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Frequently Asked Questions:

What incentives are there for EVs in California?

EVs qualify for single occupancy driving in HOV lanes. This can easily save hours per day for commuters who are stuck in traffic. EVs also qualify for toll-free access to Metro Expresslanes. Depending on which EV, there are also substantial California state rebate($2,500) and federal tax credits($7,500).

What incentives are there for EVs at Caltech?

Caltech is providing free electricity for the first 6 months. Depending on the commute, this could significantly decrease the total cost of ownership of an EV. Many people have found that it is cheaper to lease an EV as an additional car instead of continuing to operate their existing gasoline car. Depending on the success of the program, electricity could remain free or convert to a paid program. The electricity cost will be very competitive with existing residential discounted EV rates.

Will I always find an available charging station at Caltech?

There will be 54 stations available at the Calfornia garage. We expect this number to be sufficient through 2016. We will monitor usage and hopefully expand to other garages in the future.

Are EVs really emissions free?

Electric motors are emissions free, however the electricity that is used may or may not have been produced via renewable energy. At Caltech, our energy is a blend of solar, cogen(Natural Gas), and Pasadena Water and Power(Coal?).

How far can an EV go on a full charge?

EV range greatly depends on speed, temperature, elevation change, wind resistance, but it is usually safe to say 75% of EPA rated range in California.

How long does it take to charge an EV?

Depending on the onboard charger in the car, typically level 2 stations can charge an empty EV in 5 hours or less. 15 miles per hour is usually a safe estimate.

What is the life of the main battery?

Depending on the battery chemistry, duty cycle, charging/discharging rates, and environment, this could vary quite a bit. Expect a 2% degradation on range per year. Battery replacements are expensive, but are very rare. This is why many choose to lease EVs rather than purchase.

Do EVs drive differently than gasoline cars?

Since electric motors can achieve full torque at any RPM, smooth and predictable power is available at any speed. Also, EVs use regenerative braking when the gas pedal is released. It takes getting used to, but many prefer regenerative braking after they try it.

How do I pick between a battery only EV vs a plug-in EV?

If you are comfortable with the range and have easy access to charging stations, battery only EV may be the solution for you. If you take long trips and/or unexpected changes to your destinations, plug-in EVs may be the solution for you.

What maintenance do EVs require?

Since an electric motor has less moving parts than an internal combustion engine, one can argue that there are less points of failure, which reduces the amount of maintenance. However, tires may be worn faster than traditional cars because of the additional friction of regenerative braking.

What does the Caltech pilot aim to achieve?

Charging EVs require a substantial amount of electricity. Most EVs can charge at 7kW, which is the equivalent of running 70 desktop computers at the same time. This is fine for a couple of cars, but beyond that, a smart algorithm is needed to coordinate the charging schedule to satisfy their energy demands prior to departure without exceeding the available capacity of electrical infrastructure. Our scheduling algorithm uses standard J1772 charging protocols and is compatible with all current EVs.

I have more questions about EVs, who can I ask?

Please contact us at ev-help@caltech.edu, and someone will respond to your question.