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Electric Vehicles

Thinking of buying an electric vehicle? Get a better idea of what owning an EV is like. Explore electric vehicle FAQs.

If you own an electric vehicle, see our EV Rate.


Thinking about buying an Electric Vehicle?

Buying a new car can be overwhelming. See below to get a better idea of what owning an EV is like:

  • How much do you drive?
  • Where do you drive?
  • Can you benefit from access to High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes?
  • Are there public charging stations in your area? Visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center
  • Learn about different vehicle types, including battery-electric and plug-in hybrid EVs. Find out what’s on the market at Plug-In Vehicle Tracker
  • The City of Riverside Public Works Department currently offers the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebate Program for residents who purchase or lease a qualified new alternative fuel vehicle from an auto dealership within the City
  • Learn about more incentives by visiting the State of California’s DriveClean Buying Guide
  • Are you thinking about solar? Do you panels produce enough energy to offset your potential EV charging? Learn more about solar
  • Three types of stations can charge your electric vehicle (EV): Level 1 and Level 2 are available to residences and businesses. Direct current (DC) fast charging is typically available at public sites because of the high cost and power that it requires.
  • Learn about the different charging options


Electric Vehicle FAQs

View answers to your most frequently asked electric vehicle-related questions.

A plug-in electric vehicle is a vehicle that can be plugged into an electrical outlet or charging device to recharge its battery. There are two types: battery electric vehicles, which run only on electricity, and plug-in hybrids, which run mainly or solely on electricity until the battery is depleted and then are powered by an internal combustion engine.

A battery electric vehicle is fueled only by electricity, essentially replacing gasoline, diesel or other types of combustible fuels. It is purely electric, utilizing an electric motor to propel itself. A battery electric vehicle must plug in to a power source to recharge its battery.

Examples: Nissan Leaf, Tesla Motors Model S

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a vehicle that uses both gasoline (stored in a gas tank) and electricity (stored in a battery).

Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles can be categorized by the way they manage their gasoline and electricity:

A parallel hybrid uses both a combustion engine and an electric motor to deliver power to the wheels. The use of these two forms of power varies from vehicle to vehicle: the vehicle can be powered by just the electric motor, just the combustion engine, or a combination of both depending on driving conditions.

Examples: Toyota Prius Plug-In, Ford Fusion Energi

A series hybrid is directly powered only by the electric motor. The combustion engine is only used to recharge the battery, acting as an electric generator that converts gasoline to electricity. The three are aligned in-series: the combustion engine, then the electric motor, then the wheels. The market has commonly termed this as an extended-range electric vehicle because of its similarity to an all-electric battery electric vehicle, with the exception of using gasoline to "extend" its range.

Example: Chevrolet Volt

Similar to selecting a gasoline-powered car, choosing the electric vehicle that’s best for you depends on a number of different factors including your driving habits and personal preference. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Total Range: How far will you travel? The total range of current electric vehicles vary greatly—anywhere from 40-350 miles.
  • Gasoline Use: How much gasoline do you want to use? The battery capacity of an electric vehicle determines how far you can go without using a drop of gasoline.
  • Charging: Where will you charge? Where you drive and how you'll charge your vehicle can help you decide which electric vehicle will meet your needs.

If your daily commute is less than 40 miles, many electric vehicles—hybrid or battery electric—will be able to handle your daily driving without the need for gas. If you want the ability to drive much farther, several battery electric vehicles can travel 100 to 200+ miles on a charge. If you need to drive farther without charging, consider an extended-range hybrid like the Chevy Volt.

Plug-in electric vehicles typically have lower total cost of ownership and, in particular, lower maintenance costs. This is because they have fewer moving parts, reduced oil changes (or none for a full electric) and fewer brake jobs—battery regeneration absorbs most of the energy. Hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles can go 100,000 miles before receiving a brake job.

Visit the Electric Power Research Institute

Yes, public charging stations are located in supermarket parking lots, city garages, gas stations and many other locations across the country. Some public charging stations are free and others require a fee or membership.

Alternative Fuels Data Center

Electric vehicles reduce the amount of gasoline we burn and are less costly to maintain, among many other benefits:

  • Reduced Operating Emissions: The emissions associated with the electric drivetrain of plug-in electric vehicles come from power plants generating electricity to charge the batteries and not from tailpipe emissions. Additionally, from well to wheel, electric vehicles emit approximately 66 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) compared with internal combustion vehicles. CO2 is the principal gas associated with global warming.
  • Water Quality Preservation: Decreased use of petroleum gasoline and motor oil means fewer spills and pollution to oceans, rivers and ground water.
  • Reduced Noise: In addition to being cleaner, electric vehicles are quieter than gasoline-powered vehicles, resulting in less noise pollution.

Additionally, much of the electricity Riverside Public Utilities provides comes from sources that are either renewable or emit no greenhouse gases. That’s why by choosing to drive an electric vehicle, you are helping to reduce pollution.

  • Laws and Incentives: California has adopted several laws to accommodate the use of plug-in electric vehicles, including the qualification of select plug-in electric vehicles to use the HOV lane.
  • Safety: Many electric vehicles receive top National Highway Safety Traffic Administration safety ratings. To date, findings have shown that several electric vehicle features maximize safety. For example, electric vehicles tend to have a lower center of gravity that makes them less likely to roll over, electric vehicles have less potential for major fires or explosions and the body construction and durability of electric vehicles enhance vehicle safety in a collision.

Lower Operational Costs: The estimated cost of electricity needed to power a plug-in electric vehicle is about one-third of the cost of gasoline.

Lower Maintenance Costs: The electrical components of plug-in electric vehicles require little to no regular maintenance due to far less moving parts. In hybrids, this leads to less wear and tear of gasoline components.

Rebates & Tax Credits: Many government agencies and local and regional entities offer rebates and tax credits, upwards of $7500, to encourage the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. The City of Riverside’ Public Works Department currently offers the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebate Program for residents who purchase or lease a qualified new alternative fuel vehicle from an auto dealership within the City

How does paying for kilowatt hours compare to buying gasoline?

The U.S. Energy Department has created a website to determine an eGallon, or the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline.

View eGallon Info

The electricity generated from a solar generating system could help offset the costs of electricity used to charge an electric vehicle. The net effect of the solar generating system will depend on the system's efficiency, the weather, the amount of energy used to charge the vehicle and other factors.