Uses electricity only Uses electricity only

Battery Electric Vehicle

A Battery Electric Vehicle is a car that runs only on electricity. You don't need to fill up an all-electric car with gas, get the oil changed, or do other engine maintenance. To drive it, all you need to do is charge the battery. Since it costs less to charge your car with electricity than it does to fill it with gas, an all-electric car can save you a lot of money over time. It’s the cleanest car you can drive.

Popular Models of Battery Electric Vehicles

Check your local dealership for prices and availability for new and used vehicles.

2020 Nissan Leaf

2020 Nissan Leaf

2020 Chevrolet Bolt

2020 Chevrolet Bolt

2020 Kia Niro

2020 Kia Niro

Charging

Travel Distance

Clean Air Benefit

Cost

Uses electricity only

Battery Electric Vehicle

Charging

These vehicles don’t need any gas, they only run on electricity. You’ll need a place to charge the battery, either at home, at work, or at a public charging station.

Travel Distance

Most models built after 2016 can travel more than 100 miles on a single charge. Newer models can go more than 200 miles on a single charge.

Clean Air Benefit

Because these vehicles do not use gas, they are the best at keeping our air clean.

Cost

These vehicles cost more up front. But because maintenance and charging cost less than gas, they'll save you more money over time.

Uses gasoline

Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Charging

These cars do not require any charging. They run on gas, but use an electric motor to improve the car’s gas mileage.

Travel Distance

If there is gas in the tank, then the car can drive. Since it’s more fuel efficient, you’ll stop at the gas station less frequently.

Clean Air Benefit

This type of car is more polluting than the other types of electric vehicles, but cleaner than a traditional gasoline vehicle because it uses less gas per mile driven.

Cost

You’ll pay less for this car up front but it will cost more in gas over time.

Uses electricity or gasoline

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Charging

These vehicles can run on both gas and electricity. When the battery runs out of charge, the car switches to use gas.

Travel Distance

When the battery runs out of charge, it uses gas as a back-up. Most models built after 2016 can travel for more than 20 miles on a single charge. Once the charge runs out, the gas engine kicks in and you can drive until your tank is empty.

Clean Air Benefit

These vehicles are much less polluting than regular gas cars, especially when they are running on electricity only.

Cost

This type of car has slightly higher up-front costs than a regular hybrid car, but it can save you more money over time. If you can use the all-electric mode often, then cost savings will be higher.

Woman standing next to her electric car

I probably spent anywhere from $250-300 a month on gas, and that’s no longer an expense I have."

— Erica, Pomona

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I charge my electric car at home?

Battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars come with a charging cord that plugs into any standard electrical outlet in your garage or house. This cord will typically provide 3-4 miles of driving range per hour of charging. Charging overnight can give you 30-45 miles of driving range. If you are buying a used car, make sure it comes with charging equipment. For faster charging, you can use what's called a "Level 2" charger. This type of charger uses a plug that is similar to what’s used for electric clothes dryers. If you own your home you may be able to have one installed, and many of the programs on this website will help you pay for it. 

How much does a Level 2 charger cost?

The cost of buying and installing a charger at home ranges from $1,500 to $2,000, or more if you need an electrical panel upgrade. Many of the programs on this website can help you cover the costs of installing an at-home charging station, and your utility company may offer rebates as well. Find out if you can get help paying for a level 2 charger by using our benefits finder.

Is there anything faster than Level 2?

Yes, many public charging stations offer “DC fast” or “Level 3” charging. The DC stands for direct current, which is a fancy way of saying more electricity can go to your car than a Level 1 or Level 2 charger. Due to the high level of power of these chargers, they are not available for single-family home installations. Some Level 3 or DC fast chargers can fully charge your car in less than an hour, which is great when you are on the go.

How much will my electricity bill go up if I charge at home?

Changes to your electric bill will depend on things like your usage, your local electricity rates, and what time of day you charge your car. Most utilities have special rate programs for EV drivers and discounts for income-qualified customers. If you own your home, you may qualify for a no-cost solar electric system from the Energy for All program. You can check your eligibility by using our benefits finder.

Is a battery electric car cheaper to drive than my gas-powered car?

Yes. While the exact cost varies based on the price you pay for electricity, driving on electricity is significantly cheaper than driving on gasoline. On average in California, the electric charge equivalent of a gallon of gas costs just $1.83 (source: Energy.gov →). Plus you’ll never need an oil change. 

I live in an apartment building (or other place without a charger). How do I charge my car?

Most apartment buildings do not have electric charging stations. If you can’t charge your battery electric car at home, you can use public charging stations. There are thousands of public charging stations all over the country, with more being built every day, and some of the programs on this website offer credits for public charging.

Make sure that you look for charging stations near you before deciding to buy an all-electric car. Find your nearest charging stations here: PlugShare Charging Station Map →

Are battery electric cars as safe as my old car? 

Battery electric cars are safe. These cars must meet the same level of safety standards as all other cars. This means that an all-electric car is just as safe as a standard gas-powered car. 

How long will the battery last?

Electric car batteries are designed to last more than 10 years. California law requires electric cars to have at least a 10-year or 150,000 mile warranty. 

Will my insurance costs go up with an electric car?

Insuring an EV is just like insuring a gas car. The price of insurance will depend on the cost of the car, combined with other factors like your driving record, where you live, how much you drive, and your deductible. Insurance for battery electric vehicles tends to cost a little more because the cars are more expensive. You can get quotes from your insurance company before you make the decision to buy.