As of this writing, there are over 49,000 public charging stations in the US and Canada (source) with 44,000 Level 2 and 6000 DCFC stations (some locations have both). This does not include the uncountable private and publicly accessible AC electric outlets, any of which, an EV can be charged from.
These levels group the available charging power for the connection. Level 1 and 2 are AC (grid) connections with Level 1 generally being 120 volt and Level 2 being 208/240 volt. Level 3 refers to DC fast charging (DCFC) with voltage and current (i.e., power level) being specific to the car. The following diagram shows charging power and speeds for these levels.
The following diagram shows the main types of charging connectors. Both Level 1 connectors and the NEMA 14-50 connector (2nd Level 2 connector) are standard household US line power plugs. The other Level 2 connectors are the J1772 which is a universal connector that all EVs can use (Teslas come with the necessary adapter), and the Tesla connector.
Almost all EVs come with one of the three Level 3 connectors. The CHAdeMO connector is only used by the Nissan Leaf while the CCS connector is used by all other EV makes, and Nissan have announced a future SUV model that will use the CCS connector. Newer Teslas in Europe use the European CCS connector, and Tesla have announced that they will open up the Tesla Supercharger network to other EVs via an adapter, so universal compatibility seems the likely future state.
All EV manufacturers provide a cord/connector (called EVSE) that plugs into a standard wall outlet (120 V) on one end and into the car on the other end. Typically, the wall plug end is around 12″ long and the car end is 15-25 feet long. This allows the car to be charged from any standard outlet. Many of these can use optional “pigtail” adapters to connect to a wide variety of wall outlets (120 or 240 volt and up to 50 amps) which allows use of air conditioner, electric dryer, electric range, welder, and other outlet types.
For starters, “electric engine” is not in common use. Instead, the phrase “electric motor” is used. Technically, “engine” and “motor” are interchangeable terms, but the common convention of using motor for electric helps distinguish the two.
OK, on to the physical differences. For starters, an electric motor typically consists of just 2 parts; the stationary stator and the rotating rotor. In contrast, a gasoline engine consists of hundreds of moving parts. Most modern EV motors are of either the AC induction or permanent magnet switched reluctance type.
Being much smaller than a gasoline engine, electric motors are typically located between the wheels being driven. A simple gearbox and half-shafts directly connect the motor rotor to the wheels.
For rear wheel drive EVs, the motor is in the back. Most all-wheel drive vehicles have a motor at each “axle”, while a few (e.g., some Rivian models) have a motor on each wheel (two per axle).
Both battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are able to add range from an electric source and drive on electric only. The difference is that PHEVs have both a gasoline-powered engine and a battery powered motor, while BEVs lack the gasoline motor.
PHEVs appeal to the risk-averse idea of having a redundant powertrain. But there are several downsides:
- Maintenance of two powertrains (BEVs have almost no powertrain maintenance)
- Greater complexity – more things to go wrong
- Continued dependence on gasoline – we’ve passed peak gasoline and the supply chain will start contracting, meaning greater costs and eventually shortages and disruptions
EV models sold in the United States get efficiency and range ratings from the EPA, much like ICE vehicles. There are currently around 35 EVs for sale in Minnesota with EPA rated ranges from 114 to 520 miles with a median of 260 miles. Temperature and speed affect the efficiency of all cars, but since EVs use most of their available energy, they are effected more.
In particular, current lithium ion battery chemistries can lose up to 50% of stored energy (temporarily) in below-zero temperatures. This can be mitigated if the car is plugged in by preconditioning (warming) the battery using the car’s software (and app). It is also mitigated by starting with a full battery every day if the car can be plugged in overnight.
An unfortunate issue in the US EV market is that drivers believe they need much more range than they actually do. The paradigm of driving 150 – 200 miles before refueling just doesn’t apply to EVs which can be charged at home and in so many other places. (See Charging FAQs). In reality, the average US driver drives less than 40 miles per day (14,600 miles / year) and 95% of all trips are less than 30 miles (see graphic below). This represents a large waste of battery capacity which could go toward making more electric vehicles.
Current EV models are capable of sustained charge rates in excess of 100kW and can add 120 miles in around 20 minutes. Since there is already a nationwide network of DC fast chargers spaced at 100-150 miles across most of the country (everywhere in the case of Tesla), this allows a rhythm of about 2 hours of driving and 20 minutes charging. Although you can drive more and fuel in less time with an ICE vehicle, arguably, the EV trip rhythm is safer and more comfortable, enabling enough rest time to more effectively avoid fatigue, and continue driving.
So, the answer depends on how long a driver is willing and able to spend behind the wheel, but if comfort is any consideration, then EVs impose almost no penalty vs. ICE vehicles.
Unlike an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, AAA can’t roll a wrecker with 2 gallons of gasoline. One company, SparkCharge, is providing portable batteries and services in select markets. Look for this to be a rapidly developing area. And, this situation is even easier to avoid in an EV than in an ICEV. All EVs provide detailed information on projected range and some provide in-car routing to near-by chargers. Ultimately, EV range can always be extended by reducing speed, just like in an ICEV.
Short answer: Yes. There are several EVs available now that can tow a small trailer or boat. And there are several trucks available with higher towing ratings and more to come.
The effect of towing on range is primarily determined by the aerodynamics of the trailer. Weight is a much smaller factor, unless the trip is mainly up and down hills, but aero still has the greatest effect. A good rule of thumb is a 50% reduction in maximum range for a trailer in the upper range of the vehicle’s tow rating, and that includes keeping speeds to 60 MPH or below.
This is definitely a case where YMMV (your mileage may vary) as each combination of tow vehicle and trailer produces a unique aerodynamic footprint. More trailers are being designed to be aerodynamic and it definitely pays to favor those when planning to tow with an EV.