EV Buying Guide

Electric Car Basics

What’s the difference between a hybrid and an electric car?

There are two types of electric cars, or plug in electrified vehicles (PEVs), Battery electrics (BEVs) which run on electricity only, and plug in hybrid electrics (PHEVs) which can first run on electricity from the battery for a shorter range (often the distance of a daily commute, or more), then seamlessly switch to a full tank of gasoline if the battery gets low.

HEV

HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLE

  • Does not have an external plug
  • Gains some of its driving power from a gasoline engine, and some from an electric motor and small battery pack.
  • Generates its energy through gasoline combustion. However, unlike non-hybrid vehicles, an HEV also recovers and extends some of this energy. How? By recharging the batteries through “regenerative braking”.

PHEV

PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLE

  • Gets its driving power exclusively from an electric motor. That energy is generated from a larger battery pack, that has been recharged from the grid or another external source.
  • Also uses “regenerative braking” to improve overall driving efficiency.

BEV

BATTERY ELECTRIC VEHICLE

“Regenerative braking” is when, as the car slows, energy flows back into the battery. This energy is reused, (or “regenerated”) instead of escaping as tires grind against the road. This extends the life of your brakes and tires, and results in better average MPG.

Image courtesy of Gary Kendall, PhD.

To BEV or To PHEV? That is the question.

PHEVs therefore will always have the range you need, and can be driven and fueled just like the car you drive now. Today’s BEVs have more range than 90% of commuters and others drive daily. Some models are available in either BEV or PHEV.

Most BEVs have a range of between 114 and 315 miles depending upon model. They must be recharged when the battery gets low, and can be done slowly (typically overnight at home while you sleep) or more quickly using a public fast charging station. But mostly, they are charged conveniently at home, overnight while you sleep.

Today’s PHEVs a have a battery range between 14 and 114 miles, and then typically a full tank of gasoline range, 300-500+ miles. When operating in hybrid mode, they also get better gas mileage than comparable gasoline only vehicles.

Compare Cars

Which electric car you’ll want depends on how many miles you typically drive per day, what types of long trips you plan to take in your vehicle, and how much passenger and cargo space you need. Answering these three personal questions before car shopping will also lead you to the electric models that best fit your lifestyle and needs. For an interactive online guide of models, visit our partner Plug in America’s PlugStar “Browse Electric Cars” tool.

Plugstar will help you explore your needs and find the best options for you, matching you to the right kind of electric car. Then you can select and compare cars. Once you have found the car(s) you are interested in, review our rebates and incentives section and attend an upcoming event.

Virtual Test Drive

Experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of an electric car from the driver’s point of view. Click on the image of one of these popular plug-in electric vehicles to get started.

TOYOTA PRIUS PRIME

Mid-Size 5-Door Liftback
$21,748-$27,648
(MSRP after incentives)
Quality & Reliability Rating:
81/100
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

TESLA MODEL 3

Compact 4-Door Fastback Sedan
$32,500-$56,990
(MSRP after Incentives)
Quality & Reliability Rating:
Not Yet Rated
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

NISSAN LEAF (GEN 2)

Compact 5-Door Hatchback
$21,600-$33,900
(MSRP Range after incentives)
Quality & Reliability Rating:
80/100
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

CHEVY BOLT
Subcompact 5-door Hatchback
$34,120-$39,295
(MSRP Range after incentives)
Partner Discount Price:
Purchase for $21,995*
or lease for $155 a month

Quality & Reliability Rating:
74/100
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

*Net consumer cost after $2,500 MA MOR-EV rebate.

HYUNDAI IONIQ

Compact 5-Door Liftback
$23,045- $28,615
(MSRP Range after incentives)
Quality & Reliability Rating:
78/100
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

KIA NIRO

Subcompact 5-Door Crossover
$28,500-$34,000
(MSRP after incentives)
Quality & Reliability Rating:
76
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

TESLA MODEL Y

Compact Crossover SUV
$52,990- $60,990
(MSRP after incentives)
Quality & Reliability Rating:
Not Yet Rated
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER

Compact Crossover SUV
$28,959-$34,359
(MSRP after incentives)
Quality & Reliability Rating:
76
Virtual Test Drive It!
Watch the full video review

Looking for more vehicle information or a different brand or model of EV? Check out the PlugStar Shopping Assistant to browse all available plug-in electric vehicles.

Quality & Reliability Ratings Provided by JD Power.

Rebates & Incentives

MOR-EV: GET UP TO $2,500 BACK!

Get $1,500 - $2,500 back through the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) Program.

  • For electric vehicles purchased on or after January 1, 2020, the State has reestablished the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) Program.
  • This program helps residents save money on the purchase or lease of a qualifying BEV or PHEV.
  • In order to be eligible, the purchase price must be under $50,000. Buyers of fully electric vehicles can claim a rebate of $2,500. For plug-in hybrids, the vehicle must have a minimum all electric range of 25 miles to qualify for a $1,500 rebate.
  • You can apply for the MOR-EV rebate as soon as you get your car, and rebates are typically issued within 75 days. Visit the MOR-EV website to learn more fill out your application.
GET UP TO $7,500 BACK ON TAXES

Reduce your net cost to buy or lease an electric vehicle by as much as an additional $7,500 with the federal EV tax credit.

  • A federal EV tax credit may reduce your net cost to buy or lease an electric vehicle by as much as an additional $7,500.
  • Note that the federal EV tax credit is calculated as part of your tax return filing for the year of purchase and therefore is received by you typically between Feb – April of the following year as part of any tax refund you would receive.
  • For leased vehicles, the credit is taken by the leasing company and a portion of it passed on to the consumer as a lease cost reduction.
  • As a non-refundable type of tax credit, like a home mortgage interest deduction, eligibility is based on your annual tax liability, and you can’t roll over the credit to subsequent years.
  • The total amount of the credit is also based on the battery size of the vehicle, so some plug-in hybrid electrics may only qualify for a partial credit amount.
  • ​The credit also phases out per manufacturer after 200,000 vehicles are sold, so it’s important to verify the brand you choose to buy is still eligible. Check on the status of the federal EV tax credit phase out by manufacturer.

​​For more information, refer to the official IRS website EV tax credit page. For definitive information on your federal electric car tax credit eligibility, consult with a qualified tax adviser.

​​Local group buy and dealer incentive programs. There are additional local incentives that can lower the monthly payment costs even further, sometimes to under $200 a month and with no money down. In some cases, combined incentives can mean up to $15,000 off MSRP!

For example, Energy New England has negotiated a $5,000 discount off a new Nissan LEAF for ENE employees, clients and their customers. To find out if you are eligible for the $5,000 discount and receive the flyer coupon, contact us.

One of the most popular local discount programs is Drive Green brought to you by Green Energy Consumer Alliance. To learn more about how to take advantage of each of these rebates, incentives and special offers, contact us.