Electric vehicles (EVs) support Minnesota’s transition away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner renewable sources of energy. Electric vehicles mean lower emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, and lower cost of vehicle ownership. They can also support increased renewable energy and the modernization of our electric power grid. Electric vehicles are fun to drive and the technology is here today.
Greenhouse gas reductions
Electric vehicles support the transition to renewable energy. Even when charged with electricity from the grid, electric vehicles produce only a third of the greenhouse gas emissions that a gas vehicle would, due in large part to their high energy-efficiency. Minnesota has been transitioning away from coal-powered energy production for decades. The Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 was the major turning point, putting into law a renewable energy standard and setting goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% below 2005 levels by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050. Minnesota utilities are using more and more renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Electric vehicles allow Minnesotans to use this cleaner energy to fuel their vehicles.
Since electric vehicles are typically charged overnight, owners can work with their utility company to take advantage of time of use rates that charge consumers less for electricity when demand for energy is lower. Electric vehicles have the potential to help balance the demand for energy with the time of day when the cleanest energy is being produced. Plus, many EV drivers sign up for community solar or other renewable energy programs, and others even install solar at their homes.
Annual well-to-wheel car emissions by fuel type (12,000 miles compact/midsize car)
Less harmful air pollution
All-electric vehicles do not emit air pollution from their tailpipes (they don't even have tailpipes). Replacing a gas or diesel car with an electric car helps improve local air quality, especially in neighborhoods near busy roadways. Much like with greenhouse gases, even when charged on the grid, EVs emit fewer pollutants than traditional vehicles. And when you charge your EV with electricity from renewable wind or solar sources, there are zero emissions both when the car is operating and during power generation.
Cost effective and fun to drive
EVs are also more economical to operate than standard vehicles. EVs are four times more efficient than a gas-powered cars, which means they require less energy to go the same distance. In addition, many utilities offer time of day charging rates, to encourage charging when power generation is cheapest. Together, the efficiency of the vehicle and the lower cost of electric power compared with gasoline means that EVs are cheaper to fuel than their gas equivalents.
Electric vehicles have much fewer moving parts than conventional vehicles; as a result, the cost to repair and maintain them is much cheaper. EVs additionally do not require oil or transmission fluid changes. EV drivers report them as being quiet and that their quick acceleration makes them fun to drive.
Electric vehicles come in many different models
Electric vehicles are growing in popularity. Fully electric cars have only a battery to store an electric charge and plug-in hybrid electric cars that have both a battery and a gasoline engine. Depending on the model, a full-electric car can travel 100 to 300 miles before the batteries need charging. Plug-in hybrid electric cars have a gas engine that kicks in once the batteries run out of power, typically after 15 to 50 miles of travel. The number of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids available in the Midwest keeps growing. The site Shift2Electric maintains lists of electric vehicle models.
How to fuel an electric vehicle
Fueling an electric vehicle is different from pumping gas. But it’s not hard!
Charge at home
Most of the time EV owners charge their vehicles at home. This is the cheapest and easiest way to charge. Some EV owners plug their cars directly into a standard (110v) electrical wall outlet, called Level 1 charging. For 100 miles of range, Level 1 charging can take 12 to 18 hours. Level 1 charging often does not allow EV owners to take advantage of EV time of use electricity rates, which lower the cost of electricity use when charging happens during low demand times of day, such as over night. Some EV owners choose to install a Level 2 charger in their home (240v), which reduces charging times to two to four hours and makes it easier to sign up for time of use utility programs. Contact your utility to ask about charging options and time of use electricity rates.
Charge at your destination
There are hundreds of places to charge your EV at businesses, parks, parking garages, schools, and more around the state. Level 2 chargers at these places allow EV drivers to charge up as they shop, work, or play. Some of these locations may offer charging for free as a perk for their visitors and some may charge for power.
Charge on the go
Fast charging between destinations allows EV drivers to travel longer distances and stop along the way to charge. Fast charging equipment and electricity costs are higher, so these costs are often passed on to drivers. Fast chargers can take under 30 minutes to provide 100 miles of range.
Widespread electric vehicle infrastructure in Minnesota
Minnesota received $47 million as part of a settlement with Volkswagen for violating vehicle emissions standards. Minnesota dedicated 15% (the maximum allowed by the settlement), of Phase I funds to help build out a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations. This will allow Minnesotans to travel around the state in electric vehicles, reducing the barriers to electric vehicle adoption. Find out more about how Minnesota is leveraging Volkswagen settlement funds.
- Plugshare — Locations of public charging stations including fast chargers
- Drive Electric Minnesota
- MN Electric Vehicle Owners (MNEVO) — Network with owners of EVs in Minnesota
- MNCharging.org — How your utility company can help
- Energy.gov — Yes, electric cars work in the winter: 4 Tips to improve battery range in freezing temperatures
Electric Vehicle Coordinator
Amanda Jarrett Smith
Clean Energy Policy Coordinator