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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.

These questions and answers were answered live or developed after CEC’s June 2020 EV 101 webinar. Some of the answers were provided by CEC staff while some were answered by other attendees. While the answers are generally accurate and verified, they won’t be updated after 2020. Please use the answers below as leads to do your own research.

General Information

Are new and used EVs available for sale in our county?
Yes — A great resource for looking through the 40 EV models and determining which meets your lifestyle is www.PlugInCars.com. You can then visit the manufacturer or local dealer website to learn more.

A great resource for leasing a vehicle is http://ev-vin.blogspot.com/, which compares lease deals at various dealers. You can see if your local dealer can match prices.

For used EVs, searching for the vehicle model with “used” will bring up many third party sellers, and Craigslist is a great resource for private party sales.

MyGreenCar is a great car-buying resource that allows you to select multiple used and new gas, hybrid, and EV cars to test drive and compare your actual battery use and costs of ownership.

How are dealerships selling cars while practicing social distancing during COVID-19?
Dealerships allow potential buyers to test drive a vehicle without a salesperson in the vehicle. Some dealerships will bring the car to you to do the test drive. For example, Tesla has a contact-free test drive and delivery process. You can test drive a car, purchase it online, and have it delivered to you without being exposed to other people. Call your local dealership for more information.

Do you need to service or smog EVs?
Pure EVs do not require services that most gasoline powered vehicles do, such as oil, transmission, cooling, muffler and spark plug maintenance. EVs do not need to be smogged. Plug in hybrids may need some services like oil changes at a reduced frequency, such as every year or two. In general EVs and PHEVs have lower maintenance costs than gasoline cars, with some studies putting it at about half.

Do you know which car manufacturers have the best labor laws and labor union protections? I want to choose a manufacturer that treats its workers fairly.
Some car manufacturers are union – Chevrolet’s Chevy Bolt and Chrysler’s Pacifica PHEV are manufactured in the United States with union labor. Tesla vehicles are the only cars made in California and are not union made, nor are the Prius Prime or Nissan Leaf.

I have a family of five, and we are often traveling with extra people (my parents, my kids’ friends, e.t.c.), so my current vehicle seats 7.  Are there EVs that can accommodate seven or more passengers?
Yes – there are some EVs that seat at least seven passengers including: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan, Tesla Model X, Tesla Model Y, and Volvo XC90.

What is a crossover vehicle?
A “crossover” is a vehicle that “crosses over” from the practicality of an SUV to the drivability and fuel efficiency of a car. Examples of EV crossovers are the Kia Niro, Hyundai Kona Electric, Tesla Model Y, and Subaru Crosstrek. Examples of EV SUVs are the Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X. More EV versions of trucks and SUVs are coming out as demand for these types of EV vehicles increases.

Financial Considerations

What savings can I expect to see from purchasing an EV?
The largest savings will be from not buying gasoline, as EVs can be charged at home during off-peak times on special EV rates for as little as $1.50/gallon equivalent. You likely will also see savings on maintenance. Alameda County found that in their fleet the EVs required 3.5 cents/mile of maintenance versus 7.9 cents/mile for their gasoline vehicles, or about half the expense.

EVs do not require services that most gasoline powered vehicles do, such as oil, transmission, cooling, muffler and spark plug maintenance. EVs do not need to be smogged. Insurance premiums are about the same for EVs and gasoline powered vehicles. Additionally, some state, county and university employees may be eligible for special pricing – check with your employer for additional information.

Why is the residual / resale value of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) so low? Will BEVs ever become profitable to produce and market?
BEV residual values are low partly because of the $7,500 federal tax credit and $3,000 or more in local incentives. This discount is almost immediately reflected in resale prices and some EVs have experienced low resale values, particularly for earlier EVs with a range of under 100 miles. This means that used car buyers can purchase them for very affordable prices, from $5,000-$10,000, and they make a great second car in a household. For this reason, you may want to consider buying a used EV.

Another option is leasing a new EV, which often have great lease terms, better than gas cars, and you have no risk of depreciation.  You could also trade-in every few years to take advantage of battery range improvements.

Other EVs like Teslas have some of the lowest depreciation in the industry, with the Model 3 only seeing 10% depreciation versus industry average of 39% after 3 years.

BEVs are profitable now for manufacturers at scale. Tesla reportedly makes as much as 25% gross margins on vehicles, but is investing heavily to scale up production with new factories – thus why they don’t always show a quarterly profit.

I have a fourteen-year-old lower mile-per-gallon gas-powered car in very good conditionhow should I consider the impact of trading in this vehicle in the environmental calculus of purchasing an EV?
For most gas cars, only about 10-15% of lifecycle emissions occur from manufacturing and recycling it, with 85-90% of impact happening from the decade or two of driving it. Most EVs pay off their additional impact of manufacturing in 6 months-2 years, depending on battery size.  If you can afford to purchase a much cleaner car, it will be better for the environment to get it now. You can sell your old car so someone else can use it, and others will do the same on down the line until likely a very old, polluting vehicle is taken off the road. We need to increase the number of EVs on the road relative to gasoline-powered cars.

Do the calculated costs for maintenance include replacement of a bad battery? What is the typical lifetime of an EV battery? Which company has the longest battery life?
EV batteries typically have a warranty that covers 100,000 miles, but can cover more – for example, 2020 Toyota EVs come with a 10-year 150,000 mile warranty. The batteries are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle, and the lower maintenance costs we cite do not incorporate a battery replacement.

Tesla is widely considered the automaker with the most advanced batteries, with some high mileage vehicles lasting over 300,000 miles on a battery.

Are there ways to support working class Black people and people of color to be able to afford EVs?
Yes, the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program provides a $5,000 grant to Californians that make under $104,000 for a family of 4. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project offers a $2,000 rebate for EVs and an enhanced $4,500 rebate for Californian’s with an income under $77,000 for a family of 4. Learn about these and other incentives at ElectricDrive805.org

Do tax credits apply equally to hybrids or just plug in vehicles?
Hybrids do not qualify for the federal tax credit. The tax credit is by battery capacity so most EVs get the full $7,500 tax credit (except Tesla and GM, who have exceeded their limit), whereas some larger battery plug-in hybrid get the full tax credit, while some get a partial tax credit.

Which rebates apply to used vehicles?
SCE’s Clean Fuel Rewards $1,000 rebate can be used on used vehicles. The Clean Vehicle Assistance Program described above can be used for used vehicles.

Can you take the incentives each time you buy an EV or is only on your first EV purchase?
You can get the incentives multiple times. Consult the fine print of each one for details.

At what point and to whom do you apply for these incentives?  In advance of selecting a car or after you purchase it?
You apply for the incentives after you purchase the car for most of the programs except the income limited Clean Vehicle Assistance Program. Consult each program’s details.

What is the cost of a Tesla Model 3 – and what is that range?
Cost: $37,990 before incentives. Range: 250 miles

Extra cost for options like more range, color, wheels, autopilot, etc.

Learn more.

Charging Your EV

Where can you charge your EV? How much does it cost to charge your EV at a charging station? Are there free charging stations?
PlugShare.com provides a database of more than 300,000 charging stations nationwide. Typically, public charging is 20-30 cents per kWh or $1-2 per hour. You can also search for complimentary charging stations, of which there are a few in our region. Volta has the largest network of free stations.

What plans does Santa Barbara County have to support EV drivers? More charging stations are necessary for EVs to be a reliable commuter option.
CEC has helped install 1,000 public chargers on the Central Coast:

  • Ventura County: 424+ public charging and 100+ fast charging stations
  • Santa Barbara County: 263+ public charging and 38+ fast charging stations
  • San Luis Obispo County: 282+ public charging and 34+ fast charging stations

CEC is part of the ElectricDrive805 collaborative which is working to bring additional EV charging to our region, promote EV friendly policies, provide EV education and awareness, and other actions to make it easier to drive EVs.

For those who commute in an EV, is charging at home sufficient to fully recharge the battery each night?
Yes — if you drive less than 50 miles a day, a Level 1 charger from a standard 120 volt outlet may be a very affordable, low cost solution. If you have a Level 2 charger at your home, you should be able to add 200-300 miles to your EV battery overnight.

As a renter with on street parking, my Chevy Volt hybrid has worked out great since I’ve not been able to charge where I work due to stay at home orders. Sad that this car has been discontinued.
Agreed. Great car. Coming up with charging options for renters is a critical need. ElectricDrive805 is working to get more charging at multifamily properties and workplaces, as well as public destinations.

If you are a renter, who is expected to pay for a new EV charging station? The renter of the landlord?
In most cases, the renter is expected to pay for the purchase and installation of a new EV charging station. It is always a good idea to check with your landlord before making any improvements to your unit.

If your landlord is interested in adding charging as an amenity, and you live at an apartment building or condos, look into the CALeVIP and SCE ChargeReady 2 programs, which will pay for a large portion of the cost of installing multiple chargers for multifamiliy properties.

Would an EV be as reliable as a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) during an emergency like a fire or flood?
We have EVs only and had no problem leaving town during the Thomas Fire. We’ve been in mandatory evacuations every year for the last few years without ever having a problem charging our cars when needed.nOf course, a PHEV will give the most flexibility in an emergency as it can use both electricity and gasoline.

Are quick chargers only necessary for road trips?
Quick chargers are very useful for road trips, and many EV owners have taken road trips of thousands of miles in a week or two, or have traveled across the country. Quick chargers can also be useful for extending a vehicle’s range in a day, for example if a Santa Barbara driver wanted to drive to LA or Orange County and back in one day. Drivers that don’t have access to home charging, but own a large battery EV may rely on workplace charging and/or quick chargers as their primary way of fueling their vehicle.

Can I charge my EV at home?
If you have an electric outlet, you can charge your EV at home. A Level 1 charger provides charging through a 120 V AC plug and adds about 2 to 5 miles of range to a vehicle per hour of charging time. Charging with Level 1 EVSE will not require any special equipment besides an outlet, but does require a dedicated branch circuit. A Level 2 charger provides charging through a 240 V AC plug and adds about 10 to 60 miles of range to a vehicle per hour of charging time, making it suitable for all EVs. Using Level 2 EVSE requires drivers install special charging equipment as well as have a dedicated electrical circuit of 20 to 100 amps. Learn more.

Does the battery last longer if you don’t charge it until it is almost depleted or should it be charged nightly?
Yes – the battery will last longer if you charge it to 80%-90%. Some manufacturers provide a built in buffer so the driver can never charge to 100%. Others allow the driver to set the level of charging. Only charge the battery to 100% when you plan to drive a long distance.

Does Tesla still honor its warranty if Level 3 charging is used?
Tesla has a large network of chargers all over the state and country and does not put any limitations on using them.

Is use of Tesla Superchargers limited to Teslas?
Yes – the Tesla Supercharger can only be used with Tesla because it requires a unique plug. It is possible to get a converter to use Tesla chargers for other cars, but not ideal. Additionally, there is no free charging for non-Tesla brands and not all Teslas get complimentary charging.

What is the beta on an adaptive plug-in from non-Tesla EVs to Tesla chargers? Do they work well and are they worth the cost?
There is no adapter to connect your Ioniq to a Tesla Supercharger. A good bit of news is the new Electrify America Level 3 DC Fast Charging Station in Camarillo where there are 10 chargers – eight 150kW and two 350kW. In general, fast charging for non-Tesla cars is expanding rapidly.

Does an EV battery lose charge while sitting for an extended period of time? For example, if you take it to a trailhead and then backpack for a week, will your battery still be at the same level when you return?
EVs can lose a charge very slowly, just like a gas vehicle’s battery would die eventually if not started once in a while. The car still needs to power anti-theft systems, etc. In a week, depending on the car, you might lose a few percent to 10 percent of range. Once you know your car you could take any losses into account when charging before arriving at a trailhead or airport or other places a car might sit a while.

Solar Options

Can solar be used to charge an EV? Why don’t EVs have solar panels to help with charging?
EVs do not have solar panels because there is not enough space to provide much power, even if you covered the whole car roof and parked in the sun all day you might only get less than 10 miles of range. You may also want to park it the shade when you can. A better solution is to solar on your house or carport and charge that way. You can learn more about solar.

Solar panels deteriorate over time – do you need to replace them over time?
Most solar systems sold today come with a 25-year warranty and micro-inverters that offer more output and protection against shade.

Are there companies that offer a car, solar panel and an at-home charging station bundle purchase option for a reduced price?
Not that we are aware of. Tesla sells all those things, and more.

What is the most economical way to expand a solar system to accommodate an EV?
The AC type of panels each have a micro-inverter and can be added as building blocks as you want. Each panel is sort of an AC generation appliance. It takes about 2 kilowatts of solar (about $6,000-$7,000) to provide enough power to drive an EV 12,000 miles per year. Solar is a great investment for an EV as you may pay off the panels within a few years and then drive for a couple decades for free!

Environmental Impact

What is the environmental impact of EV batteries? Can they be recycled at end of life?
Many lifecycle analyses and reports have found that EVs are much cleaner than gas cars. EVs have only been sold for 9 years and there are not many used batteries yet to build an industry. Many studies are also looking at secondary uses for EV batteries in stationary storage for solar/wind farms or to provide grid services.

Scientists are conducting research into the environmental impact of EV batteries, to decrease environmental impacts, and to recycle them. Many consumer lithium batteries, which have shorter lifespans than EV batteries, are being recycled, and automakers have plans to develop large EV battery recycling plants when the used batteries are available.

There is no way that the United States can achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Accord in 2050 unless all 50 states and the national Light-Duty Vehicle (LDV) fleet convert to EV.  How can we move toward a national EV policy under a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) regulation?  Currently, less than 5% of the LDV fleet are EV.  How can we get to at least 80% by 2040 and phase out the Inner City Express (ICE) fleet?
One way to achieve this goal would be to introduce a carbon tax, which would help reflect the true cost of gasoline and push individuals and corporations to move toward less expensive EVs.

Does charging an EV with a natural gas power plant produce less CO2 emissions than an efficient gas car?
Yes – an EV is much more efficient than a gas car, see this Union of Concerned Scientists report on the environmental impacts of charging a car in different states with different fuel mixes. In general all US electric grids are getting cleaner as renewables replace gas and coal. California has no coal plants and some of the cleanest electricity in the country, and a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2045.

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