As more automakers begin selling electric cars, a lot of
consumers are still curious about how these new vehicles work,
and whether an electric car would be suitable for them. Here are
the answers to some of the most common questions
about electric car to give potential car buyers a better
picture of whether one of these cars is right for them.
Can it be plugged into a regular outlet?
All mass-produced electric cars today come with a charging unit
that can be plugged into a standard 110-volt outlet, so it's
possible to charge from ordinary household outlets. However, a
110v outlet will mean that charging will take longer.
notes that using a 110v outlet will charge a Tesla Model S at
approximately three miles of range per hour. The Chevrolet Volt,
, has a charge rate using a 110v outlet that allows the car to
charge fully in 10-16 hours. As a result of having a larger
battery than the Volt, the Nissan Leaf takes slightly longer to
charge with a 110v outlet.
Tesla Model S with Wall Connector Charger source: Tesla
Due to the size of the Tesla Model S battery, Tesla Motors
recommends that owners install a 240v outlet for faster charging.
The company estimates that this would allow the Model S to charge
at 29 miles of range per hour, drastically cutting charging time
compared to the 110v outlet. Both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf
also see their charge times cut by more than 50% when using a
An electric car can be plugged into a typical household
outlet, but a higher-voltage outlet will significantly reduce
charging time. However, if you're like me and drive a Volt on a
fairly short commute and can charge overnight, a 110v outlet will
make sure you have a full, or nearly full, battery in the
morning. If you have a longer commute or do more daily driving,
installing a 240v outlet could make owning an EV much easier.
Where else can I plug it in?
Although electric-car charging stations are not as common as gas
stations, they are growing in number, and are likely to continue
doing so as more electric cars populate the roads. Take a look at
to find a nationwide map of charging stations.
Additionally, your employer may allow you to plug in at work,
but it's always best to ask first. Owners of the Tesla Model S
can plug in at Tesla's Superchargers, which are springing up
across the country. They provide rapid charging and are free to
How far can an electric car go?
There are several factors that determine this including battery
size, environmental conditions, and driving style. The table
below provides the EPA estimates on how much range drivers can
Miles of Range per Charge
|Chevrolet Spark EV
|Toyota Rav4 EV
|Honda Fit EV
|Ford Focus Electric
|Tesla Model S-60 kWh
|Tesla Model S-85 kWh
*The Volt is a plug-in electric hybrid and has a backup gas
engine to extend its driving range beyond 38 miles.Source:
However, these figures are just estimates, similar to fuel
economy estimates on gas-powered cars. Things that decrease range
- Cold weather and extreme hot weather
- Use of heat and air conditioning
- Rain and snow
- Aggressive driving
When choosing an electric car, make sure that the stated range
can easily cover your commute to avoid range anxiety in winter
months -- unless it has a gas backup like the Volt.
How does it drive?
From both my experience and reviews by car-testing groups, the
electric cars available today can easily keep pace with traffic,
and have enough power for everyday driving. Among the things that
differ from gas cars are the reduced noise level, the feel of
regenerative braking, and smoother acceleration.
Obviously, some electric cars are more performance-oriented
than others. Cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt can keep
pace with gas-powered midsize cars, while the higher-end Tesla
Model S holds its own against larger sports sedans.
How much does it cost to charge?
This depends on your electric rate, but with the nationwide
average at $0.12 per kWh, almost all electric-car owners can
charge their cars for less than the cost of gasoline. Based on
EPA estimates, today's electric vehicles consume between 0.28 kWh
per mile and 0.44 kWh per mile, with smaller EVs consuming less,
and larger EVs consuming more.
Using these numbers, electric vehicles cost between $0.034 and
$0.053 per mile to fuel. Meanwhile, the average gas-powered
vehicle gets approximately 24 miles per gallon and, using the
latest report on average gas prices from AAA, the average
gas-powered vehicle would cost $0.144 per mile to fuel.
There are a lot of variables here, so these are approximate
calculations. Before buying an electric car, find out what your
electric rate is, and whether your utility offers cheaper
charging during off-peak hours.
The past few years have seen electric cars move from small
limited production projects to the beginnings of mass production
at major automakers. With these vehicles increasingly becoming an
option for ordinary car buyers, it's important to know the basics
before deciding whether this type of technology is for you.
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5 Common Electric-Car Questions Answered
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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