Purchasing a new vehicle is a large investment that can come with a lot of adjustments. As technologies develop, car manufacturers are constantly upgrading their vehicles to feature the latest and greatest equipment. Cars now boast features like keyless driving, remote starters and automatic climate control, but one of the largest and quickly growing technologies is that of electric vehicles.
As of June 2016, there are 466,841 plug-in electric vehicles in the United States. These vehicle owners are making the switch from the gas station to a wall outlet to fuel their vehicles. The change is a large one and takes a little while to get used to, but electric vehicle drivers across the country and North Carolina are saying that it’s a switch that they will never regret making.
Electric vehicles use electricity as its primary fuel or use electricity along with a conventional engine to improve efficiency (plug-in hybrids). Almost every large automobile manufacturer is currently developing or selling an electric vehicle, and most are in the upper $20,000 price range. In North Carolina, residents can purchase electric vehicles from Chevrolet, Ford, BMW, Tesla, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Smart, Volvo, Porsche, Audi and Cadillac. Estimates from the Electric Power Research Institute indicate that there will be over 700,000 plug-in electric vehicles on the roads in North Carolina by 2030.
The biggest adjustment drivers have to make when purchasing an electric vehicle is planning their trips around charging. Electric vehicle driving range varies by make and model, but is usually between 100 miles to 200 miles per charge for an all-electric vehicle. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles drive on electric for around 25 to 50 miles before switching to gasoline. For many, the range limits can cause anxiety when thinking about driving an electric vehicle, but as more charging stations are installed and vehicles are equipped with better range calculating equipment, drivers will begin to feel more confident. As Lance Pickup, a Raleigh, NC electric vehicle driver, explained, the biggest adjustment he had to make was “
having to plan out trips a bit better. While the car has plenty of range for most days, it helps to combine trips and plan stops long enough to get a meaningful charge. I would not say it has limited me in any way, but I do have better daily itineraries now, and that saves me time as well!”
Electric vehicle charging comes in three options. All vehicles come with an adapter to plug the car in at home to a standard 110 volt outlet, known as Level 1 charging. This level of charging takes around 12 hours to fully charge a vehicle. Level 2 charging uses a 240 volt outlet and a station that can either be installed at home or in commercial locations. Level 2 charging takes around 4 to 6 hours to fully charge a vehicle. The last level of charging is DC Fast Charging. These charging stations are capable of charging an electric vehicle in under 30 minutes. In North Carolina, there are over 600 public charging station ports available. Drivers use apps like
PlugShare and the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Station Locator to find a charging station.
A lot of savings is seen from fueling at the outlet instead of at the pump. Lance Pickup drives a Nissan LEAF, and in his first year of driving he saved $2,200 on gas and maintenance. Another driver, Tom Doe, owns a Ford C-Max Energi, a plug-in hybrid vehicle, and has only used 48 gallons of gasoline during the 18,000 miles that he has driven so far in his car. His previous vehicle would have used 857 gallons in the same amount of miles. Both drivers also have seen relatively low electric bill increases for charging at their homes. Lance pays around $37 a month in electricity for an average of 1,500 miles a month in his vehicle. Tom pays less than $25 a month to charge his plug-in hybrid at home.
Along with decreased gas expenses, electric vehicles also require less maintenance. Lance explained that, “
the only maintenance I have done in the past 42,000 miles is rotating my tires and getting a new set of tires installed.” Tom still needs to have the oil changed in his hybrid, but the frequency is greatly decreased. He is planning to change the oil at 20,000 miles, but of the 18,000 miles that he has on his vehicle, only 2,000 of those have been non-electric driving, so he still has a while to go until the first oil change.
Although a large adjustment, drivers are greatly enjoying the change to electric driving. The vehicles provide a comfortable and reliable driving experience, along with a decrease in fuel and maintenance costs. “
The greatest benefit is simply the amazing drive,” said Lance Pickup. “ It’s quiet, smooth, fast and fun. I just love driving my electric vehicle, and most owners feel the same.”
Realizing all the benefits and positive trends in electric transportation,
Advanced Energy developed the Plug-in NC program to promote electric vehicles in our communities. Plug-in NC reaches out to organizations and individuals to build awareness and educate them about the reasons to drive electric. The program’s steering committee, an 11 member team of local individuals working in the electric vehicle field, helps people stay up to date on relevant news and developments from across the state.
There are multiple ways to get involved in Plug-in NC.
Becoming a member of Plug-in NC allows you to connect with others who support the use of electric vehicles. Your organization will be highlighted on the program’s website, in its newsletter and on social media. You’ll also earn a certificate for your dedication to supporting electric vehicles and have the opportunity to attend the annual Plug-in NC Summit. Check out the list of current members to see what companies help North Carolina drive electric.
To get more involved on an individual level, consider applying to be a
Plug-in NC ambassador. As an ambassador, you’ll get to help spread the word about electric transportation by volunteering, giving presentations, recruiting other members, and even showing off your vehicle at events.
To join North Carolina’s electric vehicle movement and learn more about Plug-in NC, check out the Plug-in NC website at