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Drivers, Charge … Your … Engines!

Editor’s note: This story is part of our MC faculty and staff series in which professors and/or staff discuss relevant topics within their areas of expertise. Debra Anderson is Montgomery College’s program director of automotive technology.

By Debra Anderson

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are linked to global warming. Vehicles burning fossil fuels emit CO2 into the atmosphere and are a contributing factor in high CO2 levels. On a national scale, there is a concerted effort to reduce CO2 emissions and other harmful air quality emissions and particulate from burning fossil fuels. Electric vehicles (EV) are now a real and exciting option, not for the few, not for all, but for many. As battery technology expands, the EV option will expand to more and more people.

Debra Anderson (left)

Electric vehicles, or more accurately stated, battery electric vehicles (BEV), seem to be a more realistic and viable option for daily commuters. Only a decade ago, few believed BEV had a future for anything other than short-distance city driving. The first EVs did have a relatively small distance range (miles from full charge to recharge) for mainstream driving, so the assumption was that they couldn’t go the distance needed, and a recharge would be too slow to make it a viable choice for daily travels. Who would buy a car that wouldn’t be able to get them from home to work without a charge?

But those beliefs and assumptions about BEVs have turned out to be wrong, and these electric vehicles are becoming commonplace today. Battery technology has provided manufacturers with capable storage for real-world driving needs. The chance to drive a zero-emission, zero gasoline, and environmentally conscious vehicle for daily needs is possible today. Traveling as far as 200 to 300 miles or more on a single charge is a reality with some EVs, and battery range is expanding. Charging and super-charging infrastructure has now been installed nationwide, and it is growing at a fast pace. Buyers have several options today, but they must take into consideration their own personal circumstances, such as travel habits, and expectations as far as purchase price and battery charging accessibility.

Buyers have several options today, but they must take into consideration their own personal circumstances, such as travel habits, and expectations as far as purchase price and battery charging accessibility

After research about personal needs and habits, drivers can enjoy choosing the EV most attractive to them, with the same options and spaces they would normally look for in a vehicle. Today, there are more EV choices than ever before including sedans, SUVs, and trucks. The plus is driving an emission-free vehicle.

Electric vehicles emit zero emissions and CO2. This has a huge impact on our environment in daily driving reducing emissions and improving ground air pollution. To go one step further in reducing CO2 would be to charge your electric vehicle with clean electricity: solar panels, wind turbines, and a power storage unit.

Points to consider before buying an electric vehicle (EV).

  1. Range: What (range/miles) do you need for your daily driving? City driving is easy for most EVs. Long-distance commutes are going to require a longer-range EV.
  2. Charging stations and locations: Is there a standard charging station at your workplace? Close by? Find out about charge station locations (and super-charge locations) on your travel route if you are a long-distance commuter. (Some long-range EVs will make the entire commute to and from work and can be charged at home).
  3. Length of time for battery recharge: Find out the duration for both standard charging and super-charging.
  4. Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education (GITE) Alternative Energy Park at the Rockville Campus

    Purchase price: EV cost is variable. Low price, between $20K and $100K+, is no different from fossil-fuel vehicles. Cost can be related to vehicle performance, regular options, safety technologies, and other EV-specific variables such as range, AWD, two electric motors versus one electric motor. Some lower-cost EV vehicles have incredible range and good performance; some EVs are incredibly high-performance vehicles and still have a good range.

  5. Federal tax credits (as of February 2020): Vehicle manufacturers who have sold less than 200,000 EVs will still carry a possible $7,500 tax credit to offset the purchase of an EV. If the vehicle manufacturer has sold more than 200,000 EVs, that tax credit is starting to phase out for their vehicles. Phase-out tax incentive is currently $1,875. There also might be local and state incentives for purchasing an EV. The amount of these incentives will vary by location and by the EVs battery capacity and personal federal tax burdens.
  6. Battery warranty: Warranties vary by manufacturer. Some might offer an eight-year/100,000-mile, others offer different terms. Look at the time and mileage that it covers—time you won’t have to worry about a battery issue. This exceeds the basic powertrain warranty on some vehicles today.
  7. Costs unique to EVs: Your electric bill at home will increase, but will typically still be less expensive than gasoline. The expense of installing a fast charger at home is a choice. All EVs come with a charger that will charge the vehicle overnight. You may choose to charge faster at home, and the hardware and installation by a qualified electrician will be an added expense.
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