Austin Energy EV FAQ

Vehicles

What is an Electric Vehicle?

An electric vehicle is any vehicle that can drive on electricity. If you can plug it in to fuel it, it is an electric vehicle. An all-electric vehicle (sometimes called a battery electric vehicle or a “BEV”) drives solely on electricity and does not use gasoline. What types of electric vehicles are available?
Two kinds of electric vehicles are available:

  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) - relies exclusively on a battery to power the car. Say goodbye to the gas pump!
  • Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) - uses both electricity and gasoline. When driving, they use battery power and switch to gasoline when the battery is empty.

Why should I drive an EV?

Easy to use, easy to maintain and easy to charge, electric vehicles are fun to drive and can save you money while helping the environment. EVs are cheaper, faster, and cleaner to operate plus they have much lower maintenance costs. If you are like most people commuting about 30 miles a day, then an EV can mean more money in your bank account and more time to enjoy your life.

What should I consider before purchasing an Electric Vehicle?

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 EV-specific factors to consider:

  • Total Range: How far will you travel? The total range of current electric vehicles vary greatly—anywhere from 40-350 miles.
  • 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.
  • Savings: How often does your gas-powered car require maintenance? How often are you filling your gas tank? EV drivers save on electric fuel and car maintenance, which also saves time and helps the environment.

If your daily commute is less than 40 miles, virtually every electric vehicle will be able to handle your daily driving without the need for fuel. If you want the ability to drive much farther, several all-electric vehicles can travel 100 to 300+ miles on a charge. For the rare road trip, the drive can be done stopping at charging stations on the way to your destination.

How fast are EVs?

Fast! When you hit the accelerator EVs GO! EVs provide instant power (torque), providing faster acceleration than any gas-powered car you have had before, making EVs very fun to drive. With an electric motor, the driving experience is also quieter – and often more enjoyable – than a traditional gasoline-fueled car.

What maintenance do electric vehicles require?

With an EV, there are no oil changes, no spark plugs, no timing belts. No more expensive fixes over time.

Since there are significantly fewer moving parts in an EV compared to a traditional vehicle, less ongoing preventative maintenance is needed (just tire rotations). Since there’s no exhaust, there’s also no muffler or catalytic converter. That means more money in your pocket.

Brakes last longer on EVs too. When you take your foot off of the accelerator the electric motor slows the car down. It even uses the extra energy and stores it back in the battery giving your EV a little more range.

All automakers also offer at least 8-year warranties on the batteries, if not longer.

Are EV batteries better than the use of gasoline in cars?

In many ways, yes. Unlike gasoline, EV batteries do not emit harmful carbon emissions into the atmosphere to pollute air and water. Also, once the batteries cannot be used for cars anymore, they can be reused for energy storage. Some car companies are already using blocks of old EV batteries to power buildings. At the end of their life, they are also recyclable.

Are EVs actually better for the environment?

Electric vehicles produce zero exhaust – no nasty chemicals that contribute to smog or other forms of air or water pollution. Switching cars to electric will dramatically improve local air quality, save millions in health costs from respiratory diseases, and reduce the long-term effects of climate change.

What is an ICE car?

You may hear or see the term “ICE” when referring to a gas-powered vehicle. “ICE” stands for Internal Combustion Engine. In addition to contributing to harmful greenhouse gases, these cars require more maintenance and have more moving parts than electric vehicles.

Charging

Where do I charge my EV?

Do you have a house? If you have a garage or driveway, you can charge at home, so you can leave every morning with a “full tank”. With the range of most EVs, you don’t even need to charge every night! You can say goodbye to the gas pump and stop going to the gas station during the week, which saves you time and money. And unlike gasoline that needs a dedicated station, “electric fuel” is available in many more places. Your home, hotels, movie theatres, malls, grocery stores, vacation resorts, and more! You can even plug into a regular outlet.

Even when you are not home, you can also charge at hundreds of charging ports available to the public, both in Austin and beyond the city.

Finding charging stations is easy. Simply download the Chargeway app, choose your EV and all of the charging stations for your car automatically appear.

What are the different ways to charge your EV?

Similar to gas cars that can use “Regular” or “Premium”, EVs can use different plug types. With the Chargeway app your EVs plug(s) are color coded to stations you can use for your selected vehicle. There are three plug colors:

green
  • For Chevrolet, BMW, VW and other US / European brands
  • Both Standard and Fast Charging
  • Often referred to as J1772 and CCS Combo
blue
  • For Nissan, Mitsubishi, Kia and some Asia market brands
  • Fast Charging ONLY
  • Often referred to “CHAdeMO”
red
  • For Tesla vehicles ONLY
  • Both Standard and Fast Charging
  • Often referred to as “Destination Chargers” and “Superchargers”

How long does charging take?

There are seven different power levels for charging including both Standard and Fast Charging. Some EVs can only use standard charging, while others can use standard as well as fast charging.

Standard Charging:

Level 1

  • This level uses the charging cable provided with every EV
  • Provides 3-5 miles per hour of charge

Level 2

  • This level offers faster charging at home and is appropriate for workplace charging
  • Provides 20 to 60 miles per hour of charge

Fast Charging:

EVs capable of fast charging can use levels 3 through 7. Some EVs can faster charge at higher levels than other EVs. Download the Chargeway app to see which stations your vehicle can use and how fast you can charge. Typical fast charging speeds are:

Level 3: Provides 80-100 miles per hour of charge

Level 4: Provides 101-175 miles per hour of charge

Level 5: Provides 200-350 miles per hour of charge

Level 6: Provides 400-700 miles per hour of charge

Level 7: Provides 1200-1400 miles per hour of charge

Fast charging is available for $0.21 per minute, conveniently located near major transit routes for the times you need to charge up and go. If you want to use a public charging port and plan to be away from your vehicle for more than 30 minutes, use a level 2 charger instead of a fast charger.

Do I need to buy a home charging station? If so, which one?

New plug-in vehicles come with Green 1 connectors that plug into standard 120-volt household outlets. So, you do not need to buy a home charging station as long as you have access to a standard outlet. However, for faster charging, many drivers buy a Green 2 charging station to plug into a 240-volt outlet. All Green 2 charging stations come with the standard Green connector that allow any plug-in vehicle to connect.

Tesla vehicles comes with a Red 1 connector. A Tesla high-powered wall connector (Red 2) can be purchased through Tesla. Tesla owners can also use the standard charging Green adapter to connect to any standard level Green station.

Wouldn't that increase the electric bill?

Yes, but not by much. Electricity costs far less than gasoline for fuel. Compare and calculate your savings here.

Does it take a long time to charge?

Green Level 1 and 2 stations are available at workplaces, retail businesses and other locations. In addition, Fast Charging stations are available for charging on the go withinAustin and beyond. To see where you can travel with your EV, download the Chargeway app and use the Trip Planner.

How would I charge my electric car on the go?

Level 1 and 2 are available at workplaces, retail businesses and other locations. In addition, a faster option called DC Fast Charge is available for charging on the go.

Austin Energy Plug-In EVerywhere℠ Charging Subscription

What is the Plug-In EVerywhere subscription?

The Austin Energy Plug-In EVerywhere network subscription plan offers unlimited charging for $4.17 per month at more than 1000 Plug-In EVerywhere Level 2 charging ports throughout the Austin Energy service area. (Please be advised that multifamily, fleet and workplace charging stations may have restricted access.) All of our Plug-In EVerywhere charging ports are powered by 100% Texas wind through our Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program. The subscription is billed on customer’s utility bill $25 every 6 months or paid by credit card.

Who is eligible to subscribe?

Any EV driver who lives, works, or visits Austin is able to subscribe. You do not have to be an Austin Energy electric customer.

Can I charge at a Plug-In EVerywhere station if I am not a member?

Yes, you may also access the Level 2 stations without a Plug-In EVerywhere membership. Enrollment for the non-member rate is $2/hr.

Fast charging is available for $0.21 per minute, conveniently located near major transit routes for the times you need to charge up and go. If you want to use a public charging port and plan to be away from your vehicle for more than 30 minutes, use a level 2 charger instead of a fast charger.

A non-electric vehicle is parking at a charging station spot. What can I do?

Please call Austin 311 to report a non-electric vehicle parking in a charging station space. (311 connects to parking enforcement)

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