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Looking to buy an electric vehicle? Here's what you need to know before you do. – The Fayetteville Observer

The popularity of electric vehicles continues to rise as many drivers make the switch from gas to electric.  
In a recent Live Wire, the Fayetteville Observer answered a question about the longevity of an EV battery but there were still many more questions regarding EVs. 
For those considering making the transition, there are a few things you may want to know. There are a variety of factors that separates electric vehicles from gas vehicles aside from being battery powered. 
From costs and mileage to charging compacity and availability, there are a lot of things that go into being an electric vehicle owner.
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Jacob Bolin, the program manager at Plug-in NC, was able to shed light on some of these key differences.
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Plug-in NC is a program managed by Advanced Energy that works to support outreach and education initiatives for EVs across the state. The program develops various resources for people who have questions about charging, installing charging stations, operating an EV and how it’s different than a normal vehicle. It also works with various organizations across the state to support the deployment of infrastructure and charging stations. 
“We’re just here to kind of spread the word about EVs and help folks with the transition if they’re interested in buying an EV or hosting a charging station at a business or municipality or anything like that,” Bolin said.
“Charging up an electric vehicle is actually more similar to charging up a cell phone than it is to refueling at the gasoline pump with a traditional car,” Bolin said. “Most times you’re kind of like opportunity charging, for example, most folks are going to charge at home.” 
According to Bolin, a Level 2 charger typically adds 20 to 30 miles of range per hour, taking about eight to 10 hours to charge from zero to full, depending on the voltage. 
The Fayetteville Public Work Commission has four Level 2 charging stations throughout the Fayetteville area, according to its website. The charging stations are located at Honeycutt Park, Lake Rim Park, Clark Park and Marketfair Mall off Campground Raod. 
This works well for people who have a charger in their home so the vehicle can charge while it sits in the garage overnight or if a station is available at a mall or theater, it can charge while people see a movie or shop.
There is sometimes the option of a DC fast charger, when available, which can take  30 to 40 minutes, depending on the EV, but it does have its limitations. 
“I will stress that those charging speeds or DC fast chargers are highly variable based on the type of charging station it is and also the vehicle,” he said. “Some vehicles can basically accept a higher rate of charge than others.”
Costs of charging an EV can vary depending on the kind of charger and the kind of electric vehicle you’re charging. 
Many EVs have battery packs that take between 50- to 80-kilowatt hours for a full charge. Bolin said with standard electricity rates, it costs about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour to charge a vehicle at home. The cost of a home charger can vary between $500 up to $2,000, depending on the installation and electric panel capacity.  
Rates to charge can vary once an EV driver leaves their driveway and need to use public charging stations. In many cases, it could be free to charge as some businesses or parks will have free Level 2 chargers on site. There are other sorts of pricing structures when it comes to charging, Bolin said. 
A Level 2 charger can also cos $2 an hour to charge but a DC fast charger can cost $15 to $20 total to get from zero to 80%.
Bolin said electric vehicles have a 250- to 310-mile range on a full battery but in some cases, they could go all the way up to 400  miles. 
The decrease in the range can also be affected by things other than miles driven.  
“Whenever you’re running like heat or A/C, typically that can be pulled from the battery and so that can reduce the total available range,” he said. “When you are driving up in areas of high elevation, you’re probably going to be using more power for your vehicle and it’s not going to operate quite as efficiently. So, you might see a bit of range loss with that as well.”
Another factor that affects an EVs’ range includes the type of weather. Electric vehicles could lose range after sitting unused in cold weather. Bolin said North Carolina residentsdon’t have to worry about the weather’s effects on battery life as much as EV drivers up north where it gets colder. 
The battery of an EV can last eight to 10 years. Bolin said in many cases, drivers might experience a 10-15% loss in battery range capacity after 10 years. 
The battery is basically the engine of an EV, but it requires much less maintenance than a gas car, according to Bolin. 
“You don’t have things like oil changes or transmission issues, spark plugs,” he said. “It’s much more kind of simple level of machinery and so the maintenance cost for electric vehicles is significantly lower than that of internal combustion engine vehicles.” 
Staff writer Akira Kyles can be reached at [email protected].