Car News

What to Expect When You Buy an Electric Vehicle

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon

author photo by Autotrader November 2010

Electric vehicles (EVs) are bringing about a whole new way of getting around that will help protect our environment. Many people want to be part of that change. They are usually referred to as early adopters. If you’re one of them, no doubt you have already considered some of the ways that life may be different as an EV driver.

Safety, reliability, costs, technology and “range anxiety” are common concerns among potential EV buyers. Careful preparation is an important aspect of being a responsible EV owner. Here is a list of tips from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an agency that hasbeen conducting research and developing standards to help make EV adoption safer for consumers.

Get to know the battery

A controller connects the battery to the motor, delivering power to move the vehicle. Most EV batteries have a range between 50 to 130 miles, depending on a vehicle’s weight and design features. The time it takes to recharge also varies, based on voltage available and battery size.

Some EV drivers may experience “range anxiety” – the fear that they won’t reach a charging station when their battery needs recharging. A brand-new EV should have the ability to display charging locations via in-dash applications; smart phones like the iPhone have already developed applications (apps) to assist EV drivers. Technology continues to evolve rapidly in terms of vehicle design and infrastructure development, one of the benefits being less concern over range.

Prepare the home for charging

Just like a cell phone or laptop computer, an EV’s power must be renewed by electricity. It is important to become educated on electricity safety. The potential for shock and fire hazards are two of the biggest concerns. Depending on specific local ordinances, setting up a home charging station may require the services of a licensed electrician, as well as site visits, inspections and permits by local authorities. Several EV manufacturers are helping with this.

Make sure there is sufficient power available and equipment to support the vehicle. And ensure it is installed correctly for safe use. Most EVs can be recharged using a domestic 120-volt household wall socket, like the one used for most appliances. This is called Level 1 charging and sometimes requires 24 hours to recharge a depleted EV battery completely.

A better option would be a wall-mounted 220/240-volt system, also known as a Level 2 charging station. It will only take between four and eight hours for a full recharge using one of these.

The ideal and safest location for a Level 2 charging station is in the garage, and the plug should be as close as possible to where the EV will be charged. A UL-certified charging station installer can help make sure your garage is properly prepared to accommodate the safe EV recharging.

The costs of preparation will vary, depending on current electric service and capacity, installation and labor costs. Through the end of 2010, 50 percent of home charging installation costs are covered by federal tax credits and some EVs come with charger installation as part of the package.

When charging at home, always be mindful of safe electrical usage, especially considering the high current that goes along with charging. Some important tips include:

>Keep EV power cord away from water.

>Unplug cord when not in use.

>Never place the cord where a car can run over it .

>Keep children away from the charging area.

>If installing a charging station, consult a certified electrician familiar with EV infrastructure.

Know the costs

The initial costs of buying an EV may be slightly more than a regular car in a comparable category, including the cost of a charger and electrical installation. However, there are incentives and tax credits available to make the purchase less pricey. EV maintenance costs may also be less than a regular car, as they don’t need oil, anti-freeze or transmission fluid.

Some industry experts have estimated that the cost of driving an electric vehicle, including electricity and maintenance, will be between 40 and 70 percent less than operating a gasoline vehicle. In fact, Hybridcars.com reports that while range is less, the estimated cost per mile of driving an electric vehicle hovers around two cents, rather than the 12 cents per mile of gasoline (at $3.60 per gallon).

If charging an EV at home, be sure to unplug the charging cord when it is not in use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, appliances continue to draw power when they are plugged in but not being used. The higher the voltage, the higher the rate seen on the electricity bill. This is especially important if you plan to install a Level 2 charging station at home.

Safety myths busted

A common question is: How does an EV function when it encounters water, such as during a rainstorm or when driving through a puddle? EVs are tested extensively to Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer standards to ensure safety while driving through flooded conditions.

In an EV, most batteries and other electrical components are located in areas where water cannot reach, such as the rear of a back seat or locked in a trunk. Other batteries may be located near the bottom of the car, but are sealed in a protective metal shell, making it virtually impossible for water to reach these or other electrical components.

Taking into consideration safety, reliability and associated costs is just the first step to becoming a responsible driver of this new technology. Keep an eye out for more tips from UL on safe use and maintenance of EVs.

About Underwriters Laboratories: 
UL is an independent product safety certification organization that has been testing products and writing standards for safety for more than a century. UL evaluates over 19,000 types of products, components, materials and systems from more than 66,000 manufacturers each year. There are at least 20 billion UL marks on products worldwide. UL’s family of companies and network of service providers includes 68 laboratory testing and certification facilities serving customers in 102 countries. For more information, visit: www.ul.com/newsroom.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
What to Expect When You Buy an Electric Vehicle - Autotrader