right electric car for you.

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Electric Vehicle Charging Electric Vehicle Ownership

How to Take a Road Trip With an Electric Car

 

How to take a road trip with an electric car is something many owners of gas-powered cars ask me. Road trips with an electric car require some planning but, once mastered, can be quite rewarding.

Planning For a Road Trip

Whenever you take a road trip with your electric car, planning needs to occur. I will use our recent trip from Orange, California, to the Grand Canyon in Arizona as an example. My wife promised our son that we would take him to the Grand Canyon. Along the way, we wanted to visit one of our family friends in Mesa, Arizona. While at Mesa, we needed to stay overnight and also charge our electric car. A wise option is to find a hotel that has a destination charger. A destination charger replenishes your battery at a rate of 16 to 40 miles per hour. Most electric cars can replenish their battery overnight, allowing you to resume your trip in the morning. We found a Hampton Inn in Gilbert, Arizona, with three Tesla chargers and two standard chargers.

Use Your Electric Car’s Trip Planner

Once we found our hotel with a destination charger, we needed to figure out how to get to Mesa, Arizona. Our 2018 Tesla Model X gets 237 miles on s single charge, and from Orang to Mesa is 375 miles. So we needed to find what route to  Mesa would allow us to recharge our battery along the way.

We used our Tesla’s Trip planner, which is built into the car’s navigation software, to figure out our route. The trip planner will route a course calculating which charging stations it will need to stop and for how long along the way. In our case, the trip planner told us we would have to stop at Cabazon, Ehrenberg, and Buckeye to charge our electric car. Furthermore, the trip planner estimated we would have to charge for 30 minutes in Cabazon, 50 minutes in Ehrenberg, and 25 minutes in Buckeye to reach Mesa.

Road trips with an electric car starts with using your trip planner
We used our trip planner to figure out what route to take from Orange, California, to Mesa, Arizona. The planner figured out what charging stations to stop and for how long to get us to Mesa.

Fully Charge your Electric Car Battery

You want to start your trip right, so having a fully charged battery is essential. A quick distinction to make on charging your battery is to set it to 100%. For daily driving, electric car owners put their battery to charge at 80% to prolong the life of the car’s battery. However, with a long trip, you want to fully charge your battery so you can get every mile possible.

 

Watch your Driving Speed

Watching your driving speed and use of the air conditioning will affect how much electricity you use. Think about your miles per gallon efficiency while driving your car. If you are driving fast and blasting your air conditioning, you will go through your fuel much quicker than driving closer to the speed limit. The same principles apply to an electric car. Managing your speeds and making sure you don’t overuse your air conditioning can help you get the most miles out of your battery.

In our case, we drove at a quick pace traveling at speeds of 70 to 85 miles per hour. The result of the high speeds was burning through our electricity faster than average. 

Charging on the Road

On extended trips where you will be traveling beyond the range of your electric vehicle, you will need to recharge on the road. For example, on our recent road trip, we left the city of orange around 9 am and, an hour into the trip, stopped at Cabazon to recharge. The Cabazon chargers are next to a series of outlet stores, so we did some window shopping while recharging our batteries. Our battery was down to 40%, and using Tesla’s network of superchargers, within 30 minutes, we recharged our battery back to 80% and were back on the road. If you are curious as to how much it costs to charge an electric car on the road it typically costs twice as much as charging at home but it is still cheaper than gas.

Recharging our Tesla Model X at Buckhead, Arizona
At Buckhead, we recharged our electric car using a Tesla SuperCharger. Having food and restrooms nearby helped make the best use of our pitstop.

Extreme Temperatures Reduce Range

When we left Cabazon, the temperate was about 100 degrees and climbing. About an hour and a half later, we had to stop again to recharge in Ehrenberg, Arizona. Of the eight available Tesla Superchargers, we were the only car there. There was a gas station and a Wendy’s next to us, so we took the opportunity to take a bio break and get some lunch. By the time we got our food and used the restrooms, we were back in the car. We at our lunch and were back on the road with very little time to wait.

 

 

 

 

The temperature at Ehrenberg was 115 degrees and rising. The reason the temperature is of significance is that extreme temperatures will reduce your vehicle’s range. We had to blast the air conditioning to keep the heat at bay. Within 40 minutes, we had recharged and again on the road. For the rest of the trip to Mesa, we had to run our AC to keep cool. Due to the heavy AC use, we had used up 10-20% of our range to stay comfortable, but it was worth it. We also want to point out that driving in the snow also has similar range reductions as the heat.

Arriving at Mesa, Arizona

After one more stop to charge at Buckhead, we were back on the road and headed to our friend’s house in Mesa. Temperates now had reached 120 degrees. Along the way, some cars overheated along the road, but our electric car handled the heat like a champ. We arrived a little later than expected in Mesa due to traffic. 

Reconnecting with Friends

 We got to connect with our friends which we had not seen since COVID. Our kids swam, played, and we had a nice dinner watching the sunset over the city of Phoenix. Since the temperatures were around 120 degrees when we parked our car, we used a feature in our Tesla called the cabin to overheat protection. Since electric cars are essentially computers on wheels, we had to make sure the heat would not damage the electric components in the car. The overheat protection feature kept the car’s cabin cool enough to ensure no component damage due to heat.

Charging Overnight Using the Destination Charger

At the end of the evening, we bid our friends goodbye and drove to our hotel. We had about 30 miles of electricity left in our battery, and the hotel was a 10-minute drive from our friend’s house. So we drove to the Hampstead Inn in Gilbert and plugged into a destination charger where we could recharge overnight.

Destination Charger in a Hampton Inn Hotel in Gilbert Arizona.
While staying at a hotel overnight, we used the hotel’s destination charger to recharge our electric car.

Parting Words for Taking a Road Trip with an Electric Car

While I shared the example of our Mesa trip using our Tesla, the steps I took to apply to any electric car. Planning is vital as the availability of electric charging stations is not as prevalent as gas stations. Watching your speed, completely charging your battery, and using your trip planner are vital in getting to your destination. Taking a road trip with an electric car requires some planning, but in the end, it will save you money and reduce your emissions. Road trips in an electric vehicle can be an environmentally responsible and affordable way to see the country. To learn more about electric cars, visit Electric Driver or visit our EV selection guide.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Electric Vehicle Research

Understanding Electric Car Charging

 

 

 

 

Understanding electric car charging is an important step in evaluating how electric vehicles can fit into your lifestyle. For example, gas cars require frequent trips to the gas station while electric vehicles are different. Electric cars do most of their charging overnight at home. Outside of long trips, or if you forgot to charge overnight, most electric car owners have no downtime waiting to recharge. Let us start by explaining the basics of electric car charging. After that, we will cover the basics of charging at home and on the road.

Electric Car External Chargers Explained

The first step is understanding what electric car charging is. An electric car charger can mean two different things, one being called an onboard charger and the other an external charger. For this article, we will focus on the external charger. An external charger can also be called electric vehicle supply equipment. The external charger takes AC electricity and converts it to DC power, stored in your car battery. Each external electric car charger can provide so many kilowatts per hour of electricity her hour. 

 

Level 1 Electric Car Charging

 The least-costly method to charge your electric car utilizing a standard electrical outlet, otherwise known as level 1 charging. The onboard electric charger built into your vehicle is used to plug into an electric socket. However, while level 1 charging is readily available, it charges at a rate of about 2 miles an hour of electricity. Therefore, if you have an electric car battery with a 200-mile range, it could take 100 hours to charge your car. Because of the long recharging time, level 1 charging is not recommended and used as a last resort, assuming no better options are available.

Level 2 Electric Car Charging

The most common external charger is a level 2. Level 2 chargers can be found throughout the country at hotels, malls, and even used in the home. Furthermore, level 2 chargers are a big step up from level 1 charging in that they can charge up to ten times faster. For example, a level 1 wall socket charges at a rate of 2 miles per hour. Meanwhile, a level two charger can charge around 25 to 35 miles per hour. If you plan to add a level 2 external charger to your home, you will need a dedicated 240v line. 

Destination Charger in a Hampton Inn Hotel in Gilbert Arizona.
While staying at a hotel overnight, we used the hotel’s destination charger to recharge our electric car.

 

 

DC Fast Chargers Explained

DC fast charging, otherwise known as direct current fast charging, is the quickest way to charge your electric car. These external chargers run between 400v to 1000v of electricity. Subsequently, these chargers can charge most electric cars to 80% battery capacity in about 20-40 minutes. DC chargers are commercially available all across the country but are too expensive for home use with a price tag of around $50,000. Many companies provide their DC fast-charging network for public use for a fee. On average, expect to pay about twice what you pay at home for a kilowatt of power. Companies like Electrify America and Tesla’s private Supercharger are all DC fast charging providers.

Electricity America electric vehicle charging station
A DC Fast charging station with a Volkswagen ID.4 charging.

 

DC Fast Charging On the Road

While on the road, using DC fast chargers when on the road is a positive experience. Think of DC fast-charging stations like a gas station for electric cars.  Most DC fast-charge stations are strategically placed within shopping malls or next to restaurants. So while you recharge your electric car, you can grab a bite to eat, take a bathroom break, or do some shopping. I recently took a road trip through the Mojave desert and Mesa where I stopped at DC fast charge stations,

Home Electric Car Charging Basics

The average driver commutes around 29 miles per day. Most EV batteries have a driving range of over 200 miles, which means they can handle their daily commute without charging. Therefore, electric vehicles do most of their charging home overnight. Convenient home charging requires a level 2 external charger, which can recharge the typical electric vehicle in around 8 hours. 

How Much Will it Cost to Setup a Home Charger

Level 2 external chargers can range from $250 to $2,500. You can purchase a good EV charger for around $600. As for installation, you will need to hire an electrician. According to HomeAdvisor, the national installation cost for installing your EV charging station is about  $456 to $1,080. 

How Do I know where and when to Charge

Trip planning is relatively easy with electric cars. Within your vehicle’s infotainment system is trip planning software. For example, if you wanted to take a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, your electric car would plan your route with stops at EV charging stations along the way. With most vehicles able to go 200 plus miles on a single full battery, when you stop to charge, it lines up pretty well with when you have to stop for food or a bio break. 

Plug Type Determines What DC Fast Chargers You Can Use

One thing to keep in mind is not all chargers will work with every EV. Each car manufacturer supports a specific method for EV charging. For example, Tesla has its proprietary plug, while the rest of the car manufacturers either subscribe to the CCS standard or the CHadeMO. As a result, Tesla’s plug can only work with Tesla’s DC fast chargers. However, with a cable attachment, Teslas can work ChadeMo charging stations as well. 

The good news is your electric vehicle can guide you to any supported charger through the navigation and trip planning software within your infotainment system.

Parting Words

I hope you have a better understanding of electric car charging after reading this article. Researching your electric vehicle can be a daunting task, but help is available. Electric Driver is built to help demystify and guide you to the right electric vehicle. Visit Electric Driver or our guide to learn more on how to select the right EV.

Categories
Electric Vehicle Research

Selecting the Right Electric Car

Start with Needs

Selecting the right electric car can be a daunting task. The trick is to find the right car that most closely meets your needs. In this article, we will cover what to look for and show you how to find the right electric car.

When our Toyota Highlander incurred several thousand dollars in repairs, our family considered buying a new car instead of sinking more money into the aging SUV. Owning a Highlander for several years, we understood what we would want in our next car. Our list of needs would serve as the means to evaluate and select our next car. 

 

Our List of Electric Car Needs

  • Safety: We wanted a safe car that could protect our son in the event of an accident. Safety was a must for us.
  • Low Cost to Drive: We spent $400 to $500 per month on gasoline (We live in California). We had a long commute and were looking to bring our monthly driving costs down.
  • Reliability: Between picking up our son from school, shuttling him to his activities, and driving to and from work, our family needed a car that would be worry-free.
  • Environment: Driving a car that emitted reduced carbon emissions was something we wanted to achieve.
  • Seating: We needed a car that could seat seven people. In addition to our nuclear family, we were often driving with members of our extended family and needed extra seating.
  • Range: We needed at least 200 miles on a single charge. Using 200 miles would support our daily driving needs and allow us to take a few longer road trips as well.
  • Money: Using how much we could afford provided a filter that allowed us to focus on a smaller car set.

 

Build Your List of Electric Car Needs

Like us, whenever you consider buying a new car, you have to figure out what is important to you. Your list of needs will be the lens that helps you decide which car best meets your needs. When we went through this process, it was difficult. We had to go to countless car websites to compare and contrast our wants with what was available in every car we looked at. 

Going through the process of selecting the right electric car for our family made me think there has to be an easier way to do this. While the trick is to start and figure out which automobiles meet your needs, the described method above is inefficient. It took us researching several models before we ended up selecting the right electric car that met our family’s needs. The good news is there is a better way to find the right electric car that meets your needs, called Electric Driver. 

The difficulties I experienced buying an electric car inspired me to create Electric Driver to provide an easier way to find the right electric car.

 

When is the Right Time to Buy an Electric Car?

 When to buy an electric carwas something my wife and I debated at the time. Back in 2018, the tax rebates (Tesla no longer qualifies for a tax rebate) along with our need for a family car are what drove us to make our purchase. Today there are new dynamics that make buying an electric car an easy decision. First is that in Europe and the United States, there is a movement to ban the sale of gas-powered cars eventually.

California is the largest electric car market in the United States. California has declared it will ban the sale of gas-powered cars starting 2035. At the time of writing this article, Washington, New York, and nine other states have urged the federal government to pass legislation to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035.

Manufacturers of gas-powered cars have also begun to make electric cars. General Motors was the first such carmaker to declare it will become an all-electric carmaker by 2035. Cleaner air is another reason to consider making the switch now to electric cars.

 

Develop Your Initial List of Car Candidates

Once you have your list of needs along with your three to four cars, you will need to see how these cars do against your list of needs. The best way to begin your validation is to research online and see which cars meet your needs; Electric Driver does this for you. Otherwise,

you will need to create a starting list of car candidates. Typically people make their initial list of three to four cars candidates based on past experiences (Say riding in a co-worker’s car), advertisements, or past conversations from friends. While the trick here is to create a starting point for yourself to validate if these candidate cars are suitable for your needs, there is a better approach.

Electric Driver needs-based search page
Using a needs-based search is the first step on the path to selecting the right electric vehicle.

 

Researching the Right Electric Car

Now that you have your list of needs and starting set of car contenders in hand, the next step is to begin researching. Searching online is the way to go, and for automobiles in general, there are many resources from car review sites, YouTube, to social media. However, when it comes to electric cars, information is harder to come by.

 

Car Sites Business Model Works against Shoppers Needs

Car websites, in general, make their money by displaying advertisements. As of 2021, electric cars only make up around two percent of automotive sales. Therefore, car websites do not dedicate the mindshare needed to cover electric cars adequately since most of the money is in gas-powered cars.

 

Another problem is automotive websites online get paid to show you as many display ads as possible and therefore have an incentive to show you as many pages as possible.

Electric Driver is different in that we do not display and get paid to sell ad impressions. Our model is one where we do not make any money until you decide to buy from our partners. Our goal is the make researching and selecting the right electric car easy and as transparent as possible.

 

Car Sites Search Does a Poor Job of Helping You Find the Right Electric Car

Another disconnect is around automotive search. Your goal as a shopper is to find cars that best match your needs. Like, show me the safest, most reliable six-seaters that go 200 miles for under $60,000. Currently, car websites use two search methods. Search by car body style (Sedan, Truck) or search by specific car model (Tesla. Model 3). The problem with search by body style or model is they force you to spend more sifting through numerous pages of information looking to find which cars match your needs. Furthermore, unless you look at every car and take copious notes, you could have a blind spot and miss out on selecting the right electric car that meets your needs.

 

Selecting the Right Electric Car

Selecting the right electric car starts with the proper method of search. Electric Driver has developed a new way to search for electric cars based on your list of needs. First, you tell Electric Driver what needs are important to you like I need a safe, dependable electric car with some zip that seats six for under $60,000. Electric Driver then searches all available electric cars against your needs and shows you the cars that best meet your needs.

 

We Think in Terms of Comparisons and Trade-Offs

Whenever we make decisions, we think in terms of comparisons and trade-offs. For example, if you are going to buy a house, you have your list of what is important to you, and you are evaluating a few homes against your list. One home may have a great location but not be in the best condition. The other house is move-in ready, but the neighborhood is not as good. As consumers, we look at trade-offs between our options and determine what decision best meets our unique needs. 

Car sites today don’t subscribe to how consumers think. Instead, they send consumers down individual car pages and force them to figure out what electric cars are suitable candidates and identify and weigh trade-offs on their own.

 

Electric Driver Compares and Evaluates

We at Electric Driver wanted to change things up and created a new way to research that aligns with how you as a shopper think. First, you provide your list of needs. Electric Driver searches all available electric cars that meet your needs and show you the top three cars that best meet your needs. Electric Driver also helps you compare each car against your needs helping you understand trade-offs so you can make more informed decisions. Also, if you want to swap out an electric car with another candidate, you can easily do so. Our comparison and trade-off tools help you minimize blind spots, objectively show you your options, and saves you time. We feel needs-based search and matching helps shoppers in selecting the right electric car.

Electric Driver comparison page helps you evaluate trade-offs and find the right car
Comparison page using needs-based matching shows you electric cars that meet your needs.

 

New Versus Used Electric Cars

Another factor to consider is if you should buy a new or used electric car. With a new electric car, you get peace of mind with a warranty and the latest technology, but you pay a premium. If you are willing to consider a used electric car that is either still under full warranty or still has a valid battery warranty, you could score some real value. An example is we bought a new base model Tesla Model X in 2018 for around $90,000. In 2020 we had two friends buy a top-of-the-line 2016Tesla Model X performance edition for about $55,000. Used car pricing is variable, but it can be a great deal. My advice is if you consider a used electric car, look for one that still has a battery warranty. The electric car battery is the most expensive item to replace. A used electric car with a battery warranty provides peace of mind.

 

Geography Matters for Electric Cars

Geography matters in several ways. First of all, if you live in a part of the country with extreme temperatures, say snow or heat upwards of 95 degrees, you could see a  reduction in driving range. Also, if you live in a rural area, you could have little to no charging infrastructure outside your home. 

 

Electric Car Rebates and Tax Credits

Another factor when it comes to selecting the right electric car is rebates and tax breaks. The federal government has tax breaks for manufacturers for the first 200,000 electric cars they sell. The federal electric car tax credit starts at $7500 and decreases the closer a car maker gets to sell 200,000 electric cars. In addition, some states and electric utilities provide electric car rebates. Check with your state or electric utility to see if they provide incentives or rebates.

 

Learning More About Your Prospective Electric Car

Once you have identified your leading candidate, the next step is how this car fits your lifestyle. If this is your first electric car, conducting the appropriate research becomes more challenging. Most first-time buyers don’t know what questions to ask. However, we have you covered here as we have compiled a list of questions to help you make a more informed decision.

 

Can I Afford to Own an Electric Car?

To figure out if you can afford an electric car, you need to determine what costs you will incur once you own it. Electric vehicles may not be as expensive as you think. For example, prior to buying our Tesla Model X, we paid $1,000 a month in car payments plus $400 to $500 per month in gas. Doing the math showed us we could afford the Model X, even though it was $50,000 more than our Highlander. Our car payments came out to about $1,200 a month, with an additional $125 a month in electricity. Buying a $90,000 Tesla was possible due to the savings in buying electricity and a longer-term loan.We went from spending $1,400 to $1,500 a month to $1,325 a month.

Common questions first-time electric car shoppers have is what it will cost to charge and maintain my new electric car? Electricity costs are around one-third less than gas, depending on your state and electric car model. Maintenance costs are, on average, half of what it costs to maintain a gas-powered car. Visit Electric Driver to learn more about the estimated costs of owning an electric car.

Electric Driver 2021 Ford Mustang March E page
Electric Driver vehicle page showing affordability of 2021 Mustang March E

 

Electric Car Specifications

Once you find an electric car, you can afford it and meets your needs. The next step is to do a deeper dive. Understanding some of the details will help you visualize how this electric car can fit into your life. Electric Driver provides crash test ratings and recall and complaint issues from the National Highway Traffic Safety. Administration to give you an unbiased view of the car you are considering.

 

Electric Car Home Charging

Electric cars skip the gas station and do most of their charging at home overnight. This saves you time and money. You also no longer have to do oil changers every six months. If you would like to charge at home, you will need to purchase a home charging station. Home charging stations and installation can cost you anywhere from $560 to $2,800 for hardware and installation. Check with your electric utility as they may provide rebates or incentives for installing an electric car home charger. Electric Driver provides suitable home charging options as well as installation estimates.

 

Electric Car Charging Availability

Most daily commutes take place within 50 miles of your home. Therefore, if you did not charge your car overnight, you would need to charge away from home. Electric Driver shows you compatible charging locations

within 50 miles away from home so you can determine if you live in an electric car-friendly area.

 

Electric Cars and the Environment

Driving an electric car reduces emissions. Reducing emissions, however, depends on what state you live in and whether your electricity comes from the utility or solar. For example, electricity generated from Missouri comes from coal. California creates a majority of its electricity from natural gas and renewables and produces fewer emissions. Electric Driver shows where your electricity comes from and the environmental impacts of switching to an electric car. 

 

Infotainment and Driver Assisted Technologies

Advanced driver-assistance systems, also known as autopilot, is a feature that helps drivers with the functions of driving a car. Some autopilots can read traffic signs, and some can help you change lanes. Not all autopilot systems do the same things, however.

Infotainment systems are the information and entertainment hub of your vehicle. Some infotainment systems can stream movies. Others infotainment systems provide over-the-air updates (think of your mobile phone receiving software updates). Electric Driver includes information to help you understand some of these capabilities and the benefits they provide.

 

Parting Words

For us buying an electric car was not only cost-effective, but it also lowered our emissions and saved us time. Once you experience owning an electric car, it is hard to go back to a gas-powered car.

Hopefully, this article provided some direction on selecting the right electric car. Visit Electric Driver to learn more about electric cars and get personalized information tailored to your needs. Please use our feedback form on the site or email info@electricdriver.co if we have not addressed your questions. Our goal is to make it easier for everyone to enjoy the benefits of electric car ownership.