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FAQs about Electric Vehicles

Have questions about Electric Vehicles? Read on to see answers to our most frequently asked questions. Don't see the answer to your question? Contact us!

FAQs About Electric Vehicles

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) have both electric and gasoline capabilities while All Electric Vehicles (EVs) use only electricity. PHEVs typically have a short electric range and then the hybrid gasoline engine kicks in. All Electric vehicles have larger batteries that provide a longer range on just electricity. 
The efficiency of gasoline vehicles is measured in miles per gallon (MPG), but for electric vehicles miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) is used. This is because electric vehicles don't run on gallons of anything, much less gasoline, so MPGe was created as the new unit of measure. Compare MPGe for each of the cars available through U Drive Electric. You can read more about the efficency of EVs and PHEVs on fueleconomy.gov.
Learn more about the vehicles available through U Drive Electric, including price, discounts, charge time, range. You can also see the MPGe/MPG, estimated annual fuel costs (for the average driver), estimated fuels savings (over 5 years compared to a 25 MPG vehicle, time to charge the batteries, and smog ratings.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists "electric-drive vehicles have many components that will likely last even longer than a typical gasoline car, both because they have fewer moving parts and because they don’t operate at the high temperatures of an internal combustion engine. Expectations are that maintenance should end up simpler for all-electric vehicles."
Poor air quality is the result of the unique geography of the Salt Lake Valley coupled with pollution generated from transportation, industry, and buildings. "Mobile sources" of air pollution (like vehicles) are a major contributor to a certain type of pollution known as particulate pollution, or "PM 2.5", emitting 48% of Utah’s criteria air pollutants (the most harmful types of air pollution). By transitioning our traditional polluting vehicles to cleaner, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars, we can tackle a big part of Utah’s air quality problem. According to the Department of Energy EVs convert up to 80% of the energy stored in their batteries to power the vehicle. Compare that to the 14 – 26% of the energy stored in gasoline being converted to power an internal combustion vehicle. According to a 2013 analysis conducted by SWEEP and Utah Clean Energy "all electric" vehicles produce 99% lower emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 95% less sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, 76% less nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions as compared to a new gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles reduces emissions significantly as well.In addition to air quality benefits are the greenhouse gas emissions reductions from EVs. A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from EVs are at least 50% less than comparable gasoline vehicles. The emissions associated with manufacturing EVs are slightly higher than gasoline vehicles, but once in operation EVs contribute significantly less emissions. The reduction in emissions from operating an EV can make up for the emissions from manufacturing it in as little as one year.  After its useful life the battery can be reused or recycled, further reducing the climate impacts of EVs when compared to gasoline vehicles. You can read the full report here, and you can compare EV emission with gasoline vehicle emissions with this calculator from the Union of Concerned Scientists.   It is also important to point out the synergy of combining EVs with renewable energy, and in particular rooftop solar. When the electricity that charges your EV comes from solar energy you're essentially driving carbon free. In addition, they both shorten the payback period on the initial investment for both the vehicle and the solar installation. You can read more about the benefits of combining solar and EVs here.In 2014 the U of U brought U Community Solar to members of the campus community. U Community Solar offered a streamlined process, access to expert advice, pre-screened solar installers, and a substantial discount on the upfront costs of  solar. Nearly 400 households installed a total of 2 megawatts of solar through the program! U Community Solar will be returning to the campus community in 2016, and hopefully powering some new EVs purchased through U Drive Electric. You can read more about the second round of U Community Solar here
Poor air quality is the result of the unique geography of the Salt Lake Valley coupled with pollution generated from transportation, industry, and buildings. "Mobile sources" of air pollution (like vehicles) are a major contributor to a certain type of pollution known as particulate pollution, or "PM 2.5", emitting 48% of Utah’s criteria air pollutants (the most harmful types of air pollution). By transitioning our traditional polluting vehicles to cleaner, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars, we can tackle a big part of Utah’s air quality problem. According to the Department of Energy EVs convert up to 80% of the energy stored in their batteries to power the vehicle. Compare that to the 14 – 26% of the energy stored in gasoline being converted to power an internal combustion vehicle. According to a 2013 analysis conducted by SWEEP and Utah Clean Energy "all electric" vehicles produce 99% lower emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 95% less sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, 76% less nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions as compared to a new gasoline vehicle. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles reduces emissions significantly as well.
A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from EVs are at least 50% less than comparable gasoline vehicles. The emissions associated with manufacturing EVs are slightly higher than gasoline vehicles, but once in operation EVs contribute significantly less emissions. The reduction in emissions from operating an EV can make up for the emissions from manufacturing it in as little as one year. After its useful life the battery can be reused or recycled, further reducing the climate impacts of EVs when compared to gasoline vehicles. You can read the full report here, and you can compare EV emission with gasoline vehicle emissions with this calculator from the Union of Concerned Scientists.      
 

About Batteries & Charging

Yes, you can charge your EV at home with either a standard 120 volt AC outlet, or you can have a 240 volt AC (the same as your electric clothes dryer) EV charging station installed. The primary difference between the two is the amount of time it takes to charge the batteries. A 240 volt at home charging station can fully charge the batteries from empty to full in 3-4 hours, where a standard 120 volt outlet may take over night to fully charge the batteries.
 
As an added bonus some of the EVs offered through this program come with a free 240 volt at home charging station! Installation not included. It is recommended that you contact a licensed electrician to install your car charging station. An electrician can verify that your electric panel capacity and wiring are sufficient to support the station. 

There are a few different options for charging on the go. There are both Level II and Level III charging stations for public use. Level II charging is done with 240 volts and can fully charge a battery in 3-4 hours. Level III charging uses 480 volts to charge your batteries in as little as 30 minutes. Some public stations can be used free of charge while others require payment or subscription. Both the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 come with two years of free charging at EVgo stations in Utah. To help you locate a charging station there are several websites and apps that tell you where to find nearby stations. You can read more about Utah's growing charging infrastructure here.  

There are three different levels of charging and each charges the batteries at a different rate. Level I charging can be done with a standard 120 volt AC household outlet, and takes several hours to fully charge the batteries. Level II charging uses 240 volts to charge the batteries in 3-4 hours. And Level III charging uses 480 volts to charge the batteries in as little as 30 minutes. 

Yes, you can charge the batteries with a standard household 120 volt AC outlet. This is called Level I charging, and it requires charging overnight to reach a full charge. There are also Level II and Level III charging options that take 3-4 hours or only 30 minutes, respectively. 

On average, it costs about half as much to power an EV than it does to fuel a traditional gasoline powered vehicle. It will vary depending on how much driving you do, how efficient your electric vehicle model is, and the rate that you typically pay for electricity and gasoline. In general gasoline is much more expensive than electricity (twice as much on average), so EV owners end up saving money when switching from gasoline powered vehicles. You can calculate the savings of going electric with the Department of Energy's eGallon calculator. You can also compare the savings estimated for the vehicles offered through U Drive Electric, or between EVs and gasoline powered vehicles with the Department of Energy's Fuel Cost and Savings Calculator.  

Recent studies by the National Renewable Energy Lab indicate that batteries may have a usable lifetime of 10 to 15 years, and many manufacturers are offering 8-year/100,000 mile warranties on batteries.  

About EV Maintenance 

EVs have much fewer moving parts, and don't operate at the same high temperatures as gasoline powered vehicles. That means fewer things breakdown or need maintenance. You can read more about EV maintenance requirements on the Department of Energy's EV maintenance page

Yes, EV drivers can apply for a Clean Fuel Vehicle Decal (C Decal) with the Utah Department of Transportaion. Currently there is a waiting list to receive a C Decal. Learn more and apply for a C Decal at the DOT website here. 
Reports show that maintenance costs are about 1/3 that of a typical gasoline powered vehicle. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center EVs typically require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because:

  • The battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular maintenance
  • There are fewer fluids to change
  • Brake wear is significantly reduced, due to regenerative braking
  • There are far fewer moving parts, relative to a conventional gasoline engine

Pricing & Incentive Information

Yes, both purchase and lease options are available for all vehicles offered through U Drive Electric. You can read more about the purchase and lease options here.
There are both state and federal tax credits for purchasing or leasing EVs. The federal tax credit is up to $7,500 based on battery capacity, and the state tax credit is $1,500 for All Electric Vehicles and $1,000 for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. You can read more about the state and federal tax credits here. Consult with a tax attorney regarding your eligibility for the aforementioned tax credits. U Drive Electric makes no guarantees about the availability of tax credits or participants ability to take advantage of the tax credits. 
Yes, if you lease you can claim the state tax credit, and you have up to five years to take advantage of the credit. The federal tax credit is claimed by the dealer or leasing company, but savings are passed onto the lessee via lower monthly payments. You can read more about the state and federal tax credits for EVs here. Consult with a tax attorney regarding your eligibility for the aforementioned tax credits. U Drive Electric makes no guarantees about the availability of tax credits or participants ability to take advantage of the tax credits.  

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