Electric cars are making a big splash in the auto world. Thinking about making the plunge and buying an electric vehicle? While they may not yet be right for everyone, there are already over half-a-million on the road in the U.S. today! So, how can you determine if an electric car is right for you? Read on for some things to think about before jumping in.

Electric Car vs. Hybrid Car

Although these two cars have many similarities, they have fundamentally different powertrains:

All-Electric Vehicles (EVs)

An electric car typically only uses an electric motor to power the wheels, with no added gasoline. Electric cars typically have less mileage range than either a gasoline powered vehicle or a hybrid vehicle. However, the range will vary based on make and model.

Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs)

A hybrid car will combine an engine and an electric motor. Because a hybrid also contains a gas engine, owners of these types of cars won’t have to worry as much about running out of charge. There are two types of PHEVs:

  • Series (also called extended-range) PHEVs run solely on their electric motor until the battery is depleted, at which point the gasoline engine kicks in.
  • Parallel (also called blended) PHEVs share the load and run on both the electric motor and gas engine at the same time, but are capable of running on electric power only at low speeds.

Electric Cars Have a Shorter Range

Electric cars can’t travel as far as gas cars on a single charge, but they’re getting there. Most electric cars have ranges of 80 to 100 miles, some luxury models have ranges upwards of 250 miles. However, when a battery is depleted it can take anywhere from 30 minutes up to nearly a full day to recharge the battery. As an owner of an electric car, you’ll need to properly plan your routes so that you remain within range or to allow for time to recharge. Finding a place to charge on the road can be difficult and, potentially, one of the major drawbacks of owning a fully electric car.

Charging the Battery

Electric cars get their “fuel” from the energy stored in batteries, which must be recharged on a regular basis. To recharge your car at home, you’ll need a certain size outlet and the necessary equipment. There are three main levels of home charging equipment — the more powerful charging unit you have, the faster your car will recharge:

  • Level 1 Charging: Allows you to charge the vehicle by using a standard household outlet. It generally takes 8 to 12 hours to completely charge a fully depleted battery.
  • Level 2 Charging: This type of charging level requires a 240-volt service but recharges the electric car about four times faster.
  • Level 3 Charging: Commonly known as DC fast charging, this charges through a 480V, direct-current plug. Most level 3 chargers will provide an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. Level 3 chargers are now being used in public or commercial settings, too.

If you use your electric car on a trip, you might need to recharge your car away from home. It’s not always easy to find a charging station and they may or may not be free of charge.

Electric Cars Typically Require Less Maintenance

Because electric cars have fewer moving parts than a gasoline powered car, EV engines can go farther between maintenance checks and that can help keep cash in your pocket. However, electric cars aren’t without maintenance entirely, though, as the batteries inside electric cars have a finite amount of life in them before you’d need to replace the battery. Replacing the battery can be an expensive endeavor though so you’ll want to make sure you keep up on routine maintenance checks!

Lower Emissions

Electric vehicles do not have a tailpipe and can help provide a real benefit to improving air quality for you, your family, and your community. Of course, depending on where you live, the source of electricity used to power your vehicle may produce CO2 emissions. However, if you live in an area where electricity is generated using low-pulling energy sources, you’ll definitely have the emissions advantage over gasoline powered engines.

Should You Buy an Electric Car? 

Still thinking about opting for an all-electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid? Take our quiz to find out! No matter which car you choose, your local Farm Bureau agent is here to assist you with any auto insurance needs.