Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t think EVs are any better for the environment than the average internal combustion car.

EVs have zero tailpipe emissions and are much better for the air we breathe. There is, however, an environmental footprint associated with production of the car, battery and the electricity needed to power the engine. But that footprint is expected to be significantly less than conventional vehicles— around a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Northwest energy sources, such as water and wind, emit far fewer emissions than the coal-fired power plants and energy sources in other areas of the country.

 

Further, electricity generation is directly influenced by local, state and national public policy and regulation. The same cannot be said about imported oil, which is not under our direct control. Over the last several decades, government regulations and improved technology have helped reduce emissions produced by power plants. In recent years there has been a big push to support renewable energy sources, which are now producing a growing percentage of our country's electricity. This trend toward "greening our electric grid" will further reduce the environmental impact of EVs.

 

 

Electric Vehicles aren’t made for the 99 percent.

EVs are more affordable than you might think. There is the gas savings, with electricity priced at roughly 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of fuel for an internal combustion car. Your utility bill will increase about 1/3 over the amount you currently pay if you charged your battery from empty every night.

 

The purchase price of EVs are high, partly due to battery costs. But continuous innovation and increased adoption is helping to drive down the price. There also are some government incentives. Electric vehicles purchased in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to fuel the vehicle.

This credit replaces an earlier credit for EVs purchased in 2009.

Small neighborhood electric vehicles do not qualify for this credit, but they may qualify for another credit.

The State of Oregon allows tax credits for alternative fueled vehicles. You can get a tax credit for up to $750, or 25 percent of the vehicle conversion cost, for vehicles put on the road since January 1998. There is a similar tax credit for charging equipment. See the Oregon Office of Energy web page for more information.

Charging takes forever.

Charging time depends on both the type of charge used and the vehicle. For completely empty batteries using a common 120-volt outlet (Level 1), an owner can expect a full charge in 8-12 hours. It can be done every night while you sleep! With a 240-volt outlet and a Level 2 charging station, an owner can expect to fully charge a battery in 4-6 hours. Portland State University’s Electric Avenue also houses the country’s first EV quick-charge station with a battery assist. The battery buffer EV charger includes a battery pack that allows EV drivers to charge up in 30 minutes or less with minimal impact to the grid and their wallet.

Gas stations are everywhere, but charging stations are few and far between.

It’s true. To date, there are fewer places to charge than fill up with gas. But EVs conveniently come equipped with cords and equipment so you can plug them into conventional 110-volt outlets found in most homes and garages. Plus, EV owners can buy advanced, Level 2 chargers that cut charging time in half or plug into the growing number of public stations being installed throughout the country including at OMSI, Electric Avenue at PSU, retail outlets like Fred Meyer, IKEA, public libraries and more. Check out the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association's page on charging resources.

I’ve got places to go, people to see. EVs can’t get me everywhere I need to be in a given day without hassle.

Research shows that most (more than 65 percent) of commuters in the United States drive less than 30 miles round trip for work. EVs work well for day-to-day travel. The average EV can travel 60-100 miles on a single charge, more than enough for most commutes and the majority of daily car-related activities.

There are so many great things to see and do in Oregon, and I fear being stranded, powerless and no place to plug in, on the side of US 26 on my way to Mt. Hood or mid-way to McMinnville for a winery tour.

The range of an EV depends on its battery pack, whether you are driving in the city or on the highway and your driving style.  Long-distance travel with EVs is getting easier almost daily with more recharging points on highways and continuous innovation. For instance, the Nissan LEAF’s navigation system can tell you how much electricity is needed for a particular trip, how much life the battery has got and where you can charge on the way. Check out the West Coast Green Highway information here. The Oregon Electric Vehicle Association also provides this useful information on where to charge your EV

 

What if my car blows up? I hear the batteries do that.

Relax. At this point in the EV evolution, exploding batteries is pretty much an urban legend. Plug-in electric vehicles must comply with the same federal safety standards as conventional cars and trucks. EVs also have to meet additional requirements such as limiting chemical spillage, securing batteries during a crash and isolating passengers from the high-voltage system.

EVs aren’t fast; they’ve got no giddyup.

Speed depends on the amount of voltage applied to the motor, and how the transmission is geared. But most EVs will reach at least 55-65 mph. We’d also like to direct your attention to the National Electric Drag Racing Association and closer to home, a video from PIR’s annual Electrathon below

and check out Oregon’s own White Zombie, the world’s fastest street-legal electric car.

An EV isn't a "normal" car.

We get why people sometimes think this. There are a number of space-age, George Jetson-looking electric vehicles out there. Despite their appearance, they are street-legal and drive in a similar, if not identical fashion to gas-powered vehicles. We also encourage you to check out the ever-expanding number of “normal” EVs being manufactured by “normal” car makers like Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Tesla, Honda and Nissan.