1. Aren't electric car batteries harmful to the environment? Electric cars are a significant win for the environment. The electric car battery does increase the greenhouse gas emissions that occur during the process of manufacturing by about 15%; however, this is typically offset within the first six months of driving an electric vehicle by the reduced emissions associated with driving. Emissions savings then continue to accrue over the life of the car. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that, on average, an electric vehicle charged in Belmont reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50%, compared to a gasoline vehicle.
2. Don’t more emissions come from using coal-fired electricity to charge cars than using gasoline? Because of the greater efficiency of electric vehicles, even in areas of the country where coal is a principal fuel source for electricity generation, electric vehicles still result in less greenhouse gas emissions. In New England, where coal is not a major fuel for electricity production, the emissions savings from EVs are even greater. Driving an electric vehicle in Belmont typically results in less than half of the emissions produced by an average new mid-sized gasoline vehicle. (Sources: Union of Concerned Scientists; Trancik lab (MIT))
3. Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to walk or bike more, not buy more cars? We are all in favor of walking and cycling! The goal of Belmont Drives Electric is not to supplant walking and biking, but rather to shift people away from driving gasoline vehicles.
4. Manufacturing a car results in lots of emissions. Doesn’t encouraging people to buy new vehicles result in increased, not decreased, emissions? There are emissions associated with manufacturing the vehicle and the larger battery, but over their lifetimes, electric vehicles result in reduced overall emissions due to their lower operating emissions compared to the gasoline vehicles they displace. Plus, older gasoline vehicles tend to be less efficient and emit more carbon than even newer gasoline vehicles, so the more old gasoline-powered vehicles we can get off the roads, the better.
FINANCIAL (LEASING, INCENTIVES)
5. What are my options for leasing or buying an electric car? Most people choose to lease a vehicle due to the quick growth of EV technology. In order to take advantage of theMOR-EV state rebate, you need to purchase or sign at least a 36-month lease.
Belmont Drives Electric is working with vehicles approved for rebate by the MOR-EV Program. Please note that the offers and existing deals will change monthly but will stay updated on the website.
6. Aren't electric vehicles too expensive? Not in Massachusetts! If you lease or purchase an electric vehicle, you can take advantage of a rebate of up to $2,500 through the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) Program. There is also a federal tax incentive of $7,500 toward the purchase of an electric vehicle. This credit stays with the owner of the vehicle, so if you purchase the vehicle, you can file for this rebate. If you are leasing the vehicle, the incentive is filed by the leasing company and contributes to a lower monthly payment for you with no additional action needed at time of lease.
In addition to incentives that reduce upfront costs, electric vehicles are less expensive to operate and maintain than gasoline-powered vehicles. Fueling your cars on electricity is significantly less expensive than gasoline. The Department of Energy estimate for the gasoline equivalent for EVs, based on Belmont Light electric rates, comes out to $1.30-$1.90 per gallon. Without an internal combustion engine and fewer moving parts, electric vehicles also offer lower maintenance costs than are required to maintain a gasoline-vehicle.
7. Are there deadlines for taking advantage of EV incentives? The MOR-EV rebate, which is $2500 for certain EVs, is the most time sensitive piece. Applications must be submitted within 90 days of acquiring the vehicle. Furthermore, MOR-EV funding is limited, so moving quickly is important.
8. How do I schedule a test drive? Belmont Drives Electric is working with several auto dealerships to offer pick-up-at-home test drives. You can schedule a test drive to pick up at a time that works for you!
9. I hate haggling when I buy a car. Will I have to go through that again for an EV? No, you do not have to go through that process! You have access to pre-negotiated deals from the participating dealerships. These are competitive, transparent, and nearly all fees are included. If you are interested in additional features or upgrades on the vehicle, you should feel invited to explore those options, but understand that the deals will likely change with additional features. These deals will likely change on a monthly basis, but we keep you updated of current deals. To stay abreast of changing offers, you can email us at Help@BelmontDrivesElectric.orgto be added to the program's mailing list.
10. Doesn’t leasing a car instead of buying it mean you’re throwing money away? Electric vehicles are the perfect vehicle to lease instead of purchase. First, the technology of these vehicles is evolving rapidly so by the time your three-year lease is up, you could likely get a vehicle with a longer range and improved features for the same price that you had been paying. You wouldn't want to pay the same price for a cell phone from 3 years ago as a cell phone built today. Second, unlike buying a house that increases in value, a car depreciates in value almost immediately so you would never be able to sell it for a value close to what you paid.
11. Will my electric bill go through the roof with an electric vehicle? No. You can expect a small increase in electricity used, but that is outweighed by the savings you will see on overall fuel consumption. You can expect to pay the equivalent of $1.40-$1.65 per "gallon" of gas or about $.04—$.05 per mile driven. Plus, Belmont Light is offering a discount to further offset the increased electric consumption.
12. Will having more EVs in town make everyone’s electric bills go up? On the contrary, having more EVs in town is a win for everyone, including Belmont Light ratepayers. Charging EVs overnight will help Belmont Light even out their peak and daily inconsistencies in electricity use. This leveling out of electricity use will reduce additional fees incurred by Belmont Light in the purchase of electricity, and those savings are directly returned to the ratepayers. 13. What incentives are available from Belmont Light as part of Belmont Drives Electric? Belmont Light offers a rebate of $250 for the purchase of selected smart chargers. Customers who install these chargers will also be eligible for an annual rebate equal to 15% of the cost of the electricity that they use for charging vehicles in the overnight hours (10 P.M. to 9 A.M.).
14. Where will I charge my car? We recommend that you install alevel 2 smart charger at your home so you can fully charge your car overnight from empty. If you do not wish to install a level 2 charger, you can plug your vehicle into a 120-volt typical household outlet, which may be adequate for daily charging use. You may also find charging stations at your workplace or in town. Unless otherwise specified, those are for public use.
15. I don’t see many public charging stations around yet. Don’t I need to wait for those to be widely available before it makes sense to get an EV? EV drivers do the great majority of their charging either at their homes or their workplaces. Public charging stations can provide added convenience, but are not necessary to enjoy the benefits of EVs.
16. Will there be public chargers in Belmont? Part of this initiative is to work with the Town of Belmont and local businesses to build the existing infrastructure to support public charging of EVs. There will be a publicly accessible charger at Belmont Light at 40 Prince Street. While we work on this, however, the bulk of charging will take place at your home overnight or at your place of work. If you work in Belmont and would like to help your workplace install a level 2 charging station, please reach out to us for resources and support, Help@BelmontDrivesElectric.org.
17. Who pays for the charging? If you charge at home, the electricity usage is added to your electric bill. Workplace and public chargers usually offer free electricity paid for by the organization that installed them. You may encounter metered public charging stations where you can pay for the electricity as you would pay at a parking meter
18. How difficult/expensive is it to get a charger installed? Residents opting for a wall mounted Level 2 (240 v) charging station will, in almost every case, need the assistance of an electrician to install their system. A simple installation of 240 volt line from the electrical panel to the location of the charging station and connecting and mounting the hardware can cost as little as $300-$400. A more complex installation that includes trenching cable to a remote location, adding a sub panel or upgrading the home’s electrical service can cost between $1,500 to $2,500. The electrician cost for the most common wall mounted installation of a Level 2 ranges from $450 to $600
19. How long does it take to charge a vehicle? This depends on both the battery size and whether one is using Level 1 (120V) or Level 2 (240V) charging. See the specifications for individual vehicles for more details.
20. How far can I get on one full charge? It depends on the size of your car's battery. The all-electric vehicles (Chevy Bolt, BMW i3, Nissan LEAF, Volkswagen e-Golf, Mercedes B-series) have a range of 85-240 miles. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (Ford CMax Energi, Ford Fusion Energi, Chevy Volt, Prius Prime) have a smaller electric range, about 20-60 miles coupled with a gas tank for a full range of 400-600 miles.
21. How do electric vehicles perform? EVs have a high rate of acceleration. They can reach speeds of 80-90 miles per hour so are more than sufficient for highway driving.
22. Does an electric vehicle’s range diminish in cold weather? Yes, EV range does decrease somewhat due to cold weather. One way to mitigate the effect is to pre-heat the cabin by turning on the car's climate control remotely while the car is still plugged in. The Union of Concerned Scientists article makes the point that all cars are less efficient in cold weather, not just EVs. For an EV, it would be reasonable to expect a ~20% decrease in range due to cold weather. Still, as the UCS article points out, 1 out of 5 of new cars in Norway is an EV. If they can work there, they can work in Belmont!
DOES IT FIT MY CIRCUMSTANCES?
23. Sometimes I go on long trips (beyond the battery range). How would I do this? An important first step is to map out how far your trip is going to be. While sitting in traffic takes time, it does not draw much from the EV's range. You might be able to get farther than you think. Most all-electric vehicles promoted by this program (Tesla, BMW i3, Nissan LEAF, VW eGolf) have a DC fast-charge capability, meaning at designated DC Fast chargers, the cars can charge empty to 80% full in less than 30 minutes. You can identify the location of these chargers using an application on a smart phone and make a quick stop on your trip.
If you regularly travel extended distances, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle may be a good option for you. These vehicles have an electric battery that can be the main use for city driving, but are coupled with a gasoline tank for the longer trips. An example is the Chevrolet Volt or the Ford C-Max and Fusion offered in this program, but other plug-in EV’s are becoming widely available as the Toyota Prius Prime, BMW 330e, X5, Volvo XC90, Porsche Panamera, etc..
Some dealerships will offer special arrangements for their EV customers. For example, Herb Chambers BMW of Boston, participating dealer on the BMW i3, offers a free rental of a BMW gasoline vehicle for up to 14 days per year. Lastly, if you have access to a second gasoline vehicle, you can leave the EV at home for these trips and take the gasoline.
24. My friend who lives in another town is interested in this program. Can she participate? All residents of Massachusetts are eligible for the state MOR-EV program; however, the pre-negotiated deals and charging incentives are unique to Belmont residents.
gET IN TOUCH WITH A BELMONT DRIVES ELECTRIC COMMUNITY LIAISON WITH ANY QUESTIONS.