On Your Side answers common consumer questions about EV charging

Only 7% of Americans drive an electric vehicle, says Consumer Reports.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 1:47 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Soon after Devon Rood bought an electric vehicle, she decided to upgrade to a smart charger in her garage that she can control through app.

“On peak rates are between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., which is when I want to avoid charging, so I can put that in there and it avoids charging,” Rood said. “Say I came home at 3:00 p.m. and plugged it in, it will charge until 4:00 p.m. Then [it would] stop until 7:00 p.m. and then start again.” Rood works from home and drives about 300 miles every couple weeks. “My electricity bill didn’t really go up very much at all,” she said. “We’re actually a two EV household, so about $20 more a month.”

Electric vehicles are getting more popular as car makers commit to more electric models, but a majority of American drivers have never been behind an EV’s wheel. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, about 7% of Americans have driven an EV. The survey also shows drivers, though they are interested in potentially owning an EV, remain concerned about the up-front cost and access to charging. During National Drive Electric Week, On Your Side asked Judson Tillinghast, the leader of APS’ customer technology team, to break down some of the charging basics.

“If you charge in the off-peak hours, there’s lots of opportunity to save money on your energy bill to lower costs to drive,” Tillinghast said. “For home charging, there’s really level one and level two charging. Level one charging is the same type of plug you would use for a toaster, but it’s very slow charging your car. It can take overnight, if not longer, to do a full charge. A level two charger is easily six to eight times faster.” It’s similar to the plug used for a clothes dryer, so consumers will need to call an electrician to install the system. A charger like this is possible in four to six hours.

To help defray the increased cost of a level two network charger like the one Rood uses, APS has a $250 rebate for smart chargers purchased between July 28, 2021 and December 31, 2022. According to APS, 300 applications have been submitted for the smart charger rebate program to date. Tillinghast expects an increase in interest. “It’s really the standard,” he said. “If it’s going to be your only car, it’s really something you need to consider budgeting for.” SRP offers a similar $250 rebate for smart chargers.

Consumers have also expressed concerns about EV battery range. Rood says she relies on apps to find public charging stations on road trips. “I think a lot of people talk about range anxiety and, ‘Oh, how am I going to make it?’ And after driving it, I’ve learned range anxiety isn’t there.” According to Yessica del Rincon, an APS spokesperson, the utility is installing fast chargers through the Take Charge AZ program in Payson, Globe, Prescott and Sedona.

Fast chargers near Show Low City Hall went live early this year. “We chose these locations because they are located near popular travel corridors, helping increase range confidence for drivers looking to take longer road trips throughout the state,” del Rincon said.