Q. What do all the acronyms mean?
- ICE stands for Internal Combustion Engine. These power most of the vehicles on the road today, and produce tailpipe emissions that affect our air quality.
- A hybrid vehicle has both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor and battery for increased gas mileage and decreased tailpipe emissions.
- A PHEV is a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle which is a hybrid with a larger battery pack. It gets superior gas mileage with reduced emissions when compared to a standard hybrid. It can be plugged-in to charge the battery for increased efficiency.
- An EV or BEV is a Battery Electric Vehicle that is 100% electric and has zero tail pipe emissions and no internal combustion engine.
- PEV or Plug-in Electric Vehicle refers to all vehicles that have a battery on board that can be charged/plugged-in to an electrical outlet, such as PHEVs, EREVs, BEVs and EVs.
- Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) is your connection to the grid or charge connector for your Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV).
Q. Where can I get information about EV/PEV?
A: Here are some sites on the makes and types of electric vehicles available worldwide:
- California Clean Cars Campaign
- Plug-In Partners
- Plug-In America
- Information on the Nissan Leaf
- Information on the Chevy Volt
Q. How much more will a PHEV cost versus a comparably sized conventional hybrid?
A: The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that, with mass production, the cost of a PHEV battery will add $2,000 to $3,000 to the cost of a conventional hybrid. EPRI studies project that after considering the lower costs of fuel and maintenance, a mass-produced PHEV should provide better overall economics than either a conventional hybrid or a conventional vehicle.
Battery costs are the primary reason for this higher cost, and battery prices are likely to fall with increased production. The cost difference can be offset by federal and state tax credits and rebates designed to reward consumers for producing lower emissions and decreasing their use of petroleum-based fuels.
Q. Are there incentives, rebates or tax credits available for purchasing clean vehicles?
A: Yes, there are rebates up to $5000 and federal tax incentives up to $7500. Please see links below for additional information.
Q. How safe are plug-in vehicles?
A: Just as safe as any other car on the road. All major manufacturers’ automobiles in the USA require a safety standard and crash test rating. Please see specific make and model for actual rating.
Q. What kind of maintenance is required for PEVs?
A: Routine maintenance will be required just like any other car on the road, but typically the PEV drive-train has significantly reduced wear and tear. Pure electric vehicles do not have any oil to change and the motors are said to last 300,000 miles with no maintenance. See each manufacturer’s specifications for details.
Q. Will it plug into a regular household outlet?
A: It will charge on a regular 120V 20-amp dedicated outlet. This is considered a "trickle charge," which means it would charge at a slower rate.
Q. How much does it cost to charge a plug-in vehicle?
A: This will vary depending on the vehicle and electricity rates. On average, it will be less than $1 to charge a plug-in hybrid and $2-4 for an all-electric car. Your energy bill will be less overall by driving with electricity. EVs are so efficient that the cost per mile driven is significantly less than with a gasoline-powered car. For instance, a 2002 Toyota RAV4 will travel 100 miles on 4 gallons of gasoline. At $3.00/gallon, this is $12.00. A 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV will travel 100 miles on 30 kWh of electricity. At 10 cents per kWh, this is $3.00.
Q. What are my charging choices?
- Level I = 120V - low cost - long charge time – plug in to standard outlet
- Level II = 240V - medium cost – medium charge time – at home, work or public site
- Level III = 480V – high cost – short charge time – public site
Q. How long does it take to fully charge a plug-in hybrid or electric car?
- A: It would depend on the vehicle and charge level.
- A: An EV would need an overnight charge from an ordinary 120V (Level I) socket.
- A: With Level II charging or 240V, a PHEV could be fully charged in 4 hours, or an EV in 8 hours.
- A: With a fast charger, level III 480V, you could fully charge in 5-10 minutes.
Q. Where do you recharge a plug-in vehicle?
A: Most people recharge in their own garage overnight, but there are public chargers available in parking garages, shopping centers and other locations. See EV Charger News or Recargo to find public chargers in your area.
Q. Can you plug-in to charge the battery even if it's not empty?
A: Yes, simply plug in your vehicle and the car will take care of the rest.
Q. Are there any special charging rates from SMUD?
A: Yes, we provide an off-peak PEV discount of $0.02 off the current rate for residential customers. For PEVs charged at a place of business, the rate will be the normal rate paid by that business.
Q. How does exactly does recharging work?
A: There are mainly two types of electric vehicle charging stations: conductive and inductive.
The conductive charger works similar to a household appliance by transferring electricity through plugs using metal-to-metal contact.
The inductive charger has no direct electrical connection to the vehicle. A weatherproof paddle transfers power to the vehicle's charge port via a magnetic field. Inserting the charge coupler is all that's required to initiate charging.
Q. Is the home charging station or EVSE separate from the cost of the car?
A: In most cases, the charger is on-board the vehicle and a connector to plug-in for level I charging is provided. In order to have level II or 240v charging, there will be a separate cost for the EVSE and installation. Consult your vehicle manufacturer for suggested EVSE equipment and pricing.
Q. What is the expected EVSE installation cost?
A: Costs may vary depending on the level of charge needed, electrical service, panel capacity and the age of your house, among other variables. To start the process, we recommend having a licensed electrical contractor conduct a load survey.
Q. Is an upgrade to my home electrical system required to set up the charging station/EVSE?
A: A professional evaluation of your home electrical system by a licensed electrical contractor will be required to assess the upgrades needed and their costs.
Q. Can you install a charging station by yourself or does it have to be installed by a qualified electrician?
A: An EVSE should be installed by a professional licensed electrician.
Q. Do I need a permit to install an EVSE?
A: Very likely. Contact your city building officials for specific requirements.
Q. What happens when the batteries run out of power?
A: With a PHEV or EREV, the gasoline engine will charge the battery as necessary. although if you choose to plug in and charge, it will increase the efficiency and decrease the emission of the vehicle. A BEV or EV's batteries must be plugged-in and charged once they are depleted.
Q. How long will the battery remain charged if you leave it parked where you cannot charge it?
A: This depends on a variety of factors like ambient temperature, age of the battery and how much energy is in the battery when you park it. However, the drain is very small relative to the battery's capacity.
Q. What happens if you are in a crash? Will the acid get on you?
A: The battery packs are safer in a crash case than a gas tank. The battery packs would have to be crushed to half their size before any possible problems might happen.
Q. Where are the batteries?
A: Underneath the chassis, between the frame rails where it is safest.
Q. Aren't all those batteries full of toxic chemicals and precious metals that will just end up in a landfill?
A: Not at all. Almost every car in the world has a lead-acid battery, the most toxic metal used for batteries. Even with its low value as scrap, the recycling rate for lead-acid batteries is about 98% in the U.S. EVs will use newer chemistries such as NiMH and LiIon. Both of these metals are inherently more valuable than lead, and since the batteries are quite large, the value of the spent battery packs will be such that the recycling rate will approach 100%. It is illegal to dispose of these batteries in a landfill and their value will ensure that is not their fate. Nickel, while mildly toxic, will be reclaimed during the recycling process. Lithium is even less toxic and more valuable than nickel.
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