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Everything to Know About Driving an Electric Vehicle in Orange County

Everything to Know About Driving an Electric Vehicle in Orange County

The most important questions that might cross your mind about driving an electric vehicle in the OC, answered.

Shahen Araboghlian


6 min read

September 26, 2022

Electric cars reduce your overall carbon footprint, thus improving air quality.

Shifting from a traditional car to an electric vehicle has major benefits for the environment. These benefits mainly have to do with improving the air quality in the cities we live in. Thanks to the absence of tailpipes on electric vehicles (EVs), pure (as opposed to hybrid) electric cars produce very little carbon dioxide emissions while driving, reducing air pollution considerably.

To say that these green vehicles come with zero environmental faults would be an exaggeration as well. Considering that EVs rely on lithium-ion batteries, carbon dioxide emissions during the manufacturing process tend to be higher than that of traditional cars. But, those emissions make up at least a third of EVs' lifetime emissions, making it a far safer option (carbon dioxide emission-wise) than regular cars. Even when taking all the electricity generation needed to charge them into consideration, electric vehicles still remain a more environmentally-friendly option with 17 to 30 percent lower emissions over a lifetime.

What Are The Benefits of Buying An EV?

Pay a little extra for an electric car now and reap the benefits of it for a lifetime.

Besides being the more environment-friendly option and having a lower carbon footprint, EVs come with additional benefits you’re going to love. Once you buy your new car, you can receive a Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decal, issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) — that is, of course, if your car meets certain specified emission standards. The decal allows you to drive on the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane, even when it’s just you in the car. Yep, that’s right, you get unconditional access to the carpool lane!

In addition to the HOV lane privileges, according to the 2022 laws and regulations, electric vehicle owners can qualify for certain incentive programs. Federal tax credits can go up to $7,500 while California ones can go up to $750, encouraging buyers to make environmentally-friendly purchases by reducing their overall income tax. Of course, amounts vary depending on your county and city, and income limits also apply. Many of these incentives will change come 2023 in accordance with the Inflation Reduction Act. Starting next year, the federal tax credit will go up to $4,000 for used EVs and up to $7,000 for new EVs, but again, income limits will apply. Exempted from these laws are cars manufactured outside of North America and certain brands such as Hyundai and Kia will probably be disqualified from any tax credit next year. So, it’s wise to take the upcoming changes into consideration while planning on when to buy your electric vehicle.

There are still many incentives, besides the state and federal ones, and they differ from city to city, and county to county. For example, in Orange County the residents of Irvine can benefit from the South California Edison (SCE) Incentive, ‘Pre-Owned EV Rebate’, as well as the  South Coast AQMD Incentive, ‘Replace Your Ride’. Meanwhile, residents of Anaheim can benefit from the latter, but not the former. Accordingly, make sure you know all the benefits you’ll be reaping from your purchase, before making the big decision.

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Vehicle?

While some chargers are free to use, others require you to pay a small charge.

EVs might be more expensive to buy, but they will cost you much less in the long run. To put this into perspective, let’s discuss costs. The average Californian pays well over $200 on gas per month for everyday commutes. So how much cost will you cut with your EV? Now, unless you’re charging your car at one of the free EV charging stations in Orange County (which could charge relatively slower, but be beneficial when you’re not in a rush), you’re probably going to charge at home, overnight. The average California driver travels approximately 1,000 miles a month and, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), pays 28.98 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). So, to drive all 1,000 miles, you’ll be using around 250 kWh across the month. The math says that’ll be an extra $72 on your utility bills every month, a considerably low amount compared to gas expenses.

Where To Charge Your EV in Orange County?

You’ll never run out of charge in Orage County. EV charging stations are at every corner and you can benefit from them while you shop.

The range of your EV can start at 150 miles and go all the way up to beyond 500 - similar to a gas tank that may have 350 miles of range. This means that you can easily drive from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, or from Los Angeles to San Diego and back. However, it’s essential to consider how far you are about to drive because charging an EV is more time-consuming than stopping for 5 minutes to pump gas. But if you plan your eco-friendly road trip ahead of time and map out charging stations according to shopping centers, landmarks, and restaurants for a quick bite, you won’t even notice a difference.

Now, accidents can happen. Maybe you couldn’t charge enough, or your road trip took you to places you hadn’t pre-planned. Who can blame you? This is the Golden State after all, and it is full of unique places to visit. In such cases, when you run out of battery, do not fret, especially not in the O.C., where you’re never far from an electric vehicle charging station. These electric vehicle charging stations in California can be found near shopping centers, gas stations, parking lots, and all around the county in general. Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Heritage Plaza in Irvine, and Orange City Hall in Orange are but a few of the options you have. There are even free EV charging stations in Orange County, but as mentioned earlier, they are usually a bit slower than the rest.

How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Vehicle?

Having your own level 2 charger at home saves you a lot of time and money in the long run.

The amount of time you need to charge your car depends on the type of charger you have. Level 1 chargers, which typically come with the car, take between 12 to 20 hours to fully charge from empty. Meanwhile, level 2 chargers take anywhere from three to eight hours to charge your car fully.

While you can find level 2 chargers at most California electric car charging stations, you can also install them at home for anywhere between $700 and $2,000 (given that your home already has a 240-volt circuit available). The benefit of having level 2 chargers at home is that you won’t even need any of the California charging stations anymore, because your EV will be fully charged before you leave home every morning. If the process of installing one at your own place or the excess of options available is giving you a headache, we at A-EV Installs offer free quotes via text and call and are more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

How Long Do Electric Vehicle Batteries Last?

We make it to the final and most important question that anyone about to invest in an EV asks and should ask. How long will your EV battery last? After all, batteries for an electric vehicle can range from $5,000 to $15,000. On average, your new car’s battery will last between 15 and 20 years, which is a pretty substantial amount of time. In addition to that, many manufacturers offer lifetime coverage, at least on certain models(Hyundai Kona Electric is a great example of this). Make sure to look into many brands, check the warranties, evaluate your options, and make the decision that’s the best fit for you.

Disclaimer: is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article. 

Investing in an electric vehicle, as exciting and applauded as may be, comes with a long list of questions and uncertainties on the consumer's side. Understandably so, because despite the increase in electric vehicle sales across California, information about what follows the purchase is all over the place. Questions regarding incentives, post-purchase costs, and the when and how of charging eco-friendly cars need to be addressed in order to make the decision-making process more simple and clear.

To those of us residing in the Golden State, the decision is much easier to make as we live in a state doing its best to go green - and we all want to be a part of the process. Going green is particularly easy for residents of Orange County, as electric vehicle charging stations are abundant within its cities, making life on the road a lot easier. Hence, we decided to tackle the most important questions that might cross your mind before spending big on a new car. 

Are Electric Vehicles Better For The Environment?

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