EV 101
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EV 101

Electric Vehicle Basics

Electric vehicles (EVs) are vehicles that use an electric motor for propulsion, powered by energy stored in batteries. Plug-in EVs use electricity either as their sole fuel or a first fuel backed by gasoline, and can connect to an external power source to recharge the vehicle’s batteries.



Most vehicles on the road today are still powered by an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline or diesel.



A hybrid electric vehicle has an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, with only one of these engines directly powering the vehicle at a time. An HEV doesn’t “plug-in.”



A plug-in hybrid has a larger battery than an HEV and can be plugged-in to recharge the batteries from an electrical outlet or charging station.



A battery-electric vehicle is powered entirely by electricity stored in its battery, which is the sole power source for its electric motor. A BEV must plug into an external power source to recharge.

Why Go Electric?

Electric vehicles cost less to drive, less to maintain, and are even proving safer on the road than vehicles with internal combustion engines. Think about it. Your car will never – we repeat, never – need an oil change. A gas station? Purchase a BEV and you’ll never need one for the life of your car. No more gasoline fumes to inhale. No oil leaks. BEVs have fewer moving parts compared to a conventional gasoline engine, resulting in less maintenance. And break wear is significantly reduced thanks to regenerative braking. Electric vehicles also reduce the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change, thanks in part to how efficient they are. And, they’re getting cleaner every day as Hawaii progresses to its goal of 100% clean energy by 2045.

You can calculate your estimated fuel savings from choosing electric over gas, by inputting a few key metrics into this Savings Calculator. You can calculate your kWH rate from the information in your utility bill, by dividing your total charges by the total kWh used during the period billed. For example, the sample bill to the right of $157.26 for 525kWh equates to a rate of $.30/kWh. Your electricity costs will fluctuate slightly over time, so it may be a good idea to take an average over multiple billing cycles.


If you purchase a new qualified plug-in electric vehicle (EV) or fuel cell electric vehicle (FCV), you may be eligible for a credit of up to $7,500 under Internal Revenue Code Section 30D. The recent Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 brought changes to the credit rules, applicable to vehicles bought between 2023 and 2032.

Both individuals and businesses have the opportunity to claim this credit. To qualify, the vehicle should be bought for personal use and primarily used within the United States. Additionally, your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) must not exceed specific thresholds depending on your filing status:

  • $300,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • $225,000 for heads of households
  • $150,000 for all other filers

You have the option to use either your modified AGI from the year you take delivery of the vehicle or the year before, whichever is lower. If your modified AGI falls below the threshold in at least one of the two years, you can claim the credit.

It’s important to note that the credit is nonrefundable, meaning you cannot receive more in credit than the taxes you owe. Furthermore, any excess credit cannot be applied to future tax years. Be sure to consult official tax resources or seek advice from a tax professional for detailed information and guidance specific to your circumstances.


To learn more about the clean vehicle tax credit and determine your eligibility, visit the IRS website.

Considerations Before Purchasing

Before you decide on which EV will be parked in your garage, ask yourself these questions about EV ownership:

How far do you drive?

To feel comfortable about buying an EV, you need to know your vehicle will be ready to meet your needs every day. Predicting your average use and occasional above-average use before buying an EV is important. Evaluate the number of miles you drive daily and your regular driving patterns to determine the mileage range you will need. For drivers in rural areas, range anxiety can be a real barrier when deciding on whether or not to purchase an EV. Try doing a real-world study of the distances you typically drive daily and then evaluate your charging options.

Where can you charge?

Determine your options for recharging your electric vehicle at home, work, and all the places you regularly go. If you live in a single-family home, is there an outlet available in the garage? If you wanted to install a charging station, would it require an electrical upgrade? If you live in a rental home, condo, or multifamily dwelling, check with your landlord, management company, or condo/co-op board about EV charging rules. In Hawaii, there is also a large and ever-growing public charging network available for use. Learn more on our Charging 101 page.

Which Vehicle is Right for Me?

When choosing an electric vehicle, it’s important to decide whether a PHEV or BEV would suit you best, and that will depend on your driving behaviors, charging availability, budget, and desired vehicle characteristics. BEVs are great for owners with short commutes. For much of Hawaii, and especially on Oahu, shorter drives are more common than lengthy road trips. New BEVs have a driving range of 100 to 400 miles. Plug-in hybrids will have up to 50 miles of electric range and could have a total range up to 600 miles, combined gas and electric. For most EV owners, a complete recharge is not necessary for routine daily driving. Typically, the average daily commute can easily be replenished overnight at home. However, the good news is if you do need a quick charge, Hawaii has many fast-charging stations statewide – and there are more being installed all the time.

For a list of current EV models on the market and a comparison of the important characteristics, click here. Need help choosing a vehicle, or just want to compare different options? Check out the Plugstar Shopping Assistant.

Ready to Buy?

The Blue Planet Foundation’s EV Expert Certification Program equips dealership sales associates with the latest EV-related knowledge and skills to support customers who are curious about going electric.