Electric Vehicles FAQs
Electric Vehicles FAQs
About electric vehicles
What’s the difference between BEV and PHEV?
There are two types of electric vehicles: battery-only EVs, which rely on a battery to store electric energy that powers an electric motor, and plug-in hybrid EVs, which have both an electric motor and a backup gasoline engine to add range. In 2020, 90% of new EVs registered in Washington state were BEVs, and we tend to focus on them when we talk about EVs. PHEVs are more fuel-efficient than a conventional car but don’t offer the same financial and environmental benefits of BEVs.
How many EV models are available in Washington state?
There are over 70 fully electric models available in Washington. Many additional models are expected to hit the market in the coming years. Use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare the newest models and find one that fits your budget and driving needs.
Are electric trucks available? What about EVs with all-wheel drive?
There are a number of electric trucks already on the market with more models on the way. Electric trucks are capable of matching, if not exceeding, the power and towing capacity of their gas-powered counterparts. Additionally, there are also electric vehicle models on the market that offer all-wheel drive. Our Electric Vehicle Guide can help you compare the newest models and find one that fits your needs.
Is there a market for used EVs?
The used electric vehicle market is growing. Many used EVs are available for less than $20,000 and still under their original warranty. Even better, EV batteries are tending to retain more life for longer than initially expected. Washington state even offers a sales tax exemption just for used EVs priced under $30,000 that can save you over $1,000 in sales tax.
Cost of ownership for electric vehicles
How much does it cost to own an EV compared to a conventional car?
Thanks to savings on fuel and maintenance, it can actually be cheaper to own an electric vehicle than a gas-powered car. A 2018 University of Michigan study found EVs cost less than half as much to operate annually as gas-powered cars. And a 2020 Consumer Reports report found long-term ownership of an EV can be $6,000 to $10,000 less, even when factoring in EVs’ average higher purchase price. You can use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare long-term savings between EVs and gas-powered cars.
How does the purchase price of an EV compared to a conventional car?
The purchase price of an electric vehicle remains higher than a comparable gas-powered car. However, the price of EVs is dropping thanks to advances in technology and more automakers offering electric options. There are currently a dozen EV models available for less than $40,000 (the average cost of a new car in the US). And, there’s a growing used market for EVs, as well.
Will my electricity bill increase?
If you charge your electric vehicle at home, which most EV owners do, you’ll see an increase to your monthly electric bill. However, the increase to your electricity bill will almost certainly be less than the money you’re saving on gasoline. Depending on how much you drive, it can be easy to save over $100 per month on fuel when you switch from gasoline to electricity.
What is the cost to fuel an EV compared to a conventional car?
Taking into account local gas and electricity prices, it can be around five times cheaper to fuel an electric vehicle than a gas-powered car. Use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare the costs of fueling an EV versus a gas-powered car per month and over years of ownership.
What is the cost to maintain an EV compared to a conventional car?
Because electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than gas-powered vehicles, they require less maintenance. No oil changes, transmission fluid or spark plugs means EV owners can save over $1,000 in maintenance costs over five years of ownership. Use our Electric Vehicle Guide to compare maintenance costs between EVs and gas-powered cars.
Incentives and rebates
Are there state and federal incentives available for purchasing an EV?
Yes! With Washington state’s sales tax exemption, you can save up to $1,300 on a new electric vehicle priced under $45,000 or over $1,000 on a used EV priced under $30,000. Meanwhile, the federal government is offering up to $7,500 back on new EVs in the form of a reduction to your income tax bill or an increase to your tax refund. (The federal tax refund doesn’t currently apply to EV models from Chevy or Tesla.) Learn more with our Electric Vehicle Guide.
Are there state and federal incentives available for purchasing a home charger?
Yes! The Federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure tax credit offers up to $1,000 back for customers who purchase home charging equipment prior to Dec. 31, 2021. Meanwhile, the Washington State EV Infrastructure tax exemption means state sales and use taxes do not apply to the labor and services for purchasing and installing a home charger. Learn more with our Electric Vehicle Guide.
Does PSE offer discounts for charging during off-peak hours?
While PSE doesn’t offer discounts for charging your electric vehicle during certain hours at this time, we’re continuing to explore different methods and incentives around charging. To learn why it’s still important to charge your EV during certain times of day, click here.
Does PSE offer incentives for home charger installation?
PSE does not currently offer incentives for home charger purchase or installation. However, we’re currently running multiple pilot programs through our Up & Go Electric program to study electric vehicle ownership and charging patterns with the goal of potentially developing new offers for our EV-owning customers in the future.
Transportation Electrification Plan FAQs
What is PSE’s Transportation Electrification Plan?
The Transportation Electrification Plan is a five-year strategic framework for electric vehicle products that will allow PSE to drive the transition to a cleaner energy future by advancing electrified transportation in Washington State.
How will PSE customers benefit from transportation electrification?
Transportation electrification can reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality and community health, while also creating economic opportunities throughout PSE’s service area. PSE’s new electric vehicle programs will help public, private and nonprofit customers electrify their fleets; meet the charging needs of EV drivers at workplaces, residences, and in public settings; and reduce the barriers to EV adoption through increased education and outreach.
What are the objectives of the Transportation Electrification Plan?
The objectives of the Transportation Electrification Plan are to establish a roadmap for accelerating widespread transportation electrification as part of PSE’s aspiration to be a beyond net zero carbon company 2045 and create new and expanded EV programs that include equity-focused components to increase access and benefits to all customers. The objectives also include allowing PSE to manage electric vehicle charging with a grid that’s reliable, resilient, flexible and modernized to safely deliver electricity as the transportation fuel of the future.
How will PSE handle load management with the increased electrification of transportation?
PSE will test different managed charging strategies to encourage electric vehicle charging during optimal times of day. Customers participating in new EV programs will be automatically enrolled in a managed charging program designed to mitigate peak impacts from EV charging while still promoting equitable access to EV charging. Managed charging programs will be offered at no cost to the customer and can be opted out of at any time.
What programs will PSE be introducing around transportation electrification?
PSE will be launching a number of new and expanded programs centered on transportation electrification, starting with programs for fleets, multifamily charging and education and outreach in 2023. A second phase of transportation electrification programs will include residential single-family, public and small and medium workplace charging.
How will the Transportation Electrification Plan and new electric vehicle programs advance equitable access to transportation electrification and its benefits?
Each program created under the Transportation Electrification Plan includes equity-focused components and funding to support electrification among low-income customers, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and the community-based organizations, government agencies and tribal entities that serve them.
Three types of EV charging
What are the differences between charging types?
There are three types of electric vehicle charging you’ll encounter. Level 1 is the charging cord that comes with every EV and can be plugged into any standard outlet. It will add two to five miles of range per hour of charging. You’ll find Level 2 charging at workplaces and multifamily properties and in public. You can also have one installed at your home. Level 2 charging adds approximately 25 miles of range per hour. DC fast charging is available at some public charging stations. These chargers look like gas pumps and can fully charge an EV in under an hour. To learn more about charging, click here.
Charging at home
What do I need to charge an EV at home?
To charge an electric vehicle at home, you don’t need anything besides the Level 1 charging cord that comes with the vehicle. This cord can be plugged into any standard outlet. If you want a speedier charge, you can talk to an electrician about installing a Level 2 charger.
How do I install a Level 2 charger at home?
The first step is to get a quote from an electrician. PSE can help you find a contractor specializing in charger installation; just call our Energy Advisors at 1-800-562-1482 or visit our Recommended Energy Professional portal (log in with your PSE account and select “Green Energy” under product category). Once an electrician has confirmed your home’s electrical system can handle a Level 2 charger and secured any required permits, you’ll need to pick out your charger. While some chargers simply charge your EV, others offer options like mobile app support, scheduled charging and integration with other smart home products. Finally, determine where you want the charger installed. Whether outdoors or in a garage, you’ll want the shortest distance possible between the charger and your EV.
What does it cost to install a Level 2 charger at home?
The cost of installing a Level 2 charger at your home will depend on a number of factors, such as where you’re installing it and the electrician. While there is no standard installation fee, you can typically expect to pay between $1,500 and $1,800 total for the charger and installation.
If I live in an apartment building or condo, how can I charge an EV?
Charging an electric vehicle can be more complicated if you live in an apartment or condo if your building doesn’t provide a charging station for tenants and you lack a dedicated parking space with an outlet. Be sure to talk with your building manager or homeowner’s association about charging options. More and more buildings are beginning to offer charging stations as a convenience to residents. Charging at work can be a convenient alternative to charging at home if your employer provides charging stations. If you don’t drive often, you may be able to get by with only using public charging stations when you need to charge.
Do I need to tell PSE I’m installing a charger at my home or property?
If you’re installing a Level 2 or DC fast charger, it’s always best to reach out to PSE early in the process to make sure the infrastructure serving your property can support the additional power needed, even for a relatively low-kilowatt charger. You or your contractor can reach our Customer Construction Services team at 1-888-321-7779 or via our inquiry form. Be ready to provide the number and type of charger you’re installing so our team can provide a thorough review of the electric capacity.
How does public charging work?
While the majority of charging is done at home, public charging stations can be great for road trips or adding a bit of juice to get you to your destination. Public stations offer Level 2 or DC fast charging and are operated by various companies and agencies. The easiest way to use most public stations is with the company or agency’s app, though some stations have card readers or will allow you to pay over the phone. Unlike with gas stations, you’re free to leave your car charging while you run errands, grab a bite to eat or walk around the area. Just make sure you’re back by the time your EV is done charging so the next driver can use the charger and you can avoid any unnecessary fees.
How much does it cost to charge at a public charging station?
The cost to charge at public charging stations – as well as whether you’re charged by the minute or electricity used – varies depending on location and operator. In general, public charging stations are more expensive than charging at home. At PSE Up & Go Electric public stations, we charge $0.42/kWh for DC fast chargers and $0.28/kWh for Level 2 chargers. To learn more about charging with PSE, click here.
Can any EV charge at any public charging station?
For the most part, public charging stations will have connections to fit any electric vehicle model. The major exception is Tesla. Tesla vehicles have exclusive use of the Tesla Supercharger network but will require a purchasable adapter to use non-Tesla stations. Websites like PlugShare.com will be able to show you what connections are available at a given station before you arrive.
How do I find public charging stations?
There are many websites and apps, such as PlugShare.com, available to help electric vehicle drivers find public stations and even plan road trips. In addition, public charging stations are being added to Google Maps and Apple Maps.
Vehicle-to-Grid and Vehicle-to-Home Charging
How does vehicle-to-grid charging work? Does PSE support it?
- Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology allows for energy stored in batteries on an electric vehicle to be fed back into the grid. When available at scale, V2G technology can help optimize the electrical grid and power supply.
- V2G is an emerging capability that requires customers to use a bidirectional charger and a vehicle that is compatible with two-way DC charging, both of which are not yet widely accessible. Currently only a handful of EVs are V2G compatible, and bidirectional chargers are much more expensive than regular EV chargers.
- PSE currently does not support V2G technology, but we are monitoring as capabilities mature. We may consider a pilot program to integrate V2G into our product offerings but not before 2024.
- Until PSE supports V2G, one of these systems feeding back to the grid will be considered an unsafe operation and could result in a suspension of PSE service.
Can I use my EV as a backup source of power for my home?
- Vehicle-to-home (V2H) charging technology uses a bidirectional electric vehicle charger to supply electricity from an EV’s battery to a house or other type of building.
- During normal operation, the grid provides energy to a house or other type of building, including the EV charger. During V2H operation, the grid is disconnected and the EV provides energy to the home.
- If, during V2H operation, the EV inadvertently feeds back to the grid, PSE will consider this an unsafe operation and could result in a suspension of PSE service. Please work with your installer to ensure your V2H system operates safely.
- In order to use your EV to power your home, you will need both a bidirectional charger and a vehicle that is compatible with two-way DC charging. The market is developing to offer more of these chargers.
Electric vehicle range and batteries
How far can an EV travel on a single charge?
With advances in electric vehicle technology, range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past. A new EV can travel an average of over 250 miles on a single charge – a drastic improvement from just a few years ago. That means no matter what your daily driving needs are, you’re likely to find they’re met by an EV. You can browse new EV models by range with our Electric Vehicle Guide.
How do winter weather, hills, etc. impact range?
As with gas-powered cars, an electric vehicle’s efficiency is impacted by factors like hills and inclement weather. However, there are tips and tricks to maximize an EV’s range no matter the driving conditions. For example, warming up the EV while it’s still plugged in during winter months, using the heated seat and steering wheel, or utilizing regenerative breaking to recharge the battery.
Are EV batteries safe?
Electric vehicles must undergo the same rigorous safety testing and meet the same safety standards required for gas-powered cars sold in the United States. They also have strict standards for limiting chemical spillage from the batteries, securing batteries during a crash, and isolating the chassis from the high-voltage system.
Will I have to replace the battery?
The simple answer is you’ll probably never have to replace the battery, but that will depend on how and where you drive and charge your electric vehicle and the dealer warranty. Currently, most manufacturers are offering eight-year/100,000-mile or 10-year/150,000-mile warranties for their batteries. Studies show on average Americans get a new car every 10 years or less. Even better: EV battery technology is improving, and batteries are retaining their usefulness longer than initially expected.
Electric vehicles and the environment
Are EVs actually better for the environment?
Yes. Electric vehicles are easily better for the environment than gas-powered vehicles when looking strictly at emissions related to driving (especially in places with a relatively clean power mix like Washington state). By switching to an EV, you can reduce your CO2 emissions from driving by over 2 tons per year. Our Electric Vehicle Guide goes into more detail on emissions reductions. The picture is a little more complicated when factoring in the production of EV batteries. However, recent studies taking into account the entire life cycle of electric and gas-powered vehicles starting with their manufacturing have found EVs are still better for the environment overall.
What about the environmental impact of the production of EV batteries?
While electric vehicles are overall better for the environment than gas-powered cars, there is an environmental impact associated with battery production. Responsible sourcing of materials and beneficially reusing industrial wastes is perhaps currently the best solution available to the battery industry for reducing environmental footprint. There is hope that as battery technology progresses, these environmental impacts will be reduced.
What happens to EV batteries once they’re removed?
The reuse and recycling of electric vehicle batteries is a growing industry. Startup companies are partnering with automakers to recycle the materials that make up EV batteries, and the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act provides incentives for automakers using recycled materials in their batteries. Meanwhile, batteries that are no longer able to power an EV efficiently may still have around 80 percent of their original storage capacity. EV batteries are being reused for things like intermittent renewable energy generation and storage at EV charging sites.