Electric Vehicles: A Snapshot Guide to What’s Available and What’s Coming Down the Road 5 Electric Vehicles: A Snapshot Guide to What’s Available and What’s Coming Down the Road 4 Electric Vehicles: A Snapshot Guide to What’s Available and What’s Coming Down the Road or to a charging station. They tend to have smaller batteries and depend on the auxiliary power source in place of a larger battery. The battery range on these vehicles is from 53-81 miles. With the auxiliary recharging engines, the range is 150-600 miles. In this category of vehicle, the Chevy Volt has a gas engine that initially recharges the battery and then will actually power the vehicle when the batteries are down. The BMW i3, has a small gas engine that will recharge the battery for an extra 69 miles of driving. Dual Electric and Gasoline Vehicles: (PHEV – Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) These cars have both an electric and gasoline motor which powers the wheels. They are different from the now common hybrid vehicles, because you can plug them in to re- charge. If your daily mileage is less than, say, 20 miles then these can be used exclusively as electric vehicles. Because the gasoline engine will kick in when the battery depletes, the range of these vehicle is similar to gasoline powered vehicles. The electric range is 11-27 miles per charge and the gasoline engine range is 330-550 miles. SO WHAT ABOUT CHARGING? There are three basic types of charging systems, two of which will work in your home. Level 1: This is the simplest and least expensive system to set up in your home. All you need is a dedicated circuit (nothing else being used on the circuit) and a common household outlet. Level 1 charging is the slowest method because it uses standard 120 volt household current. Your electric vehicle will come with a Level 1 charging cord that you simply plug into a regular household outlet. The cord comes with a control box which monitors charging. Typi- cally, it will take about an hour to get 4.5 miles of range. Complete charging times range from 3 to 57 hours. Level 2: This requires a dedicated 240 volt cir- cuit, the same one you would need for an electric dryer or other large appliance. First, your home has to have 240 electrical service (all newer homes will) and second, if there is not a readily available line, it will have to be run to where it is needed from the circuit breaker box. Not only will this require an electrician, but if walls or ceilings are disturbed, carpentry, drywall and painting may also be necessary. In addition, once the circuit is available, you will need a special device to plug into the circuit which monitors the electri- cal charge to the car. Depending on features, these devices can range from $500-$2500. Before these costs scare you off, it is worth investigating the actual cost (you may be lucky enough to have a circuit box in your garage or very close) and determine if your utility company will offer any financial assistance (many do as they want to sell you more electricity). In addition, you need to consider the fact that this installation will save you hundreds of dollars in gasoline costs as well as being much more convenient than going to a gas sta- tion to refuel. Typically an hour’s charging will provide 24 miles of driving. Complete charging times range from 1.5 to 12 hours. Level 3 or DC Fast Charge: This is a feature of the car that enables it to be connected to a public charg- ing station, many of which have very fast charging systems. This is great if you have an EV and your office provides charging stations or you’re on the road and find one on the highway or in a shopping center. You can get up to 40 miles of range with just 10 minutes of charg- ing. Overall charging times can be as low as 20 min- utes. One of the issues the industry is struggling with is a universal plug. There are three types of fast charge plugs, one of which is proprietary to the Tesla. Tesla does offer adaptors that can be used in the various types of outlets. If you are planning to charge your vehicle at work, be sure to check out the DC fast charge plug before you buy your plug. Various environmental and energy organizations sponsor test drive days where you can go to a single location and test drive a variety of electric vehicles. To find out more go to www.driveelectricweek.org. TIP