Electric Vehicle FAQs

Plug-in electric vehicles are typically either pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).  Both types of vehicle store energy from the electricity grid in on-board batteries that power an electric motor, providing propulsion.  BEVs, like the Nissan LEAF, substitute an electric drivetrain for all conventional drivetrain components, while PHEVs, like the Chevy Volt, retain the use of a down-sized internal combustion engine that supplements battery power.

Though hybrid vehicles have an onboard battery, they recapture energy during braking and store it as electricity which helps to power the car, versus charging from the electricity grid. Hybrids are fueled with gasoline only, versus electric vehicles which are fueled mostly or entirely by plugging in to the electricity grid.

Operational and maintenance costs of electric vehicles are significantly lower than their gasoline counterparts because electricity is much cheaper than gasoline. For example, the annual fuel costs for a Ford Focus Electric are approximately $600 per year, while fuel costs for a conventional Ford Focus (gasoline) are $1,800 to $2,150 depending on the model. The U.S. Department of Energy publishes estimates of annual fuel costs for electric vehicles at fueleconomy.gov.

Charging time depends on the size of the vehicle’s battery and the level of charging. Often, charge times are shorter as charge events begin before a battery is completely depleted. Many vehicles are charged on regular 120V outlets with the standard cable that comes with every EV. This is called Level 1 charging, and depending on the size of your vehicle’s battery, can fully charge an EV in 8-20 hours. EVs can also be charged at Level 2 stations, which are 240V. At a Level 2 station most vehicles will be fully charged in 4-10 hours. Many fleets use Level 2 charging for more highly utilized vehicles. A third level of charging is commonly known as DC Fast Charging, which are 480V, and will charge some EVs to 80 percent in roughly 30 minutes.

A one-to-one ratio for vehicle to charging is not necessarily recommended, as all vehicles will not need to charge at the same time. The Climate Mayors team can work with your fleet to help identify an appropriate level of charging infrastructure beyond the Level 1 charging cables that will come with each of your vehicles. Some fleets may want to consider Level 2 or DC Fast Charge station for vehicles that are more highly utilized.

Telematics are the technologies used to the track the movement and performance of vehicles. The data available from this technology typically includes GPS as well as engine and driver performance metrics such as speed, fuel used, and miles traveled. Telematics can also access engine diagnostic codes to troubleshoot maintenance issues, monitor battery health, and others. Telematics are collected by a device connected to the vehicle’s diagnostic systems or engine control unit.

Training on maintaining electric vehicles is available through manufacturers (OEM). We will work through our contacts at the vehicle OEMs to arrange local trainings through their dealership networks. Additionally, EVs require significantly less servicing. As an example, even plug-in hybrid EVs often only need oil services every 2 to 3 years.

The TCO analyses that will be available via the Electrification Coalition rely heavily on data and methodologies sourced from the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) as well as the GREET model. The modeling from the EC is designed to provide an unbiased TCO analysis but will make recommendations for the right use cases to maximize. But many cities or fleets might have specific use cases/application that are not specifically focused on maximizing the TCO.

The TCO estimate takes into account local variables like gas prices verses electricity costs, average daily miles, and other cost factors. For each city, the actual TCO will ultimately depend on the final cost of acquisition, how a vehicle is utilized relative to the vehicle it replaced, and if there are opportunities to increase the number of electric miles driven per vehicle which will lead to a lower overall TCO.

Though very relevant to inform city decision making on EV procurement, the additional benefits of EVs such as hitting local policy goals, improving local air quality, and reducing city GHG footprint are not included in this analysis.

Currently, light-duty vehicles are the focus with the expectation that medium- and heavy-duty will be available in the future.