How to choose an electric bicycle.

Electric Vehicles

Pedal easy: How to choose an electric bicycle that works for you.

Thinking about upping your bike game? We’re ready to play … and help you choose an electric bicycle that fits your cycling style. 

First, a few words about the e-bike classifications. Most bicycle manufacturers and state and local entities have adopted a three-class system for categorizing electric bicycles.

Class 1Class 2Class 3
Pedal AssistYesYesYes
ThrottleNoYesNo
Max Assisted Speed20 mph20 mph28 mph

Class 1: Pedal-assist only. A motor provides assistance only when you’re pedaling. Motorized assistance cuts off when you reach 20 mph.

Class 2: Pedal assist + throttle. Pedal-assist up to 20 mph and a throttle-powered mode that does not require pedaling.

Class 3: Pedal assist only. Motorized assistance cuts off at 28 mph. Check local regulations regarding bike path and multi-use trail navigation.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and start whirling your way to work (or spinning to school), here’s what you need to know to choose an electric bicycle that’ll get the job done. 

How to choose an electric bicycle that fits your pedaling style and experience.

How you ride, where you ride and what you hope to do with your e-bike all factor into which e-bike is best for you. 

Class 1

Class 1 e-bikes are easy to use and feel a lot like riding a conventional bicycle. These bikes are great for newbie electric cyclists looking to get from point A to point B quicker and with a little less pedaling. 

They also tend to be the most widely accepted e-bike from a regulatory standpoint. Because they top out at 20 mph and don’t feature a throttle, they’re generally permitted on bike paths, greenways and bike lanes.

Class 2

In addition to pedal assist, Class 2 e-bikes are also throttle-powered. Throttle assistance can come in handy on off-road trails or in hilly or mountainous regions. These bikes feel a bit like riding a moped and may be best for experienced e-bike riders because they tend to be faster and more powerful than Class 1 bikes. 

Like Class 1 bicycles, Class 2 e-bikes top out at 20 mph; however, local municipalities may restrict their use on public, mixed-use paths.

Class 3

Feel the need for speed? Class 3 e-bikes provide the experienced rider with pedal assistance up to 28 mph. These faster and more powerful bikes are quite popular amongst the adventure-riding set, commuters who like to keep up with traffic, or errand runners carrying heavier loads. 

Again, we recommend that you check your local regulations about where Class 3 bikes can be ridden: If you live in Tennessee or Alabama, for example, you should know that Class 3 bikes are prohibited on bicycle paths or greenway trails.

SOURCES: REI.com, Consumer Reports, Greenways for Nashville, Casetext.com

Choose an electric bicycle that suits your style

Just as you would when purchasing a conventional bike, you’ll want to start your search by narrowing the field. So how do you choose an electric bicycle that suits your style? It’s easy! And we’ll help you find a bike you like.

Electric mountain bike 

Mountain bikes are extremely versatile. They excel off-road and on-trails, but they ride great on the road, too. Mountain bikes tend to have wider tires for added stability and a more relaxed geometry and sophisticated suspension for greater comfort. They are, however, heavier than road bikes and slower on paved surfaces than road or hybrid bikes.

Electric cruiser bikes

What’s a cruiser bike? Conjure up a picture of Almira Gulch (AKA the Wicked Witch of the West) pedaling away with poor Toto and you’ll be on the right path. Also known as beach cruisers, these e-bikes are made for recreational riding and comfortable cycling. Or, if you’re a nasty witch, dognapping. 

Electric fat bikes

Like cruiser bikes, fat bikes are made for fun and comfort. However, thanks to their fat 4-inch plus tires, they ride well in loose soil, sand or even snow. These big boys come in a range of styles from foldable to full-on cruiser.

Electric road bikes

We’re going to commit cycling blasphemy here, but for the sake of simplicity, we’re including hybrid bikes, road bikes and racing bikes in this category. Typically road bikes have a body-forward, lean-in geometry, narrower saddles and no suspension. These bikes are easy to maneuver, are lighter than mountain bikes or cruisers, and can be easily ridden without any e-assist at all. Perfect for folks who just want a little help on the hills.

Electric cargo bikes

The minivan of the e-bike world, these bikes are great for hauling groceries, kids and pets. Electric cargo bikes may not be able to go as fast as other types of e-bikes, but if you want to reduce your carbon footprint while hauling a lot of stuff, cargo e-bikes are the way to go. (And let’s be honest, they’re way cooler than a minivan.)

Electric folding bikes

Tight on space? These clever conveyances fit neatly in the trunk of your car, snuggle safely in the luggage compartment of a commuter train, or tuck tidily behind the door of your office. If space is at a premium, a folding e-bike may be just the ticket. However, we should note that folding bikes may not ride as smoothly as conventionally sized bicycles.

As you home in on the type of bike you’d like, you’ll want to start reading reviews from editorial-vetted teams like those from Bicycling magazine, Cycling Weekly and Tom’s Guide to get a better sense of cost and quality.

What’s your e-bike budget?

Generally speaking, Class 1 e-bikes are the most affordable, and you can find a very good electric bicycle for under $1,500. (Although a quick trip to Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace reveals deals to be had on all classes of e-bikes.) Class 2 and Class 3 bikes tend to be more expensive and high-end e-bikes can cost $6,000 or more.

When you factor in how much you can save on gasoline, rideshare fares and parking, an electric bike’s price tag becomes a lot less daunting. Before you take the plunge, check for federal, state, or local rebates or incentives on ebikes.

Where should you buy an electric bicycle?

Ready to ride! It’s time to choose an electric bicycle! You can buy one online, of course, but if you’re new to the e-bike world, consider making a trip to a local bike shop. Generally speaking, bike shop staff will be more than happy to answer all your questions and help you choose an electric bicycle that’s right for you. 

Plus, when you buy local, you’ll be able to take several models and styles of e-bikes for a test drive and find the one you like best. Once you’ve made your decision, they’ll even make sure that the bike is correctly fitted to you, making adjustments to the seat and handlebars as necessary. For the best service, look for a local shop that specializes in e-bikes or sells e-bikes exclusively.

Why should you buy an electric bicycle?

Piloting an e-bike can make riding over the region’s hills easier and help you get from point A to point B more quickly and efficiently. Electric bikes may be a good choice if you have knee injuries or struggle with respiratory problems or other health issues. (Be sure to speak with your doctor before pedaling off on your new e-bike, though!) 

Don’t forget the gear!

E-bikes are fun, fast and fabulous but because they’re faster, they can be riskier to ride than a conventional bicycle. That’s why adding high-quality protective equipment to your shopping cart is essential.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A helmet that fits snugly over your noggin is a no-brainer. It shouldn’t slip from side to side or tilt forward or backwards as you’re moving. For extra safety, look for a reflective helmet for top-to-bottom nighttime visibility.
  • Stand out with brightly colored, reflective clothing; long sleeves and long pants are highly recommended.
  • For a stronger grip on the handlebars, consider a pair of cycling gloves. They may also help protect your paws in the event of a fall. While you’re at it, toss in some elbow and knee pads.
  • Extra lights and reflectors. Some e-bikes may come equipped with lights and reflectors but the more the merrier!
  • Don’t forget the bells, flags, and whistles. Safety flags seem very 1983, but they increase visibility. Horns and bells can help alert those around you to your approach. 

Riding an e-bike is a great way to save on gasoline, get your daily dose of activity in and give the environment a break by keeping your car parked. Just make sure you follow the rules of the road and ride safely out there! We hope our “How to choose an electric bicycle” guide helps get you rolling in the right direction.


About our EV blogs: We know that big changes – like purchasing a vehicle that runs on electricity instead of gasoline – can lead to big questions. And that’s why we’re doing our best to provide expert, unbiased answers to your pressing EV questions. Each of our posts will include links to trusted external sources like automotive magazines, thought leaders, research-backed studies, government agencies and more. Feel free to click around!

DISCLAIMER: No TVA endorsement of any specific vehicle, car manufacturer, electric charger or other equipment is intended or implied. This site’s content (including, without limitation, references and links to third-party information) is based on information provided at the time of publishing, and TVA makes no warranty therein.

Charging your EV at home: Fueling where you live.

Electric Vehicles

What you need to know about charging your EV at home.

EV drivers in the Tennessee Valley region have plenty of good things to say about their vehicles and aren’t shy about sharing their top tips and tricks for EV ownership. Those who like to get from point A to point B quickly are thrilled by instant torque. Others are delighted by the fact that their cars produce zero tailpipe emissions. Some appreciate the lower overall cost of ownership and eliminating costly trips to the gas station.

Advice from EV experts for charging your EV at home

Nearly everyone we spoke to had good things to say about the convenience of charging their EVs at home. Plus, the cost of our region’s clean, reliable electricity remains lower than 70% of the nation’s top 100 utilities. When you use TVA’s nearly 60% carbon-free and locally produced electricity to fuel your car, truck, motorcycle or bicycle, filling up makes good financial sense and it’s good for the local economy.

Filling up is as easy as plugging in.

The verdict is in: Charging your electricity-fueled vehicle at home is convenient and economical. Now let’s get plugged into the ins and outs of charging your EV at home. 

Charging your EV at home is one of the biggest perks to electric vehicle ownership, but first-time owners usually have plenty of excellent questions about home charging. Read on for answers, links to trusted websites and other resources to make sure you have what you need to successfully – and safely – get on with the business of charging your EV at home. 

Make a plan for charging your EV at home before you bring it home.

If you’re ready to pull the plug and purchase an EV, consider starting the charger installation process before you bring your new baby home. The installation process may take up to eight weeks, depending on contractor, installation complexity and equipment availability.

What’s the best Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) for me?

Most new electric vehicles arrive at your doorstep with a Level 1 charger. (Can’t find it? Check the car’s trunk!) Also known as trickle-chargers, these slow-charging 120-volt devices are highly portable and great to use in a pinch or while traveling to destinations that aren’t equipped with a Level 2 charger or DC fast charger. Simply plug it into a standard wall outlet and let the juice trickle into your EV’s battery.

What do our owner friends recommend? If you routinely drive more than 30 miles a day, having a Level 2 (240-volt) home charging station – also known as an EVSE – professionally installed is recommended. (Check out Charging 101 for EV charging tips!) Level 2 charging adds about 20 to 30 miles or more of driving range per hour. 

With a Level 2 charger, you can plug in your nearly depleted EV when you get home from work and take your first sip of morning coffee with the satisfaction of knowing that your battery is topped up and ready to whisk you away. 

Plus, with the region’s low electricity rates, home charging is a great way to save on fuel costs.

To find the home charging station that’s right for you, visit the TVA EnergyRight Marketplace and search for EV chargers by Enervee Score®, brand, cost, customer reviews, features and more. Don’t worry! We’ll break it down for you so you can shop with confidence. 

Enervee Score® 

This score shows you how energy efficient a product is compared to all the other products in the category. The closer to 100, the more efficient the charger. (That is: chargers with a rating close to 100 use less energy to fill up your battery.)  For EV chargers, the score is based on a combination of smart charging features and savings from electrical losses.

Home EV charging station make and model

With so many options available, it can be tough to figure out which home charger is the best. And what’s best for you and your EV may not be the best option for your neighbor. To find the right home EV charging station, we recommend reading customer reviews on the Marketplace and checking out independent reviews from trusted sources like MotorTrend, Wirecutter or Consumer Reports.

Whatever model you choose, just be sure it has a safety testing certification sticker from UL Solutions

Cost

Although you can sort chargers by price, we don’t recommend this method – as tempting as it is! Purchasing a new car is a long-term investment and your choice of charging equipment should be, too. You should be able to choose a high-quality charger within a $500-700 range. To maximize your enjoyment, select a charger that’s efficient and well-reviewed, has the features you need and is built to fit your charging location.

NEMA electrical enclosure rating and ingress protection

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) defines the standards used for electrical enclosures. NEMA-rated enclosures help protect against accidental access to dangerous components and environmental hazards like water or dust. The ratings help define the types of environments (indoors or outdoors) in which an enclosure can be used.

Ingress protection (IP) ratings are defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and certify that an object is able to withstand a certain and specific amount of exposure to solids (like dust) and liquids (like rain). The higher the IP rating, the better protection it offers against the elements. In other words, look for an IP rating of 5 or 6 if you’re installing your charger outside.

When professionally installed and used according to manufacturer’s directions, yes, EVs are designed to charge safely in rain, snow or ice. Just be careful out there on those slippery roads!

Popular EV charging features

Not only is a Level 2 charger the fastest way to charge your EV at home, but these chargers usually come with more handy features than your standard Level 1 charger. Keep these charger features in mind as you shop:

  • Wi-Fi connectivity: This gives you the ability to monitor charging remotely and receive alerts delivered to an app on your phone.
  • Amp output (max power) capability: Depending on your vehicle, you may benefit from higher (or lower) output capabilities. (For more about EV batteries and why kilowatts, amps and battery capacity matters, check out our Battery Basics post.)
  • Managed charging: Make sure your vehicle is powered when needed, while supporting a more reliable and resilient grid.
  • Cord length: Do you need a charging cord that’s long enough to span a two-car garage?
  • Cord management: This one’s for you, neat freaks. Some folks don’t mind messy cords. Others can’t stand an undressed cable. If you don’t know what “cable dressing” is, don’t worry too much about cord management. If you’re nodding your head in reverent appreciation here, look for a charger with a built-in cord management system.
  • Smart assistant integration: Some chargers connect with digital assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.
  • Installation: Level 2 chargers may have multiple installation options like 14-50 plugs (like your dryer outlet plugs) or 6-50 plugs. Chargers can also be directly hardwired from the electrical box.

How can I find a trustworthy electrician to install a residential EV charger?

For peace of mind, you’ll want to find a certified electrician you can count on. Some electricians are certified by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) and you can search the organization’s website to find a technician. EVSE companies like EvoCharge or ChargePoint may also be able to point you in the right direction. If they’re not certified by EVITP or a charger manufacturer, you may also want to consider asking potential contractors how many EV chargers they’ve installed to get a better sense of their level of expertise. And don’t forget to ask for references!

How much does it cost to install a home EV charger?

Charger costs can vary widely. At the time we wrote this article, chargers listed on the Marketplace ranged from $199 to $699, with an average price of $470. 

According to Qmerit, an EV charging installer recommended by dozens of EV manufacturers, a typical home installation can cost anywhere from $800-$2,000, depending on job complexity, charger power and the distance between the electrical panel and the charging station. 

How much does it cost to charge an EV at home?

Home electricity rates in our region are among the lowest in the country, which means that EV owners in the Valley save $20+ per refueling! 

Use this formula to estimate how much fueling up with electricity will cost you:

* Find miles per kWh for common EV makes and models here.

**Example: Middle Tennessee Electric residential time-of-use (off-peak consumption plus fuel cost adjustment) rate as of 9/7/23.

SOURCE: The Washington Post

Can I use an extension cord to charge my EV at home?

We do not recommend using an extension cord because the additional cord length adds resistance and can overheat home wiring.

How many kilowatts do I need?

MotorTrend recommends 9.6 kilowatts (40 amps), noting that it will add about 29 miles per hour of charging for mid-size crossover SUVs. The more kilowatts (or amps) your charger can deliver, the faster your EV battery can charge.

However, the car itself will determine the final charging speed, no matter which charger you buy. In some instances, higher power chargers won’t necessarily charge your EV more quickly. Check out the table below to get a sense of how quickly charger amperage and power output impact charging times. But remember: Don’t buy a charger that exceeds your car’s capabilities.

Power of the plug.

Although using a NEMA 14-50 outlet (like your dryer outlet) allows you to take your charger with you if you move, most installation pros recommend hardwiring your home charger. However, if you take the plug-in installation path, use a commercial-grade plug designed for charging. Inexpensive residential outlets are not intended for 8-12 hours of EV charging and may overheat.

Can my home handle an EV charger?

If you’ve made it this far, but you’re thinking: “There’s no way my old home can support an EV charger.” 

Don’t worry, you may have options! Consult with a certified electrician who can take a look at your electrical panel and service. In some instances, they’ll easily identify spare electrical capacity (amperage) and breaker space. If that’s not the case, they’ll likely have a few recommendations that’ll work for you. Some possibilities may include:

  • Exploring smart energy devices that can share power between existing appliances, like your clothing dryer and your EV. (Encourage your electrician to check with local codes officials when they pull a permit for your EV charger installation.)
  • Choosing a lower power (lower amperage) charger.
  • Upgrading your wiring and electrical panel to accommodate a higher power (higher amperage) charger.

Go forth and start charging your EV at home!

That’s a wrap, friends. We hope we’ve covered all the basics of EV home charging and then some! 

About the author: The TVA EnergyRight EV Team works diligently to make sure the people of the Tennessee Valley region have fact-based information about electric vehicles so they can decide how EVs fit into their lives. TVA is collaborating with state agencies, local power companies and other partners to pave the way for EV adoption in the region. This includes developing the Fast Charge Network, which will place public fast chargers at least every 50 miles along the interstates and major highways across TVA’s seven-state service area by 2026.

About our EV blogs: We know that big changes – like purchasing a vehicle that runs on electricity instead of gasoline – can lead to big questions. And that’s why we’re doing our best to provide expert, unbiased answers to your pressing EV questions. Each of our posts will include links to trusted external sources like automotive magazines, thought leaders, research-backed studies, government agencies and more. Feel free to click around!

DISCLAIMER: No TVA endorsement of any specific vehicle, car manufacturer, electric charger or other equipment is intended or implied. This site’s content (including, without limitation, references and links to third-party information) is based on information provided at the time of publishing, and TVA makes no warranty therein.

Pros and cons of electric vehicles: You asked, and we did the research.

Electric Vehicles

When the TVA EnergyRight Team began brainstorming ideas for our Driving EVolution blog series, we knew that creating fun, well-balanced articles citing reliable sources would be the key to developing content that friends and neighbors like you could trust. 

We began our journey by paving the foundation. We covered fundamentals by producing a glossary of EV terms and a guide to battery basics. We also published articles answering 10 common questions about EVs, shared the top EV tips from the region’s owners, explored the world of home charging, and more. 

Now we’re ready to tackle the pros and cons of electric vehicles. Buckle up, we’re in for a ride!

Pros and cons of electric vehicles: What to know before you take the EV leap.

If you’re in the market for a new (or used) car, the odds are pretty good that you’re at least thinking about getting an EV. Or maybe even just thinking about thinking about getting an EV. J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration Study discovered that 26% of buyers are “very likely” to consider purchasing an EV and a whopping 61% of car shoppers say they’re “overall likely” to consider purchasing an EV.  

For this article, we’re focusing on battery-only EVs, also known as BEVs. For a closer look at the pros and cons of BEVs versus plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or hybrids, read “Types of  EVs and the EV alphabet: What’s a PHEV, HEV and FCEV?” 

Advantages of electric vehicles. 

Convenience of home charging.

When the “pros and cons of electric vehicles” discussion is on the table, there’s usually a lot of talk about the public charging infrastructure. While it’s a very valid discussion, it detracts from the fact that most charging – and the most cost-effective charging – happens at home. Another recent J.D. Power report, “Level Up: Electric Vehicle Owners with Permanently Installed Level 2 Chargers Reap Benefits from Their Investment,” noted that 88% of EV owners say they charge their vehicle at home “often” or “always.”

Plus, once you have your Level 2 charging station professionally installed, home charging is as safe and as easy as plugging your cellphone in for the night. In a nutshell: Not only is charging your EV at home convenient, but it will also save you the most money. The Washington Post summed it up nicely in August: “In all 50 states, it’s cheaper for the everyday American to fill up with electrons [than gasoline].”

Much lower overall emissions.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that the comparative life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of a mid-sized BEV are significantly lower than those of a similarly sized internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, even accounting for battery assembly and the minerals contained in an EV’s batteries. 

The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s fun Fact of the Week #1208 declared that the “Life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions for a 2020 small electric SUV were half those of a conventional gasoline small SUV.” And, yes, that’s a cradle-to-grave, well-to-wheels, battery-to-bumper fact. 

Confirming the IEA’s findings, the International Council on Clean Transportation’s most recent life-cycle assessment also shows that battery-only EVs (BEVs) and fuel cell EVs (FCEVs) have the potential to be very low greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters. 

The report notes, “The emissions from manufacturing batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines are small when compared to the GHG savings from the greater efficiency and cleaner energy supply of EVs compared to conventional vehicles.”

EVs are FUN to drive.

With instant torque (that’s car nerd talk for that feeling you get when you hammer the GO! pedal and your head hits the headrest while your cheeks try to hide behind your ears), they’re just fun to drive. 

There are more than 20 EVs that can blast a 0-60 mph time of 3.0 seconds or less. We’d like to take credit for this sentence, but all credit goes to MotorTrend: EVs in the under-3.0-second club “don’t feel as if they’re accelerating down the road so much as they’re dropping you off a horizontal cliff.”

For some of us, that’s a good thing. 

(CAUTION: We’d be remiss if we didn’t state clearly, and for the record, the importance of following speed limits and local traffic laws. Have fun, but obey speed limits, use your turn signals, leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you, and just drive safely out there, y’all.)

They’re good for the seven-state Tennessee Valley region.

EVs use locally produced energy.

One of the reasons TVA EnergyRight is working to increase awareness and understanding of EVs throughout the region is that not only are EVs good for our air quality, but they can also help you save on fuel costs while keeping energy dollars in the area.

ICE-powered cars rely on fossil fuel imported from outside of our region or from foreign countries. EVs are fueled primarily by electricity produced in our region and supplied through local power companies, supporting local jobs and investments. Plus, TVA’s energy is nearly 60% carbon-free and TVA has aspirations to be net carbon free by 2050.

“We are pleased to have attracted so many players in the EV business,” said John Bradley, senior vice president of TVA’s Economic Development, last year, after TVA received a Top Utility award. “We are now considered a national hub for electrical vehicle production, which is highly beneficial to consumers, and that points to a prosperous future for the Tennessee Valley.”

Lower overall cost of car ownership.

A Consumer Reports analysis from 2022 found that EV owners can lower their operation and maintenance costs by $1,800 to $2,600 per 15,000 miles driven, compared to ICE owners.

Lower fueling costs.

Fueling with electricity remains less expensive than gasoline and the price fluctuations for electricity are far less volatile. Even with TVA’s October 2023 rate adjustment, those of us who live and work in the region enjoy electric rates that are lower than rates in 70% of the nation’s top 100 utilities.

Happily, TVA’s low and stable energy rates are great for EV owners throughout the seven-state service territory. 

Use this formula to estimate how much fueling with electricity will cost you:

* Find miles per kWh for common EV makes and models here. Note: mi/kWh – 1 ÷ (kWh/mi) 

**Example BrightRidge residential rate as of 12/30/23.

Possible tax incentives

Saying “see ya” to the gas station is only one way EVs save drivers money. Some new EVs qualify for a hefty federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 and used EVs may qualify for incentives up to $4,000. Use our Compare EVs tool to find out which vehicles qualify.

Lower scheduled maintenance costs.

Gas-burning engines experience a lot more wear and tear and require more maintenance than an EV. When you drive an EV, you’ll still have to take it in for a checkup but the to-do list will be a lot shorter. Although brakes last longer, thanks to regenerative braking, you’ll want to make sure that your car is fitted with tires made for the heavier curb weight of your electric vehicle.

It’s easier to budget transportation costs for an EV.

Because maintenance costs are significantly less and fuel costs are more consistent, month-to-month budgeting is a lot easier with an EV. 

Disadvantages of electric vehicles.

Although there are plenty of advantages to driving an EV, we recognize that there are a few drawbacks. With a little patience and planning, though, the advantages may outweigh the disadvantages for many drivers.

The public charging infrastructure is still being developed.

For now, this is true and remains a sticking point for many potential EV owners. 

“The biggest friction point for consideration is the availability of public chargers,” said Stewart Stropp, executive director of EV intelligence at J.D. Power. “While owners are impressed by what automakers are offering, they’re also thinking about how, when and where they’ll be able to charge their vehicles away from home. A resounding effort to build out and improve the public charging infrastructure will emphatically increase EV purchase consideration.”

The situation is changing rapidly on this front, however. In late July 2023, a group of major automakers announced that they were forming a new company to provide EV charging stations across the U.S. The coalition includes BMW, General Motors (GM), Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes Benz and Stellantis. This great charging infrastructure news comes on the heels of manufacturers like Ford, GM, Mercedes Benz, Rivian and Volvo/Polestar announcing they would adopt Tesla’s NACS plug.

TVA EnergyRight is doing its part to address range anxiety and improve the charging infrastructure throughout the region by collaborating with state agencies, local power companies and other partners to develop the Fast Charge Network, which will ensure public fast chargers are located at least every 50 miles along the interstates and major highways across TVA’s seven-state service area by 2026.

It takes longer to fuel an EV than to fill up a gas tank.

Charging your EV at home is the most convenient and affordable way to fuel your car. For long-distance road trips, however, driving an EV will require a little more planning than driving a gas-powered car. 

EV drivers we chatted with recommend planning charging stops around sightseeing, lunch and retail therapy. Several noted that they felt a sense of multitasking pleasure and actually preferred charging up over filling up and inhaling gasoline fumes. They also recommend using charging apps like ChargePoint, Chargeway, EVgo and PlugShare. You can find them here:

Higher initial cost.

We have some good news on this front! The cost of electric vehicles is coming down. Prices on used EVs are down 28% compared to last year and new EVs dropped approximately 15%. Although up-front costs are often higher, the gap between EVs and ICE cars is shrinking quickly. 

The cost of replacing an EV battery is steep.

The batteries that store the energy your EV runs on are technological marvels. And yes, they’re pricey marvels. Fortunately, federal law mandates that manufacturers offer at least eight years or 100,000 miles of EV battery warranty coverage. Some manufacturers offer a 10-year warranty.

For more info on batteries, check out Battery Basics.

Towing is tough.

Many EVs, like the Rivian, Ford Lightning and Audi eTron are powerful enough to easily accommodate towing. However, honesty is one of our guiding principles, so we’re going to give it to you straight: You can tow with many EVs, but towing to maximum capacity can more than halve an EV truck’s driving range. So plan your power-ups accordingly.

(Of course, towing also takes a significant toll on gas mileage!)

The pros and cons of electric vehicles … in a nutshell.

The automotive world is an exciting place to be right now. Every day brings new technological advancements, exciting models, batteries that charge faster, go farther and last longer, and more chargers and charging options. EVs have incredible potential, and they may be a great fit for plenty of drivers in the region. 

We hope you’ll continue exploring the pros and cons of EVs and maybe even schedule a test drive to see if an EV is right for you!

About the author: The TVA EnergyRight EV Team works diligently to make sure the people of the Tennessee Valley region have fact-based information about electric vehicles so they can decide how EVs fit into their lives. TVA is collaborating with state agencies, local power companies and other partners to pave the way for EV adoption in the region. This includes developing the Fast Charge Network, which will place public fast chargers at least every 50 miles along the interstates and major highways across TVA’s seven-state service area by 2026.

About our EV blogs: We know that big changes – like purchasing a vehicle that runs on electricity instead of gasoline – can lead to big questions. And that’s why we’re doing our best to provide expert, unbiased answers to your pressing EV questions. Each of our posts will include links to trusted external sources like automotive magazines, thought leaders, research-backed studies, government agencies and more. Feel free to click around!

DISCLAIMER: No TVA endorsement of any specific vehicle, car manufacturer, electric charger or other equipment is intended or implied.

Where can I test drive an electric car? (Hint: Try renting one for the holidays!) 

Electric Vehicles

Five fantastic ways you can get behind the wheel and test drive an electric car.

Are you wondering: “Where can I test drive an electric car and really get a feel for what it’s like to own an EV?”

You’re not alone. There are plenty of EV-interested car buyers just like you. That’s why we came up with a few creative suggestions for ways that you can go for great EV test drives.

1: Schedule an EV test drive with a dealer

Test drive an electric car with a salesperson in the passenger seat – it’s a great way to get a rundown of a car’s features, capabilities and technology. Whether you need a quick first impression or a final thumbs-up decision, a dealer test drive is a good way to go. 

You’ll want to test drive several different EV makes and models, so start by comparing vehicles online. You can use our Compare Vehicles or Find an EV tools to get started. 

Once you’ve created your list of possible EV contenders, consider calling a few different dealerships and asking for their go-to EV salespeople. If they can’t point you in the right direction, then call another dealership. Visiting a showroom with at least one salesperson who knows EVs will make for a much more productive test-driving experience.

Then, schedule your EV test drive. If you’re interested in more than one model, ask them to have both vehicles charged up.

If you’re new to the EV world and you want a clearer sense of what it’s like to drive one, a dealer-approved country-mile spin may not be enough. Let the salesperson know in advance that you’d like to take the car for an extended test drive. That way, you’ll get a feel for acceleration, performance, city driving, parking and highway handling.

If you’re clearly serious about buying the car, some dealers may even let you keep it overnight.

2: Rent an EV for a test drive.

Most major car rental companies – like Alamo, Budget and Hertz – offer EV rentals. Rent a car for a full day or an entire week and truly get a feel for what it’s like to own an EV. If you decide to rent for an extended period, you’ll want to have a plan for charging.

Most EV charging happens at home, so if you decide to buy an EV, most owners recommend having a Level 2 home charger installed. However, for an extended EV test drive, you have a couple of options that don’t involve installing a charger.

Level 1 home charging uses a regular outlet (like the one you plug your outdoor holiday lights or cordless drill chargers into) and will work well for a short-term test-drive. Level 1 “trickle charging” is the slowest way to charge an EV, but you’ll add about five miles per hour of charging. So if you plug in after work and unplug in the morning, you’ll have added about 65 miles of range. Just make sure the electric car you’re test driving comes with a Level 1 charging cord! This will give you a feel for how easy EVs are to charge; but don’t forget, a Level 2 charger will be about four times faster than a Level 1 charge.

On-the-go charging is probably the way to go. You’ll want to look for chargers near your home; shopping centers or local recreation areas are good options. You can visit our website to learn more about charging an EV or use our find a charger tool to get started.

You can also use public charging networks like ChargePoint, Chargeway, EVgo and PlugShare. Find the apps here:

Did you know that many automotive manufacturers have rental car programs, too? Audi, Nissan and Toyota, for example, all offer “try it before you buy it”-style rental programs. 

(Please note: This is not an exhaustive list of charging networks or car rental agencies and TVA does not endorse any particular charging company or car rental agency.)

3: Go for a ride-and-drive.

Visit the TVA EnergyRight website for an up-to-date listing of EV ride-and-drives and local events near you. Throughout the year, Plug In America organizes EV test drives and EV events all over the country. If you’re looking for a fun, free, communal block party-type test drive, an EV ride-and-drive is a great way to go.

4: Borrow an EV

Although there aren’t many carsharing services in our seven-state service region, potential EV owners can use services like Turo or Getaround to test drive an EV. If you’re thinking about purchasing a used EV, this could be a good way to see what a 2018 Tesla Model S or a 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E, for example, feels like. 

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to chat with the owner about their experience with the vehicle.

Use the filter options to select “Electric” or “Hybrid.” As with any “share” program – whether homeshare or carshare – there are risks involved with this approach and rental costs and car quality may vary.

5: Find a friend

In these days of social interconnectedness, you may be surprised to find out how many of your friends and acquaintances drive electric vehicles. It can’t hurt to ask around! 

Most early EV adopters are more than happy to share their enthusiasm and passion for electric cars with anyone who’ll listen. If they’re really good friends, they may even be willing to hand over the keys for a few days.

We hope we’ve rounded up a few good answers to your “Where can I test drive an electric car?” question. Maybe we’ll even see you at a ride-and-drive event soon.

About our EV blogs: We know that big changes – like purchasing a vehicle that runs on electricity instead of gasoline – can lead to big questions. And that’s why we’re doing our best to provide expert, unbiased answers to your pressing EV questions. Each of our posts will include links to trusted external sources like automotive magazines, thought leaders, research-backed studies, government agencies and more. Feel free to click around!

DISCLAIMER: No TVA endorsement of any specific vehicle, car manufacturer, electric charger or other equipment is intended or implied. This site’s content (including, without limitation, references and links to third-party information) is based on information provided at the time of publishing, and TVA makes no warranty therein.