EV FAQs

Transportation electrification efforts are rapidly expanding throughout the US. With this comes a host of questions about how EVs will impact individual lives as well as processes that have historically supported gas- and diesel-powered transportation.

We have collected a list of frequently asked questions related to electric vehicles here.

Affordability

Similar to gasoline-powered vehicles, electric vehicles are available at a wide range of price points, starting at $26,570 for the Honda Accord PHEV and $32,570 for the Nissan LEAF, a fully electric option. We have developed a resource that is a one-stop shop for finding MSRP values for over 100 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with 2021 models. You can find that information with sources here.

In addition, EVs cost significantly less in energy costs per mile travelled. The average gas-powered vehicle in the United States costs ~$0.13/mile to drive, whereas the average EV costs ~$0.05/mile to drive.

Finally, since EVs require no oil changes and have far fewer moving parts that might need to be repaired vs. gas-powered cars, there are significant savings on maintenance costs as well.

Whereas drivers of gas-powered vehicles pay road taxes through the purchase of gasoline at gas stations, EV owners pay an annual fee to cover the taxes they don’t pay while charging. EV vehicle registration currently includes an additional $100 annual fee compared to gas-powered cars to make up for lost road tax, and this value is expected to increase over the coming years. The EV registration fee makes up for the lost road tax in order to maintain Tennessee’s roadways. For up to date information on vehicle registration in Tennessee, visit the Tennessee Department of Revenue site.

Availability

Electric vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, from small hatchbacks to luxury SUVs. Check out our list of models that are on sale now or are scheduled to be by the end of 2022. Look for even more models and types of EVs to become available in the coming years.

Any Certified Pre-Owned car, SUV, or truck offers numerous positives, from an extended factory-backed warranty to the repair of any defects before the vehicle is sold by a participating dealer. Here’s what to know about CPO programs, including a list that connects you to every automaker’s CPO program with a single click.

EV Batteries

Tennessee currently does not have a statewide recycling plan available for spent EV batteries. However, many vehicle manufacturers such as GM and Nissan have developed plans for using old EV batteries to provide new services and recycling methods are being developed to recover lithium from these lithium-ion batteries. That being said, we recognize that battery recycling is far from a perfect process at this point. Here is an article from the Institute for Energy Research that gives an overview of both the progress and drawbacks of EV battery recycling. Here is another great article worth reading by Ian Morse, writer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

We also recommend that you checkout Earth911’s recycling search tool. Earth911 is one of North Americas most extensive recycling databases.  Simply enter in the material you are trying to recycle along with your zip code and click search!  It may not be the most accurate, but it will point you to additional information.

“The bottom line here is that if it’s properly cared for, an electric car’s battery pack should last for well in excess of 100,000 miles before its range becomes restricted. Consumer Reports estimates the average EV battery pack’s lifespan to be at around 200,000 miles, which is nearly 17 years of use if driven 12,000 miles per year.

This is from a www.myev.com article by their editor entitled “How long should an electric car’s battery last?” – read the full article here.


“The battery will outlive the car.”

From says Graeme Cooper, Head of Future Markets, in this article from NationalGrid(This article also goes into battery recycling!)

This graphic is from the Elements article of May 23, 2024 that discusses where lithium is produced in the world and veers into growth in production and pricing. – read the full article here.

top lithium producers in the world, 2023

Ethics

Electric vehicles (EVs) reduce the overall lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from driving a comparable gas-powered vehicle by an average of 60% (for some that is lower; for others it can be higher than 80%). As our electric grid continues to shift away from coal and increasingly embraces low-emissions and renewable energy, those GHG-reduction numbers will also increase.

In addition, EVs have no tailpipe, meaning they produce no direct criteria pollution within the communities they operate within! This means that there are fewer on-the-ground emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter and “fines” (PM and PM-2.5), which positively benefits human health in communities across the country where EVs are in use.

Finally, EVs also offer significantly lower fuel costs compared with traditional gasoline vehicles. Did you know that the average EV driver in the U.S. spends roughly one-third the amount to fuel with electricity versus fueling with gasoline? And that number can grow to one-fourth to one-tenth the cost of refueling with gasoline if EV owners take advantage of off-peak electricity rates while charging at home (if your local electric utility offers residential time-of-use [TOU] charging rates).

The below select answers were pulled from a Quora post that asked the following question; please see the full post here.  

“My local library, owned by the county and funded by our taxes, has chargers that electric car owners can use for free. Is that fair? Why should they get free electicity for their cars charging?”

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Because their cars aren’t killing you slowly by poisoning the air around you.

You might as well complain about the water fountains at the library giving away water for FREE to thirsty people, when you have to pay for it at home? I mean, is that fair?

And what about those people who don’t take care of their health, and end up going to the hospitals that are funded by *your* insurance payments? How unfair is that? You sit at home with your family, healthy and miserable, because your insurance payments are going to pay for a hospital that you’re not even using. Why should they get to use a hospital *your* money helped pay for?

And don’t even get me started on the police! I mean, we *all* pay for them via our taxes, but do I ever use them? Have I ever called them up, and asked them to come by my house, just so I felt I was getting my money’s worth out of them? Nope! They just sit around, catching criminals, and patrolling other parts of the city. Same thing with the firemen. Do they ever come to my house, and hose me down, just to make sure I get my fair share of my money’s worth out of them for the taxes I pay? Nope! They just visit with people whose houses have actually caught on fire, and spend all their time there, instead of hanging out with me, even though I paid just as much in taxes as the person whose house burned down.

Guess what?

Some things are important enough that we all contribute to them, so that as a whole, the population is better off for having them. Things like a water system that can supply water to drinking fountains for thirsty people. Like hospitals that can take care of sick people. Like power outlets in libraries that you’ve probably used to recharge your cell phone at some point, or to plug your laptop in at some point, without having to pay for it.

And like electric charging stations, as an incentive for members of the community to switch away from vehicles that spew toxic pollutants into the air we breathe.

You know—things that help make for a better community.

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Promoting electric vehicles is in the public interest. Displacement of internal combustion vehicles with electric motors exports combustion gases out of the densely populated urban areas into sparsely populated regions where power producing plants are stationed.

This has the ultimate effect of reducing intercity healthcare costs for respiratory illnesses, cancer, and other complications due to pollution; reducing sick days in tax-producing businesses otherwise lost to pollution-related illnesses; having healthier, more productive workers who also contribute to the tax base; making the city more attractive to tourism, a major income driver for many cities; and lowering maintenance requirements on civic structures (such as the library) by lessening the concentrations of corrosive exhaust gases.

Next time you see an electric car owner recharging their car at a city charger, thank them for subsidizing your privilege to drive a polluting automobile with the taxes they have paid to repair conditions they didn’t create. For that matter, thank riders of city subsidized mass transit as well, for paying with their taxes to fund road maintenance for damage they didn’t cause and to provide road expansions they don’t need, in addition to subsidizing the above costs of pollution.

You’ll probably surprise them and maybe even get a smile.

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Maybe not, but it’s probably more fair than allowing people to spew out deadly exhaust from non-electric cars for free.

Why should people be allowed to pump anything into the air I have to breath? It’s my air too. It’s like me urinating into your drink, except drinking urine is probably less harmful than breathing exhaust.

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Functionality

Range is one of the most important stats you will need to compare when shopping for an EV. Early EVs had shorter ranges of around 80 miles, while many modern EVs have a range of 100+ miles, 240+ miles, and some longer-range models can travel up to 400+ miles on a single charge making them highly competitive with even gas powered vehicles.

Whether or not you need to make it to the next public-charging spot, are able to complete your daily commute, or are instead stranded on the side of the road depends on the vehicle’s range. Check out EPA’s ratings on the ranges for EVs on the current market. In many cases, these ratings are 100+ MPGe (miles per gallon of gas equivalent), far exceeding fuel economy ratings for gas cars.

In order to operate an EV in Tennessee comfortably, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of charging: how charging stations work, how you purchase the electricity to refill your EV’s battery, and where to find those recharge locations in your area. Check out our compiled list of resources for finding EV Charging.

Whether you plan on using your EV for local, daily driving or longer cross-state treks, recharge time is going to have an impact on your life. Depending on the type of charging you intend to use (Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast Charge), refilling a depleted battery pack takes considerably more time than topping up your gasoline-powered car’s tank. But how much more time? And why does that differ depending on where you choose to charge it up?

Charge times vary greatly, depending on the size of the battery, how fast the car is able to take the charge, and the amperage of the circuit. Charging a vehicle overnight at home has been proven the cheapest and most convenient for many EV owners (one DriveElectricTN staff member’s EV costs ~$2 to charge from 0-100%, for example). Charging times can vary from 30 minutes (using a DC Fast Charge station) to 13 plus hours (using a Level 1 charger plugged in to a regular home electric outlet).

Most electric cars deliver instant power from a stop and they are much quieter than traditional gasoline-fueled cars. Attend one of our Ride n’ Drive events to see for yourself. Check out our list of upcoming events to find the event nearest you.

Gas powered vehicles have an average lifespan of 12 years or 200,000 miles when properly maintained according to this article from the AARP. This is considered to be the upper-end of a vehicles lifespan, but that number is increasing every year as technology and maintenance improve.

Electric vehicles are quickly advancing in technology, so the average lifespan is extending every year. Currently, the limiting factor is the capacity of the battery over time, and each year the range depletes at about 2.3%/year on average. As explained in this article from Battery University, 10-20 years is the expected range for a car’s electric battery.  Currently, vehicle manufacturers have a warranty of at least 5-10 years or about 100,000 miles, and this is expected to be extended as battery technology increases the longevity of electric batteries.

Sustainability

As the electricity generation source in Tennessee goes, we recognize that a sizable portion of electricity in this region is harvested from fossil fuels. However, in 2021 57% of electricity generation was free of fossil fuels, a 21% increase from 2005, as shown in the figure below from the TVA Carbon Report. The majority of electricity generation in Tennessee is from nuclear power (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), and the Tennessee Valley Authority announced that it will be closing all coal plants in the region by 2035. Even with this in mind, driving an EV produces approximately 50% fewer emissions throughout its lifecycle than an internal combustion vehicle. Given this information, EVs still contribute to environmental degradation, but to a significantly lesser extent than diesel and gasoline vehicles. Visit this resource to see the energy generation sources for Tennessee.

There is concern about EVs crashing the electric grid, but very little evidence that this would occur. The main consideration for local power companies is not the availability of electricity, but the times during the day and night when demand varies between high and low.

In California, the viral story about the “EV Grid” crashing has been widely misunderstood. The California Independent System Operator, a nonprofit that oversees California’s power grid, asked people to conserve electricity during peak hours. This was simply a suggestion for people to voluntarily switch charging schedules to benefit the grid as a whole. However, this was just an ask and not a mandate. Here is our source if you are curious to read more.

Mythbustin’

No, they aren’t.

Analysts from AutoInsuranceEZ examined data from the National Transportation Safety Board to track the number of car fires and compared it to sales data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Hybrid-powered cars were involved in about 3,475 fires per every 100,000 sold. Gasoline-powered cars, about 1,530 fires per every 100,000 sold. Electric vehicles (EVs) saw just 25 fires per 100,000 sold.

Read the full article on their website, here.

13,000 people in 18 countries were asked about what kind of car they wanted to buy next and 52% chose an all electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid. This is the first time that number has breached 50% in such studies. Some individual country responses: Italy (73%), China (69%), South Korea (63%), Australia (38%), and the US (29%).

Read the full article here > (“In a global tipping point, 52% of car buyers now want to purchase an EV – here’s why“).

We found this thread on X and thought it provides some good context on better understanding how you look at Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM’s) statements on EV losses. The gist is are those R&D costs expensed or capitalized, and the comments are where you will find good discussion on thisclick on the “Read 42 Replies” to read those comments.

Ethical Material Sourcing

“A new analysis using compliance data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection suggests that if it could be extracted with complete efficiency, lithium from the wastewater of Marcellus shale gas wells could supply up to 40% of the country’s demand.

“There are lithium mining operations in the U.S., but Mackey said. This is different – this is a waste stream, and we’re looking at a beneficial use of that waste.”

” “Wastewater from oil and gas is a burgeoning issue,” Mackey said. “Right now, it’s just minimally treated and reinjected.” But it has the potential to provide a lot of value. After all, he said, “It’s been dissolving rocks for hundreds of millions of years—essentially, the water has been mining the subsurface.” “


This is from the following article and delves into the opportunities we have in using wastewater sources to extract and obtain lithium.

“Making batteries takes lots of lithium: Almost half of it could come from Pennsylvania wastewater.”

From this article on TechExplore.com.

Electricity FAQs

About Nuclear Energy & Power

While there have been some notable nuclear accidents in the past (Chernobyl, Fukushima), nuclear power is one of the safest forms of producing electricity. See the graph below which can be found on this Wikipedia page about nuclear power in the U.S. Coal and oil are leaps and bounds more deadly as power sources than nuclear has ever been.

safest and cleanest sources of electricity

These links provide answers and include more information for someone wanting to learn more about nuclear energy in the U.S.

(For future use…)

(to be used for future expansion of info in this section)

Maps of electricity production in the U.S.

Thanks to Visual Capitalist, this excellent map (although five years old) is a fantastic visual to understanding how and where different kinds of electricity are produced in the U.S. Find map on their website, here.

Additionally, that page has a “slider” that lets you see how cleaner energy production has grown, and how coal electricity production has gone down over a ten-year span from 2007 to 2016 – another great visual for understanding how we are collectively moving in the right direction in the U.S. (and should continue to do so in the coming decades!).

The Washington Post produced this page in 2017… and it is one of the best resources out there today to understand how and where each of our different types of electricity are produced. Find the multiple maps and resources on their website, here.

Go down that page a little and you will find a tool that will let you see how all the states rank based on different types of electricity production, followed by specific maps for the production of each type of fuel used today.

Still have questions?

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