From the mechanics of electric vehicles to their environmental benefits, there is a lot to know. Take some time to study up so you can make the choice that’s best for you.
A plug-in electric vehicle is a vehicle that can be plugged into an electrical outlet or charging device to recharge its battery. There are two types: battery electric vehicles, which run only on electricity, and plug-in hybrids, which run mainly or solely on electricity until the battery is depleted and then are powered by an internal combustion engine.
A battery electric vehicle is fueled only by electricity, essentially replacing gasoline, diesel or other types of combustible fuels. It is purely electric, utilizing an electric motor to propel itself. A battery electric vehicle must plug in to a power source to recharge its battery.
Examples: Nissan Leaf, Tesla Motors Model S
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a vehicle that uses both gasoline (stored in a gas tank) and electricity (stored in a battery). A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is simply a hybrid electric vehicle (think Toyota Prius) with the added ability to recharge its battery by plugging into an outlet or charger (Chevrolet Volt or Ford CMax Energi).
Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles can be categorized by the way they manage their gasoline and electricity:
A parallel hybrid uses both a combustion engine and an electric motor to deliver power to the wheels. The use of these two forms of power varies from vehicle to vehicle: the vehicle can be powered by just the electric motor, just the combustion engine, or a combination of both depending on driving conditions.
Examples: Toyota Prius Plug-In, Ford Fusion Energi
A series hybrid is directly powered only by the electric motor. The combustion engine is only used to recharge the battery, acting as an electric generator that converts gasoline to electricity. The three are aligned in-series: the combustion engine, then the electric motor, then the wheels. The market has commonly termed this as an extended-range electric vehicle because of its similarity to an all-electric battery electric vehicle, with the exception of using gasoline to "extend" its range.
Example: Chevrolet Volt
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 factors to consider:
If your daily commute is less than 40 miles, many electric vehicles—hybrid or battery electric—will be able to handle your daily driving without the need for gas. If you want the ability to drive much farther, several battery electric vehicles, such as the Nissan LEAF, can travel up to 84 miles on a charge. If you need to drive farther without charging, consider an extended-range hybrid like the Chevy Volt.
Plug-in electric vehicles typically have lower total cost of ownership and, in particular, lower maintenance costs. This is because they have fewer moving parts, reduced oil changes (or none for a full electric) and fewer brake jobs—battery regeneration absorbs most of the energy. Most Volts, which are extended-range hybrids, only need an oil change every two years. Hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles can go 100,000 miles before receiving a brake job.
Visit the Electric Power Research Institute
Yes, public charging stations are located in supermarket parking lots, city garages, gas stations and many other locations across the country. Some public charging stations are free and others require a fee or membership.
Visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center
PLEASE NOTE: PG&E is also in the process of asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to move forward with a plan to build 7,600 public charging stations throughout Northern California.
Electric vehicles reduce the amount of gasoline we burn and are less costly to maintain, among many other benefits:
Additionally, more than half of the electricity PG&E provides comes from sources that are either renewable or emit no greenhouse gases. That’s why by choosing to drive an electric vehicle, you are helping to reduce pollution.
To date, findings have shown that several electric vehicle features maximize safety. For example, electric vehicles tend to have a lower center of gravity that makes them less likely to roll over, electric vehicles have less potential for major fires or explosions and the body construction and durability of electric vehicles enhance vehicle safety in a collision.
Yes, customers have the option of PG&E's tiered rate (E-1), tiered, time-of-use rate (E-TOU) or our separately metered EV rate plan, EV-B. It is important to note that EV-B customers will be losing the less costly off-peak rates formerly applied to home power use. The EV-B rate also requires the installation of a separate meter, which may come at a significant cost to the customer.
Learn More about Charger Installation
PG&E's electric vehicle (EV) rate applies to all PG&E customers who have a currently registered battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) charged via a charging outlet at the customer’s residence. PG&E's EV rate is not available to customers with a conventional hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), low speed electric vehicle or electrically powered motorcycles or bicycles.
View Full Rate Schedule and Applicability (PDF, 133 KB)
Electricity used when charging an electric vehicle at home will appear as a charge in the customer's normal monthly utility bill. When charging at a friend's house, that electricity usage will appear on the friend’s bill. We anticipate that billing systems for vehicle charging outside the home will evolve over time in ways similar to how customers today pay for gasoline. If your place of employment has a charging station, ask your employer how the electricity from the charger is billed.
The U.S. Energy Department has created a website to determine an eGallon, or the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline. In California, an eGallon is currently about $1.50, but vehicles charged on PG&E's electric vehicle rates during off-peak hours can be refueled for the equivalent of around $1 per eGallon.
View eGallon Info
The effect of plug-in electric vehicles on electricity rates will be determined in large part by the California Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC is currently investigating rates, charging infrastructure and other policies to prepare for the expected growth of plug-in electric vehicles.
Work with your electrical contractor to evaluate your home's wiring, electrical outlets and other hardware that can support the charging requirements of your new electric vehicle.
Your dealer may offer a home assessment as part of the electric vehicle purchase price. Some automakers offer a consultation with an electrical contractor as part of the electric vehicle purchase.
PLEASE NOTE: PG&E can only perform work outside the home at your meter/electrical panel location to enable the necessary utility service to the house.
Total cost varies depending on current electrical design, local code requirements, the rate and charging options you choose and other factors. Potential costs include the following:
Only a power outage or failure to pay your electric bill will interrupt vehicle charging without your permission.
This technology is not currently available. However, PG&E is currently researching the future feasibility of vehicle-to-grid applications.
Learn How PG&E and BMW Plan to Make “Smart Charging” Even Smarter
If your vehicle is capable of charging at 120 volts, you will be able to plug your vehicle into any standard outlet for charging while away from home (assuming you can get permission to plug your vehicle from the outlet owner).
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have gasoline engines, so you can always buy gasoline as you ordinarily do to extend the range of your vehicle.
With battery electric vehicles, to avoid inconveniences you will want to fully charge your vehicle before you leave home, especially if the round trip you are taking is close to the range of the vehicle. If the trip is longer than the range of the vehicle you will need to plan where you will be able to recharge your vehicle.
PG&E customers who have a solar generating system are eligible to enroll in the electric vehicle rates.
The electricity generated from a solar generating system could help offset the costs of electricity used to charge an electric vehicle. The net effect of the solar generating system will depend on the system's efficiency, the weather, the amount of energy used to charge the vehicle and other factors.
If you already have installed a solar generating system and have received a rebate for the system, you are eligible to receive a new rebate for any additional solar panels that are added to the system. The rebate will be directly proportional to the size of the new installation.
PLEASE NOTE: PG&E will not energize a new service until the completed work passes inspection and PG&E has been notified of such by the city or county.