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Electric Vehicle Guide

A list of current popular electric cars and what to think about when installing a charging station for your EV

Electric vehicles have been on the market since 2011, and each year more shoppers are choosing to forgo gasoline models and opt for new all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric models. Making the switch from a gas pump to an outlet is a big decision, yet over 630,000 drivers across the United States have decided to make the switch and purchase an electric vehicle.

Why are more Americans driving electric vehicles?

There are numerous reasons why people choose to drive electric. The top include saving money on fuel and maintenance costs, the car’s driving performance, being environmentally friendly, and supporting local energy sources. No matter the reason, most electric drivers will see savings by fueling at the outlet instead of a gas pump. Electricity is much cheaper than gasoline, and drivers have reported spending about $30 a month to fuel their cars compared to about $100 a month they used to spend on gasoline. Additionally, electric vehicles have less parts and do not need as much maintenance as gasoline vehicles, which saves drivers even more money.

Most major car manufacturers are currently offering electric models, including Chevrolet, Tesla, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Fiat, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Porsche, Kia, Volvo, and Mercedes. Many other manufacturers are currently in the planning phase to produce an electric vehicle during the next few years.

The top selling electric vehicles

Currently leading the charts, the Chevrolet Volt is a great option for drivers who want to drive electric around town, but also have the opportunity to drive further distances. The Volt is a plug-in electric hybrid that can travel for 53 miles on electric before it switches to using gasoline. Chevrolet estimates that with regular charging drivers can travel 1,000 miles before filling up. The car is currently priced at $34,095, but with the current federal tax credit the starting price is $26,595. Chevrolet also offers the all-electric Bolt model that is growing in popularity. It has an estimated range of 238 miles per charge and a starting price of $29,995 after rebates.

Next on the list is Tesla with their Model S and Model X. These cars have a much higher price tag at around $100,000, but include innovative technologies and top safety features. These all-electric cars can travel up to 351 miles on a charge, have their own Supercharger network across the country and include unique features like self-driving. If you love the features of these cars, but do not love the price tag, be on the lookout for the new Model 3 that will have a $35,000 starting price.

Another popular model is the Nissan LEAF, with over 100,000 sold in the United States. These all-electric cars have up to 107 miles in range and a starting price of around $23,000 after rebates. Ford also offers multiple electric models, including the all-electric Focus with 118 miles of range and the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids.

Luxury car brands are also entering the electric vehicle market. BMW offers several electric models, including the all-electric i3 and multiple plug-in hybrids. Similarly, Mercedes, Volvo, Porsche, Audi, and Cadillac also offer plug-in hybrid electric vehicle models.

Finally, there are other electric vehicle options available for those interested in something larger or different. Chrysler makes a plug-in version of their Pacifica minivan. VIA Motors, EV Fleet, Havelaar and Workhorse all make pickup trucks, Proterra is a leading manufacturer of electric buses, and multiple brands make electric motorcycles. There are many options to choose from, and as the market continues to develop there will soon be an electric model that fits each person’s individual needs.

EV charging

Electric vehicle owners have multiple options when it comes to charging their vehicle. They can plug their vehicle straight into an outlet at home or plug in to a public charging station. To support electric vehicle drivers and help them travel further, over 43,000 charging station ports have been installed across the country. Charging stations are often categorized into three levels: Level One, Level Two, and DC Fast Charge.

All vehicles come with an adapter to plug the car in at home to a standard 120-volt outlet, known as Level One charging. This level provides the slowest charge, around three to five electric miles per hour. Even at this slow speed, however, the majority of electric vehicle owners plug in at home to refuel.

Level Two charging is commonly found in public locations, including shopping centers, downtown areas, multifamily communities, and workplaces. Level Two charging is three to five times faster than Level One and provides 10 to 20 electric miles per hour. It is a great option for public locations where people may be parked for a few hours and can charge their vehicle.

Level Two charging stations can also be installed at home if a 240-volt outlet is available. The estimated cost of pre-wiring a 240-volt outlet is $50 to $300. For installations in existing homes, the price may increase significantly depending on what is needed. Hiring a professional electrician is recommended because the new outlet may require trenching, additional conduit, and upgrades to the service panel. Once the 240-volt outlet is installed, a charging station will need to be purchased. Stations can be purchased online and at home improvement stores for approximately $400.

Lastly, DC Fast Charge stations provide an opportunity for a very quick charge. These stations are capable of charging a depleted electric vehicle’s battery to 80 percent capacity in under 30 minutes. DC Fast Charge stations are usually located in high-traffic public areas or along travel corridors.

To locate a charging station, there are multiple apps and websites that list station locations and provide details. The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program runs the Alternative Fuels Data Center, where they maintain a list of charging stations across the country. Another popular website is PlugShare, which provides details on a station’s location and has a trip planner to help you plan for longer drives.

EVolve KY

For information about EVs in Kentucky, check out  Evolve KY. This group of owners and enthusiasts of electric vehicles raise awareness of electric vehicles in and around the Louisville area. Their Adopt-a-Charger program seeks sponsors to install and provide fee-free chargers.

KRISTI BRODD is the communications manager for Advanced Energy, a non-profit energy consulting firm.

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