The Basics of Electric Vehicle Ownership: A Beginner's Guide

The Basics of Electric Vehicle Ownership: A Beginner's Guide

Posted at Mon, Aug 14, 2023 2:15 PM

The Basics of Electric Vehicle Ownership: A Beginner's Guide

There you are, minding your own business, putting your groceries in your car in the supermarket parking lot, when some guy with a handful of plastic bags wanders by.

And pauses.

And squints at you, then eventually asks, “is that one of those electric cars?”

“Yes, it is,” you respond, as brightly as possible while inwardly wailing, oh no, my half gallon of rocky road! and trying to sprint to the driver’s-side door before he sets his bags down.

Too late. “So, what kind of miles per gallon do you get in that thing?”

Chatty strangers and a new automotive vocabulary are just two of the ways your life will change when you merge into the fast-moving EV lane. Here are some things to expect.

Be prepared to start using some new nomenclature. Like range, which is what Mr. Curious was trying to ask about. 

We know you’re a nice person and will explain to him (and your neighbors, your friends and the parents of your kids’ classmates) that EVs don’t measure distance in gallons, but in how far the vehicle can travel on a charge.

Range depends on a variety of factors – and drivers should consult their owner’s manual to understand what to expect from their particular vehicle – but most all-electric autos can go around 200 miles on a full charge.

If you want to get really technical, you can discuss a vehicle’s efficiency, expressed as MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent, which calculates how far the EV can travel on the amount of energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.

What else? Well, you don’t need to “fill ’er up,” you plug it in at a charging station. The charging cable with plug is what connects your power source to your vehicle. Think of it like the USB cable you use to charge your phone or tablet, only bigger. The charging point, or port, is similar to the nozzle at the gas station – it’s where the charging cable plug connects to your vehicle.

Want to know how much juice you have left? Look at your charge status. It’s like the fuel gauge in a gas-powered vehicle, with a couple of important exceptions: there’s a charge status gauge in the vehicle, of course, but EVs also connect to your smart devices so you can hop onto your phone and see how much power you have or watch the charge in progress.

Speaking of charging stations, they come in three types. When it comes to power sources, forget regular unleaded, midgrade and premium and think in terms of levels instead:

  • Level 1 – home-based chargers using regular 120-volt AC outlets and 12-amp service. It’s sufficient to charge your plug-in hybrid EV overnight.
  • Level 2 – these can be either 240-volt home outlets or a public fast-charging unit. You’ll need an electrician to install a wallbox, a dedicated EV charging station, if you want a level 2 option at your house. A Level 2 charger can provide all the juice your 100-percent electric vehicle needs for a full charge.
  • Level 3 – these are direct-current units using 480 volts or more and are currently available only at public rapid-charging stations.

You know that nervous feeling you get when the gas gauge inches ever closer to the big E on the dash? In an EV, that same sensation is called range anxiety – the fear of running out of battery power before reaching your destination. 

Charging point infrastructure is expanding, but charging is still not as quick as pumping a few gallons into the tank. To relieve some of the stress of range anxiety, consider these tips:

  • Make sure your vehicle has a sufficient charge before you start out, especially for a long trip.
  • Plan on stopping for charging sessions, if necessary. You can use apps to track the charging station locations.
  • Use your navigation system to find the most efficient route.
  • Practice good EV driving habits – minimize harsh braking and accelerating, for instance. And if you’re running low, turn off accessories such as the heater, air conditioning and radio and unplug your phone to help save power.
  • Consider a hybrid electric-gas vehicle.

Speaking of gas-hybrids, now is a good time to review the types of electric vehicles. Basically, any vehicle that uses an electric motor, either in full or in part, is considered an EV.

If you currently drive an EV, you are likely aware of the distinctions. For those who are curious or looking, here’s some background info that can help with your search or serve as a basis for questions when you visit our dealership:

  • BEV – battery electric vehicles, which are 100 percent battery powered and must be plugged in to charge.
  • HEV – these are hybrid EVs (also known as extended range vehicles) that feature an auxiliary gas engine that supplements the electric motor and works as a generator to maintain the battery charge. These vehicles can’t be plugged in to recharge.
  • FCEV – fuel-cell EVs, which use a fuel cell, generally hydrogen-based, to produce the electricity to run the vehicle’s motor.
  • PHEV – plug-in hybrid EVs that have a gas engine to supplement the electric motor, but which can also be plugged in to recharge.
  • ZEV – vehicles that emit no tailpipe pollutants. All BEVs are considered ZEVs.

One more cool thing to know about the EV – you can drive it with just one pedal. One-pedal driving lets you control the speed using only the accelerator (don’t call it a gas pedal!) so you don’t need to hit the brake to slow down. This technique is particularly useful in stop-and-go traffic.

Now that you’ve satisfied Mr. Curious, you can press the button on your EV and glide silently out of the parking lot, judiciously using one-pedal driving to negotiate traffic and still get home before your ice cream melts.

We can show you how to activate one-pedal driving in your new EV. We can also answer any other questions you have and help you find the EV that’s right for you. Check out or website or visit us at the dealership today.

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