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.
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.
There are other benefits too. EV purchasers can receive a tax credit of between $2,500 and $7,500, depending on the vehicle battery capacity. Battery-only EVs will typically receive the full $7,500, while plug-in hybrids will receive an amount between $2,500 and $7,500, depending on battery capacity. This benefit can only be taken as a credit on your taxes, and not as a tax rebate. In Hawaii, some automobile dealers even offer flexible lease arrangements allowing consumers to take advantage of this federal tax credit upfront.
Before you decide on which EV will be parked in your garage, ask yourself these questions about EV ownership:
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.
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.
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.
The Blue Planet Foundation, through the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawaii (STCH), administers the Hawaii EV Expert Program where you can be connected to certified EV Experts in your area. Use the digital map to locate a dealership near you and view profiles of all certified EV experts at that dealership to ensure the best EV buying experience.