What is an Electric Vehicle?

Rhythm Research Team
Rhythm Research Team on Sunday, December 5, 2021
What is an electric vehicle

Here to Stay…The Drive Towards Electric Vehicles

What is an electric vehicle (EV) and what does it mean for the driving landscape? Electric vehicles are not a new phenomenon, but the buzz around a clean economy has brought the electric vehicle market to life like never before (especially in Texas).

There’s no doubt that EVs are gaining popularity. Between advancements in battery technology and the global push to reduce fossil fuels, EVs have hit the main stage and will likely become the popular choice in the upcoming decade.

With more and more car manufacturers announcing upcoming EV models, you may be wondering to yourself…what is an electric vehicle and is it a smart choice?

Let’s take a look at what sparked the current buzz for electric vehicles, the factors to consider when purchasing an electric vehicle, and what it’s like to be an EV owner.

What To Consider When Buying an Electric Vehicle

With a wide variety of EV options, it’s important to consider the most important lifestyle factors when making your purchase decision.

Power Style — There are options of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. Depending on your ability to charge an EV and your level of determination to reduce carbon emissions, you will want to consider how heavily you will lean towards electricity or stay rooted in traditional gas-powered vehicles.

We all know the ease of finding the nearest gas station, but electric car charging stations are not yet as commonplace. For long drives, an EV may need to be recharged (perhaps more than once), requiring that you find charging station options. So, let’s talk about....

Range — You have to take charging into consideration when driving an EV, so it’s important to consider your desired range for a single charge. Are you a long-distance commuter or are you wanting something to cruise around the city? Do you take regular road-trips? These are all questions to consider when assessing how an EV fits into your life.

Advancements in battery technology have led to greater ranges over the past few years, and that trend is set to continue. Many electric vehicles now have a range of 200+ miles on a single charge, making them more than capable of handling most daily commutes and other day-to-day needs.

Driving Experience — Speed. Power. Responsive braking. Control. Comfort. Cabin noise. Most of these factors come somewhere on the priority list of customers in the car market. Electric vehicles can feel quite zippy as their electric motors can deliver maximum torque without having to rev up like a gas-powered engine. This allows for impressive acceleration, which can be seen in race car like stats of vehicles such as the 2020 Tesla Model S, which can launch from zero to 60mph in an astonishing 2.4 seconds.[2]

When not speeding onto the highway or enjoying the rush of accelerating, drivers will occasionally coast and find the need to brake. With EV’s regenerative braking system, coasting and braking can feel fairly different from one model to the next. While many vehicles offer customizable regenerative braking options, some EVs sacrifice the coasting sensation for a more intense regenerative braking feature in order to improve battery range.

Incentives — With the push for decarbonization and a clean energy economy, there are significant federal, state, and other incentives available for various PHEVs and BEVs.

Electric vehicle incentives open up the electric vehicle market to a wider audience and can surely be an attractive factor in your purchasing decision. There is a budget for most of these federal and state incentives, so they do lower and eventually phase out over time.

The maximum federal tax credit for purchasing a qualifying electric vehicle is $7,500. To stay in-tune with qualifying electric vehicles, check out the Department of Energy listing.

To see what state and local incentives are available, take a look at the updated incentives map at Plug In America.

What It’s Like to Be an Electric Vehicle Owner

The driving experience may be a little quieter, but that doesn’t mean driving an EV should be any less exciting. With less maintenance and less pollution, electric cars offer many benefits that make owners proud.

Charging — Both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids have electric motors and rechargeable batteries. To recharge, these vehicles can be plugged into a standard 120V outlet, but such a power source will take a considerable amount of time to charge up the batteries — around 3 hours for the smaller plug-in hybrid battery and 20+ hours for the larger BEV batteries.[3]

To reduce charging time, most drivers install a Level 2 Charing Station at their homes so they can more efficiently charge their vehicles. The specialized outlet for Level 2 Charging is much like the outlet used for a home laundry system. While not overly complicated, installing a home charging station for your electric car may require the work of a professional electrician.

Charging your vehicle at home will raise your electricity consumption. To make sure that the electricity you receive to power your home and car is as clean as the vehicle you’re driving, be sure to take a look at our electric vehicle energy plans in Texas.

Benefits — The advantages of electric car ownership extend beyond the cars’ sleek design and quick acceleration. These benefits impact both your bottom line and contribute to an overall healthier community.

  • Cost Savings: With far fewer moving parts than a traditional car, battery electric vehicles require less maintenance. There’s no need for regular oil changes, and the car inspection process typically only involves a tire rotation. According to Consumer Reports, maintaining an electric vehicle costs roughly $900/year versus the $1,200 needed for gas-powered cars. You can compare gasoline powered cars with different EV models on our website.

  • Less Pollution: Battery electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, so they do not pollute while you drive. This is great for your local community! The clean driving of BEVs counterbalances their energy intense manufacturing process, and new innovation is coming out on best ways to recycle the batteries once they’ve reached end of life.

While there is debate on how much cleaner electric vehicles are for the environment and how much they really save individuals, it is clear that the growing enthusiasm for electric vehicles is here to stay. From manufacturers to driving enthusiasts, the driving world is getting behind the EV movement. And we’ve seen time and time again that scalability and innovation have done wonders to reduce costs.

Whether you’re ready to embrace electric vehicles now or not, it is an exciting time for the automotive industry as it develops and rides the growing wave of electrifying the economy.

History Of the Electric Vehicle

The electric vehicle is not a new invention. In fact, EVs accounted for about 33% of US vehicles in 1900. They were praised for being quiet, clean, and easy to handle, attributes that make electric cars appealing in their 21st-century comeback.

In 1908, Ford’s Model T hit the scene. Mass production of the Model T, coupled with the rise in gas stations, made driving gas-powered cars convenient and accessible. Over the decades, improvements to the internal combustion engine of gas-powered vehicles came to offer driving performance that could not be met by electric vehicles. For a long time, fuel prices were cheap, and gas-powered cars ruled the scene.

In the 1960s and 70s, gas prices rose in dramatic fashion, causing frenzy over US dependence for gasoline and igniting interest in EVs. The public interest was short-lived, however, as EV performance still fell well short of gas-powered cars. Manufacturers continued to test electric models and worked on improving performance of electric vehicles.

A major breakthrough hit in 1997 with release of the Toyota Prius — the world’s first mass produced hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). As a hybrid electric car, the Prius had both a traditional engine and a small electric motor, and it filled up on gasoline the same way as a traditional gas-powered car. Using the electric motor to start the car, power auxiliary functions, and assist vehicle performance, hybrid electric vehicles provided considerably improved fuel economy without changing the way drivers maintained their vehicles.

In 2010, the Chevy Volt became the first mass-produced Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). Similar to hybrids like the Prius, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Unlike the Prius, the plug-in Chevy Volt has a tank to be filled up at the gas station as well as a port that can be plugged into an electrical outlet to recharge the battery. PHEVs can go a modest distance off just the electric motor before transitioning to the gas-powered engine, so by keeping the battery charged, drivers can make substantial cuts on trips to the gas station.

The early 2010s also saw the Nissan Leaf come to market. The Leaf was the first mass-produced battery electric vehicle (BEV). Battery electric vehicles are what primarily come to mind nowadays when we think of electric vehicles. They are powered entirely from one or more electric motors; they do not have an internal combustion engine or a gas tank, and they do not emit any tailpipe emissions.

In the early 2010s, the battery was a fairly cost-prohibitive component of the BEV. With investment from the Energy Department and innovation from the private sector, there has been a significant cost reduction for electric vehicle batteries. This has opened up today’s market for a wide selection of electric vehicle options at reasonable rates.

Today, drivers don’t have to sacrifice performance when going electric. With options of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles, there are many available electric vehicle makes and models to match drivers’ needs and style. Also, nowadays some of the EV charging apps on the market are a true game changer when it comes to elevating driving experience and recharging electric vehicles. All things considered, it is safe to say that electric vehicles have a lot to offer and have a bright future ahead.

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