If you’re working from home or trying to social distance, you’re probably driving fewer miles than ever. You’re not alone; New York residents are driving between 60% and 90% less than they normally would. Even though your daily driving miles aren’t what they used to be, it may be time for a new car. Now is a good time as any to consider an electric vehicle (EV) to replace your old gas guzzler. Here’s why.
Gas prices won’t be low forever.
Car shoppers tend to pay less attention to fuel efficiency when gas prices are low. Since the shutdowns started in March, gasoline prices took a 40-cent tumble. However, ignoring fuel economy can come back to bite you because gasoline pricing is notoriously fickle. Low gas prices today don’t necessarily mean low gas prices tomorrow. Once drivers are back on the road, gas prices will return to pre-COVID levels or even higher.
Electricity, on the other hand, is regulated to be stable in price for months or even years. Even considering record-low gas prices, our math shows that the average driver in New York saves $500 a year by switching to an electric car. Once gas prices return to normal (let’s call that around $2.56 per gallon), EV drivers save as much as $750 a year. As an EV driver, you would be protected from the variations in gasoline prices that can make owning a car even more expensive. Plus, lower fuel costs are just part of the savings you can expect when you switch to electric. EVs cost $340 less to maintain and repair annually compared to similar-sized gas-guzzlers.
COVID-19 may have you paying more attention to your respiratory health, but the public health benefits of electric cars were well-established before the pandemic. According to a 2016 report from the American Lung Association, vehicles are responsible for $24 billion in avoidable healthcare costs in the 10 states studied, including New York. Decreasing the number of gasoline-powered cars on the road will help prevent issues like childhood asthma, as well as save the costs associated with sudden ER visits, lost work days, and premature death.
Now is the perfect time to choose a vehicle that will improve the air that you and your family breathe every day.
You can test drive safely and easily.
Taking a test drive is an essential part of the EV shopping experience. Many drivers say they didn’t understand the hype about electric cars… until they got behind the wheel for the first time. Dealerships are taking safety measures in place to make sure that you can experience the instant torque and silent workings of an electric powertrain. Whatever your situation, Drive Green with National Grid can help you compare electric vehicles and find the right one for you. Then when you’re ready to buy, we can refer you to a local dealership for a smooth and easy car-buying experience.
Still not sure an electric car is the right choice for you? National Drive Electric Week starts on September 26. While we usually host EV get-togethers and in-person events, we’ve decided to move our celebration online this year. Check out and register for our upcoming events below!
In the United States car market, big cars rule. In April 2020, crossovers, pickups, and SUVs together made up 70% of new vehicle sales in the “light” vehicle market. 70%! As we work to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), it’s clear that we need competitive EVs in these segments. There are already some excellent larger EVs available – check out the Hyundai Kona Electric, Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV), Kia Niro EV and PHEV, Audi e-tron, or Tesla Model X on the car comparison tool from Drive Green with National Grid .
But automakers have announced or released several larger EVs that we’re keeping our eyes on. Here are the electric SUVs that we think are the ones to watch in 2020 and early 2021.
Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid
The new 2020 version of the Ford Escape for the first time offers a plug-in version of the model. A 14.4 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery powers the vehicle for an EPA estimated electric range of 37 miles, and 100 MPGe. The new Escape PHEV has a total horsepower of 221 and can be fully charged in just 3.5 hours using a Level 2 charger. The Escape PHEV starts at $33,040 and qualifies for a federal tax incentives of $6,843. In New York, the car will qualify for a $1,700 Drive Clean rebate. The hybrid plug-in version of the Escape was released this spring but is not yet available to test-drive in New York.
Toyota RAV4 Prime
The Toyota RAV4 Prime is another PHEV to watch and a direct competitor of the Ford Escape PHEV. The RAV4 Prime has a pure electric range of 39 miles powered by a battery pack of 18.1 kWh. (A note: There is also a hybrid version of the RAV4. The word “Prime” in the name indicates that it is the plug-in version.) Compared to the Ford Escape’s 221 horsepower, the RAV4 Prime boasts 302 horsepower thanks to two electric motors. The trade-off for higher power, however, is lower efficiency. Toyota estimates the RAV4 Prime to have an MPGe of 90, compared to the Escape PHEV’s 100 MPGe EPA estimate.
The RAV4 Prime is a 2021 model that will begin arriving to the United States soon. However, due to high demand and low inventory, only 5,000 units will be available in the US for the first release of the RAV4 Prime, so reach out to your local dealership to express your interest now! Base pricing begins at $38,100, which after the federal tax credit of $7,500 decreases to $31,720. The premium model, denoted as the RAV4 Prime XSE, will begin at $41,425 and be reduced to $35,045 after applying the federal tax credit. New York residents will qualify for a $1,700 Drive Clean rebate on the RAV4 Prime.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
Volvo has announced a commitment to making 50% of its global sales come from fully electric vehicles by 2025, and the remainder of sales made up of hybrids (though unfortunately not necessarily PHEVs). In Europe, 20% of Volvo’s sales are already PHEVs and the automaker has created an incentive program for US drivers in an effort to get the United States EV market up to speed. Volvo will reimburse car owners during their first year of owning a new Volvo EV by cutting them a check based on how much they’ve been plugging their car in to recharge. The company will track how many kWh the vehicle uses with a unique, built in software. The amount American drivers receive in a check after their first year of driving will be calculated based on the national average price of electricity per kWh, multiplied by the amount of electricity the car used.
The new XC40 will get over 200 miles of all-electric range and is estimated to be released with a starting price of $55,000, which after the federal tax rebate would come to $47,500. (It exceeds the price cap for the Massachusetts state rebate, though.) As of now, the new all-electric Volvo is expected to be released for sale in the US in late 2020.
The VW ID.4 will be the first vehicle and cornerstone of this new electric series. Volkswagen has estimated the vehicle will have a range of 310 miles, and while the official battery size has yet to be released it is expected to be around 83 kWh. Car and Driver speculates that the vehicle will come in three different trims similar to the rest of the brand’s layout. Estimated prices for each hypothesized trim type, not including the federal tax rebate, are $35,000, $40,000, and $45,000. The VW ID.4 will go on sale in Europe late 2020 and will eventually be produced in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the North American markets around 2022, again according to Car and Driver.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
The Ford Mustang Mach-E is a long-anticipated addition to the Mustang family. The standard range model has a battery with a 75.7 kWh capacity, while the extended-range version comes with a battery of 98.9 kWh capacity. As for range, the Mach-E will offer between 210 and 300 miles per charge, depending on the battery pack in your selected model. Pre-order is currently available for the Mach-E, and the car will be fully available come late 2020.
In addition, Ford has partnered with Electrify America to offer Mach-E drivers up to 250 kWh of free power at all Electrify America charging stations. 250 kWh of free power translates to roughly three to five free charges, depending on the specific trim battery size.
Tesla Model Y
Tesla’s newest project, which is now available for order and scheduled delivery, is a compact crossover SUV with a range of up to 300 miles. Though the car is available for order now, the standard range model (lowest mileage per charge) will not begin production until early 2021. Both the currently available long range and performance models can get you roughly 300 miles on a single charge, and start at $52,990 and $60,990 respectively.
The Model Y is a sporty, luxurious option and can even be outfitted with a third row of seats for a total passenger capacity of seven. On the incentives front, however, you’re out of luck: Tesla has phased out of its federal tax credit and the Model Y will only be eligible for the NYSERDA Drive Clean rebate if the purchase price is under $60,000.
While each model listed is unique and will offer a different driving experience, we can confidently say that each vehicle on this list would be an excellent set of low to zero emission wheels.
Most drivers have had at least one experience in which they asked themselves, “Am I going to run out of gas?” Range anxiety, or the fear a car will run out of fuel before it reaches its destination, is not unique to electric cars. It is, however, a common reason as to why drivers stick with gasoline-powered cars when electric cars are cheaper to own, better for the environment, and more fun to drive.
Based on the experience of EV drivers, the adjustment to charging is easier than expected and feelings of range anxiety dissipate quickly. Instead of making a detour to the gas station, drivers learn to plug in at their homes, workplaces, or parking lots. Level I and Level II charging is fast enough to meet the demands of these everyday trips.
But still, sometimes people need to drive hundreds of miles in a day. As more people adopt EVs, DC fast charging provides an element of convenience and security that can help displace the purchase of gasoline-powered cars. But how exactly does it work, how fast is it, and how much better can we expect it to be?
How fast is fast charging?
Unlike Level I and Level II charging stations, DC fast chargers are only available for public use. You can’t install one in your home because of the extremely high voltage and power needed to reach fast charging speeds.
Charging speed is typically expressed in terms of power (measured in kilowatts) and varies depending on the car and the station you’re plugged into. For example, the Chevrolet Bolt can charge at a peak of 50 kW, while competitors like the Hyundai Kona EV or Kia Niro EV can charge at a maximum of 77 kW. You can convert these specs into charging times using the chart below.
50 miles in 30 minutes
90 miles in 30 minutes
120 miles in 30 minutes
150 miles in 30 minutes
Although different car models have different maximum charging rates, the actual charging rate depends on the power of the station you plug into.
Many of the DC fast charging stations available now charge at rates of 24 to 50 kW, but these speeds are becoming obsolete as electric car models are introduced with faster charging capabilities. In an effort to keep infrastructure ahead of vehicle technology, companies like Electrify America and EVGo are building networks of stations to charge at rates of 150 kW or more, even though few vehicles can charge at these rates currently.
It’s a formula that Tesla has mastered early with its proprietary network of Superchargers, which are known for widespread station abundance and power. Tesla Superchargers deliver at least 120 kW, and most Tesla cars can take advantage of them because the company makes improvements to its cars through periodic software updates. The third iteration of Superchargers can output power at a rate of 250 kW, which is enough to add 75 miles of range in 5 minutes of charging or over 200 miles of range in 30 minutes.
What’s the future of DC fast charging?
Will EVs ever reach the refueling speed of gasoline? Probably. But getting 300 miles of range in 5 minutes of charging is not necessary to make electric cars practical for the majority of people. If a driver has easy-to-access options for Level I or Level II charging at home, work, or the grocery store, convenience can quell range anxiety without having to invest in as many expensive DC fast chargers.
The fact is, a 300 mile trip in a single day happens infrequently for most people. With a little extra planning and a 30-minute stop to stretch your legs and grab a coffee, DC fast charging can already enable those trips. But as more drivers go electric, we’ll need more stations.
In the short term, the installation of new DC fast charging stations should be prioritized along interstate and highly-trafficked routes to accommodate long-distance driving. Data collected from drivers can help install DC fast chargers strategically to improve access to on-the-go charging and get the most out of investment dollars in cities and rural areas. Long road trips make up a small portion of our driving miles, and most EV drivers will continue to find charging at home most convenient.
In the long term, it’s possible that 200+ kW charging does become the norm, and cars may not need huge battery packs to support 400+ miles of range. The vision for Lucid, a new electric car manufacturer started by a former Tesla employee, relies on small, 30 kWh batteries, ultra-high efficiency, and widespread, 350 kW fast charging stations.
As quickly as the industry is growing, it’s unclear how long such a breakthrough would take or how expensive it would be to develop the necessary infrastructure to make this vision possible. It costs between $10,000 and $40,000 to install a single 50 kW DC fast charging port and as much as $100,000 for a 250 kW charger. They’re not going to appear on every street corner overnight.
At its simplest, DC fast charging is the best way to compete with the 5-minute refueling time of a gas-powered car. Long distance travel is a convenience that many drivers can’t sacrifice, and while there’s still plenty of room for improvement for fast charging networks, it’s doable to go electric now. Learn more at drivegreen.nationalgridus.com/learn/charging.
Electric cars are a new technology, so making the transition from gas to electric can be intimidating at first. But if you can charge a smart phone, the adjustment to an electric car is easier than you might think.
Here’s a crash course to help you learn the basics of electric vehicle (EV) charging.
What kind of charging is available?
There are three levels of charging for electric cars today: Level I, Level II, and DC fast charging.
Level I charging requires a standard 120-volt outlet. All electric vehicles come equipped with a cord that you can plug into a common outlet. It’s exactly like charging a smartphone or laptop.
Level II charging requires a 240-volt outlet and a charging unit. You can purchase a Level II charging unit and install it in your home with the help of a licensed electrician, but stations are also available at public garages, grocery stores, gyms, or other public lots.
DC fast charging is the fastest charging available for passenger cars. You cannot install a DC fast charging unit in your home, but they are available for public use for charging on the go, mostly along highways.
How Long Will It Take To Charge?
Charging is totally different from refilling gasoline. Most gas-powered cars are refueled when they are nearly empty, perhaps once a week. On the other hand, EVs are charged like smart phones; you plug in regularly, before you get close to 0%.
EV charging takes advantage of all the time cars spend parked, which is estimated to be 95% of the time. Even though it takes longer than pumping gas, charging is not time spent actively attending to the car – it’s time spent sleeping, eating, or working while the car is parked, so don’t be scared away by seemingly long charging times. In fact, since it takes less time to plug in at home or at work than to drive to a station and pump gas, EVs can save time that you would otherwise spend driving to and from the gas station.
The chart below shows the time it takes to go from empty to full charge of some popular EV models.
Level I Charging Time
Level II Charging Time
Tesla Model 3, Standard
Kia Niro EV
Nissan LEAF Plus
Toyota Prius Prime
Honda Clarity Plug-in
Don’t be scared away by seemingly long charge times! EV drivers often plug in to recharge the miles they’ve driven in a single day. Source: ClipperCreek
There’s a lot of variability in the charging times listed above, which makes it hard to compare different cars on an apples-to-apples basis. In general, the further a car can travel on a single charge, the bigger its battery is, and the more time it takes to charge back to 100%. To get a clearer comparison, we should be looking at charging rate, or miles of range gained per hour of charging.
The chart below shows average charging rates for the same group of EVs, though ambient temperature and the battery’s state of charge will cause small fluctuations in the actual rate. (Batteries charge faster between 20% and 80% capacity than when they’re nearly full or nearly empty.)
The chart shows EVs all charge at the same rate when plugged into a regular outlet, no matter the battery size. When it comes to Level II charging, the two plug-in hybrids (the Toyota Prius Prime and the Honda Clarity) charge at a slower rate than battery-electrics. Otherwise, there is little difference in charging rate among the cars of the same class. Why is that?
What Happens When You Plug In
When most people say “charger,” they mean the cable that connects the power source to the device being charged, but that’s not quite accurate. An EV’s onboard charger is located inside the car and converts AC power from the wall outlet to DC power that can be stored in the battery. The speed at which an electric car can charge is limited either by the acceptance rate of the onboard charger or the power coming from the wall outlet – whichever is lower. Take a look at the diagram below to see how energy flows to the battery during charging.
Level I charging delivers about 4 miles of electric range per hour of charging for all electric cars because the maximum power that a common outlet can deliver is 1.4 kW. All new EV models have acceptance rates that exceed 1.4 kW, but since the power that comes from the outlet is limited to 1.4 kW, the charging rate of the car is too.
There is more variability in Level II charging speeds because different EVs have different acceptance rates. The EVs with similar charging rates, such as the Chevy Bolt, Kia Niro, and Hyundai Kona, all have a 7.2 kW onboard charger and charge at a rate of about 24 miles per hour. The Tesla Model 3 has a 7.7 kW charger, so it adds an additional mile of driving range per hour of charging on Level II.
However, having an onboard charger with a higher acceptance rate adds weight and cost to the car. That’s why plug-in hybrids tend to have lower acceptance rates than battery-electric vehicles – around 3.3 kW compared to 7.2 kW.
Charging at home
The majority of EV drivers choose to charge at home because it’s convenient and easy. For some, a simple household outlet to gain 4 miles of range per hour of charging is enough. For others, installing a Level II charging station at home can recharge an EV battery from 0% to 100% overnight, making electric cars more convenient.
There are EV charging stations that can deliver more or less power from the same 240-volt outlet because they draw more or less current; charging stations can deliver 12 to 80 amps, so charging rates for Level II chargers can vary between 3.8 kW and 15.4 kW.
When shopping for an at-home Level II charging station, its power output should roughly match the EV’s acceptance rate. More powerful stations are more expensive. Here are a few factors to consider when comparison shopping for your EVSE.
Current 32 amp chargers will suffice for most EVs. Check your car’s specs before buying a charging station. Shelling out more money for a high-current station won’t necessarily make your car charge faster.
Cord length – The cord should easily reach your plug port from the station. Going with a longer cord offers you a little more flexibility; 25 feet is recommended for most people, but measure to make sure that’s enough. You cannot use an extension cord to give yourself extra length!
Smart features – If you’d like to monitor your charging, schedule charging sessions for off-peak times from your phone, or know exactly how much energy you’re using, you can opt for a smart charger with Wi-Fi connectivity.
There is an increasing number of public charging stations available. Because they’re usually discretely located in parking lots, you may not have noticed them, but they can give you a little extra juice when you’re driving around town. Use mapping tools like PlugShare or ChargePoint to locate these stations when convenient.
Level I and II charging can deliver a full battery in the 6-8 hour window that most people are sleeping or working. This is fast enough to meet most daily driving needs. If you’re concerned about an empty battery on long road trips or emergencies, there is a solution: DC fast charging.
DC fast charging stations are available for public use and can deliver 50 kW of power the Chevy Bolt or as much as 150 kW for the new Nissan LEAF Plus – much faster than Level I or Level II. Depending on the vehicle and charging station, electric cars can recharge as much as 80% of a car’s total range in less than an hour. For more information, stay tuned for an upcoming blog on DC fast charging or read more at drivegreen.nationalgridus.com.
If you’re looking to reduce your gasoline costs, drive a
smooth and quiet car, or do something for the environment, you’ve come to the
Although electric cars are increasingly recognized as the superior
technology compared to the gas-powered cars they’re replacing, the automotive
industry has been slow to embrace the change. According to nationwide study
conducted by the Sierra
Club, nearly three-quarters of auto dealerships don’t even have a single
electric car on their sales lot.
Furthermore, many salespeople do not understand electric cars, so they encourage shoppers to go with gas-guzzlers instead. As a result, car buyers who are curious about electric cars are likely to miss out on these vehicles with high efficiency, low fuel costs, and low maintenance costs. That’s bad for the climate and bad for consumers, too.
Drive Green with National Grid is a program that makes it easier for upstate New Yorkers to choose an electric car over a gasoline-powered car. When you walk into a dealership to test drive, you should feel confident that you’re talking to a knowledgeable salesperson who will give you accurate information about available purchase incentives, charging, and what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle (EV). So we’ve created a network of trustworthy and knowledgeable dealerships across upstate New York to make sure your purchase or lease process goes smoothly. And that network will grow with time!
With our car comparison tool, you can easily explore
different electric vehicle models to find the right choice for your lifestyle
and driving needs. When you’re ready to test drive, you will be connected to an
EV specialist at a local dealership with electric cars in stock. You can also
use our website to learn about charging, find federal and state purchase
incentives, and estimate how much money you’ll save when you drive on electricity
instead of gasoline.
If you’re curious about the technology but aren’t quite
ready to commit to visiting a dealership yet, we’ve got you covered! We also
host events all over upstate New York to celebrate the benefits of switching to
electric. Most drivers are concerned about charging availability or driving
range of electric vehicles before they commit to one, so at these events, you
can hear from real EV-drivers about why they love their electric cars and how
their concerns faded away with experience.
Drive Green with National Grid is a collaborative program of Green Energy Consumers Alliance (a non-profit organization) and National Grid. Together, our goal is to educate drivers about the benefits of switching to electric vehicles in order to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and help drivers save on their transportation-related costs. Still skeptical about range, charging, or cost? You might be surprised to find out that you can make the switch to an electric car with little or no change to your lifestyle. Subscribe to this blog to learn more.