So, you’ve heard the term electric vehicle (EVs) thrown around quite a bit, and I’m sure you’ve seen something if you’re shopping for a new car. But, EVs are still foreign to a lot of people. That’s understandable. We’re going to combine a glossary for terminology used by EV owners, advantages and disadvantages of owning EVs, and provide a list of resources for consumers to go deeper, and additional insights to create the ultimate guide to electric vehicles. With all that said, let’s go ahead and jump into it!
This will be a living document. As new standards, new cars, new technologies emerge, we will be updating this document. Please feel free to comment or Contact Us and we’ll do our best to update the guide asap.
Ultimate Guide To Electric Vehicles Glossary
Level 1 Charging: The slowest rate of charge. This is typically done on your standard home outlets and provides between 3-5 miles per hour of being plugged in.
Level 2 Charging: The next tier of charging above Level 1 Charging. This typically provides between 25-42 miles per hour of charge, depending on amperages and outlets.
Level 3 Charging: The fastest level of charging available. These are typically dedicate stations and not available for home use. These can provide anywhere from 25mph to greater than 1000 miles per hour of charge, depending on your battery’s state of charge and temperature.
110/120 Volts: You’ll commonly see both of these numbers tossed around synonymously. These are your normal outlets that you’ll see in your house and garage. The area these divulge is at your breaker box and it depends on what breaker it’s wired against. The outlets are similar to Figure 1a.
220/240 Volts: This is the voltage that can be supplied by a plug that looks like Figure 1b. These are typically installed by licensed electricians and will be installed against a 50 or 60 amp breaker.
Volts: The amount of pressure that enables current to flow through a closed loop to do things such as power a light, or charge an electric vehicle.
Amps: The measure of volume of electrons being pushed to a specific appliance/outlet.
Pack Voltage: The amount of voltage that the battery can supply (or accept) while being used for acceleration or charging.
Kilowatt Hours (kWh): The measurement used to determine how much charge a battery can hold.
Watt: Volts * Amps. For example, on the Standard Range Plus Model 3, the vehicle limits the charge rate for amperages to 32amps. That means:
240 * 32 = 7680 watts
Kilowatts: The total amount of watts divided by 1000. So, for example if we use the previous calculation:
(240 * 32) / 1000 = 7.68kW. This is the max charge rate that the car will accept.
Ultimate Guide To Electric Vehicles and DC Fast Charging
DC Fast Charging (DCFC): Direct Current Fast Charging; This allows your vehicle to charge at the fastest speeds possible; or Level 3 charging
V2 Supercharger: Tesla’s branded DCFC capable of 150kW of output to the vehicle while sharing power between other users at the supercharger. Not water cooled and heat can limit the charge rate.
V3 Supercharger: Tesla’s Branded DCFC capable of 250kW of outputs to the vehicle. Power is not shared between other users. Watercooled to prevent rate-limiting of the supercharger.
CCS: Combined Charging System. This is the standard used across the majority of EVs.
CHAdeMO: A method of fast charging electric vehicles agreed upon by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Nissan, Mitsubishi and Fuji Heavy Industries (now Subaru Corporation). Toyota joined at a later date. Initial CHAdeMO specifications were capable of a max 62.5 kW with a modified specification capable of 400kW.
Ionity: DCFC company making DC fast charging available in Europe.
Electrify America: DCFC company making DC fast charging available in the United States as a settlement result from Volkswagen’s Dieselgate.
EVgo: DCFC company making DC fast charging available in the United States
J1772: Standard Plug used by North American automobile manufacturers.
Range Anxiety: The idea that your car will run out of charge before reaching a destination where plugging in is available.
ICE: Internal Combustion Engine vehicles
Top EV Manufacturers:
1) Tesla: 88,400 (29% share – vs 23% in Q1-Q4 2019)Inside EVs
2) Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance: 39,355 (13% share – vs 8% share in Q1-Q4 2019)
3) Volkswagen Group: 33,846 (11% share – vs 5% share in Q1-Q4 2019)
4) Hyundai Motor Group (Hyundai, Kia): 24,116 (8% share – vs 5% share in Q1-Q4 2019)
5) BYD: 18,834 (6% share – vs 9% share in Q1-Q4 2019)
That’s not to say there aren’t other manufacturers, these are just the most common. New manufacturers and current auto manufacturers are working on their own EVs and this list will absolutely change.
How could the Ultimate Guide To Electric Vehicles be complete without an FAQ?
Q: Is range anxiety real?
A: Yes, but the good news is that it goes away. As you get better acquainted with your vehicle, and your driving habits, you’ll slowly learn the actual distance that your vehicle is capable of going, and your comfort level for pulling into chargers.
Q: Where do you even charge it?
A: Actually, over 80% of all charging for EVs is done at home. You can use just a simple normal wall outlet if you don’t have a very long commute. If you do, you can charge on a 240V outlet installed by a license electrician.
Q: What about road trips?
A: There are companies like Electrify America, Ionity and EVgo building a network of DC Fast Chargers to enable long distance traveling. If you’re in the Tesla ecosystem, they have a private network of DC Fast Chargers known as Superchargers.
Q: How long do you have to charge for?
A: Again, this depends. On a 120v outlet, you’ll need over quite some time as you’ll only charge at 3 miles per hour of being plugged in. On a 240v outlet, you can get between 25 miles per hour to 32 miles per hour. If you’re DC Fast Charging, this also depends on how you travel. Kyle from Out of Spec Motoring YouTube Channel prefers to charge just long enough to get to the next charger with a small buffer remaining. Some drivers prefer to charge til they have a nice buffer between the current stop and the next charger/destination. It’s all about how you feel.
Q: How much does it cost to charge?
A: Another “it depends” kind of answer. At home, for me, it’s $.09 per killowatt hour. This means, that if I charge from 1% – 100% (which I never actually do) in my Standard Range Plus Model 3 (rated for 55kWh), it’d cost me $4.95. This will last me (give or take) 240 miles. If you’re DC fast charging, this can depend based on the time spent (Electrify America (more on this later)) or the kWh consumed. It can be as cheap as $.13 per kWh up to $1 per kWh.
Q: Do I have to plan my road trips ahead of time?
A: Yes and no. It’s wise to do this as it will allow you to plan where you want to charge and what amenities you want near by, but most EVs now will route you through whatever chargers you need to go through to get to your destinations.
Q: What kind of maintenance is there for an EV?
A: Virtually maintenance free. I say virtually because you do need to make sure your tires are rotated and changed, you might need some kind of coolant flush (depending on model years). Most people spend less than $500 on maintenance in their first two years of ownership, excluding tires.
Q: How far can you go on a single charge?
A: Depends (loving this, aren’t you?) The new Tesla Model S Long Range Plus advertises over 400 miles on a single charge, while the Volkswagen eGolf only gives 125 miles on a single charge.
Q: Will I always get my EPA range?
A: Absolutely not. You have about a 0.01% chance of getting your EPA range. EPA ranges are tested in best-case-scenarios. No hills, no headwinds, nice weather, 55mph with city driving mixed in. In reality, things such as traffic, headwinds, outdoor temperature, rain, snow, etc. These all make major impacts on your range.
Q: Why does your range drop so harshly in the winter?
A: Batteries work using chemical reactions. The warmer the batteries, the faster the reaction and the more effortless. The colder, the more the batteries have to work against resistance to reach the same discharge levels. So, when it’s cold (winter, first start driving), your range will be hugely impacted. But as you drive and the battery warms up to optimal range, this will even out. The time it takes to heat the battery varies depending on external weather temps.
Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
A: If your vehicle’s manufacturer has provided a way, absolutely. If not, no. Other than trying to time your charges to be done the second you leave for work (as this will condition the battery), there’s little you can do.
Q: Can anyone change the tries on my EV?
A: Yes. However, some EVs might have special jack points and will need jackpads. It’s worth reading your owner’s manual to determine any modified procedures for doing this.
Q: Is an EV suitable for my lifestyle?
A: Most likely, yes. However, this isn’t always the case. When searching for an EV and considering one for your life style take things like dealership/service center availability, location relative to DC Fast Chargers, ability to charge at home, how your commute can vary, your winter weather, and whether you’re okay with stopping more frequently on longer travels.
Q: Are EVs more money to insure?
A: This honestly has very little effect on your insurance compared to if it’s a “sports car”, your age, prior records, etc.
Debunking EV Myths
Myth: You’ll have to replace the battery and it’s the cost of another car.
Fact: Yes, the battery has a limited life span. However, you’re far more likely to sell the car before you need to get another batteries. You can tell by the warranties that auto manufacturers are supplying in relation to their batteries.
Myth: EVs catch on fire way more than regular ICE cars
Fact: Absolutely not the case. This is likely due to the fact that when an EV catches on fire, it makes national news. When an ICE car catches on fire, people just call the fire department and move on.
Myth: EVs are just a fad and will not become mainstream
Fact: This is objectively false. Every established country has a goal for an all-electric cars at some point in the not-so-far-off future.
Myth: No one can work on or fix EVs
Fact: This was maybe true back in 2012. However, every major auto manufacturer is working on building an EV and training technicians. Additionally, there are third party technicians opening up such as Electrified Garage.
Myth: EVs are faster than their ICE counterparts
Fact: Off the line when comparing similar cars, yes. However, after the ICE cars start going through their gears, they will almost always outpace an EV.
Myth: EVs are not “green alternatives” because of manufacturing
Fact: This is true, but also false. If we look at this passage from Clean Technica, the figures are clear as day:
The UCS found that “Manufacturing a midsized EV with an 84-mile range results in about 15% more emissions than manufacturing an equivalent gasoline vehicle. For larger, longer-range EVs that travel more than 250 miles per charge, the manufacturing emissions can be as much as 68% higher.”https://cleantechnica.com/2018/02/19/electric-car-well-to-wheel-emissions-myth/
Wow! 68% higher. That’s a lot, huh? So, it’s true, electric cars are dirtier than conventional cars, right? Well, actually, no. The UCS report goes on to say, “These differences change as soon as the cars are driven. EVs are powered by electricity, which is generally a cleaner energy source than gasoline. Battery electric cars make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within eighteen months of driving — shorter range models can offset the extra emissions within 6 months — and continue to outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives.”
Cost of Ownership
It may not be as clear as you thought that an electric car is actually cheaper to own than a cheaper ICE vehicle. But as your ultimate guide to electric vehicles, allow us to break this down:
Using this tool, it’s possible to take an ICE car and compare it against a number of different EVs. So, let’s take a look at the Chevy Bolt for our example.
There’s two things we’re going to look at when using this tool: the monthly cost to “fill up” and total cost of ownership over five years when comparing the categories: vehicle net incentives, electricity, gasoline, maintenance, and insurance.
Despite the Volkswagen GTI being cheaper out-the-door at the dealership, after you factor in the gasoline, maintenance and insurance it actually costs $5,422 more over the course of five years. That’s $1,084.40 per year. If you applied this to your car payment, house payment, or student loan payment, you could be done much faster and save on those interest costs… sorry I may be projecting here. These cost savings will grow as the price of batteries are driven down through economies of scales and battery technology breakthroughs.
Which EV is right for me?
Well, this is really not something any one person can answer. The only thing we can truly advise on is the battery capacity. Swapping batteries for higher capacity, while possible (extra modifications may be necessary), isn’t a normal practice at the moment. So, everyone will always say “Buy the most battery you can afford while being realistic about your commute”.
When’s a good time to buy an EV?
Honestly, this is a loaded question. I’d say now, as I enjoy the life-style of an EV. However, in 2021 there’s going to be a slew of new EVs on the market. Additionally, all manufacturers will eventually benefit from a major battery tech breakthrough, and then further iterations… so the answer could also be never.
This arena is a lot like the mobile phone arena. New things will continue to come out every year with new innovations and new gimmicks. The only way to truly tell if it’s a good time to buy an EV is to talk with anyone that you may know with an EV and ask them any concerns you have that weren’t addressed here and just see how they tackle those challenges.
Our Challenge to Our Readers
Let us know where this ultimate guide to electric vehicles did and didn’t help you, tell us it’s shortcomings and things you’d improve. Explain why you’re apprehensive about getting an EV or if you have any questions you specifically want answered and added to the guide.
We’re looking forward to your feedback and we’re already at work on our next article. Till then, folks, thanks for checking out our ultimate guide to electric vehicles. Stay juiced and enjoy the drive.