Top Questions About Electric Cars – 25 FAQ’s

Questions About Electric Cars

Sometimes, there’s some questions you can’t quite get an answer to. When it comes to electric cars, I came up on 25 of the most frequently asked questions. Below, I broke down each one with a detailed answer:

Question #1. How Do Electric Cars Work?

how do electric cars work? *diagram
Answer. Electric cars work in a much more straightforward way. You have the main power source (battery) and you have motor(s) that propel the vehicle forward.
Those two primary components of an electric car make it crucial to drive anywhere.
Like with fossil powered cars, there’s more to it than having an engine and a tank of fuel. The following components complete the whole system:
  • Induction Motors
  • Inverters
  • Thermal Cooling System
  • Single-Speed Transmission
  • Regenerative Breaking System
  • Power Electronics Controller
  • Onboard Main Computer

Question #2. How Long Do Electric Cars Last?

how long do electric car batteries last
AnswerBy default, electric cars last longer than fossil cars. Less moving parts and as a whole, less strain on components. With fossil cars, problems tend to be more mechanical in nature. When it comes to electric cars, problems tend to be electronic (obviously!).
In particular, the battery.
Battery degradation over time can take a serious toll on your electric vehicle. The first iterations of electric cars (like the Nissan Leaf) had issues with premature battery degradation.
But today, most electric cars today have batteries that can run past 200K miles without a problem.
The conditions your electric car drives in and how often you fast charge dictate the life span of your car. Extreme hot and cold climates can alter the condition of your battery. The same can be said when you use “fast chargers” on a regular basis.
To ensure your electric car lasts for at least a decade, try to limit those two things as much as you can.

Question #3. Where Can You Charge An Electric Car?

where can you charge an electric car?
AnswerCharging an electric automobile can be done in one of two places. You can either charge it at home using either 110 220 volt outlets, or use public charging stations.
Residential charging is limited to 220 volts, while 440 volt systems are only available for commercial buildings. On average, you can achieve 1-10kW of charging speed with 220 volt systems.
Using public chargers at 440 volts, you can reach level 3 speeds that can surpass 50kW.

Question #4. Who Makes Electric Cars?

which manufacturers make electric cars?
Answer. At the moment, the following brands produce electric vehicles: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Smart, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen.
The brands that produce the most popular plug-in hybrid vehicles are: Chevrolet (Volt), Toyota (Prius Prime), Hyundai (Ioniq), Kia (Niro), and Honda (Clarity).

Question #5. How Much Do Electric Cars Cost?

how much do electric cars cost?
Answer. It depends on your needs. If you buy brand new, you’ll be paying the full sticker price. A Tesla Model S 85 from 2013 cost more than $70K USD new. Today in 2019, a 2013 Tesla Model S costs $30K-$40K USD used. 
Another example would be a Nissan Leaf which cost more than $40K for the highest trim level back in 2013. The Nissan Leaf from 2013 now costs as little as $8K USD.
To save money, buy used. To get all the warranties and the “brand new” feeling, buy new.

Question #6. How Long Do Electric Cars Take To Charge?

how long do electric cars charge?
Answer. This depends on a few factors. Are you charging from a 110, 220, or 440 volt system? Also, how big is your battery pack and how fast is your letting you charge on all three voltage rates.
A 2013 Nissan Leaf with a 24kW battery pack accepts 1-1.5kW through 110 volts, up to 6kW through level 2, and takes about 45-50 minute at level 3 through 440 volts.
For the example above, level 1 would take 16-24 hours to charge 100%. Level 2 would take around 4 hours, and level 3 would will depend on the charge rate. Usually, 80% happens in 30 minutes and from there an extra 15-20 minutes to reach 100%.
Usually EV’s charge fast up until 70-80%, from there they slow down to near 0kW until you reach 100%.

Question #7. Why Are Electric Cars Ugly?

why are electric cars so ugly?
Answer. In almost all cases, electric cars that look ugly because of aerodynamics. Being efficient and looking good often don’t go together (unless you are Tesla).
A good example of that would be the Nissan Leaf from the first generation. The battery pack was bulkier to the top, resulting in a taller looking car. Curves were sculpted to aim the wind around the car in a more efficient manner, resulting in an overall… ugly look.
While some EV’s start out ugly, they start to look better after a few years of being on the market.  A Nissan Leaf from 2011-2017 and 2018-Present would be a great example of such.

Question #8. How Fast Can Electric Cars Go?

how fast do electric cars go?
Answer. Electric cars can go very fast. The instant torque provided by the electric motors can send them from 0 to 60mph (0-100km/h) in under 3 seconds. Electric cars don’t need a traditional gearbox. This comes to an advantage as there’s no need to switch gears.
Many low range EV’s feel quick to about 50-60mph (80-100km/h), but then limit you to 85-100mph for safety.
Take the Smart Fortwo ED, Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMIEV and Fiat 500e as good example of that. They feel quick, but can’t go over 100mph.

Question #9. How Much Is A Charging Station for Electric Cars?

how much do charging stations cost?
Answer. This question requires you to answer one question, is it going to be for a residential or a commercial area?
If you were to go “all out” on buying a level 3 fast charger, you’ll be spending a few thousand dollars (at least). What WOULD be possible in a residential area is an electric vehicle charging station, this can cost you as little as 200 dollars to install. You’ll be able to charge at level 2 speeds using 220-240 volts. 
If the EV or PHEV comes with a charging cord that has 110 volt prongs, you can plug it into any 110 volt outlet.

Question #10. How Do Government EV Tax Credits Work for EV's and PHEV's in the US?

how do federal and state electric car incentives work?
Answer. The US government offers financial incentives for anyone who wants to buy a battery powered automobile (for both EVs & PHEVs). To determine if you’ll get the largest incentive, consult with your local dealership. Cars like the Nissan Leaf still qualify for the full $7,500 tax credits when bought brand new. While cars like the Toyota Prius Prime would only qualify for $4,502.
In 2019, Tesla no longer receives the full $7,500. Their incentive got slashed to $3,750.

Question #11. Why Don't Electric Cars Have Solar Panels?

why don't electric cars have solar panels

Answer. The simple answer to that is it would take FAR TOO LONG to fully charge to 100%. We are talking about days if not weeks to get a full charge. 

The area required for even just 0.5kW of power is far larger than any electric cars roof. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make sense.

Question #12. What Is The Worlds Most Popular Electric Car?

model s p100d

Answer. Nissan Leaf or the Tesla Model S depending on the market. In areas such as Europe, you got the Renault Zoe, Volkswagen eGolf and Nissan Leaf being the most popular electric cars due to their affordable prices.

In places like the United States, Tesla is the most popular electric car brand.

Question #13. How Much Electricity Does An Electric Car Use?

How Much Electricity Does An Electric Car Use?
Answer. A Hyundai Ioniq EV consumes an average of 185Wh/km at 110 km/h (according to Bjorn Nyland on YouTube).
To see how much electricity your vehicle will consumer per charge, look at the battery capacity. To find out the cost, get your local cost per kilowatt hour and multiply it by your batteries capacity.
For example, if a kilowatt hour of electricity costs around 0.22 cents… that means the full battery of Hyundai Ioniq Electric (27.8 kW) would cost around $6.12 USD for a full charge. 

Question #14. How Far Can An Electric Car Go?

Answer. Look at the manufacturers EPA rated range. This will give you a solid number to look at. Unlike with gas and diesel powered vehicles, EV’s can drive further the slower you drive.
As an example, Chevrolet Volt (1st gen) from 2013 is rated for 35 miles on a single charge. After driving at an average speed of 33mph, the car can drive 45-50 miles. That same 35 miles turned into 31.5 miles at 65mph on the highway.

Question #15. Can You Travel Cross Country In An Electric Car?

AnswerYes, depending on which country that is of course. In countries like Norway, you can go anywhere with almost any electric car due to their extensive network of chargers. Tesla would have no problem due to their HUGE battery packs. Cars like the 1st generation Nissan Leaf on the other hand, might prove to be troublesome in with their limited range.

In the United States, Tesla has the only network that extends through most states. With the exception of states like Hawaii, Alaska and North Dakota, there’s supercharger on almost all major routes.

When using apps like PlugShare, you can plan your route using fast charging stations with brands like Blink, Electrify America, Greenlots, EvGo, and many more. The issue with those (for now) is that they aren’t reliable. It’s not too uncommon to get to a station and it’s not working. 

Question #16. How Much Does It Cost To Charge Electric Car at Charging Station?


Answer: While there’s still many that won’t charge you a dime, there’s just as many others that do. 90% or more of level 2 chargers are absolutely free.  Level 3 chargers can sometimes be free, but often cost at least a few dollars (6$-10$ on average).

When it comes to using level 3 charging, the bigger your battery pack, the more you pay. 

Question #17. What Does PHEV Mean and Stand For?



Question #18. What About Overall Emissions, Including The Car and The Power Plant?

Answer: This question is debatable, but we will look at in a few different ways.
At the moment, most places use fossil fuels to generate electricity for todays charging stations. In a nutshell, its moving emissions from one source to another.
When you charge an automobile and the electricity comes from clean hydro, wind or sun energy, the emissions are lower by a HUGE marginWe can’t get an exact figure on how much fuel is being used to mine battery components. The jury is still out.

Question #19. How Often Do You Have To Replace The Battery?

Answer: In most EV’s and PHEV’s, you won’t have to replace the battery in its lifetime. It’s not uncommon to have these vehicles go hundreds of thousands of miles on the original battery.
Factors such as extreme heat, cold, and rapid charging play a significant role in the lifespan.

Question #20. Where Do Batteries End Up?


Answer: Batteries are usually recycled into other metal products such as rebar or angle iron. In almost all cases, batteries are shredded and sent to steel mills.

Question #21. Do Electric Cars Emit Electromagnetic Radiation?


Answer: While most car batteries are a form of DC power and do not typically emit EMF radiation, a strong temporary field of DC voltage that is being emitted when charging. 

Question #22. Is My Electric/Hybrid Car Dangerous To Pedestrians?


Answer: Yes, but to an extent. Electric cars produce far less noise, resulting in a lesser sense of awareness for pedestrians. Most modern electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles create an artificial noise at very low speeds to warn pedestrians of a vehicle approaching them. 

Question #23. What About Hydrogen Cars?


Answer: Hydrogen cars have a long way to go in terms of practicality and usefulness. In select areas (mostly in California), there are hydrogen fuel stations which allow you to get a full tank in as little as 5-10 minutes.

Question #24. Can Electric Cars Self Charge?


Answer: No they cannot. But to an extent, EV’s and PHEV’s can use regenerative breaking to get back a fraction of their battery juice. In some PHEV’s like the Chevrolet Volt and Hyundai Sonata, there’s a mode where you can recharge 50-80% of a battery while driving using the gasoline engine.

Question #25. Electric Cars Are Too Expensive, Right?


Answer: Do be mislead, electric cars are not expensive if you shop properly. Anything brand new costs the full price, obviously. Mass produced EV’s always drop in value in just a few years due to their high production volume and availability. 

A new Kia Soul EV from 2015 cost just over $30K USD. In the used market, they are $12K-$15K USD and going down in price year after year.

Over 50% depreciation in just 3-4 years… THAT is the benefit of mass produced EV’s.

BONUS Question. What Are The Most Common Terms Used With Electric Cars?

Answer: Here’s are the most commonly used terms with electric vehicles:

  • Kilowatt Hours (kWh): a measure of electrical energy equivalent to a power consumption of 1,000 watts for 1 hour.
  • Battery Degradation: a term used to identify loss of battery storage.
  • Driving Range: how far an electric vehicle can travel at its current state of charge.
  • Brake Regeneration: is a term used when your vehicle puts electricity back into the battery by methods such as brakes.
  • GOM (guess-o-meter): refers to the driving range in an electric vehicle.

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