Frequently Asked Questions

This page is a work in progress. As we receive new questions that we think everyone could benefit from, we'll add to this page. 

FAQs about Electric Vehicles

These topics and questions come from our 2022 EV survey.

About the EV Survey and the CEF

  • Why is this survey being done and who is doing it?

  • This is a great initiative. How can we help?
     

Environmental Impact of EVs

  • I’m concerned about the environmental impact of EVs. 

  • What power will be used to power the charging stations? 

Public Funding Supporting EV Transition

  • Are my tax dollars being used to support the transition to electric vehicles?

  • Why aren’t we letting “the market” determine the solutions and speed for EV adoption?

  • How will the gas tax that is currently used for roadway maintenance be applied to EVs?

EV Chargers

  • Will the borough/township be installing EV chargers in my neighborhood?

  • We have concerns about access to chargers in a multi-family building, at work and while traveling. 

  • I am in a HOA community and have a carport. Can I get a charger installed?

  • What's the deal with different charging plug formats?

Other EV Questions

  • When will the State of PA become more supportive of this possible transition? 

  • How can we support companies that have fleets to make a commitment to transition to EVs?

  • Is there a mileage drop between charges during the winter months?

  • How does the rest of the country feel about EVs?

Answers about Electric Vehicles

These topics and questions come from our 2022 EV survey.

Questions and Responses From The CEF Steering Committee

 

Q: Why is this survey being done and who is doing it?

The West Chester Area Council of Governments (COG) has commissioned a Renewable Energy Transition Study on what it will take to transition our communities to 100% renewable energy. Learn more about this study here.

The 6 participating municipalities (that include and surround the West Chester Borough) are collaborating on a community engagement initiative called West Chester Area Clean Energy Future (CEF). The CEF steering committee is made up of representatives from the Environmental or Sustainability Advisory Committees from each of the 6 municipalities. It is this steering committee that is conducting this survey - so essentially, the WCA COG. We welcome your feedback and support.

 

Q: This is a great initiative. How can we help?

Yes! We have a CEF Review Team that would welcome your participation to review our materials (new web pages and other resources) before they are made public. Next up is our Big Business or Corporate module.
 

Q: I’m concerned about the environmental impact of EVs (lithium batteries) and I’ve read that in total, EVs have just as big of a carbon footprint as gasoline burning vehicles. And are there concerns about ethical mining practices and end-of-life batteris? What is the real story?

We found this in-depth analysis of life cycle assessments of ICE vehicles vs battery electric vehicles, which finds: “in most cases BEVs have lower life cycle GHG emissions than ICEVs. In general, GHG emissions associated with the raw materials and production stage of BEVs are between 1.3 and 2.0 times higher than for ICEVs.” and “BEVs offer greater local air quality benefits than ICEVs, due to the absence of tailpipe exhaust emissions. Both BEVs and ICEVs are responsible for upstream air pollutants emissions during the production and in-use stages.” A big factor here is - what is the fuel source for electricity during the production of the vehicles and for charging. As our grid gets greener, so will the environmental footprint of EVs

 

On child labor, we found this from 2019 on Snopes: “Child labor has been used in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Cobalt is a chemical element used to make rechargeable batteries. However, cobalt is not used exclusively for electric car batteries. This chemical element is also used to make the rechargeable batteries in phones, tablets, and laptops. Electric car manufacturers, such as Tesla and BMW, have started to use ethically sourced cobalt from areas outside of the DRC.” We’ll try to find something more recent. We have read about the possibility of extracting lithium from seawater, where it is rather prevalent, but still more expensive to extract than from mining.

Repurposing (using older car batteries for stationary energy storage when when efficiencies drop to 70% or so) and recycling EV batteries is becoming an industry in and of itself. Redwood Materials, founded by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel, is addressing the need to turn an end-of-life battery into new raw materials for many industries. Also check out Mass. company Ascend Elements

 

Q: What power will be used to power the charging stations? And will the grid be able to keep up with added demand from this transition of transportation energy from gasoline to electric? And will it be renewable energy sourced?

For the most part, public charging stations use the PECO default mix of power, which is 39% nuclear, 39% gas, 15% coal and 7% other. See the Electricity 101 section on the CEF/Residential page. So even with our current default mix, EVs have a significantly lower carbon footprint than burning gasoline. EVs can be charged from Renewable energy. All charging from EVgo uses renewable energy. The consumer can choose to fill up at home with renewable energy. Many workplaces with EV charging use Renewable energy. Using in state PA renewable energy creates energy security and energy resilience and helps combat energy inflation.


We have seen research that predicts that the increase in electric demand due to electrified transportation and heating will be approximately offset by advances in energy conservation and efficiency in buildings. At least in PA. Of course that depends on the speed of adoption of EVs for all applications.

But your point is well taken, we need to green our grid as fast as we can. In the West Chester area we can do our part to increase the demand for renewable energy by supporting solar power purchase agreements for larger institutions and businesses.

 

EV usage drives down the cost of electricity for all ratepayers. Increased use of electricity by nighttime charging is very beneficial to the grid.
 

Q: Are my tax dollars being used to support the transition to electric vehicles?

This is a large issue that may require more discussion than we can cover here. Yes, government at all levels “encourages” behavior by the public that is felt to be “beneficial” to our society - like tax incentives for having a mortgage vs renting, home improvements that make our homes more energy efficient (thus delaying or negating the need to build the next big power plant); like government incentives that attract a business to locate their headquarters or factory in our state or county or town so that we benefit from the jobs created. And then there is the public subsidy of dealing with the health impacts and climate impacts from burning fossil fuels.

By the way, the funding for PA subsidies for public and private chargers have mostly come from the settlement with VW for cheating on emissions testing over many years.

 

The charging stations in WC Borough (at Borough Hall and in the parking garages) charge for electricity “at cost” of what the Borough pays - which is usually less than residential rates. We would call this an act of incentivising, but not subsidizing.

 

US Federal tax credit for purchase of some EV models (ones that haven’t exceeded their quota) stands at 26%.

 

Q: Why aren’t we letting “the market” determine the solutions and speed for EV adoption?

We think the market is driving the transition to EVs. Many people are choosing EVs because they are more reliable (less moving parts), have a competitive life cycle cost, have no tailpipe emissions, never need an oil change and of course for the much smaller carbon footprint. 

Q: Will the borough/township be installing EV chargers in my neighborhood?

Equitable access to at-home charging (which will soon be the cheapest form of personal vehicles to operate) is something that boroughs in PA are going to have to deal with in the next few years. There are a number of examples of charging solutions across the country for neighborhoods without off-street parking: utility-owned/managed chargers (perhaps attached to utility poles), municipal-owned/managed curbside chargers, and 3rd party chargers that install chargers between the sidewalk and street and charge per kWh or per minute plugged in or both.

WC Borough may be interested in doing a pilot program to learn more about the challenges we will be facing. Contact CEF if you’d like to nominate your block for such a pilot.

 

Q: We have concerns about access to chargers - at home (we live in a multi-family building), at work, in the West Chester area and while traveling. What is the outlook for more charging infrastructure?

Find an interactive map of the public charging stations in our area on the CEF/Residential page and PlugShare.

But we think the critical charging challenge is being able to charge overnight at home. As we charge our cell phones or laptops. We rarely spend time waiting for our phones to charge - we just expect them to be ready to go every morning. Same should be true for EVs. Except for longer trips, time spent “at the pump” should be almost nonexistent.

 

If your multifamily community is resisting the idea of providing EV charging facilities for its tenants, please connect them with the CEF steering committee. We can share information and find answers about available state and federal support for installing charging infrastructure.

EV-ready guidelines for new construction are being adopted and considered in many regions around the country now. Do you think Chester County, or regions within Chesco are ready to adopt EV-ready ordinances?

There are guidelines/recommendations for the number of new parking spaces that should have EV chargers for new construction. 2021 international building codes require 5% of spaces to have chargers in areas that have more than 10 parking spaces. We think WC will be an early adopter for EVs and we might want to consider a higher requirement. What do you think?
 

Q: I would definitely get one if I could charge it at home. I am in a HOA community and have a carport. If I had a unit with a garage I would have bought one already.

We’d like to talk to your HOA. Please invite the CEF team to an upcoming HOA meeting. Here’s an introductory letter from the WCA COG.

Q: Do you anticipate charging stations to be able to have adapters for all different kinds of EV's. Or, will you just stick with one or two type connectors?

Europe has standardized on just one plug. The US has 3 or 4 popular formats. So even though the US and Europe have about the same number of chargers per capita, the availability for US EV drivers is about ⅓ that of the European EV driver. We do expect adapters and convergence to a common plug in the US over the next 5 to 10 years as car companies work together to standardize. We think the increased availability of compatible fast chargers will be a big selling point for new EV sales. It will likely be a tipping point for EV adoption.

 J1772 is universal for all EVSE for home, workplace and destination charging at Level I and Level II (up to 19 kW). (Tesla with adapter)
For DC Fast charging (50kW to 300kW)  All EVgo, Electrify America, and Blink networks have both the CCS and Chademo Standards so anyone can charge. Tesla Superchargers have their own standard.
 

Q: When will the State of PA become more supportive of this possible transition? It is NOT now.

Not as much as some, but the PA DEP does have some EV supportive programs. See Driving PA Forward for info about L2 and DC Fast Chargers with funds from the VW settlement, truck and bus fleet grant program, powering ocean vessels with shore electricity instead of “idling at port” and some “clean diesel” program that we are not too keen on.

The Wolf admin has set a goal to replace 25 percent of the state passenger car fleet with battery electric and plug-in electric hybrid cars by 2025.


Q: I’ve heard that the mileage drop between charges during the winter months due to the heater is significant. Is this statement true?

You will get better mileage in an EV if you reduce your A/C and heating. That’s true in a gas burning car as well. We found this review by Car and Driver which states that you’ll see a 17% decrease in range from using the HVAC in a Tesla Model 3 in non-extreme conditions. More if heat on max, seat heaters on max. Many EV manufacturers are switching to heat pumps instead of resistive electric heating. Look for this trend to make a big difference on range impact due to HVAC use.


Q: How can we support companies that have fleets to make a commitment to transition to EVs?

Good question. The CEF team plans to start outreach to big business entities in the WC area in 2022. Introduce them to the WC area energy goals, examples of similar businesses have taken to reduce their carbon footprints, make sure they are aware of the economic analysis of EVs in fleets and listen to their concerns and suggestions.

If you have a nomination for a local business to contact please speak up. Inside connections are always the best way to break the ice.

 

Want more info about the EV experience from across the country? Here are some findings from Plug In America EV Survey:

 

  • EV drivers are very satisfied with their vehicles, with 90% reporting that they are likely or very likely to purchase an EV as their next vehicle.

  • The primary motivation for both owners and intenders to purchase an EV was the environment and air quality, but intenders are more likely to cite cost savings as a motivating factor.

  • The primary economic factor for switching to an EV was access to inexpensive home charging, indicating a need to increase access to charging for residents of apartment and condo buildings. 

  • A majority of respondents (59%) considered it vital or very important that EVs charge with renewable energy.

  • Over 80% of owners indicate satisfaction with finding the information they needed to buy or lease an EV; the most common detail lacking was cold-weather performance.

  • EV drivers indicated room for improvement with the shopping experience, with only 15% rating the knowledge of the salesperson about EVs as “very high.”

  • EV owners continue to voice frustration with public charging infrastructure, with the most common issues being broken or nonfunctional chargers or too few charging locations. However, the Tesla Supercharger network scored significantly better than its competitors on every metric.