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EV Basics

What is an Electric Vehicle?

It’s like your current car, minus the gas stations. An electric vehicle is propelled by one or more electric motors, using energy stored in batteries. Compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, EVs are quieter and have lower emissions overall. There are different types of EVs that have different ways of working: Battery Electric Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Hybrid Vehicles.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) run only on electricity. The vehicle's battery powers the electric motor, which propels the car forward. Since the car itself is not burning a fuel to generate movement, there are no tailpipe emissions. Instead, the carbon footprint of a BEV depends on how the electricity that runs it is produced.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) combine a battery-powered electric motor with an internal combustion engine. The vehicle is charged much like an all-electric vehicle. However, if and when it runs out of charge, the internal combustion engine serves as a backup. While running only on electricity, a PHEV's carbon footprint again depends on the fuel mix that generated the electricity. As soon as the internal combustion engine switches on, the engine's tailpipe emissions add to the vehicle's carbon footprint.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) also combine an internal combustion engine and an electric propulsion system. However, HEVs are "charged" with gasoline-they cannot be charged with electricity-so they are not, strictly speaking, EVs. However, HEVs are more efficient than traditional internal combustion engines because they take advantage of technologies such as regenerative braking. HEVs are not eligible for any National Grid programs or other external funding sources.

Where can I buy an EV?
people buying electric vehicle

The answer to that is simple: you can purchase an EV from the same place you would buy a conventional vehicle. Do your research, find a brand that suits you, then visit your local dealerships for a test drive.


New York

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few variables to consider while comparing the cost to own and operate an EV versus a gas-powered vehicle: purchase price, miles driven, maintenance costs, energy usage (gasoline & electricity costs) and depreciation. According to the latest data, a gas-powered car is cheaper to own and operate than its electric counterpart. When you factor in the financial incentives, at both the state and federal level, available to those who purchase an electric vehicle—up to $7,500—they’re the clear winner when it comes to affordability. If you don’t want to do the math, the AFDC Vehicle Cost Calculator tool can calculate total cost of ownership and emissions and help you easily compare vehicles.

There are many reasons to consider making the switch to an EV. The three most popular reasons: full electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, they can reduce your dependence on fossil fuels. The AFDC Vehicle Cost Calculator tool can calculate vehicle emissions and help you easily compare vehicles.

Plug-in hybrids can drive for 10-50 miles using only electricity before they start using gasoline. While most early electric vehicles were capable of traveling about 100 miles on a single charge, most current models can go about 230 miles or higher (see EV model availability). Many automakers are developing models that promise longer range and even faster charging.

Basically, there are two types of EV models available in the Northeast: Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), which require no gasoline, and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), which are powered by both gasoline and electricity.

As anyone who’s been behind the wheel will attest, electric vehicles are exciting to drive. One of the main reasons: the electric motor is able to provide a lot of torque in a short amount of time, which means fast, smooth acceleration.

EV batteries must work harder in the cold. When you start your car in the frigid cold winters of the Northeast, the battery will use more power than usual as it needs to warm itself up, meaning less energy gets put toward driving. That said, automakers have developed many workarounds, such as heat pump technologies and regenerative breaking to increase the range of EVs.

Most EV manufacturers provide an 8-10 year 100,000 mile warranty on EV batteries. This is mainly due to a federal rule that requires coverage for EV batteries for a minimum of eight years. However, as with any warranties, please check the fine print. Some auto manufacturers will cover a complete battery failure, whereas others will cover costs if the battery capacity drops below a set threshold. Just because they can no longer hold enough of a charge to power a car, they still have use. That’s why they’re recycled into a second—and sometimes third—life.

While you can charge with a Level 1 charger at home, upgrading to faster Level 2 home charger unlocks more rebates and incentives.