There are now over 80 models of electric vehicles commercially available in the U.S., many of which can be found in Maine. These vehicles are cheaper and more technologically advanced than they have ever been, with a wide variety of makes and models to choose from.

Two common misconceptions about electric vehicles are that they are both expensive and have insufficient ranges. This article gives a quick market overview that will debunk those misconceptions.

South Portland Director of Code Enforcement Barb Skelton stands with one of the department’s new Hyundai Konas. The city has leased four of the electric vehicles. Sean Murphy photo/The Forecaster

Twenty-three EV models range from $25K to $40K base manufacturer’s suggested retail price. While this price tag still widens eyes for most, there are tremendous rebates and credits available to those purchasing EVs today that make these vehicles extremely affordable and, often, cheaper than their conventional gasoline-powered equivalents.

The federal government offers a federal tax credit worth up to $7,500. While some manufacturers are no longer eligible for this credit, purchasing most EVs will earn you the full credit. Efficiency Maine adds an instant or mail-in rebate worth up to $2,000 for most EV models. Lastly, many manufacturers have direct rebates for their new EV models as well.

To paint the picture, a brand new Hyundai Kona Electric has a base suggested retail price of $36,950, but once all rebates and credits are accounted for it would only cost $27,450.

South Portland to Bangor, and back, on a single charge. A decade ago, range was of reasonable concern as electric vehicles could hardly make it to the New Hampshire border from South Portland on a single charge, but that has largely changed in recent years.

Electric vehicles are often categorized as either BEV or PHEV.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) run exclusively on an electric motor and tend to have large battery packs that allow for significant range. Some models include: Nissan LEAF Plus (226 miles), Tesla Model 3 (263), Hyundai Kona (258) and Chevrolet Bolt (259). Supplemented with fast charging, which is now available on travel corridors all over the country, longer trips are entirely feasible with BEVs.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have a battery pack like BEVs, but they also retain a conventional gasoline-powered engine that kicks in when battery power is drained. These small battery packs allow for all-electric trips around town, but give drivers ease and peace of mind for those longer trips.

Used EVs are becoming more readily available as new EVs flood the market. While the technology of most used EVs are still somewhat outdated, they are capable of meeting most people’s daily trip needs, especially if they are PHEVs. For qualified low-income customers, Efficiency Maine offers a rebate worth $2,500 for a used BEV or PHEV.

Whether you drive a sedan, a minivan or an SUV, whether you want to buy used or new, whether you want to go with a full BEV or find a PHEV to bridge the gap into the electric world, there is an electric vehicle out there for just about everybody.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. The Sustainability Office is located at the Planning and Development Office, 496 Ocean St. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Cashel Stewart is sustainable transportation coordinator for South Portland. He can be reached at 207-767-3201, ext.7546 or [email protected]

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