For your convenience, we offer this summary of the EV Buyer’s Handbook. You can order the full guide for free on our guide order form.
An electric vehicle is any car or truck that plugs into an electric socket. It has a battery that stores energy to power an electric motor (or two, three, or four motors) that propels the vehicle.
- Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) is an all-electric vehicle.
- Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) has both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. A PHEV runs on electricity until the battery runs down and then automatically switches to gas.
Note: A car must be able to plug into the electricity grid to be considered an EV. Hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, aren’t EVs because they are fueled by gasoline, but have an electric motor making them a more fuel-efficient internal combustion vehicle (ICV).
Costs: EV vs ICV
While the sticker price of a new EV is higher than a comparable ICV, many EVs are eligible for federal rebates and state purchase incentives that help reduce the costs. Also, EV operating costs are lower than traditional ICV cars. While EVs are typically 10-15% more expensive than comparable gasoline models, maintenance costs are 40% lower for EVs and electricity for charging is less expensive than gas. You may also find that your insurance costs are higher for an EV, because the value of the car and the cost of parts and labor to fix it after a collision are higher.
EV range depends on the storage capacity of the battery and the efficiency of the vehicle, though bigger batteries mean higher costs. It’s a good idea to estimate your maximum daily travel and get a vehicle with at least twice that amount of range. The average car in Illinois travels less than 40 miles a day and the typical all-battery EV (BEV) has a range of at least 100 miles, so an EV covers many needs.
EV Rebates and Fees
Rebates– Illinois passed the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), which provides a state-level rebate of up to $4,000 to help reach a goal of over 1 million EVs on Illinois roads by 2030. Plus, there are federal incentive programs. The federal tax credit is $7,500 for most EVs, based on battery capacity.
Fees– There is at least one extra cost of owning an EV in Illinois– the state charges a $100 annual EV fee to make up for the fact that you don’t pay any gas taxes into the Road Fund that funds state highways.
Charging Your EV
All you need to charge an EV is a place to plug it in. For most people that means a home garage or parking space. How long you need to be plugged in depends on the power of the charge and how far you’re going.
EVs have three levels of charging speed. Level 1 is a standard 120-volt wall socket. Level 2 is a 240-volt appliance wall socket. Level 3, or Direct Current Fast Charge (DCFC), is a 480-volt outlet socket, which is not currently able to be installed at home.
Checklist: Is an EV the Right Choice for Me?
- Where will I charge my EV?
- How will I use my EV? Local driving or long trips?
- What type of EV fits my needs?
- What’s my budget?
- Should I lease or buy? How long will I keep the car?
- Should I consider a pre-owned EV?
- Alternative Fuels Data Center: Electricity– A consumer guide to switching away from traditional gas-fueled vehicles, courtesy of the Department of Energy.
- Home Charging Advisor– A guide (by the nonprofit group Veloz) to home EV charging stations, including tips on purchasing, installations, tax incentives, and useful information to help jumpstart your EV journey.
- PlugStar– A shopping assistant for buying your electric vehicle through local EV dealers and retailers from Plug In America. This website has a tool to help estimate your incentives, costs, and environmental impact by location.
- PlugShare– An interactive trip planner of electric vehicle charging stations worldwide compiled and updated by the world’s largest EV driver community. This website is also available as a free app for your smartphone (iOS and Android).