Drive Clean

CARB offers answers to frequently asked plug-in vehicle questions

A new website launched by the California Air Resources Board aims to be a one-stop guide to answering all your questions about battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, as well as adoption guides for business, fleet owners and others.

A new buying guide for plug-in electric vehicles is now available on the California Air Resources Board's DriveClean website. It's meant to provide assistance, information and tools to car buyers, fleet owners and others interested in plug-in vehicles.

The site is focused on what CARB calls a PEV, or Plug-in Electric Vehicle. These are vehicles you can plug-in and recharge a battery pack, and come either as a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The new website explains the differences, tradeoffs and advantages of each. Plug-in electric vehicles are distinguished from hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV) or other high fuel efficiency vehicles, because they are fueled from the electrical grid rather than being wholly dependent on gasoline for fuel.

Other resources include: A list of vehicles either available in 2012, or "coming soon." A guide of questions and answers to help you understand if a plug-in vehicle is for you, and the features to look for. A list of steps to taking full advantage of incentives, parking privileges, how to find charging stations. Guidelines on understanding the different ways to charge an electric car, whether or how to charge at home, at workplaces, and other places.

One very useful tool lets you search for various incentive programs. You select federal, state, or local incentives, your zip code, and the sort of incentive you're interested in. The service shows you a complete list of incentives based on your selection.

The guide to understanding the cost and benefits of plug-in electric vehicles walks you through the up-front costs, incentives to reduce that cost, how much you will save on fuel, and other benefits such as parking or HOV lane access. While the current crop of electric vehicles have higher prices (it's the cost of the battery pack), electricity is a cheaper fuel than gasoline, and the maintenance overhead is lower, which will offset some of that cost.

Because hyped up scaremongering of electric vehicle safety has been in the news, the site includes information on this topic. Basically it says the charging equipment is tested, the car has safety interlocks, batteries are tested and safe, and that first responders have been receiving training.

There's also information resources targeted at dealerships, fleet owners, businesses, electricians, first responders, cities, policy makers, and media. Each of these have carefully selected lists of resources and reading material answering specific questions each will have. For example fleet owners are offered a guide on Responsibly Greening Your Fleet.

For cities there is a series of PEV Readiness Workshops being held in cities around California over the next few weeks.

For more information see the website at driveclean.ca.gov/pev/