Purchasing an Electric Vehicle


How does a plug-in electric vehicle work?

A plug-in electric vehicle is a vehicle that can be plugged into an electrical outlet or charging device to recharge its battery. There are two types: battery electric vehicles, which run only on electricity, and hybrids, which run mainly or solely on electricity until the battery is depleted and then are powered by an internal combustion engine.


How does a battery electric vehicle work?

A battery electric vehicle is fueled only by electricity, essentially replacing gasoline, diesel or other types of combustible fuels. It is purely electric, utilizing an electric motor to propel itself. A battery-electric vehicle must plug into a power source to recharge its battery.

Examples: Nissan Leaf, Tesla Motors Model S


How does a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle work?

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a vehicle that uses both gasoline (stored in a gas tank) and electricity (stored in a battery). A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is simply a hybrid electric vehicle (think Toyota Prius) with the added ability to recharge its battery by plugging into an outlet or charger (Chevrolet Volt or Ford CMax Energi).

Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles can be categorized by the way they manage their gasoline and electricity:

A parallel hybrid uses both a combustion engine and an electric motor to deliver power to the wheels. The use of these two forms of power varies from vehicle to vehicle: the vehicle can be powered by just the electric motor, just the combustion engine, or a combination of both depending on driving conditions. Examples: Toyota Prius Plug-In, Ford Fusion Energi

A series hybrid is directly powered only by the electric motor. The combustion engine is only used to recharge the battery, acting as an electric generator that converts gasoline to electricity. The three are aligned in-series: the combustion engine, then the electric motor, then the wheels. The market has commonly termed this as an extended-range electric vehicle because of its similarity to an all-electric battery electric vehicle, except using gasoline to “extend” its range. Example: Chevrolet Volt


What should I consider before purchasing an electric vehicle?

Similar to selecting a gasoline-powered car, choosing the electric vehicle that’s best for you depends on several different factors including your driving habits and personal preference. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Total Range: How far will you travel? The total range of all-electric power varies greatly—anywhere from 20 miles on a plug-in/hybrid electric car to 370 miles on a Tesla S.
  • Gasoline Use: How much gasoline do you want to use? The battery capacity of an electric vehicle determines how far you can go without using a drop of gasoline.
  • Charging: Where will you charge? Where you drive and how you’ll charge your vehicle can help you decide which electric vehicle will meet your needs both for work and home.

If your daily commute is less than 40 miles, many electric vehicles—hybrid or battery electric—will be able to handle your daily driving without the need for gas. Several battery electric vehicles, such as the Nissan LEAF, Focus Electric, BMW i3, Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500e or the Kia Soul Electric, can travel close to 80 miles on a charge, depending on driving habits. If you need to drive farther without charging, consider an extended-range hybrid like the Chevy Volt.


What are the typical maintenance costs of an electric vehicle?

Plug-in electric vehicles typically have a lower total cost of ownership and, in particular, lower maintenance costs. This is because they have fewer moving parts, reduced oil changes (or none for a full electric) and fewer brake jobs—battery regeneration absorbs most of the energy. Most Volts, which are extended-range hybrids, only need an oil change every two years. Hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles can go as much as 100,000 miles before receiving a brake job.


What are the environmental benefits of an electric vehicle?

Electric vehicles reduce the amount of gasoline we burn and are less costly to maintain, among many other benefits:

  • Reduced Operating Emissions: The emissions associated with the electric drivetrain of plug-in electric vehicles come from power plants generating electricity to charge the batteries and not from tailpipe emissions. Additionally, from well to wheel, electric vehicles emit approximately 66 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) compared with internal combustion vehicles. CO2 is the principal gas associated with global warming.
  • Water Quality Preservation: Decreased use of petroleum gasoline and motor oil means fewer spills and pollution to oceans, rivers, and groundwater.
  • Reduced Noise: In addition to being cleaner, electric vehicles are quieter than gasoline-powered vehicles, resulting in less noise pollution.


What are the driving benefits of an electric vehicle?

  • Laws and Incentives: California has adopted several laws to accommodate the use of plug-in electric vehicles, including the qualification of select plug-in electric vehicles to use the HOV lane.
  • Safety: Many electric vehicles receive top National Highway Safety Traffic Administration safety ratings.

To date, findings have shown that several electric vehicle features maximize safety. For example, electric vehicles tend to have a lower center of gravity that makes them less likely to roll over, electric vehicles have less potential for major fires or explosions and the body construction and durability of electric vehicles enhance vehicle safety in a collision.


What are the financial benefits of owning an electric vehicle?

  • Lower Operational Costs: The estimated cost of electricity needed to power a plug-in electric vehicle is about one-third of the cost of gasoline.
  • Lower Maintenance Costs: The electrical components of plug-in electric vehicles require little to no regular maintenance due to far less moving parts. In hybrids, this leads to less wear and tear of gasoline components.
  • Rebates & Tax Credits: Many government agencies and local and regional entities offer rebates and tax credits, totalling upwards of $10,000, to encourage the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles.



Charging at UCI

Is complimentary charging available on campus?

Yes, UCI faculty and staff may enroll in Pump2Plug, where you may be eligible for up to three years of complimentary Level 1 charging. For more information on Pump2Plug, click here.


Are there conveniently located charging stations on the UCI campus?

Over 180 Level 1 and 2 charging ports can be found in parking lots 1C, 16, 90, and Anteater, Mesa, Social Science, Student Center, and East Campus parking structures. All EV charging is available to UCI affiliates and the general public.


Do I need a parking permit when parked at an EV charging location?

Yes, valid UCI parking permits are required to be displayed when parking anywhere on the UCI campus. For purposes of charging, any valid permit purchased through UCI Transportation may be displayed while charging only, including students who have purchased zone permits but charging in another zone.

Visitors or UCI affiliates without a valid UCI permit may purchase short-term permits at any self-serve parking dispenser to display while charging.


Are there limits to how long I can charge?

To park in any EV stall, you must be actively charging. There is a four-hour maximum for charging at level 2 ports only.


What is the brand name of the charging stations?

UCI hosts ChargePoint charging stations and is a part of the ChargePoint network. All information about your account is administered and managed on the ChargePoint website.


I do not have a ChargePoint access card and I am a UCI affiliate. How do I get one?

All UCI affiliates may receive a free ChargePoint access card by visiting the main UCI Transportation office. The front counter staff will give you a card and ask for your email address so that you may be invited to join the UCI network and be sent special UCI discounts, if applicable.


I already have a ChargePoint access card. Can I still receive the UCI discount, if applicable?

Yes, please telephone (949) 824-RIDE and ask to speak to the ChargePoint administrator. Your email will be used to send you an invitation to join the UCI network and to send special UCI discounts, if applicable.


I do not want a ChargePoint access card. Can I use electric vehicle charging without one?

Yes, you may use the ChargePoint app on your mobile device, an RFID-enabled credit card, or call ChargePoint customer support toll-free to provide a credit card number by phone. Instructions and telephone numbers are located on every ChargePoint station, for your convenience.