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What You Need To Know Before Buying An EV

You may already know why we think electric vehicles (EVs) are so cool. EVs are around 3x more efficient than gasoline vehicles – that’s how the EPA rates them around 100 mpg equivalent. They produce zero tailpipe emissions, and on California’s clean grid, they produce around 75% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable gasoline car.

Since the new generation of EVs started to hit the market this year, most of the questions we’ve heard are about range, permitting, rebates and how to actually purchase one. Here’s what you need to know:

Range and charging

  • Many commuters find that they can make most, if not all, of their daily trips solely on electricity. The Chevy Volt has a 40 mile battery range and then can travel over 300 miles on gasoline. The Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV, and many other all-electric vehicles have a 70-100 mile range.
  • Most recharging is done overnight at home. CEC’s Plug in Santa Barbara is working to get more public stations in place this year.
  • Many drivers install a 240-volt (Level 2) charging station in their garage and recharge the battery at night, when the cost of electricity is lower. Visit SCE for a calculator with various charging rates and other information. It generally takes about 3 to 8 hours to recharge from a Level 2 station, depending on the vehicle.

Permits

  • To install a 240-volt charging station, contact a licensed electrical contractor. The process is similar to installing a hot tub – your electrician will arrange the permit and inspection.

Rebates

Making a purchase

  • These vehicles are in such high demand that manufacturers are increasing production volumes. Meanwhile they are difficult to find on the lot, so contact a local dealer to get on the waiting list.
  • By 2012, there are expected to be a dozen electric vehicles on the market, so the supply may be less constrained.

To track the latest news on these models, stay in touch with CEC through Facebook and our e-newletter.

Also, check out a green car show to see them for yourself. CEC hosts three shows per year where you can check out all the new electric vehicles. Shows in 2012 are scheduled for: Santa Barbara (April 21-22), Ventura (July 4) and Santa Maria (TBD). You can watch a 6 minute tour of the 2011 Green Car Show on CEC’s website.

Do you already own an EV? We want to hear about your experience! Shoot a quick email to Michelle at [email protected]

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