Electric cars A to Z, plus how and where they charge

Feb 15, 2017 at 1:46 pm
Stuart Ungar speaks to the small crowd of electric car enthusiasts at a charging station ribbon cutting.
Stuart Ungar speaks to the small crowd of electric car enthusiasts at a charging station ribbon cutting.

An EV basically is any vehicle that plugs into an outlet to get power. There are two main types:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) These use no liquid fuel and rely solely on a battery pack and electric motor. Because of this, their range is limited to the amount of energy stored in the battery pack. The new Nissan Leaf has an estimated range of 107 miles.  The Tesla Model S has a range of up of 350 miles depending on the model and driving conditions.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) Plug-in hybrid cars differ from their hybrid brethren in that they do just that — plug in. So with these cars, drivers get fully-electric miles before the car uses a drop of liquid fuel. The 2017 Chevy Volt gets about 53 miles of fully-electric range, so if your daily commute is less than that, you will only be driving on electric. The advantage of PHEVs over BEVs is that these cars can go much farther by switching over to gas after the battery pack is depleted. So, they are useful both as a daily driver and for longer road trips.

Charge it

Electricity is everywhere, so it’s a bit ironic that one of the first questions people ask is: Where do you charge an EV? There are three different levels that you need to know about when it comes to EV charging:

Level 1 (standard 120 volt household current)

Gives you about five miles of driving range per plugged-in hour

A Level 1 charger is included with the sale of all electric vehicles

Perfect for longterm charging such as overnight or at your workplace

Fine for daily commutes of 40 miles or less

Level 2 (240 volt circuit — similar to clothes dryer or stove)

Gives you about 10 to 25 miles of driving range per plugged-in hour

Typically should be installed by an electrician for home use

Complete full charge in four hours for most battery EVs and two hours or less for most plug-in hybrid EVs

Wall-mounted or pedestal charging stations are used for public charging

DC Fast Charger (often mistakenly called Level 3)

This is the fastest charge and available at only commercial locations. Three different standards are used and are compatible with vehicles equipped to use these systems

CHAdeMo — Full charge typically in 30 minutes or less and used by Nissan and Mitsubishi.

SAE Combo — Full charge typically in 20 minutes and used by BMW, Chevrolet, Ford and Volkswagen.

Tesla Supercharger — Up to 200 miles of range in 20 to 30 minutes and used by Tesla Model S and Model X.