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You are ready to go green, take the plunge and buy an electric vehicle. You want to help lower greenhouse gas emissions, save on fuel costs and qualify for tax breaks up to $7,500. What type of car should you buy, how much will it cost and where can you charge up when on the road?

In June 2017, CarMax teamed with CleanTechnica to survey their readers and find out more about the lifestyles of Americans driving both new and used hybrid and electric cars. A whopping 2,300 responses and data was compiled to create the “2017 Hybrid & Electric Cars Survey Report”.

Who are alternative-fuel vehicle owners? Surprisingly, 88% are over the age of 30 years old & 70% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. 26% live on the pacific coast. This is somewhat unsurprising considering the green movement is strongest in this region.

 

Why Buy a hybrid or electric vehicle? The reasons are plentiful. 55% of respondents spend less than $100 per year on maintenance. Additionally, some cities have HOV land perks & drivers receive federal & state tax credits. Don’t forget about performance. Electric cars generate peak torque at a standstill, while combustion engines generate max torque mid way into the engine speed range. Not convinced? Check out this Tesla dusting a Corvette Z06 & a 707 horsepower Hellcat Challenger.

Range Anxiety? 47% of respondents drive up to 100 miles before refueling and 56% say charging stations are conveniently located near their home.

Most popular models? The top five most desired models among those surveyed were: Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Models, Toyota Prius and the Chevrolet Bolt. Since 2001, CarMax has sold nearly 100,000 used electric and hybrid cars in the U.S. Are you their next customer?

Electric Car & Hybrid Vehicle Overview

There are three types of electric vehicles: Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs). BEVs are what most think of when they think of an electric vehicle. It runs exclusively on electricity and the car battery is charged externally with a plug-in.

A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle can run on electricity or petrol. There are two engine-battery configurations for these cars. Series PHEVs are powered solely with electricity; the gasoline engine is used to generate electricity and power the electric motor. Blended PHEVs use a combination of gasoline and electricity to power the car.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles – such as the popular Toyota Prius – do not have an external battery plugin and use gasoline and electricity. These cars are powered by a technology called “regenerative braking.” Electricity is produced by the braking system. You can learn more here: Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technology.

In the survey, 64% of electric vehicle owners purchased a BEV while 36% own a plug-in hybrid or hybrid model.

Advantages of Owning an Electric Vehicle

The term ‘Electric Vehicle (EV)’ is an umbrella term that represents 60 + car models of the three types of EVs described above. There are many online retailers for you to research different models, available features and make a purchase. CarMax.com presently has 1,628 used hybrids for sale.

Whatever type of car and model you choose, there are three distinct advantages to becoming the owner of an EV.

  1. Eco-friendly – Cars that run on electricity do not emit toxic gas emissions or smoke. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration 15% of electricity in the U.S. is produced using clean, renewable energy sources such as hydropower and wind farms. They predict renewable energy production to increase by 17% in 2017.
  2. Quiet Ride & Stylish – A quieter ride and less noise pollution. In addition, EVs appeal to consumers who want to express their personality and values while heading down the highway. One respondent of CarMax’s survey stated: “It was the geekiest car I could find!”
  3. Save on Fuel and Maintenance Costs – Electricity is much cheaper than gasoline. Americans spend $2000 to $4000 and more on petrol per year. The average annual cost to plugin and charge an EV is $500 per year. In addition, an electric engine contains under 10 moving parts compared to 100s of parts in internal combustion engines. Fewer things to need repair, is easier to fix and parts are less expensive.

Charging Stations For Plug-In Electric Vehicles

You’ve found the perfect hybrid model to fit your lifestyle and price range and it’s parked in the garage. Now you need to understand how to service and maintain the vehicle. Where will you charge up?  How long will it take?

The time it takes to fully charge your EV battery depends on the type of EV. Respondents of the CarMax survey reported spending anywhere from an hour to 12 hours to recharge. The average time was four to eight hours. Sixty-nine percent reported having a charging station within one to five miles of their home.

You can even purchase a charging station for your home and charge the battery up to seven times faster than was possible with the cordset that came with your car purchase. Costs of a residential charging station can be as low as $400. Sixty-four percent of EV owners in the CarMax survey use a home-based 240V level two charger.

Worried you will be out on the road and not be able to charge up? If you plan well that is highly unlikely. The Alternative Fuels Data Center has an online tool to locate charging stations throughout the U.S.: Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations.

You’ve decided to go green and purchase an alternative-fuel vehicle. You now know some types of cars you can choose from and different engine types, the benefits of owning an EV, approximate costs to drive and maintain an EV plus where to charge up. Now it’s time to hit the road.