4 Fun Facts about Electric Vehicles

Just when you thought they killed the electric car, these hearty vehicles are making a resurgence. Want to brush up on your talking points to impress your neighbor who talks nonstop about the comeback of the electric vehicle (EV)? Just curious to hear what the hype is about?

In honor of National Drive Electric Week (Sept. 8-16) we are excited to take a closer look at EVs and the equipment that supplies them with power, called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) or EV chargers. EVs get their power from electricity instead of burning fuel like gasoline or diesel. EVs are already cleaner than their fossil fuel equivalents, but as our electricity supply gets cleaner, EVs will become even better than fuel-powered cars for the air we breathe, as well as helping us lessen the impacts of climate change.

Cambridge has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 80% by 2050, and encouraging people to switch away from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles is an important strategy to help us get there. Not having reliable access to EVSEs makes people less likely to switch to EVs, so Cambridge has been busy installing charging stations all over the city.

Here are 4 fun facts about electric cars and charging equipment that even your EV-obsessed neighbor might not know:

1. EVs can handle your everyday transportation needs. A study by two Columbia University PhD students found that 99% of trips are under 70 miles, and most EVs have a 100 plus mile range. This means that the fear of running out of power in the middle of a trip is unfounded—you should be able to get to work, pick up your kids from school, run your errands, and still have miles to spare!

Pro Tip: There are numerous guides that can help you select which (modern) EV is right for you. This handy guide from the Sierra Club directs you to a fun quiz that can help you pick your dream EV.

2. EVs are super efficient. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gasoline-powered vehicles convert only 19% of energy from gasoline into power at the wheels while EVs convert about 60% of electrical energy in the on board battery into power at the wheels. That means electric vehicles are over 3x more efficient than your average car! This efficiency leads to extra money in your pocket. A 2018 University of Michigan study found that electric vehicles cost less than half as much to operate as gasoline-powered cars.

Pro Tip: Because they are efficient and provide other environmental and health benefits, there are multitude of incentives to go electric. One such incentive program is Drive Green with Mass Energy, a limited-time EV discount program that helps you save at participating dealerships.

3. There are 3 different types of charging equipment. Level 1 is the slowest, but perhaps the easiest to access because it’s really just a special plug adapter that can plug into a standard wall outlet to charge. Level 2 provides a slightly faster charge, using the same type of connection used for a clothes dryer, but requires that charging equipment be installed by an electrician. Level 3 is very fast but also very expensive. It isn’t common for home charging, but is becoming more common in major transportation corridors, like highway rest stations and commercial parking lots.

Pro Tip: The City owns 4 stations at 4 locations (with 7 total charging heads), which are extra helpful for those without driveways and garages but who want to go electric! The City also has plans and funds to expand the EVSE network that is publicly available in City-owned parking lots. By the end of 2019 we will have double the number of City-owned stations. You can find information about charging stations all across the U.S. (including Cambridge) on ChargePoint.com.4. EVs are the environmentally-friendly vehicle choice. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, gasoline-powered cars emit 2x as much greenhouse gas emissions as their electric counterparts. This means that we can be climate heroes by switching to and championing EVs.

Pro Tip: Excited about reducing your carbon emissions but worried about going 100% electric? You can take a smaller step on the way there by purchasing a plug-in hybrid vehicle. This type of vehicle can switch from electric to gas-power when the electrical charge is running low.

If you feel EVs are out of reach for your income, or you just want to ditch the car altogether (an awesome goal!) Cambridge also has some electric bus options. The MBTA runs 4 trackless trolley (i.e., electric-powered) bus lines that depart from Harvard Station.

To find out more about what Cambridge is doing to reduce GHG emissions, promote widespread adoption of EVs, and address other sustainability issues, visit our Sustainability Dashboard.

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