FAQ about Electric Vehicles: Range, Cost, Charging Stations, and Tax Credits

Island Carpentry isn’t just concerned with building net zero energy houses. No, we also want to see a world where everyone plugs in their electric car at night to be powered by solar panels on top of their zero energy home. Since electric vehicles are part of a greener, more beautiful future, we put together a little road-map to help you learn a bit more about this up and coming trend.

What is an electric vehicle (EV)?

Hybrid car
Here’s a plug-in hybrid. This one happens to be a Prius, but there are makes and models across the board.

There are two types of electric vehicles: 1) the battery electric vehicle (BEV), and 2) the plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV). The BEV is entirely electrically powered, and the PHEV can run on electricity for shorter trips, but also gasoline for longer trips.

How far can you drive on a full charge?

For BEVs, the newer model cars have a mile range of around 70-200 miles depending on the make and model of the car. By comparison, the newer PHEVs have anywhere from around 10-72 miles of range.

Where can you recharge your EV?

You can find a map of the public charging stations here. Charging stations are located throughout the United States, and most often in populated areas and roads. Most often charging stations are found at taxi-stands, in parking lots of commercial areas, and in some driveways and garages  of peoples’ homes.

How long does it take to charge?

This depends upon the size of the battery and the speed of the charging port. Most EVs take between four and eight hours to fully charge. Newer rapid charge stations are improving upon the situation. A Tesla Supercharger can charge 170 miles of range in about 30 minutes. These rapid-charge stations use direct current (DC) rather than alternating current (AC). AC is the charging station norm for now, but DC stations will soon spread quickly.

How much does it cost to charge an EV?

It’s very cheap. PHEVs usually cost less than $1 while BEVs will cost you between $2-4 per charge. PHEVs have smaller batteries, so that’s why they’re cheaper.

Do I need to buy a charging station?

All EVs come with a 120-volt charging cable that can be plugged into a household socket. However, BEV owners will benefit from a 240-volt Level 2 charging station since they are four times faster at recharging.

For folks looking to get a 240-volt charger in their garage, home, or carport, you can either get a plug-in station or a hardwired station. You will likely need an electrician to install these units. You can learn more about options and procedures here.

How much do EVs cost?

Most BEVs cost between $30,000 and $100,000. A 2015 Nissan LEAF, with an 84 mile range, starts at $29,010, and other more affordable EVs from Ford, Audi, Volkswagen, Hyundai and others  are also in that range. Tesla’s most affordable car will be the Model 3 in 2018 starting at $35,000, while Tesla’s pricier models  are usually between $70-135,000.

Tesla 3
This is a Tesla 3 from the first production line. Pretty sleek, huh? They come out in 2018.

What’s up with the electric vehicle tax credit?

The United States offers a pretty sweet deal with a tax credit for EV owners. The credit is up to $7,500, depending on the total amount of income tax you pay. If your tax bill at year’s end is $7,500 or more, you get the full benefit of the $7,500 credit. If you pay $6,000 in taxes, you get $6,000 worth of the credit.

Most fully BEVs benefit from the full federal tax credit, but most PHEVs receive only partial tax credits due to their smaller battery sizes. PHEV tax credits usually range from $4,000 to the full $7,500. Here is a list of the most popular brands and their tax credits.

Also, the tax credit is also only available in the year you put the car in service.

And that’s a sum-up of the trend of the future, folks. Let us know if you have any other questions about electric vehicles, or personal experience or views on the matter.

As always, here’s to a brighter, greener future.