Electric Vehicles FAQs
Electric Vehicles FAQs
About electric vehicles
What’s the difference between BEV and PHEV?
There are two types of electric vehicles: battery-only EVs, which rely on a battery to store electric energy that powers an electric motor, and plug-in hybrid EVs, which have both an electric motor and a backup gasoline engine to add range. In 2020, 90% of new EVs registered in Washington state were BEVs, and we tend to focus on them when we talk about EVs. PHEVs are more fuel-efficient than a conventional car but don’t offer the same financial and environmental benefits of BEVs.
How many EV models are available in Washington state?
There are over 30 fully electric models available in Washington. Many additional models are expected to hit the market in the coming years. Use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare the newest models and find one that fits your budget and driving needs.
Are electric trucks available? What about EVs with all-wheel drive?
Electric trucks are highly anticipated, and a number of models are expected to hit the market in the coming years, including the Ford F-150 Lightning, Tesla Cybertruck, Rivian R1T, Bollinger B2, Lordstown Endurance, GMC Hummer EV and Chevrolet Silverado EV. These trucks are expected to match, if not exceed, the power and towing capacity of their gas-powered counterparts. Additionally, a handful of electric vehicles already on the market offer all-wheel drive.
Is there a market for used EVs?
The used electric vehicle market is growing. Many used EVs are available for less than $20,000 and still under their original warranty. Even better, EV batteries are tending to retain more life for longer than initially expected. Washington state even offers a sales tax exemption just for used EVs priced under $30,000 that can save you over $1,000 in sales tax.
Incentives and rebates
Are there state and federal incentives available for purchasing an EV?
Yes! With Washington state’s sales tax exemption, you can save up to $1,300 on a new electric vehicle priced under $45,000 or over $1,000 on a used EV priced under $30,000. Meanwhile, the federal government is offering up to $7,500 back on new EVs in the form of a reduction to your income tax bill or an increase to your tax refund. (The federal tax refund doesn’t currently apply to EV models from Chevy or Tesla.) Learn more with our Electric Vehicle Guide.
Are there state and federal incentives available for purchasing a home charger?
Yes! The Federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure tax credit offers up to $1,000 back for customers who purchase home charging equipment prior to Dec. 31, 2021. Meanwhile, the Washington State EV Infrastructure tax exemption means state sales and use taxes do not apply to the labor and services for purchasing and installing a home charger. Learn more with our Electric Vehicle Guide.
Does PSE offer discounts for charging during off-peak hours?
While PSE doesn’t offer discounts for charging your electric vehicle during certain hours at this time, we’re continuing to explore different methods and incentives around charging. To learn why it’s still important to charge your EV during certain times of day, click here.
Does PSE offer incentives for home charger installation?
PSE does not currently offer incentives for home charger purchase or installation. However, we’re currently running multiple pilot programs through our Up & Go Electric program to study electric vehicle ownership and charging patterns with the goal of potentially developing new offers for our EV-owning customers in the future.
Three types of EV charging
What are the differences between charging types?
There are three types of electric vehicle charging you’ll encounter. Level 1 is the charging cord that comes with every EV and can be plugged into any standard outlet. It will add two to five miles of range per hour of charging. You’ll find Level 2 charging at workplaces and multifamily properties and in public. You can also have one installed at your home. Level 2 charging adds approximately 25 miles of range per hour. DC fast charging is available at some public charging stations. These chargers look like gas pumps and can fully charge an EV in under an hour. To learn more about charging, click here.
How does public charging work?
While the majority of charging is done at home, public charging stations can be great for road trips or adding a bit of juice to get you to your destination. Public stations offer Level 2 or DC fast charging and are operated by various companies and agencies. The easiest way to use most public stations is with the company or agency’s app, though some stations have card readers or will allow you to pay over the phone. Unlike with gas stations, you’re free to leave your car charging while you run errands, grab a bite to eat or walk around the area. Just make sure you’re back by the time your EV is done charging so the next driver can use the charger and you can avoid any unnecessary fees.
How much does it cost to charge at a public charging station?
The cost to charge at public charging stations – as well as whether you’re charged by the minute or electricity used – varies depending on location and operator. In general, public charging stations are more expensive than charging at home. At PSE Up & Go Electric public stations, we charge $0.42/kWh for DC fast chargers and $0.28/kWh for Level 2 chargers. To learn more about charging with PSE, click here.
Can any EV charge at any public charging station?
For the most part, public charging stations will have connections to fit any electric vehicle model. The major exception is Tesla. Tesla vehicles have exclusive use of the Tesla Supercharger network but will require a purchasable adapter to use non-Tesla stations. Websites like PlugShare.com will be able to show you what connections are available at a given station before you arrive.
How do I find public charging stations?
There are many websites and apps, such as PlugShare.com, available to help electric vehicle drivers find public stations and even plan road trips. In addition, public charging stations are being added to Google Maps and Apple Maps.
Cost of ownership for electric vehicles
How much does it cost to own an EV compared to a conventional car?
Thanks to savings on fuel and maintenance, it can actually be cheaper to own an electric vehicle than a gas-powered car. A 2018 University of Michigan study found EVs cost less than half as much to operate annually as gas-powered cars. And a 2020 Consumer Reports report found long-term ownership of an EV can be $6,000 to $10,000 less, even when factoring in EVs’ average higher purchase price. You can use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare long-term savings between EVs and gas-powered cars.
How does the purchase price of an EV compared to a conventional car?
The purchase price of an electric vehicle remains higher than a comparable gas-powered car. However, the price of EVs is dropping thanks to advances in technology and more automakers offering electric options. There are currently a dozen EV models available for less than $40,000 (the average cost of a new car in the US). And, there’s a growing used market for EVs, as well.
Will my electricity bill increase?
If you charge your electric vehicle at home, which most EV owners do, you’ll see an increase to your monthly electric bill. However, the increase to your electricity bill will almost certainly be less than the money you’re saving on gasoline. Depending on how much you drive, it can be easy to save over $100 per month on fuel when you switch from gasoline to electricity.
What is the cost to fuel an EV compared to a conventional car?
Taking into account local gas and electricity prices, it can be around five times cheaper to fuel an electric vehicle than a gas-powered car. Use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare the costs of fueling an EV versus a gas-powered car per month and over years of ownership.
What is the cost to maintain an EV compared to a conventional car?
Because electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than gas-powered vehicles, they require less maintenance. No oil changes, transmission fluid or spark plugs means EV owners can save over $1,000 in maintenance costs over five years of ownership. Use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare maintenance costs between EVs and gas-powered cars.
Electric vehicle range and batteries
How far can an EV travel on a single charge?
With advances in electric vehicle technology, range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past. A new EV can travel an average of over 250 miles on a single charge – a drastic improvement from just a few years ago. That means no matter what your daily driving needs are, you’re likely to find they’re met by an EV. You can browse new EV models by range with our Electric Vehicle Guide.
How do winter weather, hills, etc. impact range?
As with gas-powered cars, an electric vehicle’s efficiency is impacted by factors like hills and inclement weather. However, there are tips and tricks to maximize an EV’s range no matter the driving conditions. For example, warming up the EV while it’s still plugged in during winter months, using the heated seat and steering wheel, or utilizing regenerative breaking to recharge the battery.
Are EV batteries safe?
Electric vehicles must undergo the same rigorous safety testing and meet the same safety standards required for gas-powered cars sold in the United States. They also have strict standards for limiting chemical spillage from the batteries, securing batteries during a crash, and isolating the chassis from the high-voltage system.
Will I have to replace the battery?
The simple answer is you’ll probably never have to replace the battery, but that will depend on how and where you drive and charge your electric vehicle and the dealer warranty. Currently, most manufacturers are offering eight-year/100,000-mile or 10-year/150,000-mile warranties for their batteries. Studies show on average Americans get a new car every 10 years or less. Even better: EV battery technology is improving, and batteries are retaining their usefulness longer than initially expected.
Charging at home
What do I need to charge an EV at home?
To charge an electric vehicle at home, you don’t need anything besides the Level 1 charging cord that comes with the vehicle. This cord can be plugged into any standard outlet. If you want a speedier charge, you can talk to an electrician about installing a Level 2 charger.
How do I install a Level 2 charger at home?
The first step is to get a quote from an electrician. PSE can help you find a contractor specializing in charger installation; just call our Energy Advisors at 1-800-562-1482 or visit our Recommended Energy Professional portal (log in with your PSE account and select “Green Energy” under product category). Once an electrician has confirmed your home’s electrical system can handle a Level 2 charger and secured any required permits, you’ll need to pick out your charger. While some chargers simply charge your EV, others offer options like mobile app support, scheduled charging and integration with other smart home products. Finally, determine where you want the charger installed. Whether outdoors or in a garage, you’ll want the shortest distance possible between the charger and your EV.
What does it cost to install a Level 2 charger at home?
The cost of installing a Level 2 charger at your home will depend on a number of factors, such as where you’re installing it and the electrician. While there is no standard installation fee, you can typically expect to pay between $1,500 and $1,800 total for the charger and installation.
If I live in an apartment building or condo, how can I charge an EV?
Charging an electric vehicle can be more complicated if you live in an apartment or condo if your building doesn’t provide a charging station for tenants and you lack a dedicated parking space with an outlet. Be sure to talk with your building manager or homeowner’s association about charging options. More and more buildings are beginning to offer charging stations as a convenience to residents. Charging at work can be a convenient alternative to charging at home if your employer provides charging stations. If you don’t drive often, you may be able to get by with only using public charging stations when you need to charge.
Electric vehicles and the environment
Are EVs actually better for the environment?
Yes. Electric vehicles are easily better for the environment than gas-powered vehicles when looking strictly at emissions related to driving (especially in places with a relatively clean power mix like Washington state). By switching to an EV, you can reduce your CO2 emissions from driving by over 2 tons per year. Our Electric Vehicle Guide goes into more detail on emissions reductions. The picture is a little more complicated when factoring in the production of EV batteries. However, recent studies taking into account the entire life cycle of electric and gas-powered vehicles starting with their manufacturing have found EVs are still better for the environment overall.
What about the environmental impact of the production of EV batteries?
While electric vehicles are overall better for the environment than gas-powered cars, there is an environmental impact associated with battery production. Responsible sourcing of materials and beneficially reusing industrial wastes is perhaps currently the best solution available to the battery industry for reducing environmental footprint. There is hope that as battery technology progresses, these environmental impacts will be reduced.
What happens to EV batteries once they’re removed?
There’s a growing movement to find new uses for used electric vehicle batteries. In general, old EV batteries still have plenty of juice left in them. In recent years, old EV batteries have been used to power everything from convenience stores to sports stadiums. Hopefully, we continue to move in that direction.