EV FAQs and Updates

Thinking about getting an electric vehicle (EV)? Yes, they’re much cheaper to operate. Yes, there are more charging stations all the time, but some models can access more chargers than others. Here’s a list of electric vehicle resources, including the latest federal EV rebate rules.

EV overviewhttps://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/explaining-electric-plug-hybrid-electric-vehicles 

How do I charge? 

Fueling an EV is quite different from fueling a gasoline or diesel vehicle. There are three ranges of charging speeds available:

Level 1 charging is plugging the car into any 120-volt circuit, like a toaster. This charges a typical EV at a rate of around 3 miles per hour of charging, so this is very slow but can be useful. For Level 1 and Level 2 charging in the Pacific Northwest, the electricity costs about ten cents per kWh, which is an equivalent fuel cost of around $1 per gallon.

Level 2 charging uses a 240-volt circuit for more power at an outlet or charger that connects to the EV. This is the most common level for most residential EV owners, charging at around 15-25 miles per hour of charging. Plugging in the car at night gives you a full tank each morning. In practice, around 90% of EV charging occurs at home. Most EV owners who live in a single-family dwelling install a 240-volt circuit, similar to a dryer circuit, to a garage stall or outdoor parking place, for convenient connection at any time. Creating or accessing such power connections at a multi-unit dwelling can be much more problematic, depending upon the available parking, the landlord, or the homeowners association.

Level 3 charging, also called DC fast charging or DCFC, is much higher power than Level 2 charging and achieves up to ~500 miles per hour of charging time, depending on the vehicle and charger capabilities. Level 3 charging is necessary for longer trips, similar to stopping at gas stations for a refill except the wait is longer. 40 minutes of charging for every three hours or so is typical for a long trip, allowing breaks for meals, snacking, stretching, or catching up on emails.

Range anxiety

New EV models are averaging longer and longer ranges, with the median now well over 200 miles and some as high as 500 miles. Whatever the EPA-rated range, the most conservative practice for longest Li-ion battery life is to charge above 80% or discharge below 20% only when the trip requires it; thus, an EV with 300-mile range would ideally be charged to <240 miles and discharged to >60 miles, or a 180-mile range for optimal usage. Depending on the daily trip requirements, this is usually easy to accommodate. Another derating to consider is the lower range in cold weather. That said, Norway has more EVs per capita than anywhere and they’re getting around just fine.

With all the factors derating the rated range of an EV and US consumers spending more time in their vehicles than other major markets, the average EV range in the US is now about 300 miles.

Where can I charge?

Plugshare maintains an up-to-date map of level 2 and Level 3 (DCFC) chargers all over the US, by plug type. Of these DCFCs, Tesla has installed by far the most locations and stalls, and has maintained >99% uptime, which is far better than the other networks. Additionally, Tesla has comprehensively integrated their charger network into their navigation software, to continuously display the availability status of nearby superchargers and even recommend speed reductions if necessary to ensure a comfortable charge level at the destination.

Federal incentives for new or used EVs

By model: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax2023.shtml#requirements 

Detailed IRS rules for EV incentives as of March 2023:  https://www.irs.gov/pub/taxpros/fs-2023-08.pdf 

Oregon EV incentives

Nice summary here: https://goelectric.oregon.gov/incentives-rebates 

Washington EV incentives 

EV sales tax exemption (up to roughly $1000 for qualifying vehicles): https://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/altfuelexemptions.html 

From US News and World Report: https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/advice/washington-ev-tax-credits 

Sales tax exemption for EV charging infrastructure: https://dor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2022-02/41-0122.pdf?uid=6426543f7dc2c 

Other EV topics

EV myths: https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/electric-vehicle-myths 

EV battery supply chain concerns: https://coltura.org/evbatteries/#  

For policy wonks: AFDC has detailed summaries of all current state laws, incentives, regulations, funding opportunities, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality.

Oregon: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/state_summary?state=OR

Washington:  https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/all?state=WA#State%20Incentives