June 2018 EnergyWiseSM Tip: Electric Vehicles
If you think electric vehicles (EVs) are a newer, up-and-coming trend, you might be surprised to know during the first decade of the 1900s, there were twice as many EVs on the road compared to cars with internal combustion engines. Low top speeds, ranges of only a few miles, development of electric starter for gas-driven vehicles in 1912, and the discovery of large domestic reserves of petroleum limited interest in EVs for nearly the next century.
As we approached our current millennium, a few companies started to mass-produce hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. Due to limitations in battery technology, HEVs use combustion engines, running an electric generator to supplement power to electric motors that actually propel the vehicle. Combining technologies yielded higher fuel efficiency rates while fostering interest in improving battery performance and range. Eventually, true EVs, vehicles powered only by electricity, began to see a resurgence. In 2008, the Tesla Roadster came into the market and started the growing demand. By the end of 2016, more than one million pure electric cars and vans were owned globally.
So why would you consider driving an EV? Here are some things to think about:
Safety – EVs must pass the same safety tests as gas-powered vehicles. EVs are far less likely to catch fire than gas-powered vehicles. On average, gas-fueled cars will catch fire at the approximate rate of one fire every 20 million miles driven. For EVs, the rate is one fire per 120 million miles driven.
Less maintenance – EVs have fewer moving parts, so there is less to maintain. You’ll still have brakes to maintain, but regenerative braking technology means they will last much longer than they do on a gas-powered vehicle. Yes, battery replacement can be expensive, but most models today come with an eight-year/100K mile warranty and can last up to 15 years or more.
Quiet – EVs cars are quiet inside and outside. Especially the first few times you come to a stop in traffic, you’ll notice it’s the other vehicles with combustion engines idling around you that are making the noise and not you!
Performance – EVs have extremely high torque power and their pick-up is very quick and smooth. Even modest-looking sedan EVs have some incredible zero to 60 mile-per-hour ratings that leave gas-powered vehicles eating dust.
Range – Recent EV models are making huge gains in range performance due to advancements in battery technology and electric regenerative vehicle braking. As an example, in 2017, the Chevrolet Bolt boasted a range of more than 200 miles. The Volkswagen e-Golf sports a 124-mile (201-km) range.
Tax Credits – You may be eligible for federal income tax credits up to $7,500 to defray some initial purchase costs. As with other tax credit opportunities, consult your tax preparer for additional information.
No Emissions – EVs are 100 percent eco-friendly as they run on electrically-powered motors. As your Nebraska public power utilities draw more and more energy from renewable energy resources, fewer combustion by-products are released into our environment.
Charging stations – The fear of not being able to charge your EV on a road trip is becoming a concern of the past. Numerous agencies and groups provide online locators and maps to help plan your journey and take range anxiety away.
Fuel cost – As opposed to miles-per-gallon, EV drivers refer to their fuel use as kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100 miles driven. The new Chevy Bolt touts an efficiency rating of 28 kWh per 100 miles. Assuming electricity costs $0.12/kWh, driving 100 miles will cost $3.36. The non-hybrid/non-electric Chevy Spark is rated at 38 miles-per-gallon of unleaded gasoline on the highway. At this rate, it requires about 2.6 gallons of gas to cover the same 100 miles. Considering the current Nebraska average gasoline price is around $2.80 a gallon, the trip will cost $7.28 in fuel. That’s more than double the fuel cost!
Incentives – Finally, a $200 EnergyWiseSM incentive for the installation of a residential vehicle charging station is available for a limited time to help with the cost of charging your EV at home. Contact your local public power utility to see if you qualify. They also have additional ideas on other energy-saving improvements that can help you make the most from the energy you use!