Top Five Things to Know about EVs:

  1. What is regenerative braking?

Regenerative braking is a standard feature in electric cars. In most cars, energy is lost as heat every time we brake. With regenerative braking, that energy is captured and converted into electricity, which charges the car’s battery. This takes pressure off of the mechanical brakes as well as increasing the car’s driving range.

Howstuffworks has a great page explaining the details of regenerative braking systems.

Bottom Line: It takes some getting used to for drivers, but prevents energy waste and increases range.

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2. Will I run out of charge? If so, what happens?

First, as technology improves, range capabilities are increasing. Most EVs get around 100 miles per charge (our Nissan Leaf gets about 226 miles per charge), and the Tesla Model S has upwards of 285 miles per charge.

The other good news is that the number of charging stations around the country continues to grow. In Charlottesville alone, there are 10 public charging stations with a total of 22 ports. This includes 8 supercharger ports near Costco! Many of these stations are free. Conveniently, the Leaf displays nearby charging stations in the car display, but there are also great apps like PlugShare that you can use.

If you somehow did run out of charge, you would be towed to the nearest charging station.

Bottom Line: If you charge overnight at home, you can start each day with a full charge!


3. What are the costs associated with buying and owning an EV?

Costs are getting lower as EVs become more of an everyday car. New EVs range from $20-40k, and up to $7,500 federal tax credits (depending on the vehicle model and manufacturer) are available to help reduce that cost. Used EVs can be found in the $10-20k price range.

Because the price of power varies from place to place, the cost of charging varies as well. However, the cost to drive a Nissan Leaf here in Charlottesville is less than $0.04 per mile. The average gas vehicle will cost about $0.11 per mile, and even an efficient vehicle with low gas prices would cost around $0.07 per mile to drive.* Public charging stations vary in price-- many are free, while others cost by the hour or kWh.

One cost to keep in mind down the road is the battery replacement. This should be done every 7-10 years and the average cost hovers around $6,000.

Bottom Line: Electric vehicles can be pricier up front, but cost much less to drive than gas vehicles.


4. What are the environmental benefits of switching to an EV?


EVs have zero tailpipe emissions, unlike their gas-powered counterparts! Not only does that mean that EVs do not degrade local air quality, but it’s pretty significant when you consider that the transportation sector emits 1.9 billion tons of CO2 annually and is the US’s biggest contributor to emissions.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ EV emissions calculator the 2019 Nissan Leaf emits 138 grams of CO2e per mile if charged in Charlottesville. Our communications director did the math -- her gasoline-powered Hyundai sedan emits 381 grams per mile. Switching to the Leaf would mean 64% fewer CO2 emissions!

One caveat: Because our electricity grid is not yet 100% clean, there are still associated environmental impacts with driving an EV. However, if you charge from solar energy harvested at your home, your car is 100% solar powered!

Bottom Line: We must reduce our travel, especially in single occupancy vehicles, but electric vehicles are better than gas.


5. Is it fun to drive an EV?

Absolutely! Quick acceleration, a quiet ride, and modern features all make for a great experience.


Feel free to post more questions on our Facebook page. Let’s keep the conversation going!


*In Virginia, the average price of electricity is $0.11/kWh. So if your Nissan Leaf consumes 32kWh to travel 100 miles, the cost per mile is $0.035. For the average current gas price ($2.23/gallon) and vehicle efficiency (20.5 mpg), the cost per mile is nearly $0.11 per mile. Even if gas only costs $2.00 a gallon and your vehicle gets 30 mpg, the cost per mile for a gas vehicle is still double that of electric-- around $0.07.