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EV Car Shoppers FAQs

For Car Shoppers

What are electric vehicles (EVs)?

Electric vehicles include cars, SUVs, motorcycles, and other passenger vehicles powered by electricity stored in rechargeable batteries or an energy storage device. There are four main types: battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), hybrid electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). For an in-depth look at the types and differences, visit our Technology Overview.

How do electric vehicles differ from conventional cars?

Unlike standard vehicles that are powered by gasoline and other hydrocarbon fuels, electric vehicles rely on a rechargeable internal battery to provide power to an electric motor and electric drivetrain. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a blend of these two methods, with both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.

Are there special incentives for low- and moderate-income consumers?

Consumers with household incomes less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for an increased rebate amount of $2,000 on top of the standard CVRP rebate. This amounts to

  • $7,000 for fuel cell electric vehicles
  • $4,500 for battery-electric vehicles
  • $3,500 for plug-in hybrid vehicles

For CVRP rebates, a household includes all family members or other unrelated persons, including the rebate applicant, who reside together and share common living expenses.

To determine all the incentives available to you based on where you live, vehicle type, and household income, see our Savings Calculator.

Do I have to buy and install a charging station?

Electric vehicle charging is often done at home using what is referred to as Level 1 or Level 2 charging equipment. All electric vehicles are delivered with a Level 1 charging cord that plugs into a standard 120-volt electrical outlet. For faster charging, there are Level 2 chargers that use a 240-volt electrical outlet—the same plug used by a clothes dryer. Level 2 chargers cost around $400-$800 and may require professional installation. For a more in-depth look at the differences between Level 1 and Level 2 charging options, visit Fueling Options.

How far can electric vehicles go on a single charge?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can drive 20-60 miles on electricity, whereas most battery-electric vehicles can drive from 100 to more than 300 miles, depending on the vehicle make and model. For hydrogen vehicles, the range is about 250-350 miles on a single fill-up.

Are there special maintenance issues?

Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than standard gasoline vehicles and tend to need less maintenance. One issue to be aware of is battery capacity. Though most manufacturers offer an 8-10 year/100,000-mile warranty on the battery, at some point the EV battery capacity will decrease, reducing the range of the vehicle on a full charge. While most vehicle batteries will last the life of the vehicle, replacement batteries can be expensive (if one is needed). However, the overall lower cost of fuel and maintenance over the vehicle’s lifetime may compensate the cost of a new battery.

How does the handling compare to standard gasoline vehicles?

If you like power and quick acceleration, then EVs are right for you. Because of their electric motor and drivetrain, EVs deliver nearly instant maximum torque whereas a standard gasoline vehicle doesn’t reach peak torque until it revs up. Electric vehicles also have improved handling due to a lower center of gravity and almost ideal weight distribution.

What are the environmental impacts of electric vehicles (EVs)?

While hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles still use gas, battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles do not, and as such, do not directly produce any smog-forming, toxic pollutants. California’s electricity grid is one of the greenest in the nation, so when you charge your EV you are fueling it with the cleanest energy available. If you have solar panels on your home, you are driving with an almost net-zero environmental impact.