From Amps to ZEV: Electric Vehicle terms you need to know.
TVA EnergyRight presents your Ultimate Electric Vehicle Glossary: Electric Vehicle terms and lingo defined.
Keeping up with the latest electric vehicle terms, topics and trends can seem like a pretty daunting task. Luckily for you, we’re plugged into the electric transportation scene and we’re amped to share our Ultimate Electric Vehicle Glossary with you.
If electricity moves it, we’re ready to fuel it.
Our EV team has been on the road a lot over the past few months, visiting with people from all over our seven-state Valley region and sharing information about EVs.
We’ve chatted with drivers who are thinking about buying an electric car because they want to save money on gas. Others want to reduce their carbon footprint with a zero-emissions vehicle. Many enjoy the cool tech while plenty of others appreciate how quick they are.
We’ve also met commuters who want to get a little more exercise on their way to work and are considering an electric bicycle. We’ve even chatted about electric forklifts with business owners looking to provide a quieter, safer work environment for their employees while lowering emissions.
The Ultimate Electric Vehicle Glossary
This glossary is dedicated to all the great people we’ve met and all of the wonderful questions they asked about EV terms, technology and breaking news.
All-electric range (AER): The driving range of a vehicle using only power from its battery pack. Also known as range per charge.
Alternating current (AC): A term that describes the flow of electricity. In the U.S. the direction of the current changes (alternates) direction every 60 seconds (energy.gov). AC powers Level 1 and Level 2 EV chargers. (See “Battery Basics.”)
Amps (A): Also known as amperes, is a unit of measure for electrical current flow. An EV’s amp rating (or the charging station’s amp rating) is one factor that determines the maximum amount of power that can be delivered to your car’s battery. If voltage is to electricity as pressure at the gas pump is to gasoline, then amps x volts = watts all work together to measure how quickly you can fill up your battery with power.
Battery cell: The smallest unit in an EV’s battery pack. Think of it like a gallon of gas.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV): An EV that relies entirely on electric power stored in its battery pack. (See “The EV alphabet.”)
Battery module: A group of battery cells bundled together. Think of it as a few gallons of gas.
Battery management system: This system makes sure that the battery pack is operating at ideal temperatures. This helps prolong battery life and improve charging speed.
Battery pack: An EV’s battery is where the electricity that powers your car is stored. Think of it as the fuel in your EV’s “tank.”
Bidirectional charging: A technology that allows energy to flow two ways: from the electricity grid to your EV, and from your bidirectional EV charger to the grid. See vehicle to grid (V2G) (future state) and vehicle to home (V2H) (select EVs and charger stations).
Capacitor: A temporary power storage module in an electrical circuit that helps regulate spikes in power.
Charging: Fueling your EV with electricity.
Charging station: See electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).
Combined charging system (CCS): A standard for charging electric vehicles that can accommodate Type 1 and Type 2 AC charging and DC fast charging because it also includes a J1772 outlet. (See “Charging 101.”)
Connector: A general EV term that includes a variety of standardized plugs used to charge electric vehicles. It may include the Type 1 J1772, CCS and NACS connections.
Direct current (DC): A current that provides constant voltage and the current flows in one direction. It doesn’t change or vary over time. DC powers EV fast chargers because the direct flow of current – delivered directly to the battery – can charge more quickly. (See “Battery Basics.”)
Drag coefficient (Cd): A measurement of a vehicle’s wind resistance. The higher the drag coefficient, the harder the motor has to work to push your EV through the air. The lower the drag coefficient, the better!
Dynamic electric vehicle charging (DEVC): This future-state method of wireless charging is being tested and would enable EVs to recharge while driving on public roads (MotorTrend).
Electric vehicle (EV): Any vehicle, whether it’s a car, bicycle, boat, forklift, or scooter, that’s powered by electricity stored in batteries.
Electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE): What you’ll need to safely charge your EV at home. It includes the cables, connectors and charging points. (See “Charging 101.”)
Fast Charge Network: TVA EnergyRight is collaborating with state agencies, local power companies and third-party charging developers to develop the Fast Charge Network, which will place fast charging stations at least every 50 miles along major travel corridors in the seven-state region.
Fast charging: Also known as Level 3 charging, it refers to the number of watts (W) that are delivered to an EV’s battery. Most fast chargers are direct current (DC) and deliver over 19 kilowatts (kW). These chargers and superchargers are most commonly found at shopping centers, travel centers, dealerships and other public locations.
Frunk: It’s that space in the front where the engine lives in gas-powered vehicles. We recommend putting your junk in it.
Fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV): A vehicle that uses a fuel cell, usually hydrogen-based, to generate electricity that runs an onboard motor. (See “The EV alphabet.”)
Home charging: Approximately 80% of EV charging is done at home. Home charging systems – EVSEs – enable EV owners to charge up at home. It’s just as convenient as plugging in your cell phone overnight (Energy.gov).
Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV): Also known as “conventional,” “self-charging” or “mild” hybrids, these EVs use gas-fueled ICE engines and electricity-fueled motors. Hybrid vehicles — like the Toyota Prius or Honda CRV — use regenerative braking to store energy and typically have a smaller all-electric range (see “The EV alphabet”).
Incentives: You may be eligible for federal tax credits on qualified plug-in electric vehicles. Learn more about credits for clean vehicles purchased in 2023 or after at IRS.gov.
Internal combustion engine (ICE): A heat engine that converts energy from the heat of burning gasoline into torque that powers the vehicle (Car and Driver).
Inverter: An electrical device that converts electricity from a DC source to AC.
J1172: Also known as a J plug or SAE J1772, a North American standard for electrical connectors for EVs.
Kilowatt (kW): Equivalent to 1,000 watts, a unit of measure for power. Power tells us how fast energy is moving at any moment in time. (See “Battery Basics.”)
Kilowatt-hour (kWh): How many watts are consumed in an hour. (See “Battery Basics.”)
Level 1 Charging: Also known as “slow chargers” or “trickle chargers,” Level 1 chargers can plug into any standard 120-volt home wall outlet, the very same type of outlet you use to plug in your cell phone or coffee pot.
Level 2 Charging: These 240-volt chargers are just like the ones your dryer plugs into and can charge a BEV in 4-10 hours, which makes them perfect for overnight home charging.
Level 3 Charging: See fast charging.
Lithium-ion: A rechargeable battery that uses lithium ions to store energy (MIT.edu).
Miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe): An energy-efficiency metric introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compare the amount of energy consumed by alternative fuel vehicles to gas-powered cars (U.S. News & World Report).
Miles per kilowatt hour (mpkWh): A measurement of an EV’s efficiency that demonstrates how an EV’s power output translates into real distance traveled.
North American Charging Standard (NACS): Previously known as the Tesla charging connector, this charging standard is used in Tesla’s Supercharger network. Ford and General Motors announced in June 2023 that their drivers will be able to charge their cars (with an adapter) at Tesla charging stations across the country. Less than a month later, seven of the world’s largest automakers announced that they’re building a new nationwide network of 30,000 electric vehicle charging stations (CBS News).
Off-peak charging: Charging your EV at times when demand for electricity is lower (typically overnight) helps maintain a healthy grid and keeps rates low for everyone.
On-board charger (OBC): A device that converts AC to DC to charge an EV’s batteries. Fast chargers bypass an EV’s OBC because they’re already DC.
Parallel hybrid: Vehicles with a parallel hybrid drive enable the engine and electric motor to work together to generate power to drive the wheels.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV): A plug-in vehicle featuring a rechargeable battery, electric propulsion and regenerative braking. PHEVs also rely on a gas-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) for propulsion once the battery is depleted. (See “The EV alphabet.”)
Regenerative braking: Also known as “regen braking,” these systems are unique to EVs. They turn a vehicle’s kinetic energy (energy that relates to motion) back into electric energy. Regenerative braking helps improve fuel efficiency, reduce total tailpipe emissions and minimizes wear and tear on brakes. (See “Battery Basics.”)
Renewable energy: Energy that is generated by natural resources that are replenished faster than they are consumed such as solar, hydroelectric, and wind. Nearly 60% of TVA’s electricity comes from carbon-free sources (TVA.com).
Residential charging: See home charging.
Solid-state battery: Like lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries store energy; however, instead of an organic liquid electrolyte solution sandwiched between the cathodes and anodes, solid-state batteries use solid electrolytes. Some manufacturers are planning to roll them out as early as 2027. Solid-state batteries offer higher energy density, greatly extended range and faster charging times.
State of charge (SOC): The level of charge an EV battery contains compared to its capacity. 0% SOC = empty; 100% SOC = full.
Supercharger: A kind of EV charger developed by Tesla designed for fast charging.
Torque: A force that produces rotation. Motors deliver torque to the drive shaft (Merriam-Webster). Electric cars achieve maximum torque immediately and deliver instant torque to the vehicle’s wheels, which leads to excellent acceleration off the line (or from a red light).
Vehicle to grid (V2G): Power that flows from your vehicle back to the grid. This future-state capability has the potential to support the power grid during peak demand hours. (See Bidirectional charging.)
Vehicle to home (V2H): Power that flows from your EV to your home, essentially acting as a generator during weather-related power outages. (See Bidirectional charging.)
Volts (V): A unit of electrical force that measures the amount of effort required to move an ampere between two points. A higher voltage rating on a charging station equals a higher charging speed for your EV. Volts x Amps = Watts (See Amps).
Watts (W): A unit of measure for power. Power tells us how fast energy is moving at any moment in time. A kWh tells you how many of those units are consumed in an hour. Volts x Amps = Watts (See Amps).
Zero emission vehicle (ZEV): A vehicle that emits no tailpipe pollutants during operation. Battery electric cars, bicycles, motorcycles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are examples of ZEVs.
We know that big changes – like purchasing a vehicle that runs on electricity instead of gasoline – can lead to big questions. And that’s why we’re doing our best to provide expert, unbiased answers to your pressing EV questions. Each of our posts will include links to trusted external sources like automotive magazines, thought leaders, research-backed studies, government agencies and more. Feel free to click around!
This site’s content (including, without limitation, references and links to third-party information) is based on information provided at the time of publishing, and TVA makes no warranty therein.
15 ways to save energy at home when you’re on vacation
Your bags are packed, and it’s finally time to hit the road. But before you go, there’s one last thing to do. It’s time to power down your home! Whether you’re escaping for a weekend away, heading out for a week-long work trip or cruising the high seas over a long holiday break, take advantage of all the ways you can save energy and money at home even while you’re away. Check out these 15 quick and easy tips to power down your home so you can truly unplug.
Find energy savings hiding in your HVAC.
Did you know that heating and cooling your home can account for as much as 55% of your household electricity use? That’s… a lot. But that also means just a few small things can make a big difference. Let’s check them out.
1. Set your thermostat to 55° F in the winter or 85° F in the summer.
First things first: If you’ve left Grandma, Fido, or your award-winning exotic plants at home while you hop a flight to Honolulu, please leave everyone at a comfortable temperature. But if your home is unoccupied, it’s time to crank that thermostat up or down, depending on the season!
In warmer months, set your thermostat to 85° F. For every degree above 72° F you can save up to 3% on your energy bill. That’s some nice savings to come home to! In colder months, set your thermostat to 55° F. Not only will you save a ton of energy, but you’re also ensuring heat will still flow and your pipes will be protected during a freeze. If you’ve got a smart thermostat, use vacation mode to set it and forget it.
Just remember, when you return home and want to recool or reheat the house, only set it to your desired temperature. Dropping the temperature as low or as high as it can go won’t make your HVAC system work faster, but it will make your system work harder for longer.
2. Unplug space heaters.
Space heaters are energy eaters. Whether you’ll be gone for eight hours or eight days, never leave a space heater on when no one is home. It’s a fire hazard. But if you are planning to be away, even for just a night or two, go ahead and unplug any space heaters. Even if they’re off, they’ll continue to use energy just by being plugged into an outlet.
Keep your energy bill out of hot water.
3. Drop your water heater thermostat to its lowest set point.
If no one’s home, nobody needs hot water, right? So go ahead and give yourself some extra savings by turning your water heater thermostat down to its lowest setting. For older electric water heaters, look for a small plate on the front of the machine that unscrews. You’ll find the thermostat dial in there. If you have a newer, more energy efficient model, set the thermostat to vacation mode. For gas water heaters, you’ll want to check your user manual. It’s important to remember, however, that this might be a tip to skip if there’s a chance of freezing temperatures while you’re away.
Keep food fresh and frozen.
4. Set the refrigerator thermostat to 35° F–38° F and the freezer to 0° F–5° F.
If you’ve never checked your refrigerator and freezer thermostats (or if it’s been awhile), take 15 seconds to give them a quick glance. For optimal energy efficiency, set the refrigerator thermostat to 35° F–38° F and the freezer to 0° F–5° F. Maintain these temperature ranges year-round to keep food fresh, safe to consume and delicious. (Find more energy-saving tips and advice you can use all year.)
Stop vampire energy and give your electronics a breather.
Everything that’s plugged into an outlet in your home is using energy, even if it’s not technically “on.” We call this “vampire” energy, because it’s sucking up energy — and money — whether the device, machine, etc. is in use or not. So, before you leave for vacation, do a little vampire hunting around your home! Your printer, the air fryer, the gaming system your kids aren’t allowed to take? Unplug it all!
5. Unplug all small electronic devices, e.g., de/humidifiers, kitchen gadgets, printers.
6. Unplug all TVs, gaming consoles, entertainment devices, computers and laptops.
7. Unplug all power adapters and charging devices.
8. Unplug the microwave, toaster, coffee maker and appliances with an electronic clock.
Leave only necessary lights on.
9. Turn off indoor and outdoor lights.
While it’s not a bad idea to leave a light or two on when you’re away, you also don’t need to keep the house lit up like the fourth of July! Keep a few strategic lights on but turn off the rest. If you have timers or light sensors, you can set those up, too, so that you only have certain lights on at certain times.
Block out the sun.
10. Close all curtains, drapes and blinds.
This is another quick and easy tip that only takes seconds to complete. While you’re going around the house searching for things to unplug, close curtains, drapes and blinds. By blocking out heat-producing sunlight, you can maintain a cooler temperature inside. If you’re traveling during warmer months, make sure to check out our tips for saving energy during the toastiest times of the year.
Don’t forget these miscellaneous items.
Keep the energy-saving shutdown going and knock out just a few more remaining things!
11. Turn off ceiling fans and personal fans.
12. Unplug the hot tub heater or drain/winterize hot tub.
13. Turn off or lower the swimming pool heater. (Leave the pump on.)
14. Unplug air conditioners if they’re not needed for humidity control.
15. Unplug landscaping water features if they’re not needed for aquatic life.
Come home to a lower energy bill with the Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist.
Bring a little extra rest and relaxation to your next getaway when you use TVA EnergyRight’s Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist. Enjoy the comfort of knowing you’re saving energy, saving money and maybe even fighting off an energy vampire or two!
Types of EVs and the EV alphabet: What’s a BEV, PHEV and HEV?
Your guide to the different types of electric vehicles (EVs)
We get it. The EV alphabet, and the EV world in general, can feel a little overwhelming. That’s why TVA EnergyRight decided to launch a series of informative articles about electric vehicles. We’re kicking things off with a quick post about the different types of EVs available to drivers in the region.
Welcome to the EV world
In 2020, TVA began working with a broad coalition of partners to increase the use of EVs in the region and to pave the way for more than 200,000 EVs on the region’s roads by 2028.
Why is TVA paving the way for EV adoption? We’re doing this because making the switch to EVs could save the region’s drivers millions in gasoline and maintenance costs, and dramatically reduce carbon emissions across the region. Electric cars can also fuel investment in local jobs and keep refueling dollars — from locally produced electricity — in our communities. On top of all that, the Tennessee Valley region is already one of the top EV manufacturing hubs in the country, with plenty of room to grow.
We also know that big changes — like purchasing a vehicle that runs on electricity instead of gasoline — can lead to big questions. And that’s why we’re doing our best to provide unbiased answers to your pressing EV questions.
Each of our posts will include links to trusted external sources like automotive magazines, thought leaders, research-backed studies, government agencies and more. Feel free to click around and be sure to check out our video series, In Charge: Life With an Electric Vehicle.
Read on to learn more about the high-level pros and cons of the different types of electric vehicles on the market today.
What’s the definition of an electric car?
A modern electric car is a passenger vehicle that uses an electric motor to drive propulsion. This broad definition includes different powertrains and vehicles like the Toyota Prius and the Ford Maverick hybrid pickup truck, the Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid, and the 2024 Corvette E-Ray.
Battery-only electric vehicles: BEVs (A.K.A. EVs)
Also known as “pure,” “full” or “all-electric” cars — or, more commonly, if not a little confusingly, EVs. A battery-only EV uses only electric power for propulsion. This means BEVs have the potential to be insanely quick off the line.
- Zero tailpipe emissions.
- Less maintenance.
- Better performance and power delivery.
- Quicker “off-the-line” 0-60 speeds.
- More efficient than gas-powered cars.
- Uses locally produced electricity.
- At-home charging convenience.
- Select models can power your home during outages.
- Federal tax credits may be available.
- People are generally less familiar with owning and driving an EV.
- Longer trips require planning for refueling stops at public charging stations.
Battery performance is expected to fade after approximate 12-15 years of service life.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles: PHEVs
Think of a PHEV as the middle ground between an all-electric and a conventional hybrid. (We’ll cover hybrids in the next section.) Like all EVs, PHEVs use a rechargeable battery, electric propulsion and regenerative braking to improve fuel efficiency, reduce total tailpipe emissions and minimize wear and tear on brakes. Unlike battery-only EVs, however, PHEVs also rely on a gas-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) for propulsion.
- Capable of covering the average commute on battery power alone.
- Generally more fuel-efficient than a regular hybrid.
- Capable of long-distance gas-powered driving.
- At-home charging convenience.
- Federal tax credits may be available.
- Maintenance is the same as a gas-powered car.
- Smaller batteries mean shorter all-electric driving ranges.
- Burns fossil fuels.
- Produces tailpipe emissions.
Hybrid electric vehicles: HEVs
Also known as “conventional,” “self-charging” or “mild” hybrids, these EVs use gas-fueled engines and electricity-fueled motors. Hybrid vehicles — like the Toyota Prius — are very similar to PHEVs, with one critical difference: You don’t plug it in to refuel with a charge.
- Better fuel economy than most gasoline-powered vehicles.
- No changes to your driving habits or lifestyle.
- Maintenance is the same as a gas-powered car.
- Burns fossil fuels.
- Smaller batteries limit electric-only range.
- Lacks at-home refueling/charging convenience.
- Less efficient than all-electric vehicles.
Fuel cell electric vehicles: FCEVs
These cutting-edge vehicles aren’t available in our region yet, but they’re worth mentioning because FCEVs generate their own electricity!
Like a BEV, FCEVs are propelled entirely by electricity; however, instead of plugging in to recharge the battery, hydrogen gas from the vehicle’s fuel tank combines with oxygen to generate electricity. Best of all? Water and heat are the only byproducts.
- All the benefits of a BEV.
- Smaller, lighter batteries with longer driving ranges.
- Hydrogen is abundant in the universe.
- Hydrogen can be derived from 100% domestic sources.
- Least common type of EV.
- Very limited availability (primarily in California) from select automakers.
- Most expensive electric vehicle option.
- Added cost for hydrogen fuel cell maintenance.
- Lack of hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S.
- Hydrogen separation process can be energy-intensive.
Go ahead, explore your BEV, PHEV and HEV options today!
Now that you’re in the know, check out our online EV comparison tools and find out if there’s an EV that’s right for you.
This site’s content (including, without limitation, references and links to third-party information) is based on information provided at the time of publishing, and TVA makes no warranty therein.
How do I choose an electric vehicle that’s right for me?
How to choose and buy your first EV
For some, buying a new (or new-to-you) car is tons of fun: Test drives! New car smell! Fun features! For many folks, “Is an electric vehicle right for me?” is the big-ticket question of the day. Other drivers simply see the whole car-buying process as a fearsome chore.
Although we can’t change how you feel about buying a car, TVA EnergyRight can shed some light on the “Is an EV right for me?” question and make the decision-making a little easier.
In many ways, a car’s a car and buying an EV isn’t all that different. However, if you’re buying your first EV, there are a few fundamental differences between buying a gas-powered car and an electric-powered one. We’ll help you wrap your head around those differences so you can hit the sales lot with confidence.
Is an EV right for me? Let’s find out!
Identify your must-haves
In this regard, shopping for an EV is a lot like shopping for a gas-powered car: You need to find an electric car that’s right for you.
As more and more electric makes and models hit the market, it’s becoming easier to find a car that fits your lifestyle. Ask yourself: Where do I drive? What do I like about my car? What do I dislike? How do I drive? What do I need to carry?
If you’re using the car primarily for local commuting, your options range from affordable compact sedans to luxury trucks and SUVs. If performance is your priority, premium EVs can offer instant gratification and some of the quickest 0-60 times on the road. If you often travel long distances, look for an extended range battery-only EV. You may also want to consider the additional range flexibility that a plug-in hybrid or hybrid affords.
Find a dealer you trust
If you’re shopping for your first EV, you’ll probably have lots of questions. Look for a dealership that advertises their electric vehicle offerings and for a dealer who understands EVs and can guide you through the car’s features with confidence. Be sure to ask them whether or not the car is eligible for the federal tax credit, which changed in 2023.
Remember, you’re the customer! If you’re not clicking with the dealership or salesperson, visit another showroom or ask for a different representative. For those in the market for a pre-owned EV, consider finding a reputable online retailer like MYEV.com or Carvana.
Know your EV lingo
For a deeper dive into the different types of EVs, check out our post about the EV alphabet. In a nutshell, the biggest difference between a gas-fueled car and an electricity-fueled one is the powertrain.
EVs are powered by an electric motor, and the energy that fuels the motor is stored in batteries. Battery-only electric vehicles (BEVs) have larger battery packs than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or hybrid electric vehicles. Unlike PHEVs and hybrids, BEVs produce no tailpipe emissions.
Because electric motors have fewer moving parts than internal combustion engines, they require less maintenance. All types of EVs use regenerative braking systems that reduce wear and tear on brake pads and rotors. Regenerative brakes work by taking the energy produced by braking and feeding it to the EV’s batteries. In a traditional braking system, friction turns this energy into heat. Ultimately, the heat dissipates and the energy is wasted.
Source: How Stuff Works
Calculate your range requirements
To get a solid sense of your range requirements, keep track of how much you drive each week. Most EVs can travel around 250 miles on a single charge, while some of the premium models top out at around 400 miles.
Although the charging infrastructure is still being developed, TVA is collaborating with state agencies, local power companies and third-party charging experts to help alleviate range anxiety by creating a network of public fast charging stations at least every 50 miles along major travel routes in our seven-state region.
More and more public fast charging stations are coming, but at least 80% of EV charging happens at home, overnight. Since most EVs can handle a weekly commute with ease, owners typically charge up once or twice a week at home.
Sources: Electric Vehicle Database and Forbes
Check your charger
There are three ways to charge an EV: Level 1 (120-volt), Level 2 (240-volt) and DC fast charging. Charging connectors may vary by automotive manufacturer but most connect to Level 1, Level 2 and DC fast charging connectors.
Level 1 plugs into a standard outlet – just like your television or hair dryer. It will get the job done, but it’s a slow way to charge a car. If you routinely drive less than 30 miles a day, and can consistently plug in every night or two, this is a low-cost charging option that could work for you.
Most EV drivers recommend having a Level 2 charger professionally installed at your home. A Level 2 charger can plug into the same kind of outlet as your clothes dryer. Or, even better, you can skip the plug and have your charger hardwired directly to your electrical panel. Level 2 chargers can easily charge your car overnight, adding 100-200 miles of range while you sleep. (Check out some other tips from EV owners HERE.)
Public DC fast charging stations are available for longer road trips and can add 100-200 miles to your battery in 30 minutes or less.
Charging apps offered by manufacturers or third-party charging networks like ChargePoint, Chargeway, EVgo or PlugShare can help you make sure the charger you’re heading to has the connector you need and if they’re available to start charging.
Most new EVs have a combination of the J1772 and a combined charging system (CCS) connector in the same location. These charging systems are approved by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The top half enables Level 1 and Level 2 charging and the bottom half adds DC fast charging capabilities.
However, Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) is gaining traction in the U.S. Ford announced in May 2023 that it would offer present and future EV owners access to the more than 12,000 stations in Tesla’s NACS Supercharger network. GM followed suit with an announcement of its own in June.
If you’re buying a used Nissan or Mitsubishi electric car, it may have a CHAdeMO connector. It’s worth noting that this connector is being phased out by many automotive manufacturers and it may be harder to find public fast charging options in the future. At this time, TVA’s Fast Charge Network sites will continue to support CHAdeMO connectors and CCS and will work to accommodate additional charging plugs as automakers adopt the various standards in the future.
Sources: Electrek, Driving Electric, EPA, Society of Automotive Engineers, Car and Driver, NBC News, electrek.
Tune in to your driving experience
EVs handle just like any other car you’ve ever driven. But they perform very differently.
Gas-powered cars take some time to build up maximum power and torque. EVs, on the other hand, hit peak power the moment you put the pedal to the metal. This instant torque makes EVs feel lively and quick. Some can even accelerate from zero to 60 in less than three seconds. If “fun to drive” is what moves you, be sure to check out acceleration time.
If acceleration isn’t your driving motivation, you’ll find that even the most modest and affordable EVs have plenty of pep for daily driving.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Head out for a test drive
Still asking yourself, “Is an electric car right for me?” Well, if you’ve never gotten behind the wheel of an EV, shopping for a new car is the perfect opportunity. Make a list of your top contenders and have some fun figuring out which EV is right for you. Use our online tools to get started.
This site’s content (including, without limitation, references and links to third-party information) is based on information provided at the time of publishing, and TVA makes no warranty therein.
EV charging tips and information for safer electric fueling (AKA: charging)
We’ve touched on charging electric cars in several of our previous electric vehicle articles, but this installment is 100% all about getting charged up. Read on for EV charging tips and recommendations!
If you’ve just purchased an electric car, we encourage you to read the owner’s manual for information and recommendations specific to your make and model.
Let’s get charged up, shall we?
Know your EV charging levels
We’ve spent some time on charging levels already, so we’re sticking to the basics here. Be sure to check out “Is an electric vehicle right for me?” and visit TVA EnergyRight’s charging website for more information about EV charging levels.
The three levels of EV charging:
- Level 1: Chargers that plug into a regular 120-volt home outlet, just like the one you use to charge your phone or toothbrush.
- Level 2: 240-volt chargers (like a dryer outlet) can fully charge an empty battery-only EV (BEV) in 4-10 hours.*
- DC Fast Charging: Typically found at public locations like malls or retail centers and off interstate exits. They’re intended for short stops on long road trips and can fill up a low battery in 20-60 minutes.
*Assuming a 60 kWh battery
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation
What you’re calling a charger probably isn’t a charger.
Technically speaking, a charger isn’t a charger.
Did we just blow a fuse?
That Level 1 or Level 2 charger in your neighbor’s garage and that fast charger around the corner from your office is actually a device known as electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE). Just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?
The National Electronics Manufacturers Association (NEMA) tells us that although an EVSE is a more accurate name, most people are going to refer to that device as a “charging station” or “EV charger.”
And once you get past this explanation, so will we. Still, curious minds may want to know why an EV charger is also known as an EVSE.
For starters, the charger is actually built into the vehicle itself. The EVSE – that thing you plug into the wall outlet and will likely continue to call a charger or charging station – is essentially a very sophisticated extension cord.* Among other things, the EVSE tells the vehicle’s internal charger how much power is available and then sends the current to the car.
Read on to find out what else EVSEs do!
*Please Note: TVA EnergyRight does not recommend using a conventional extension cord to charge an EV.
Charging your EV at home is safe and convenient.
EVSEs (AKA charging stations) are truly incredible pieces of technology that help keep you, your electric car and your home safe. As approximately 80% of EV charging happens at home, it is essential that you have safe and reliable charging equipment, which should be installed by certified technicians.
Recalls on automobiles – both electric and gas-powered varieties – happen with some frequency. You can sign up for email alerts or search for recalls using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website. Or, you can sign up for recall alerts by downloading NHTSA’s SaferCar app on IOS or Android. NHTSA recalls also include equipment like charger cords, car seats and tires.
Now, let’s get back to our EV charging tips! Think of a charging station as a walkie-talkie that allows your charger and car to communicate about what’s going on with its fuel source: electricity.
Eight common charging station (AKA EVSE) safety features:
- Safety lock-out features prevent current from flowing through the charger cord when it isn’t connected – or isn’t connected correctly – into the car’s charging port.
- Auto-restart after a power outage.
- Short circuit or fault detection and shut off.
- Enclosures (the part of the unit that mounts to the wall) that meet NEMA safety requirements for water resistance, protection from dust, shock protection and more.
- Convenient power cable storage.
- Current regulation ensures that the current delivered to your car doesn’t exceed its capacity.
Advanced features of charging stations:
- Load detection capabilities that can sense other large electrical loads in your home (like dryers, hair dryers or electric heaters) and pause EV charging until the load eases.
- Wifi and app connectivity.
- Adjustable power capacity.
Source: Green Car Reports, ENERGY STAR
Can I charge my Rivian with a Ford charging station?
Yes! Another great feature of charging stations is that they enable interoperability; which is a fancy EV word for the ability to charge your Rivian or BMW i4 with a Ford Charge Station Pro or your Chevy Bolt with your friend’s home charger.
Interoperability isn’t limited to manufacturers’ charging stations. It also makes public charging easier and more accessible and plays a role in strengthening the charging infrastructure. We’d be remiss if we didn’t note that as of publication, you can’t charge your CSS-equipped Chevy with someone else’s home Tesla charger. That may change soon, however!
In November 2022, Tesla made its charging standard available to other EV manufacturers and renamed its charger to the North American Charging Standard (NACS). Ford and General Motors recently announced that starting next year, drivers will be able to charge their cars (with an adapter) at Tesla charging stations, the largest charging network in the country. They’ll also start offering models equipped with the NACS connections.
To help speed the construction of a convenient, reliable charging network, the Biden-Harris administration announced a series of actions to encourage the creation of a Made-in-America EV charging network. To help facilitate EV adoption and travel in its service area, TVA EnergyRight is collaborating with state agencies, local power companies and third-party charging developers to develop the Fast Charge Network, which will place fast charging stations at least every 50 miles along major travel corridors in the seven-state region.
What is the Combined Charging System (CCS)?
If you’re buying a car in the U.S. then it will probably have a CCS combo plug, although Ford and GM will also offer the NACS plug in the coming years. The CCS is a standard for charging electric vehicles that can accommodate Type 1 and Type 2 AC charging and DC charging because it incorporates a J1772 outlet. For more on the AC/DC conversation, you’ll want to head over to our blog about electric vehicle battery basics.
To qualify for federal funding as outlined by the Biden-Harris Administration, companies must adopt the CCS standard.
Although Tesla marches to its own beat, the company offers a CCS adapter so its drivers can charge at third-party charging stations. Plus, automakers such as Ford, General Motors, Rivian and others are partnering with Tesla to allow their EV drivers access through adapters as well.
Source: EV-america.com, livewire.com
Can I use an adapter to use a different charging standard?
With the exception of Tesla’s adapter, most manufacturers and third-party charging networks don’t recommend using adapters because they can increase the likelihood of faults. A fault is an abnormal electric current like a short circuit or open-circuit fault and may impact safety.
Source: electricityforum.com, EVgo.com
Do I need to have an EV charger professionally installed?
If you glean just one EV charging tip from this blog, it’s this: Don’t make charger installation a DIY project. The EV owners we spoke to strongly recommend having a Level 2 home charger professionally installed.
Gas station owners don’t install their own gas pumps. Why should you install your own EV charger? Leave this one to the pros!
Is it safe to charge my electric vehicle outdoors if it’s raining?
In an interview for Autotrader.com, Nissan’s Johnathon Ratliff said, “Absolutely, it’s safe to charge in nearly any weather condition.”
Using the Nissan Leaf as an example, Ratliff said its IP 67 rating is equivalent “to submerging any component of our vehicle in water at 1 meter for 30 minutes.”
We’re not going to get deep into the technicalities of IP ratings here; just know that the higher the number, the better protection the device affords against water and dust.
IP ratings on public Level 2 chargers should more than exceed any weather condition you’d face when plugging your EV into a charging station in the rain.
With Level 2 charging…the device acts as a big safety switch,” Ratliff explains. “When you plug the car in, it starts communication with the device. It does measurements to determine everything is safe and only then will it begin the flow of energy.”
If you’re planning on purchasing a charger for outdoor use at home, make sure the IP rating is IP66 or higher.
Consider joining a charging network
Although most owners schedule their cars to charge at home, many recommend joining a charging network for on-the-road and on-the-go convenience. If you drive long distances for work or leisure, charging networks give you access to public fast charging stations on your travel routes. User-friendly apps make it easy to find and pay for your electric fueling stops.
Some popular options include ChargePoint, Chargeway, EVgo and PlugShare. (Please note: This is not an exhaustive list and TVA does not endorse any particular company.) You can find them here:
- Apple’s App Store: ChargePoint, Chargeway, Electrify America, EVgo and PlugShare.
- Google Play: ChargePoint, Chargeway, Electrify America, EVgo and PlugShare.
EV charging tips and etiquette
We could probably devote an entire blog to this one, but we’ll try to keep this particular EV charging tip short and sweet: Treat others as you want to be treated.
- Do not unplug someone else’s EV.
- 80% charged is A-okay!
- Charge at a charger, don’t park at one.
- Don’t stay past your charge.
- If your car can’t fast charge, leave the fast charger for a car that can.
We had some fun exploring EV chargers and EV charging tips with this installment. Be sure to stay tuned: We’re already planning in-depth articles on home charging and fast charging.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for answers to general questions about electric cars or are curious about what EV owners in the region have to say, check out “Top 10 EV questions answered” and “Beginning your electric vehicle journey: EV owners share their EV tips.” For a deeper dive into EV batteries, don’t miss our Q&A about EV batteries.
We’ll help you stay on top of the latest electrifying developments. Sign up to receive news and updates from the TVA EnergyRight EV team!
Battery Basics: What’s the electric vehicle battery warranty? How do EV batteries work? Are EV batteries recyclable?
What you need to know about EV battery warranties, how EV batteries work, currents, kilowatts and more.
Have you ever wondered what the standard EV battery warranty is? Or how EV batteries work? Or how batteries in an electric car, boat or motorcycle can replace a gas-powered engine?
You’re not alone! Fortunately, you don’t need to know exactly how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive your car or motorcycle. If that were the case, there would be plenty of us looking for alternative modes of transportation.
Although we don’t necessarily need to know how EV batteries work, many of us not-so-secretly want to know. But first, let’s get that EV battery warranty question out of the way:
What’s the standard EV battery warranty?
Federal law mandates that manufacturers offer at least eight years or 100,000 miles of EV battery warranty coverage; however, some manufacturers offer a 10-year warranty.
How does an EV battery actually work?
An electric vehicle – whether you’re talking about a truck, jet ski or bicycle – uses battery packs to store electrical energy to power the motor (or motors) connected to the wheels.
For your daily dose of trivia: The modern battery was invented by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1800 (Britannica).
EV batteries are charged by plugging the EV charger’s cord into the vehicle’s charging port. They can also gain charge from regenerative braking systems. “Regen” braking systems are unique to EVs. They turn a vehicle’s kinetic energy (energy that relates to motion) back into electric energy. This transformation occurs during braking, deceleration or coasting downhill. Plus, these systems also dramatically reduce wear and tear on a vehicle’s braking system.
SOURCE: PC Mag, ScienceDirect.
What’s the AC/DC Deal?
Before we go too far down the charging path, let’s hit the basics: AC stands for alternating current. DC is short for direct current.
Alternating current describes the flow of electricity. Simply put: With AC, the direction of the current changes (alternates) direction every 60 seconds in the U.S. (energy.gov). The alternating current makes sending electricity over long distances (like from the power plant to your home) more efficient. AC is used in your home and at most commercial locations. AC powers Level 1 and Level 2 EV chargers.
Direct current provides constant voltage and the current flows in one direction. It doesn’t change or vary over time. DC powers EV fast chargers because the direct flow of current – delivered directly to the battery – can charge more quickly.
Do electric cars have different inlets for AC and DC chargers?
Some EVs have different charging ports for AC and DC connectors. Others use a Combined Charging System (CCS). The CCS is a combination of both plugs: The Level 1/Level 2 AC pins are on top and two additional DC pins are at the base to accommodate the higher electrical current. Check out the charger illustration below!
A kilowhat? Oh, a kilowatt!
So what’s a kilowatt (kW) and why do kilowatt hours (kWh) matter?
A kW is 1,000 Watts, a unit of measure for power. Power tells us how fast energy is moving at any moment in time. A kWh tells you how many of those units are consumed in an hour.
Why do we care about kilowatts and kilowatt hours? Because they can help tell us how much it will cost to charge an EV.
They also determine how quickly it can recharge. The higher the kW your car can accept, the faster it will charge. (More on this later!)
*Find miles per kWh for common EV makes and models here.
**Example CDE Lightband residential electricity rate as of 4/20/23.
What is EV battery capacity and why does it matter?
Craving another answer to kilowhy? Look no further than battery capacity, or the amount of energy that an electric vehicle’s battery pack can contain. This capacity is measured in kWh.
Battery capacity and EV range – how far a vehicle can go on a single charge – go hand in hand. Generally speaking, the greater the battery capacity (or the bigger the battery), the greater the range.
This is why some manufacturers offer different battery sizes. The Nissan LEAF, for example, offers two battery options. Their standard 40 kWh battery is EPA rated for up to 149 miles and the 60 kWh battery is EPA rated for up to 212 miles. The Ford Mach-E offers a 70 kWh standard battery and an optional 91 kWh extended-range battery.
Why do EV battery charging times vary?
Just as gas-powered cars and trucks have varying gas tank capacities, EV battery charging times may also vary depending on battery capacity and how much power is being delivered to the battery. Battery management systems in today’s EVs automatically manage charging variables to maximize charging speed, ensure safety and minimize battery degradation.
For more on charging, be sure to check out “Blow your mind (not fuses) with these top EV charging tips” and “How do I choose an electric vehicle that’s right for me?”
There are three basic levels of EV charging:
- Level 1: Also known as “slow chargers” or “trickle chargers,” Level 1 chargers can plug into any standard 120-volt home wall outlet, the very same type of outlet you use to plug in your cell phone or TV.
- Level 2: This is what most EV owners recommend for at-home charging. These 240-volt chargers are just like the ones your dryer plugs into and can charge an empty battery-only EV (BEV) in 4-10 hours.
- DC Fast Charging: These chargers are great for quick stops on long road trips and can fill up an empty battery in 20-60 minutes.
Looking for tips on getting the most out of your battery? Check out our post, “Do you know the answers to these 10 common questions about electric vehicles?”
What are the different types of batteries used in EVs?
Nickel metal hydride
Early EVs and some hybrids use durable nickel metal hydride batteries. However, these batteries are expensive, lose their charge more quickly than modern EV batteries and are inefficient at high temperatures.
This is what many EVs on the market today use. When compared to lead or nickel metal hydride batteries, they’re lighter and highly efficient.
Lead acid batteries, like those used to supply the electricity a gas-powered car needs to start, are not used in EVs because they’re heavy and more susceptible to extreme temperatures.
We’ll call these near future-state quick-charging batteries. They’re in development right now, but some manufacturers are planning to roll them out as early as 2027. Solid state batteries offer higher energy density, greatly extended range and faster charging times.
Can I recycle EV batteries?
Yes! Well, your car’s manufacturer can. Although most EV car batteries on the road today aren’t ready for retirement, automotive manufacturers are already making plans for recycling and repurposing used EV batteries.
EV batteries contain valuable minerals like lithium, cobalt and nickel – all of which can be recycled, repurposed and reused.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Tesla recycles batteries on its own and Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Audi and Volvo have all partnered with Redwood Materials for battery recycling. Hyundai is working with UL Solutions to create battery energy storage systems from used EV batteries.
Are EV batteries safe?
EV batteries are designed with safety features to prevent overheating, fires and explosions. However, manufacturing defects, damage and improper charging can lead to battery fires. As with any vehicle defect, manufacturers may have to issue a recall to address safety concerns.
Poorly installed Level 2 chargers can also lead to safety concerns. The solution? Never use an extension cord to charge an EV and hire a licensed electrician with EV experience or is certified through a program like the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) to install safety-certified Level 2 EV charger.
Just as each model year brings new features to our favorite cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs, EV battery technology is constantly evolving. We’ll help you stay on top of the latest electrifying developments. Sign up to receive news and updates from the TVA EnergyRight EV team!
Beginning your electric vehicle journey: EV owners share their EV tips
EV tips you need to know before buying an electric vehicle
Just as you would before buying any vehicle, you should probably do a little homework – and some soul-searching – before buying a car fueled by electricity. We asked our EV-driving friends and colleagues for real-life tips and tricks for getting the most out of owning an electric car.
Here’s what they had to say.
Figure out how far you drive each week before buying an EV.
Electric Vehicle Database lists nearly 30+ EV models offering a range of 300 miles or more and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration reports that the average driver travels about 35 miles each day. That means many EVs can handle an average weekly commute on a single charge.
So how much range do you really need? Track your driving, you probably don’t drive as much as you think you do.
Even so, you’ll want to make sure that your EV can handle your daily commute and weekend activities. For extra peace of mind, several of the EV owners we talked to recommended overestimating your range requirements by 20%. This gives you peace of mind and the flexibility to handle extreme weather conditions and usual driving events.
Understand your charging options.
There are more and more public chargers, solar chargers and DC fast charging options out there, but the cheapest and most convenient way to charge up is to plug in at home.
Need a deeper dive into home EV charging? Check out this recent charger review from ZDNET, an independent business technology news and product review website.
For those who live in apartment complexes without chargers, look for charging options near your office or ask your property manager to consider installing chargers for residents to share.
Regardless of how or where you charge, all folks we talked to agreed that making a plan for charging your EV before you drive it home is a smart move. Many of them also noted that they charge up later in the week to make sure they’re ready to roll all weekend long.
Spring for a professional charger installation.
Although you can charge an EV using a standard 120-volt grounded wall socket, most EV owners recommended having a Level 2, 240-volt charger professionally installed.
The EV owner community agrees that EV charger installation isn’t where you want to cut corners. If you’re going to invest in an EV, find a trusted, licensed electrician who can safely install a 240-volt Level 2 charger on your property. As with any electrical work, improper installation can have disastrous results. Leave EV charger installation to the pros!
Check out InsideEVs’ video about how to safely charge your EV here.
You’ll need to plan for longer road trips.
Until fast chargers are as ubiquitous as gas stations, longer road trips will require some extra planning.
You can always use our Find a Charger tool to plan your route; however, if you need on-the-go charger information, consider using mobile apps that help you find charging stations along the way. A lot of drivers recommend A Better Routeplanner and you can even use Google Maps, but you won’t get as much real-time information as you will from specialized EV charging apps.
Our EV drivers use apps like ChargePoint, Chargeway, EVgo and PlugShare. You can find them here:
- Apple’s App Store: ChargePoint, Chargeway, EVgo and PlugShare.
- Google Play: ChargePoint, Chargeway, EVgo and PlugShare.
Calculate your electric fuel costs before you buy an EV.
Some EV owners were surprised by how much they saved by going electric. Others were surprised they weren’t saving more on fuel costs, but they all loved the environmental savings that going electric offers.
Use this formula to estimate out how much fueling up with electricity will cost you:
* Find miles per kWh for common EV makes and models here.
**Example Nashville Electric Service NES residential electricity rate as of 3/14/23.
Be honest with yourself about what you need from an EV.
We found out that EV owners were a little bit like Goldilocks when it came to their EVs.
Some wished they’d bought a larger car (they went with a smaller model to maximize efficiency). Others discovered that the extra room in the frunk (you know, that place where the engine is “supposed” to be) was more than enough for their junk.
A majority of our drivers simply bought the car that best suited their needs. For one performance-driven driver, it was a used Tesla Model S with Ludicrous Plus Mode. For another environmentally-conscious family of five, it was a brand-new Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan. Others may find their happy spot behind the wheel of a Toyota Prius or the Hummer EV SUV.
Think about what you need from your car and find an EV that fits juuuuust right.
Take the next step of your EV journey with us.
One of the many reasons we started the Driving EVolution blog is to help first-time EV buyers feel confident in their car-buying decisions. We hope you’re finding the information you’re looking for. Be sure to check out our previous posts, “Types of EVs and the EV alphabet: What’s a BEV, PHEV and HEV?” and “Do you know the answers to these 10 common questions about electric vehicles?”
Do you know the answers to these 10 common questions about electric vehicles?
Answers to common (and sometimes funny) questions about electric vehicles
1. Can an EV go through a car wash?
Yes, absolutely! Stow your sponges and squeegees: You can take your electric car through any automated car wash. Automatic car washing systems may include soft-touch, no-touch, high-pressure and tunnel washes.
Automatic car washes are as safe for EVs as they are for cars powered by gas (aka internal combustion engines, or ICE). These washing systems will not damage batteries, electrical systems or motors. (You can even charge your EV in the rain, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Just as you would when taking your ICE ride through an automated tunnel car wash, it’s a good idea to follow this checklist when you line up for a sudsing:
Automated car wash tips:
- Tuck your mirrors in.
- Close your windows, doors and sunroof completely.
- Turn rain-sensing windshield wipers off.
- Keep the ignition on.
- Put the vehicle in neutral.
One more thing, because sometimes we can’t help ourselves! About those sponges and squeegees: You may want to hang on to them. Although you can safely run your EV through a car wash, these convenient cleansers can scratch or damage the paint finish of any car, ICE or electric. Plus, many car washes use environmentally harmful chemicals that can degrade paint and pollute rivers and streams. From an environmental and budgeting standpoint, your best bet is to hand-wash your car with biodegradable soap.
2. How many makes and models of EVs are available in the U.S.?
2023 is going to be great for EVs! According to Car and Driver, enthusiasts can expect new models from Audi, BMW, Genesis, GMC (hello, Hummer EV), Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo.
There are nearly 100 battery-only EVs (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) available in the U.S. And here’s a look at all of them.*
*Available in the U.S. as of Sept. 4, 2022.
3. How does extreme cold or hot weather affect EVs?
After the record-snapping cold spell of 2022, the cold weather question is fresh on the mind. Here’s the thing: All cars, gas and electric, use more energy in cold weather. That means lower gas mileage for ICE drivers and a shorter range (how far an EV can go on a single charge) for EV drivers.
According to Consumer Reports, extreme temperatures can reduce an unplugged EV’s range by about 20%, and recharging takes longer. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your EV range during extreme cold (20° F and below) temperatures:
How to maximize EV range in cold weather:
- Charge your EV indoors.
- Precondition your cabin while the EV is still plugged in. Many EVs allow you to schedule preconditioning – EV lingo for heating or cooling the cabin – so you can climb into a toasty-warm car on a cold day without using energy from the battery.
- Allow your battery to warm up to optimal operating temperature before leaving your garage.*
- Use seat warmers instead of cabin heat; they typically use less energy, and they offer instant gratification.
- Slow down! Not only is it safer, but it increases your range. The faster you go, the more energy your EV uses, so set that cruise control and let it ride!
*Most EVs have a preconditioning function that you can schedule to automatically warm up the battery and cabin from the power grid instead of your vehicle’s battery. Preconditioning time may vary depending on the temperature and type of EV you drive.
Extreme heat (95° F and above) can cause a temporary drop in an EV’s range. According to PCMag, most cars are built with heating and cooling systems to regulate their temperature to prevent long-term detrimental effects on your battery.
How to maximize EV range in hot weather:
- Park in the shade.
- Lower the AC and use the recirculating air feature to maximize cool air and minimize energy consumption.
- Avoid aggressive acceleration.
- Keep your trunk and frunk free of junk (lighten your payload).
- Aim for up to 80% charge to minimize battery strain.
- Turn off the tunes (or, at the very least, pump down the volume).
4. What are the environmental advantages of EVs?
Generally speaking, over the lifetime of the car, electric vehicles are better for the environment than their gas-powered counterparts, even when you account for battery manufacturing.
Here are a few big-picture environmental benefits of driving electric:
- Have zero tailpipe emissions.
- EVs contribute fewer overall emissions than ICE vehicles.
- EVs are 2-3x more efficient than gas-powered cars.
- Lithium-ion manufacturing is more climate friendly than the alternative.
- EVs with bidirectional charging* capabilities can help stabilize the energy grid.
SOURCES: EPA.gov, fueleconomy.gov, climate.mit.edu, car.com
*Bidirectional charging allows electricity to flow from an EV back into the grid or into your home.
5. Can I tow with an EV?
Yes. Electric vehicles like the Audi e-tron, Ford 150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, Hyundai Ioniq and Kona, and Rivian trucks – to name just a few – are all rated for towing.
However, towing heavy loads can cut range in half, so plan your trip accordingly!
SOURCES: InsideEVs, Forbes.com
6. Do electric vehicles catch on fire?
Fire risks exist for both electric and ICE vehicles. Let’s take a look at the numbers and the facts and check out the sources below:
- Millions of gas, hybrid and electric vehicles are recalled each year for fire risks.
- Gas-powered vehicles have the most manufacturer recalls for fire risk defects.
- Electric car fires can be harder to put out than gas car fires. Firefighter training helps first responders respond safely.
- Gas cars are three and a half times more likely to catch fire than EVs.
What to do if your car catches fire:
- Pull over as soon as safely possible and shut off the car.
- Get everyone out of the car immediately.
- Call 911.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from the vehicle.
- Stay upwind from the fire, if possible.
- DO NOT open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire in either location.
- DO NOT attempt to put the fire out yourself.
SOURCES: AutoinsuranceEZ.com, howtogeek.com, consumerreports.org, NFPA.org
7. Are all electric cars automatic?
Yes (for now), and most electric cars have only one gear! However, some models – like the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron – are bucking the one-speed trend by offering a multi-speed gearbox.
In these models, first gear helps cars launch quicker. After launch, both cars automatically shift into high gear for better high-speed driving performance and a higher top speed.
8. What are some of the disadvantages of electric cars?
There are plenty of benefits to EVs: They are fun to drive, environmentally friendly, cost less to fuel, have lower maintenance costs, require fewer trips to the mechanic, offer at-home charging/refueling convenience and provide great performance. Although there are plenty of entries in the pro-EV column, there are valid concerns worth addressing.
Let’s dive right in and speak to the biggest concern for many drivers: finding charging stations. Even though charging an EV at home more than covers a week of typical commuting, long-distance road trips will require some planning.
Fortunately, the charging infrastructure – or electric fueling infrastructure – is growing. More and more communities, hotels and parks are embracing DC fast chargers, solar chargers and Level 2 charging stations for public use.
Plus, Tesla is opening up its supercharger network to vehicles made by other manufacturers, a move that will dramatically increase fast charging options for some EV owners. Not only that, but Tesla is even inviting other companies to use its charging technology, which the company renamed in late 2022. It’s now known as the North American Charging Standard (NACS).
Both Ford and General Motors have announced that they will offer built-in NACS ports in the future. In the meantime, both companies will begin providing adapters to their customers soon.
Until very recently, EV sticker prices were generally higher than their gas-powered counterparts; however, federal incentives and rapidly falling battery and raw material costs have many experts predicting that EVs could match gasoline cars on price this year.
9. Do EVs need oil changes?
Nope! EVs are powered by electric motors rather than internal combustion engines, which require regular oil changes to lubricate all the moving parts.
Although you can bid farewell to motor oil and other expensive engine- and transmission-related routine maintenance, EVs still need some routine maintenance and fluids such as coolant, brake fluid, and wiper fluid.
10. Are EVs safe?
As more and more EVs hit the streets, there’s a growing body of evidence indicating they’re at least as safe as gas-powered cars.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – an independent nonprofit scientific and educational organization – recently handed its TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation to the Volvo XC40 Recharge, Audi e-tron and Tesla Model 3.
Looking for more good EV safety news? The IIHS-affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute analyzed crash data on electric and conventional versions of nine models from 2011 to 2019 and found that injury claims related to the drivers and passengers of EVs were more than 40% lower than injury claims for identical conventional models because the drivers and passengers in heavier vehicles, like EVs, are exposed to lower forces in multi-vehicle crashes.