Plug-in cars are like other cars in many ways. They meet the same safety standards. They have plenty of room for passengers and cargo. They’re practical for everyday use, with options for fast-charging and long-distance driving. But that’s where the similarities end.
Driving a plug-in car is exciting. Electric drive engines accelerate quickly – but very quietly. Some electric cars can reach speeds over 100 mph – creating a new, exhilarating driving experience.
They’re highly efficient – and very smart. Sophisticated screen displays give drivers more information – and control. Some electric vehicles have a ‘regenerative’ braking system that captures and restores energy to the battery when the car comes to a stop. With fewer moving parts, plug-in cars require less maintenance.
Owners of plug-in cars soon get used to driving past the gas station – while feeling good about saving money and the environment.
There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles: the battery electric vehicle and the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which generates energy from both a battery and an internal combustion engine.
It is important to understand the type of vehicle you are considering, as it will influence your rate plan and charging options. Check out makes and models in the virtual showroom at PlugInCars or CleanDriveCA.
Low speed battery electric cars are also available. The Low speed EVs are referred to as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV). The NEV industry has slowly been developing over the last decade with over ten existing manufacturers. The South Bay Cities Council of Governments is piloting the use of NEVs and other Local Use Vehicles (LUVs) in the LUV program. Follow this link to read more about the LUV program.
Charging Types One of the most important decisions a plug-in electric vehicle owner will make is how to charge their vehicle. Most plug-in electric vehicles will charge at home on one of two charging “levels.” Depending on which charging level you select, you may need to upgrade your home electrical system.
Level One . Charging at Level One is done on a standard 120-volt outlet that typically won’t require customers to make modifications to their electric panel or home wiring. The electrical draw is the rough equivalent of a 1500-watt personal hair dryer. Most plug-in hybrids will take four to six hours to fully charge at Level One. A battery electric vehicle will take 12 to 24 hours for a full charge. The ideal configuration for Level One is a dedicated circuit that can be use for the electric vehicle charge connection.
Level Two . Charging at Level Two is done on a 240-volt rated charging unit and will likely require customers to make changes to their electrical panel and add a new circuit (if one is not available) in their home similar to that used for an air conditioner or electric dryer. Most battery electric vehicles would take three to six hours to fully charge at Level Two. Faster rates of charging can be achieved but may require power consumption greater than the peak load of a whole house.
The Society of Automotive Engineers has set the standard for Level One and Two charging plugs, known as the J1772. The five pin smart plug conducts electricity and sends data about the flow of electricity.
Fast Charging . DC Fast charging is currently under development and is being designed for commercial charging.