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Learn the basics of Electric Vehicles

In most ways, EVs are similar to traditional gas-powered cars. However, there are a few important differences. Get up to speed on the six core topics you need to know.

Getting Started
the ev journey
Electric vehicles are both old and new. They have been around for over 150 years and, in fact, made up about a third of all vehicles in the early 1900s. The debut of the widely available, gas-powered Model T quickly put an end to that. Over the last 10 years, however, we’ve seen a resurgence in electric vehicles. Many experts now say that EV sales have reached a tipping point that will usher in mass adoption.
did you know?

25% of Americans say they are likely to buy an EV for their next auto purchase.


Many consumer’s perceptions of EVs were set with early models. Today there are options to fit almost every lifestyle, preference and budget. To give you an idea, there were over 130 different EV models in the 2022 model year, with options across every vehicle class (compact, midsize, large car, SUV, minivan, and truck).


There are three main types of EVs: hybrid electric (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs) and battery electric (BEVs). Hybrid vehicles utilize an electric motor and gas-powered engine. The battery is charged through a process known as regenerative braking, not through an outlet. A plug-in hybrid also has an electric motor and gas engine, but its battery can be connected to an electric power source to charge. Battery electric, or all-electric vehicles, do not have an engine and derive all their power from an externally charged battery.


The fourth type of EV is hydrogen-powered fuel cell (FCEVs), available only in limited markets, primarily California.

did you know

The terms “engine” and “motor” are often used interchangeably. However, the two are not the same.

An engine powers a vehicle through the combustion of fuel, such as gasoline, into energy. A motor uses electricity from a battery to make the car run.


Affordability remains one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption. While it is true that EVs typically have a higher purchase price than similar gas-powered cars, the difference is often made up with government-funded financial incentives and lower operating costs.


In fact, AAA research has found the cost of owning an EV is comparable to that of a traditional gas-powered car over the lifetime of the vehicle.

did you know

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 extended and modified the $7,500 federal tax credit on qualifying EVs through 2032.

There are numerous financial incentives available to EV customers. The most noteworthy is a federal tax credit up to $7,500 on new-vehicle purchases. The credit is non-refundable, meaning the government will not be writing you a check if you purchase an EV. Instead, the credit is applied to your tax liability, and at best, it can reduce your tax bill to zero.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 ensures the federal tax credit will stay in place through at least 2032. The bill provides a smaller credit to used EVs, as well. However, the legislation also imposes income and price caps that will limit who can claim the credit and which EV models are eligible for it.

The federal tax credit is not the only monetary assistance available to electric vehicle owners. Many state and local incentives exist across the country. New York, for example, has several financial programs available to EV owners. Through the Drive Clean Rebate, car owners can receive a discount between $500 and $2,000. The MORE-EV program in Massachusetts offers residents a $2,500 rebate on all-electric vehicles and a $1,500 rebate on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that cost less than $50,000.

Most EV owners charge their cars at home, where they can plug in at night and have a “full tank” in the morning. A standard, 120-volt outlet charges at a rate of about 3-5 miles range per hour. This is known as Level 1 charging. Homeowners can upgrade to Level 2 charging by purchasing and installing an aftermarket charger. These can add 20-30 miles of range per hour.


If you live in an apartment building or are traveling, you can simply stop by one of the growing number of public charging stations available throughout the country. Many of these offer DC Fast Charging, which can charge an EV battery to 80% charge in less than 30 minutes.
did you know

There are more than 50,000 public EV charging stations across the U.S.

"charging table level one"
"charging table level two"
"charging table level 3 fast charger"
Consumers have often cited range anxiety, the fear of running out of power before reaching your destination, as a main deterrent to purchasing an EV. In years past, it was a legitimate concern as most EVs had ranges below 100 miles.
Today’s models, however, are a different story. Very few of the currently available, battery electric vehicles on the market have ranges below 200 miles, with most falling between 200 and 300 miles. The median EPA estimated range for all 2020 EV models was approximately 260 miles, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
EVs are often described as “zippy” and for good reason. They typically can accelerate faster than gas-powered vehicles because their electric motors produce peak torque at any rmp. To give an example, Tesla claims its Model S Plaid goes from 0 to 60 mph in under two seconds. This is more than two seconds faster than the gas-powered Porsche 911. This zippiness isn’t limited to high-end cars. The Nissan Leaf is the most affordable mass-produced EV and boasts a respectable sub-seven second 0 to 60 mph rate.


Another way EVs stand out compared to gas-powered vehicles is with their lower center of gravity. EV batteries are heavy and most EVs have their batteries located on the bottom of the vehicle. This has two important consequences. First, a lower center gravity improves the vehicle’s stability and handling. This makes it easier to navigate tight turns, for example. Second, a lower center of gravity has the safety benefit of reducing the likelihood of the vehicle rolling over.


did you know

Tesla claims its Model S Plaid can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.99 seconds.

While EVs are like gas-powered cars in most ways, there are a few other differences that new drivers often must adjust to. Regenerative braking is one good example. To sum it up, regenerative braking is the system through which an EV captures energy released during the braking process and uses it to recharge its battery. This system makes EVs more efficient and helps to extend their overall range. The jarring part for most new drivers, however, is the regenerative braking system often kicks in the moment the driver releases the acceleration pedal. Instead of coasting, the system automatically begins to apply the brakes, causing the car to begin slowing down slightly even without the brake pedal engaged. Finally, one of the biggest and best-known differences with EVs is the lack of engine and exhaust noise. While sound from tires and wind drag remain, overall EVs make for a particularly quiet ride.  
did you know

Unlike gas-powered vehicles, EVs get better mpg equivalent on city roads versus the highway.

This is because frequent stops help charge an EV’s battery through regenerative braking.


EVs have fewer parts than gas-powered cars, meaning fewer mechanical pieces that need to be kept in good condition and less of a chance of anything breaking or wearing down. Because of this, EVs require significantly less maintenance than their gas-powered counterparts.


The convenience and peace of mind that come with less maintenance concerns can’t be discounted. But this benefit also adds up to real dollars and cents. AAA found EVs cost 7.70 cents per mile to maintain, while the average car cost 9.55 cents per mile. Over the course of 13,500 miles (roughly the average annual mileage of U.S. motorists), this equates to a savings of nearly $250 every year.


The vast majority of EVs utilize a lithium-ion battery, which provides greater energy density and a longer-lasting charge than other rechargeable batteries. They do, however, lose capacity over time, a process known as battery degradation. Studies have shown that EV batteries typically lose about 5-10% capacity over the first five years on the road. There are several steps you can take to ensure your battery lasts as long as possible, for example: keeping your battery level between 20% and 80% as much as possible, minimizing fast charging, and limiting exposure to extreme temperatures.

did you know

Maximize the life of your EV battery by adopting these practices with:

  • Don’t Overcharge

  • Avoid Low Charge Levels

  • Minimize Fast Charging

  • Minimize Exposure to Extreme Temperatures
    Although EVs are responsible for some greenhouse gas emissions due to the manufacturing process and fossil fuel-generated electricity, they are significantly more environmentally friendly than cars with internal combustion engines.

    On average, battery electric vehicles in the U.S. have been found to produce more than 50% fewer emissions than gas-powered cars over their lifetime. This gap will only grow as the country’s electrical system further transitions to renewable energy.
    did you know

    EVs in the U.S. have been found to produce more than 50% fewer emissions than gas-powered cars over their lifetime.

    Comparative life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions
    Comparison of mid-size BEV and ICE vehicle