There are many alternative fuel options available, and choosing the most appropriate for your lifestyle can be a challenge. However, electric drive vehicle (EDV) technologically is becoming more reliable, practical, and convenient, and as a result their adoption rate is growing fast. Particularly in areas with relatively clean, very cheap power generation, such as YTCEC’s region, EDVs are enormously effective in reducing petroleum consumption, harmful emissions, and fuel costs. But EDVs come in a variety of configurations, and determining which best fits your needs can make your head spin. The following FAQs and answers should help you sort through this challenge and lead you to the best EDV for your needs.
What Is the Difference Between the Various EDVs?
[ezcol_1fifth][/ezcol_1fifth] [ezcol_4fifth_end]Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have conventional engines and are only fueled using conventional gasoline or diesel. The efficiency of these vehicles is improved by a regenerative braking system that charges a battery to power an electric motor that assists the drive train.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]
[ezcol_1fifth][/ezcol_1fifth] [ezcol_4fifth_end]Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are fueled with conventional gasoline or diesel, and as the name implies, with electricity. PHEVS also have regenerative braking to maximize their efficiencies, but plugging into the grid helps to displace even more petroleum use by utilizing increasingly clean electricity.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]
[ezcol_1fifth][/ezcol_1fifth] [ezcol_4fifth_end]Electric vehicles (EVs) have no internal combustion engine, use no petroleum fuel, and operate entirely on electricity. As such, the range of these vehicles is limited to the amount of energy stored in their batteries. However, if the electricity it utilizes is renewably derived there are effectively no emissions.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]
What Are the Environmental Advantages of Electric Vehicles?
Too often, it is assumed that shifting from gasoline to electricity will simply transfer emissions from the car’s tailpipe to the power plant’s smoke stack. However, there are in fact, no grids in the US where electrically fueled vehicles are dirtier than gas or diesel. In addition to this head start, grids will continue to become cleaner as states reach their renewable portfolio standards. Even today, the majority of the electricity consumed in our region is produced from hydropower making our grid-powered vehicles significantly cleaner than petroleum in both criteria pollutants like SOX and NOX, as well as the primary greenhouse gas, CO2. Such a renewable heavy grid mix helps to generate electricity with 30% fewer carbon emissions than the nation’s average. One can see that this clean grid mix further reduces CO2e emissions from EVs and PHEVs relative to conventional vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and even plug-in vehicles powered by the nation’s average grid mix.How Far Can I Drive?
Because HEVs and PHEVs operate on conventional fuel and have the typical range of a conventional vehicle, there are few operating concerns for these vehicles. However, EVs do not have a fuel tank and cannot gas up at the nearest station. Today, EVs have ranges from 62 to 208 miles on a full charge, and luckily, 95% of trips taken by rural Americans are under 50 miles, offering enormous functionality of an EV, especially in households with more than one vehicle.
Electric Vehicle Make and Range According to the AFDC Buyer’s Guide 2015[ezcol_1third]BMW i3 – 81 mi Chevy Spark – 82 mi Fiat 500e – 87 mi[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]Ford Focus – 76 mi Honda Fit – 82 mi Kia Soul – 93 mi[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]Nissan Leaf – 84 mi Volkswagen eGolf – 87 mi Testla Model S – 208 mi[/ezcol_1third_end]
How Long Will it Take to Charge?
To fully charge EVs and PHEVs, they must be connected to a source of electricity. The options available are categorized at three different levels, based on their charge capacity.
- The first, Level 1 is the slowest option and operates on alternating current (AC). Any standard 120V household outlet will suffice, and the vehicle will earn 2 to 5 miles for every 1 hour charging.
- Level 2 charges run at 240V AC, which can be installed at your home and are increasingly common at workplaces and public and private parking areas. At 10 to 20 miles per hour of charging, 8 hours will generally fully recharge the electric vehicles currently available. This can be accomplished at the office during the workday or overnight at home.
- Level 3 fast chargers are by far the most expensive, but operating at 480V of direct current, they can provide 60 to 80 miles of range in only 20 minutes of charging – just enough to grab a coffee and a bite.
Where Can I Charge?
In addition to any Level 1, standard 120V plug, EVs can charge at any of the regional, Level 2 charging infrastructure. This network is growing, and the connectivity is improving, easing range anxiety. Additionally, more charging infrastructure helps to increase the number of miles PHEVs can operate on clean electricity. The map below shows the current charging stations (white pins) as well as the predicted locations of six planned stations (yellow pins) throughout the three states in which YTCEC operates, ID, MT, and WY.
To find real-time details for each station, such as the charging station level and the exact location, please visit the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Station Locator.
What Will Extreme Temperatures Do To a Vehicle’s Electric Range?
The Greater Yellowstone Region experiences extreme annual temperature fluctuations. Such highs and lows do have an impact on battery capacity and thus, vehicle ranges. In an analysis by Idaho National Laboratory, three EVs were tested at a cold, mild, and hot temperature all while maintaining 72°F inside the car. Cold temperatures reduced range by about half, depending on the vehicle, and hot temperatures had a lesser, but still significant reduction on range.However, much of this loss is due to maintaining a comfortable climate inside the cab. And while locals can deal with a little heat and even more cold, there are certain steps you can take to create a comfortable driving climate and ensure your heater or AC doesn’t drain your battery. First, park your vehicle in a garage to avoid it from getting too hot or too cold. Second, preheat or precool while you are still plugged in. Many EVs are integrated with apps that will allow you to do this remotely, and it ensures your battery stays charged while your vehicle gets to a comfortable temperature. Finally, when heating, use seat heaters as they are more efficient than space heating.