Photo by Ville Kaisla

Comparing EVs: Affordable Vs. Luxury

Thanks to recent advances in battery technology, all-electric vehicles (EVs) have become a feasible alternative to conventional gasoline-burning models. But with the ability to get around with zero carbon emissions come other considerations. One big one is:

Where can I plug this thing in?

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs or EVs) are 100 percent electric vehicles powered by rechargeable batteries. These clean, green, vehicular machines have no gasoline engine. Instead, EVs store electricity onboard in
high-capacity battery packs that operate the electric motor and all primary and
secondary electronics.

Just like their conventional petroleum-consuming counterparts, EVs are rated by how far they can go after using all the fuel onboard. This is called the vehicle’s range. In a gas-powered car, the range is determined by the size of the gas tank and the fuel efficiency of the engine (in miles per gallon or mpg).

The range of an electric car is determined by how far it can go on its fully-charged batteries. Most EVs can cover much less ground between battery charges.

Eco-friendly consumers are embracing EVs because they don’t burn non-renewable fossil fuels. But smart shoppers know that the car’s onboard batteries have to be charged by electricity from an outside source. EV battery
charging categories are based on the recharging speed:

Level 1 EV charging systems plug into a standard household (120v) outlet. Generally, more than 8 hours are
required to charge a Level 1 EV battery to provide a range of 75-80 miles. Level 1 chargers are the most commonly found and work with most EVs on the market today.

For Level 2 charging, you need access to a specialized station that provides 240v electricity. Level 2 chargers can be found at places of employment and public charging stations. The advantage is that charging time is cut in half from Level 1 – in 4 hours with no impact on range.

Level 3 charging (DC fast charging or fast charging) is the speediest charging solution available for EVs. Dedicated EV charging stations provide DC fast chargers capable of juicing a battery up to a 90-mile range in about 30 minutes.

The weight and physical size of a car battery are very important engineering concerns. Lighter and smaller are better for vehicle design and performance.

Automotive experts at Edmunds rated the 2019 Kia Niro EV as the most affordable electric car. Its range is 239 miles. Leading the luxury class of EVs was the 2020 Tesla Model 3 with a range of 250-322 miles.

With a top speed of 103.8 mph, the Kia Niro’s Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor is powered by a Lithium Ion Polymer Battery (LIPO) which is rated 356V, provides 170kW of battery power, and weighs in at 1,008 pounds. The
battery lasts 64 kWh (kilowatt hours).

The Niro accelerates from 0-62 mph in 7.8 seconds and can brake to a full stop from 62mph in 137ft.

The Niro’s onboard charger (OBC), located behind the front grille, provides 7.2 kW of power. There are four charging options available:

  •  Level 1, AC charge with in Cable Control Box (ICCB): 59 hours
  •  Level 2, AC charge with Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE):
    9 Hours 35 Min (7.2 kW)
  •  DC fast charge with Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) to
    80% charge: 1 Hour 15 Min (50 kW)
  •  DC fast charge with Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) to
    80% charge: 1 Hour (100 kW)

The 2020 Tesla Model 3 features optional dual independent motors with all-wheel drive (AWD) to digitally control torque to the front and rear wheels. The Model 3 streaks from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds.

The more affordable Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus model claims a range of 250 miles and uses a 50-kWh battery with lithium-ion cells. Upgrading to the Long Range or Performance models raises the estimated range to
322 miles. The onboard charger delivers a maximum 11.5 kW.

All Teslas are built with the battery installed under the floor, lowering the center of gravity. Customers can configure a Model 3 to maximize a low price, long range, or high performance. As of March 2020, the Tesla Model 3
was the world’s best-selling electric car in history with over 500,000 units delivered.

The Model 3 offers different options for charging:

  • Tesla’s expanding network of “Supercharger”
    fast-charging stations
  •  Adapters for DC public-charging stations
  •  240- and 120-volt outlets
  •  A home-charging station that offers a full battery overnight

The Tesla Model 3’s battery packs drive up its sticker price which starts at $74,990. Forbes estimated Tesla’s battery costs fell from about $230 per kWh in 2016 to $127 in 2019. Due to higher order volumes, Tesla’s battery
costs are approximately 20% below the industry average.

As competition for EV purchases heats up, the quest for more economical battery technology is intensifying. The future of electric vehicle batteries is a topic for another article right here on


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