Checklist: Taking Delivery of Your EV

By · October 14, 2014

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This checklist is intended to be used when you purchase your car. We have provided a handy printer-friendly version (PDF: 160k) for you to have on hand.

Congratulations on your decision to buy an electric car! This checklist will guide you through the process of finalizing your purchase—and ease the transition into daily driving of a car powered by inexpensive, clean, domestic electricity.

Closing the Deal

▢ Decide to Lease or Buy

  • When you lease, the dealership should deduct the federal tax incentive from the base price. When you buy the car, the incentive is realized as a potential credit—provided that your tax bill is more than the value of the credit.
  • Most new EV buyers are leasing these days. Though EV batteries are designed to last the lifetime of the car, leasing the car has the added benefit of leasing the battery, which removes any concerns about its longevity.

▢ Get Access to Dealership Chargers

  • Many carmakers now offer various charging programs and incentives, providing easier access to chargers on dealership lots and other locations. Get the details (or in some cases, a membership card) from your sales associate.

▢ Download the Vehicle’s Mobile App

  • Carmakers offer an EV-specific app to let you stop and start charging, remotely manage your cabin climate, and even find your parking space.

Incentives

▢ Save Sales Receipt for Tax Day

  • Buyers of plug-in hybrids and electric cars benefit from a federal tax credit of between $2,500 and $7,500, depending on the vehicle. If you can, consult with a tax professional who can determine your likelihood of realizing the full benefit, based on your tax returns from previous years.
  • Save a copy of your sales receipt for tax day. Details are available from the IRS.

▢ Apply for State and Local Incentives

  • A wide range of incentives and perks, including rebates and sales tax exemptions, are available from state and local governments. View a comprehensive list of special incentives that your region offers and learn how to apply in our Incentives Guide. Scroll down to your state or region.

▢ Apply for Carpool Lane Sticker

  • California, Georgia, Maryland, Hawaii, and other states allow single occupancy plug-in vehicle drivers to use carpool (HOV) lanes. Ask your sales associate how to apply, or visit our Incentives Guide.

Home Charging

▢ Decide If You Want a Home Charging Station

  • The majority of owners of pure electric cars choose to install a 240-volt home charging station in order to cut their refueling time down to one-third or one-quarter of the time it would take on a 120-volt outlet.
  • A home charging station is a nice-to-have option for owners of plug-in hybrids (like the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid) or other plug-in cars that have extended range (like the Chevy Volt). If you aren’t sure you whether you’ll need one, experiment for a week with charging on a 120-volt outlet at home, and then decide if you want to install a home charger.

▢ Buy a Home Charging Station (EVSE)

  • The most popular home charger brands among EV owners are Clipper Creek, AeroVironment, Bosch, and GE.
  • You can find detailed guidance and ratings on the cost, amperage, cable length, portability, and connectivity of specific home charging stations in our Home Charger Guide.

▢ Install Home Charger

  • Any qualified electrician can handle the installation, so avoid premiums charged by so-called EV installation specialists. Most electricians are happy to schedule a visit right away.
  • Installation cost can be as low as $100, but it can also be hundreds of dollars more if you need to upgrade your electrical service or run lengthy conduits to where you park your car.

▢ Choose Best Utility Rate

  • Utilities commonly offer Time-of-Use (TOU) rates that significantly drop the price of electricity if you charge off-peak (usually after midnight). Be aware that the price commonly increases, sometimes dramatically, if you charge during peak hours (early evening). Call your local utility to inquire about TOU plans for EV drivers.
  • Use your vehicle’s onboard scheduler to set the time that you need your car to be fully charged for your morning commute.

▢ Consider Home Solar

  • The payback period for investing in home solar is way shorter when you drive an EV. The solar panels will not only provide energy to your home, but also power your car from the sun!
  • Ask your sales associate or do a Google or Yelp Search to get a recommendation for a residential solar installer for your area.

Public Charging

▢ Download the PlugShare App

  • PlugShare has the most comprehensive and up-to-date database for public charging stations. The app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices, provides station photos, ratings, costs, and compatibility information, which makes it easy to find the right charging location when you are away from home.
  • See our How to Use PlugShare guide for more info about the app.

▢ Enroll in Charging Networks

  • More than half of EV charging stations are free and easily accessible, but many belong to a charging network and require a membership RFID card to use.
  • ChargePoint and Blink are the two largest public charging networks whose stations require a swipe pass to use. Get more detailed info about the competing charging networks in our Electric Car Charging Networks Guide.

Driving and Charging for Best Results

▢ Keep Notes of First Trips and Charging

  • Jot down notes about real-world range on your first commutes. Study the remaining percentage state-of-charge on all of your different trips. This will help you plan future trips with confidence.

▢ Drive for Maximum Efficiency

  • Driving with fewer jackrabbit starts and abrupt stops allows you to extend your driving range by maximizing your vehicle’s built-in ability to reclaim energy when slowing down.
  • Keeping up with your car’s tire pressure and coolant levels can also play a big part in optimizing your EV’s performance, just like with gas cars. Find more tips in our Range Maximization Guide.

▢ Study Your Pre- and Post-EV Utility Bills

  • Compare the number of kilowatt-hours and the total cost before and after you start charging an EV to get a feeling for how much your electric fuel costs. Also, if you are on a time-of-use rate, look at your bill to confirm that you are charging during off-peak hours.

▢ Join the EV Community

  • Many EV drivers are very active online through vehicle forums and local Facebook groups. You can find excellent tips about range, charging, and vehicle features from others who have traveled this road before.
  • Consider joining the Electric Auto Association (EAA), Plug In America (PIA), and local clubs dedicated to specific cars too.

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New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.