How to Choose an Electric Vehicle
Drivers in Maine and around the world are making the switch to electric vehicles. Electric vehicles, or EVs, are fun to drive, cheaper to operate, and cleaner for the environment. Efficiency Maine offers rebates that can make the switch to an electric vehicle even easier. If you’re interested in buying an EV, we’d like to share some useful information about owning and driving one. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover a variety of EV topics that we hope will help Mainers across the state feel confident and excited about switching to an EV. Today’s topic: how to choose an electric vehicle.
We recommend beginning your EV search by determining whether you want a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). BEVs are powered solely by an electric motor with a battery, while PHEVs are powered by a combination of both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. In other words, BEVs run entirely on electricity while PHEVs run on both electricity and gasoline. Most BEV models can travel farther on electricity alone than PHEVs because they have larger batteries. However, BEVs do not have a backup gas engine like PHEVs do, so when the battery is exhausted, the only way to continue driving is to recharge the battery. PHEVs have a longer total driving range because they can be powered by the gasoline engine after their battery charge is exhausted, but PHEVs have a shorter range on electricity alone. That said, PHEVs can travel farther on just electrical power than traditional hybrids.*
A key factor in determining whether to go for a BEV or a PHEV is the range of the vehicle. Driving range, or simply “range,” is the total distance a vehicle can travel. For BEVs, range is determined by how far the vehicle can travel on a single charge. For PHEVs, range is based on how far the vehicle can travel on one full charge and one full tank of fuel. The range of a BEV can be anywhere from 100 to 380 miles, depending on the model of the car. The range of a PHEV can be anywhere from 400 to 600 combined miles, also depending on the vehicle. We recommend assessing how much range you need and factoring that into your vehicle choice. For some context, a 100-mile range is sufficient for more than 90% of all household vehicle trips in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration.** In Maine, fifty percent of people commute less than 10 miles a day.*** We recommend taking into account your charging plan, or where and how often you plan to charge your electric vehicle, as well as your daily driving needs, when determining your necessary range.
Many of the considerations in choosing an EV are similar to the ones you’d contemplate for a gas-powered vehicle. Do you want two seats or four? A sedan or a hatchback? A commuter car or a road trip van? Like any car, price will likely be a big factor. EVs, such as the Hyundai Ioniq, the Nissan LEAF, or the Toyota Prius Prime start around $30,000, while more expensive options, such as the Ford F-150 Lightning, list closer to $60,000. To see a list of vehicles eligible for Efficiency Maine’s rebates, click here.****
Overall, we recommend factoring in fuel source, range, and charging plans to your checklist of considerations. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Compare side-by-side” tool to compare multiple vehicles and find the vehicle that is best for you.
Efficiency Maine offers instant rebates for eligible BEVs and PHEVs at participating Maine car dealers. Eligible BEVs and PHEVs direct from a manufacturer are eligible for mail-in rebates. For a detailed list of vehicles that qualify for Efficiency Maine rebates, visit www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/EV_Rebate_Eligible_Vehicles.pdf. To find a participating dealer near you, visit www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/EV_Accelerator_Participating_Dealers-3.pdf. Also check www.efficiencymaine.com/ev/ for our EV video library and other resources.
*Traditional hybrid cars rely on their gas engines to keep their batteries charged as they’re driven, rather than being plugged into a charger.
**Source: https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publication/pev_consumer_handbook.pdf Page 4
***Source: https://onthemap.ces.census.gov/, U.S. Census Bureau
****Efficiency Maine rebates are available for vehicles with a total MSRP (minus destination/delivery charges, and no other discounts, deductions, credits, or rebates) of no more than $73,000 (in the case of an eligible pickup truck or commercial van with an EPA-rated range of 300 miles or more); $65,000 (in the case of an eligible pickup truck or commercial van with an EPA-rated range of less than 300 miles), or $50,000 for all other eligible vehicles.
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