Welcome to EV.Guide. As you might have guessed, we tend to like EVs around here - but we also understand that EVs are not for everyone, at least not yet. So is an EV right for you? That question isn’t as simple as it might seem, but let’s answer it together.
First, let’s talk about why this question isn’t simple: even if we determine that EVs can work for you, some EVs still may not fit your life. How do you know the difference between the cars that fit your life, and the cars that don’t? That’s the whole reason we created this site. When you buy an electric vehicle, it’s critical to understand whether or not it will work with your unique lifestyle, habits, and attitudes.
First let’s cover some basics. The term “EV” is typically used to describe a battery electric vehicle ("BEV"). A BEV is fully electric, and doesn’t use any gas. You have to plug it in to recharge it, like your smart phone. The term EV may also include hybrids. Hybrids use a combination of battery power and gasoline. Depending on the type of hybrid, you may or may not need to charge it. Let’s quickly cover the different types of electrified vehicle. We go into more detail in our article, The EV Spectrum.
A Mild Hybrid (“MHEV”) uses a battery to assist the gasoline engine, but cannot propel itself with battery power alone. A Mild Hybrid is just slightly-more-efficient gas car.
A full hybrid (“HEV”) uses a battery to drive short distances (1-2 miles) on battery power before switching to gas. The car can recharge that small battery as you drive, and use it again. The car decides when to use gas, and when to use battery - all you have to do is drive it like a normal gas car. Full hybrids are more efficient than Mild Hybrids.
Plug-In Hybrids (“PHEV”) use a bigger battery, and can drive 10-50 miles (depending on model) using battery power alone. When the battery gets low, the gas engine kicks in and the car drives like a Full Hybrid. The battery in a PHEV is too big to be charged while driving, so these cars need to be plugged in. PHEVs are meant to be charged every day to get maximum benefit.
A fully electric vehicle typically has 150-500 miles of range depending on battery size and efficiency, and needs to be charged.
The biggest “problem” with electric vehicles is that they need to be charged, and the process of doing so may require more thought and attention than getting gas. Here’s why:
So does that mean EVs are less convenient than gas? Not necessarily. It depends on how you use them.
Charging at home is an important part of EV ownership. When you’re able to charge at home, you wake up every morning to a “full tank”. As long as you typically drive fewer miles than your EV’s available range, you may never have to think about charging on the go. If you drive like this for long enough, it's the idea of getting gas that starts to sound very inconvenient. This is where EVs really shine.
There are two ways to charge at home: either with a regular 120 volt wall outlet, or with an upgraded 240 volt outlet like those used for large appliances. The 120 volt outlet charges very slowly, gaining about 3-5 miles of range for every HOUR the car is plugged in. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you drive fewer than 30-50 miles on most days (and most people do!) this might be enough for you. A 240 volt charger is faster, and depending on available amperage can recharge the average electric car from 0% to 100% in about 8-10 hours. Cars with bigger batteries like SUVs or trucks might take longer.
If you’re not able to charge at home, you’ll need to rely on public charging stations. Here’s what you need to know about public plugs:
If you’re not able to charge at home, you’ll want to ensure that there are compatible charging plugs available in places that are convenient for you. You’ll also need a higher tolerance for inconvenience, as charging takes longer than getting gas and unlike gas stations, there isn’t always a fast plug right around the corner. If you’re not able to charge at home, you’ll have to think about where you “fuel” your car more than you currently do, and whether that’s something you’re willing to do is a very personal question that only you can answer. You can use apps like PlugShare or ChargeHub to see which types of chargers are near you. The fastest chargers are plugs in a category called “DC Fast”. These plugs are called “CCS”, “Tesla Supercharger”, or “CHAdeMO”.
If you can charge at home, AND you drive fewer miles than an EV battery provides (150-500 miles depending on the model), then YES an EV will likely work well for you.
If you can charge at home but drive MORE miles than an EV battery provides, you’ll want to either ensure that there are convenient, compatible charging stations along the routes that you drive OR choose a plug-in hybrid instead.
If you cannot charge at home, you’ll need to decide whether you’re willing to accept the additional inconvenience of charging on-the-go. If the answer is yes, you’ll want to ensure there are convenient charging stations in the places that you need them, and then choose a car that is compatible with those stations. If there are no convenient, compatible chargers OR you’re not willing to accept some additional inconvenience, we recommend going with a Full Hybrid.
Lastly, if you’re someone who can charge at home but frequently drive long distances (over 150 miles per day) but do not want to charge on-the-go (or there are no convenient charging options on-the-go), we recommend a Full Hybrid.
So, we hope this helped. Once you decide whether an EV is right for you or not, there are so many MORE questions to answer beyond that. That’s why we’re here, to guide you though all of it.
If you need help, you can chat with one of our EV experts. We can help you understand what you need to know while shopping, helping ensure that the EV you choose will fit your life. We’ll help you answer questions, assess needs and select a vehicle.
We also offer in-depth articles covering EV Basics, Charging, Buying & Leasing and Ownership. Check these out below!