Car Talk: Today’s EV Choices

Everyday more and more people in the greater San Diego region are excited about electric vehicles (EVs) and their positive impact on local air quality. With almost 40% of our state’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, we are seeing a larger discussion around how we can reduce air impacts and keep the planet sustainable for younger generations. Now, with more than 20 types of emission-free EVs available, there is an electric car for every lifestyle.
Consumers today can choose between hybrid vehicles, which do not plug in, and plug-in EVs, including plug-in hybrid EVs and all-electric vehicles. A plug-in hybrid allows the vehicle to drive on electricity alone using battery energy. After the battery is discharged the car switches to gasoline. Some examples of this technology are:
• the Chevy Volt,
• Ford CMax Energi, or
• Ford Fusion Energi
Since San Diegans on an average drive 25 miles per day, many of these drivers report that they only fill up on gasoline once every couple months because the miles they drive fit within the daily battery range of 35+/- miles. Plug-in hybrids can be driven any distance because of their back-up gas tank. These cars can easily charge with the cord set that comes with the car and plugs into a regular 120-volt outlet. No purchase of a charging station is needed.
All-electric cars are powered by an electric motor and battery alone – no gasoline. All-electric vehicles can travel farther on electricity alone than plug-in hybrids, but their range is limited by the size of their batteries. A majority of those driving EVs in the San Diego region drive all-electric cars. Some examples include:
• Nissan Leaf,
• Fiat 500e,
• Tesla and
• BMW i3.

Battery sizes vary, but most provide the driver with about 80 miles of emission-free travel. Many drivers report that charging their car is just like charging their cell phone, and they don’t need to charge every day because they don’t use the battery down to zero every day. All-electric cars can also be charged with the 120-volt cord set that comes with the car. To cut the charging time in half they can have a licensed electrician install a charging station in their home that will cut that time in half. The price of charging stations has come way down and now you can find some for under $500.

Lastly, there are four main incentives to driving a plug-in car:
1) SDG&E will give you a special low electricity rate for your house (visit sdge.com/evrates)
2) The state offers a cash rebate up to $2,500
3) A federal tax credit up to $7,500 for those that purchase an EV (for those that lease the credit is rolled into the lease price); and 4) plug-in drivers can drive in the carpool lane with just one person.
Want to see the latest EVs on the road? Visit the “EV Showroom” at goelectricdrive.org.