How Do You Charge Electric Cars? Everything You Need To Know About EV Charging

When it comes to buying a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) for the first time, an important thing to know is how you charge the electric cars. It isn’t as scary as you think!

Driving a gas-powered car, have you ever thought about how inconvenient it is to constantly have to go to the gas station? On bigger, less efficient vehicles, this can be an all too regular diversion. Now, what if you could get a gas pipeline direct to your home? That would mean you could drive anywhere in a 150-200 mile radius without diverting to a gas station! Because of the dangers involved, as well as the huge infrastructure investment required, that isn’t going to happen. However, it already exists for electric car drivers. How? You already have electricity going into your home. 

For the most part, you will charge your car at your home car-port or in the garage. There is a fast-growing network of public and private charging points that you’ll have access to too. In this guide, we will cover all the issues you need to understand from the get-go and demystify this strange new world from plugging in at home to the accepted etiquette of using a public fast charger. 

As you read this article, we will be looking at different speeds of chargers. Going back to the idea of a gas pipeline that fed every home, you could compare Levels 1, 2, 3, and fast chargers with the amount of pressure you got from the ‘home gas pipeline’ we imagine here. A trickle would be Level 1, a comfortable flow Level 2, a fair pressure Level 3, and a huge gush DC fast charging.

If any of these terms seem confusing or too technical, don’t worry! We have a helpful glossary at the bottom of the page.

 

Home Charging

Home charging using a Level 1, standard grounded 120-volt plug (like what you use to charge your phone) will get you about 4 miles of chargeback an hour. Most US commutes are less than a 40-mile round trip, and a 120V socket will give you an additional 50 miles per overnight charge if you’re only plugging in overnight. Remember, most electric vehicles have over 200 total miles of range, so you’ll have plenty of range left if you’re only using your car for commutes and plugging in on a Level 1 charger overnight.

You will pay standard electricity use fees for doing this – just a few cents per mile at most, depending on your electric utility rate. Most vehicles come with a level 1 charger when you purchase the car.

Level 1 Charger

For an added expense, you can install a 240V, Level 2 charger in your car-port or garage. With a more significant current (or ‘pressure’ in the gas comparison), you should be able to more than double your range per hour of charging over the 120V standard. Typically Level 2 fast chargers give about 25 miles of charge per hour. The cost of a level 2 charger costs anywhere from $200-$700, and install can range from $700 to over $5,000 depending on the electrical capacity of where you’re installing the charger.

Even with the added expense involved in installing the Level 2 charger, you will still find the costs per mile plummets by comparison to gasoline. The faster charger will pay for itself very quickly thanks to the minute cost of electricity over gas. Considering most people don’t purely commute in their cars but drop their kids at school/clubs/the mall as well as shop and other routines, it pays for most people to have a bit more in the battery than exactly what they require to get to work. This is why you should seriously consider a Level 2 charger.

Level 2 Charger

Level 3 chargers retail for $9,000 and up. They can pump in far more energy than you need for everyday use of the car, but should you be a taxi driver or another high mileage driver, you would feel the benefit as you could charge your car enough to drive hundreds of miles a day.

Level 3 Chargers

Another advantage of home charging is that you can get a 100% charge reasonably quickly. As we will discuss later in this guide, you will find that a direct current (DC) Level 3 or fast charger will only fast-charge the battery to 80% before slowing down to a trickle to protect the battery. 

As a general rule, EV batteries last longer if you slow-charge them than if you fast-charge them regularly. Charging at home could add tens of thousands of miles to your EV battery life if you only rarely fast-charge it. 

If you are driving a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), you may find that you cannot charge your vehicle any more quickly than a Level 2 charger, and Level 1 on older models.

 

Public Charging Stations

More and more stores, companies, and government offices are offering private access car charging stations. This means you can charge at work, at both government and private organizations, or plug-in while you shop. 

You will generally find that employee and customer charging points are Levels 1 or 2 compatible and only rarely fast charging as there are considerable cost implications in installing a DC fast charger. 

There are benefits for the organizations in question. Setting up a charging point can be used to help with their corporate social responsibility obligations and offset other greenhouse gas emissions. 

As an employee perk, these charging stations can be invaluable, potentially allowing you to avoid installing a home Level 2 charger. As a customer at a shopping mall, you can charge your car over 3-4 hours while inside, an added benefit of visiting the stores. 

Some of these charging points are free to use, though some charge a fee. Even so, these fees are still well below what your colleagues at work are paying at the gas pump. Besides, how many businesses have ever installed a gas pump in their car park for employees to use?!

 

Fast Charging

One of the complaints of electric vehicles is that you cannot charge them as quickly as you can a gas-powered (internal combustion engine or ICE for short) car by putting fuel in them. 

You can fast-charge your car in an hour or less using a CHAdeMO, CCS, or Tesla Supercharger. In general, Japanese BEV models like the Nissan Leaf take CHAdeMO, European and US models like the Chevy Volt take CCS, and Teslas can charge at Tesla Superchargers AND CHAdeMO chargers with the proper adapters purchased. CCS can offer faster charging times (up to 300kW) than CHAdeMO though a new CHAdeMO 2.0 system that provides competitive speeds to CCS could be on the US road network soon. 

Despite more and more cars hitting the road that take CCS, there are far more CHAdeMO fast chargers on the US road network than CCS at present. The market will drive this change with supply adjusting to meet demand. It won’t happen overnight, though. 

For a more extended road trip using a fast-charging network, you would drive 2-3 hours and have a break to stretch your legs and eat as you recharge the car. Many electric car navigation systems will advise shorter and longer charges for a more efficient route, so you aren’t doing very long legs with long stops. A series of shorter stops and legs with one or two longer runs and longer charges will ultimately minimize your overall journey time. 

The main drawback of fast charging is that it impacts long-term battery life. Essentially the more you slow-charge the battery, the less it degrades. The heat and energy exchange of a fast-charge will lead to irreversible chemical changes within the cells that will kill them off more quickly than slow-charging. 

Another point to remember is that the fast charger will only charge your battery to 80% at top speed before slowing to a trickle. Again, this is to protect the battery. 

Your car’s computer will limit the charging station’s power into your battery to the optimum for the vehicle. That is to say, a battery capable of taking 40 kilowatts (kW) of power hooked up to a 300kW CCS charger will only take 40kW. As battery technology improves and more cars get faster charging-capable batteries so the new owners will be able to spend less time charging and more time driving. 

A final point? High powered DC charging points cost a lot of money to install, and those companies putting them in have to recover their costs. This is the reason why you will pay a lot more per kilowatt-hour of electricity on a fast charger than you will on a Level 1 or 2 charger. On every level, it pays just to trickle-charge your vehicle at home, the mall, or at work!

 

Charging Networks

Several businesses have got into charging in much the same way as different oil companies sell gas at the gas station. Unlike gas stations, you will not find someone in a booth nearby to pay, but instead, you will pay using a variety of means. 

A common charging network system is via paid membership to access the charging points. Many (but not all) of these will offer pay-as-you-go charging, but at a higher rate than charged to members. Others are purely pay-as-you-go, but you will need a phone app to organize the charging. 

To add to this, some charging companies have denser networks in some states and cities in the US than others, so on an interstate journey, you may need to join up with a number of them to have a trouble-free journey. 

The array of membership and payment schemes can be confusing and irritating until you get your head around it. It is a case of knowing your territory, and once you do, you will be able to go about your business. 

 

Charging Apps

There are a number of smartphone charging map apps that show you your nearest charging point in a given area. Tesla and other BEV in-car navigation systems also have databases of charging points that you can use to get about a city, and in Tesla’s case, much of the Western world! 

Here at Steer, we have looked at many charging point mapping apps and found the highest number of charging points for the Washington DC area is with PlugShare, as can be seen in the image above. 

There are other apps like Blink Network and Chargepoint. These only offer charging points on their own networks. We tend to recommend these two apps, as they have the most locations in the DC area.

These public charging points sometimes charge and are sometimes free to use. PlugShare also includes private residences that allow people to plug in for a small fee, in a similar way to Airbnb enables people to rent out their spare rooms. This has moved in on dedicated EV plug sharing apps’ territory like EVMatch, but on EVMatch, you can find certain EV evangelists who won’t charge you money to charge your car! The app originated in Southern California, so it’s still best utilized around there, but it’s slowly spreading across the country to areas like Washington DC.

 

Charging Etiquette

As happened with the rise of the internet in the early 1990s, a new culture has emerged around EVs as the technology has grown. Some formal and informal rules are considered the “right thing to do” among all EV users, to keep everyone happy and ultimately to help the number of users grow. 

The first rule everyone should observe is that when you are using a public charging point (or at work should your office have fewer charging points than EV users), only leave your car in the parking space as long as it is charging. Someone may be traveling a distance and have too few miles to make the next charger, so it is only good form to allow charging points’ use to be maximized. 

If you know you won’t be able to get back immediately when the car is at full charge, leave some contact details on your dash so people can contact you and ask you to move your vehicle for them, or allow them just to unplug yours when at full charge to plug theirs in. Newer models of EVs often have locks on the cable to prevent an unwanted unplugging, so again, a polite note of how to contact you is the right thing to do.  

Are you driving a PHEV? Be considerate to BEV users as they will often point out that you can operate on gas while they need electricity to get where they are going. There are BEV users that might be described as militant and who dislike PHEV users in much the same way as people of certain faiths dislike agnostics. No PHEV on the market today takes anything more than a Level 2 charge, so though you can plug into a fast charger, you will still only get a trickle from it. At times of high demand, for instance, a Friday evening, then it may pay to avoid busy charging stations for these reasons.

 

Ready To Get Started?

So there you have it, all you need to know about charging your electric vehicle. Not so bad, is it? If you think about it, if ICE cars were new and EVs under threat, we would likely have to write a similar in-depth piece on how you couldn’t fuel your car at home and had to pour highly flammable liquid into your tank that could explode if your cell phone goes off while doing it. You’d be just as perplexed and confused!

Additionally, with Steer, we’ll help you through your EV journey and give you a thorough walkthrough of every vehicle in our Fleet. All Steer members have access to our concierge team, who will help you find chargers near your home, help plan more extended trips, and evaluate if a home charger is right for you. We also give our members a SteerPass, which is like an EZ-Pass for chargers. It’ll spare you from having to download more apps, upload your credit card to more places, or if you, unfortunately, find yourself out in the cold trying to charge only to realize you don’t have the right card to start the charging session. 

As with gas cars, once you get your head around the system and conventions, it will be easy as pie. 

Happy charging!

 

Glossary

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle. A car without a gas engine that purely runs on batteries.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A car with a gas engine and electric motor. At lower speeds, these will use the battery and at higher speeds, the gas engine. When the battery runs out, you use gas all the time.

ICE – Internal Combustion Engine – a gas-powered car with no electric motor.

Level 1 charging – Charging from standard 120 volt A/C mains power.

Level 2 charging – 240V A/C power that can be drawn from the electricity grid. Can more than double your charging speed over 120V A/C.

Level 3 charging – a direct current (DC) charging unit you can install at home, usually up to 40 kilowatts (kW). These are far more expensive than Level 2 and only useful should you be a very high annual mileage driver.

CHAdeMO – “Charge de Move” – a Japanese standard fast-charging protocol capable of 62.5 kilowatts. Currently, this is more than most mid-range electric cars can take (bar Teslas) though Porsche and other luxury end automakers are releasing cars capable of a far bigger charge from CCS.

CCS – Combined Charging Standard – European and US automakers’ preferred fast-charging system, currently capable of up to 300kW of power. Most non-Teslas will only take up to 40kW, though the new Porsche Taycan can take the full 300kW. 

Tesla Supercharger – Only for Tesla cars, capable of delivering up to 150kW depending on age and model of vehicle. 

kW – kilowatt. Watts are a measure of power worked out by multiplying amps by volts. A kilowatt is a thousand Watts.

kWh – kilowatt-hour. A measure of storage in a car battery. This could be compared to knowing the size of your gas tank. Top-end Teslas have 100kWh battery banks while smaller city cars can be 20kWh or smaller.  

9 Most Exciting Electric Cars Coming In 2020

One thing is for sure – the 2020s decade will be a defining moment for electric vehicles. According to a forecast by the International Energy Agency, by the end of this decade, there will be at least 125 million electric vehicles on the road.

Of course, the electric vehicles will be faster with longer miles of range, more advanced AI, and shorter recharging time than the previous decade. Most of the traditional automakers such as Ford, Mercedes, Fiat, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, and Porsche already got something up their sleeves trying to catch up with the electric vehicle industry.

Even Sony, a company famous for manufacturing electronic gadgets but not cars, unveiled an electric AI car at the recently concluded 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The stage is set for a big showdown, and it all begins this year. Here are the most exciting electric cars coming in 2020.

 

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Y

Range: 300 Miles 

Starting Price: $39,000

Speed: 150 mph

According to Elon Musk, Tesla Model Y will probably have more demand than all Tesla cars combined. Far-fetched? Maybe not! The Model Y will be a compact crossover electric vehicle similar to the Model 3, but more advanced. It looks like the big brother of Model 3, sharing at least 75 percent of the components. 

Anyway, what makes the Tesla Model Y one of the most anticipated electric cars coming out in 2020? Besides using the latest advanced manufacturing technology, it will be about 10 percent bigger than the Model 3, allowing it to accommodate seven adult passengers comfortably.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also confirmed the upcoming Tesla Model Y would feature EPA range of up to 300 miles. However, performance and standard trim models will have a driving range of 280 miles and 230 miles, respectively. Quite impressive, the performance range trim is expected to peak from zero to sixty miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 150 miles. The charge time? It will take about 40 minutes to charge from almost empty to 80 percent. 

Like the Model 3, it will have self-driving assistance and entertainment features that prevent the driver from distractions. The Model Y is expected to be coming in the summer of 2020. 

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford_MachE

Range: 300 Miles 

Starting Price: $43,895

Speed: 130 mph

We’re finally getting an all-electric Ford Mustang, which is expected to be released in late 2020. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is probably Ford’s answer to Tesla’s Model Y. So far, Ford has already sold out early advance orders for the Ford Mustang Mach-E (first edition), and there are plans to produce 50,000 units in 2020.

It will be a five-seater SUV available in five different trims. The minimum range on a full battery will be 210 miles, while the premium version will go up to 300 miles. 

For the acceleration, the best option with 459 horsepower can go from zero to sixty miles per hour in less than 4 seconds. That’s impressive to outshine most sports cars. However, the select trim level with 255 horsepower can take up to 7 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour.

With Ford’s direction towards the future, the Ford Mustang Mach-E will feature CoPilot 360 advanced driver assistance tech. The newest version of the Sync infotainment system will be more convenient with features such as voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and cloud-based connection. Besides that, the software will tell you the nearest places to charge your electric vehicle.

Both all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive configurations will be available, and the charging rates will vary depending on the trim level. For instance, the standard Mach-E is expected to fast charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 38 minutes. 

 

Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T

Range: 400 Miles 

Starting Price: $69,000

Speed: 125 mph 

Scheduled to hit the market in late 2020, the Rivian R1T truck is expected to be a direct competitor of the Tesla Cyber truck. 

What makes it outstanding? First, it’s an electric five-seater truck that promises to deliver up to 400 miles range after charge, which is exceptional for an electric vehicle and puts it well ahead of the competition. Even the cheaper option will have a minimum range of 230 miles, followed by 300 miles. The battery packs configuration will be 105 kWh, 135 kWh or 180 kWh. A charge from 5 percent to 80 percent will probably take 50 minutes. 

The quickest version with 754 horsepower will be capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 3 seconds. Mind you, it’s a heavy truck that can move more than 11,000 pounds. Even so, the top speed is 125 miles per hour, and all versions will include an all-wheel-drive configuration.

The controls will be integrated with Amazon’s Alexa, which probably has something to do with Amazon investing 700 million dollars into Rivian so they could develop 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon.

Its other sibling with almost similar specs, the Rivian R1S SUV, will be released shortly after the R1T truck is available for consumers.

 

Porsche Taycan

Porsche_Taycan

Range: 279 Miles 

Starting Price: $150,900

Speed: 162 mph

The Porsche Taycan (pronounced ‘tie-khan’) is something special; it’s Porsche’s first fully electric vehicle. For a company that has won the Le Mans 19 times, Porsche thrives on building some of the best sports cars, and the Taycan doesn’t disappoint. Of course, the Porsche Taycan isn’t built to endure 24-hour race in Le Mans, but it can travel up to 279 miles after a charge. However, the Taycan Turbo S comes with a range of 257 miles.

In tune with Porsche’s philosophy of breaking new grounds, the Taycan is the first EV to be powered by an 800-volt electrical system. In other words, if you go on a coffee break and charge it for 5 minutes, that will be enough to cover 62 miles of range. You can supercharge it from 5 percent to 80 percent in about 22 minutes. Mind you that is twice as good as most electric cars.

The Taycan Turbo S delivers 761 horsepower, which is superfast to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds. Even the slower version of Taycan Turbo with 680 horsepower doesn’t lag too far behind since it can do that in 3.2 seconds. The maximum speed is 162 miles per hour, thus making it faster than most electric cars.

The lithium-ion battery capacity is 93.4 kWh, which isn’t bad considering Tesla’s Model S battery is 100 kWh.

If you can afford it, you don’t have to wait. Those who ordered it early are receiving the delivery this month (January 2020).

 

BMW iX3

BMW_IX3

Range: 250 Miles 

Starting Price: $72,000

Speed: 124 mph

Inspired by the BMW X3, this upcoming EV will utilize the fifth-generation eDrive tech, which makes it possible to combine the power electronics, electric motor, and transmission into a single unit.

According to BMW, the battery will have a capacity of around 74 kWh, and it will be able to fast charge in less than 30 minutes. The range will be at least 250 miles with an output of 286 horsepower plus torque of 295-pound feet. By contrast, that isn’t much of a power difference compared to the gasoline-powered BMW X3. Nevertheless, it reduces the total emissions by 30 percent less than its X3 diesel counterpart.

The 2020 model will be a plug-in hybrid, but BMW has already announced that the 2021 model will be fully electric, expected to hit dealers in late 2020. Additionally, for the earliest versions, the models will only be available in rear-wheel drive; but it’s scheduled for an all-wheel-drive to be introduced later.

 

Tesla Roadster 2020

Tesla_Roadster

Range: 620 Miles 

Starting Price: $200,000

Speed: 250+ mph

Behold, the eagerly anticipated Tesla Roadster, scheduled to hit the streets in 2020. It would be an understatement to call it a mean machine since if it delivers as expected, it will be one of the fastest street-legal cars in the United States. 

How fast is it? It can accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in just 1.9 seconds, it can make a quarter-mile sprint in 8.8 seconds, and Elon Musk has promised it will have a top speed of more than 250 miles per hour.

Let’s be honest – Tesla is making this superfast electric car to prove naysayers wrong. Besides the incredible speed, it will be powered by 200 kWh battery which is enough to cover 620 miles range. Too good to be true? Well, let’s just wait and see until it’s released in late 2020.

Also, it will be a four-seater and all-wheel-drive electric vehicle. What’s not to love about it?

 

Polestar 2

Polestar2

Range: 275 Miles 

Starting Price: $45,000

Speed: 155 mph

If you haven’t heard about Polestar, it started as a racing team before Volvo acquired it. Now the team behind it makes electric performance cars, and the Polestar 2 is their second production car. Judging by the success of the Polestar 1, which had the longest e-range for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Polestar 2 might just surprise us.

Unlike its predecessor, it will be an all-electric vehicle that incorporates the height design of a crossover and the rear slant of a coupe. The unusual dynamics makes it look like a futuristic vehicle. 

Speaking of performance, the Polestar 2 is packed with a 78kWH water-cooled battery and a power capacity of 300kW. Each axle will be connected to two electric motors to deliver 408 horsepower. The estimated acceleration from 0 to 62 miles per hour will take 4.7 seconds. In addition to that, the expected charge time from 10 percent to 80 percent when using a fast-charging station is half an hour. 

Moreover, the Polestar 2 is an all-wheel drive, and it can go up to 275 miles on a single charge. Also, it will come with an 11-inch Android infotainment system and something known as “phone as key” feature that allows owners to send the keys virtually to another user through a smartphone. How cool is that?

Well, here is the surprise; the Polestar 2 can tow up to 3,300 pounds. Go figure – that is more than any compact electric vehicle currently out on the market.

The Polestar is expected to be released in June 2020.

 

Volkswagen ID.4 

VW_ID4

Range: 310 Miles

Starting Price: $30,000

Speed: 112 mph 

Since the Volkswagen ID.3 will only be available in Europe and China, the ID.4 is the electric model that Volkswagen plans to introduce in the United States. The design is based on the ID Crozz concept car that was unveiled in 2017 at the Frankfurt Motor show.

In terms of specs, the ID.4 will have a range of up to 310 miles, and it will be available in dual motor and all-wheel drive options. Not to mention, it will be equipped with an 83 kWh battery and a system output of 225 kW. Thanks to the fast charge technology, it will be possible to charge it in about 30 minutes. In case you’re wondering, it will be a crossover EV bigger than the ID.3 but almost the same size as Volkswagen Tiguan.

Most likely, the Volkswagen ID.4 will feature an autonomous driving system and driver assistance technology to enhance safety.

We’re expecting this electric car to be coming in late 2020.

 

Mini Electric

MiniElectric

Range: 146 Miles

Starting Price: $29,900

Speed: 93 mph 

This upcoming electric vehicle looks like a mini hatch with a three-door body and a minimalist design approach. Sure, the Mini Electric is small and doesn’t offer groundbreaking performance specs, but it will be the cheapest electric vehicle ever made by BMW.

Under the floor between the rear and front seats, you will find a 32.6kWh T shaped battery; it won’t interfere with the boot space. The EV features a Combined Charging System (CCS) socket that supports rapid charge; hence it can charge up to 80 percent in 35 minutes.

The 181 horsepower and acceleration of 0 to 62 miles per hour in 7.5 seconds make it the slowest car on this list. But then again, Mini Electric isn’t built for speed but convenience. Similarly, with a range of 146 miles, front-wheel drive, and a top speed of 93 miles per hour, this is a type of car that would be ideal for those who reside in urban areas with easy access to charging stations. Probably a car you can use to commute to nearby places while spending less on fuel and cutting off emissions.

What’s more, the standard trim level will include packages such as driver assistance, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay, auto rain sensors, and heated front seats. 

The Mini Electric is expected to be coming in March 2020.

 

Electric Cars in 2020 and Beyond

When history books talk about the revolution of electric vehicles, 2020 could be the year that kickstarts the momentum. From an electric supercar that is set to become the fastest street-legal car in the world to an electric truck that can haul more than 11,000 pounds, 2020 is going to be an exciting year. 

Mark your calendar! The future is already here, and it would be a shame if you miss out. 

Excited about all of these and can’t decide on just one? With Steer, you can get access to them all! Be the first to drive them as they join the Steer fleet in 2020. Learn more here!

Can An Electric Car Be A Smart Business Move?

As a busy professional, when was the last time you made a decision that was able to save you both time and money?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve worked hard developing your business plan, raising capital, developing products, and building relationships. Working professionals in today’s 24/7 world are equally busy and stressed, where emails never stop, and client demands are always high-stakes.

Let’s be honest, it’s challenging to perform at the top of your game while still striking an optimal work-life balance. It also means squeezing more value out of each dollar spent and trying to find more time during your day, a challenge made even more difficult for companies trying to grow during COVID lockdowns.

At Steer, we feel your pain, and we want to help! A lot of small business owners and business professionals are exploring car subscriptions as an exciting, smart alternative to buying or leasing their cars. Steer offers electric and hybrid vehicles on a month-to-month basis, that will protect business owners from blowing up a budget, will give back busy professionals precious time, and is focused on saving business owners money, all while also contributing to a safer, greener planet.

Check out the top reasons for your business to ditch the dealership and embrace a subscription model today.

Let’s start with the basics.

 

What is an Electric Car Subscription?

 

As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, Steer is an electric car subscription service that offers consumers an alternative to buying, leasing, or renting a car. Subscriptions allow you the ability to pay a flat fee in order to access a variety of vehicles without retaining ownership.

For the modern-day business professional, the ability to pay one, transparent fee that allows access to a fleet of the most modern, tech-forward electric and hybrid cars on the market, will impress clients while also providing great safety features like blind-spot sensing and adaptive cruise control (aka AutoPilot in Tesla parlance). This smart financial move also provides peace-of-mind, so you can focus on day-to-day operations. 

Steer‘s fleet includes the world’s leading brands, including Tesla, Toyota, Nissan, Porsche, Jaguar, Audi, BMW, and more. The flat subscription fee includes insurance, maintenance, repairs, unlimited miles, charging solutions (both in-home and on the road), and access to a concierge service that will deliver cars directly to you. In addition, you can swap into a different vehicle at any time, meaning you never have to commit to just one car—you can drive the entire fleet! 

But, we’ll get to that. Let’s dive into how your career or business can benefit from an EV subscription service. 

 

Benefit #1: Flexibility & Time-Saver

 

If driving is part of your regular work routine, you have to determine the best car for the job today – what size, what style, how much you should spend – based on where you think your business or career will be in 3-5 or even ten years. But what if you didn’t have to commit?  

A Steer subscription provides cars on a month-to-month basis, giving you ultimate flexibility to shift as your job or business needs change – whether means different sizes or kinds of cars (you can swap into different vehicles at-will), if you will be traveling extensively (you can pause), if you have to change pricing plans (Premier, Preferred, or Practical), or even cancel. You’re not locked into a single car for an extended period of time, and this flexibility is precious for some of our members. Two of our members, a couple who owns and operates a local fitness gym, found Steer to be a perfect solution to avoid being locked into a long term commitment. 

While we have touched on the benefits of Steer’s all-inclusive pricing structure, we believe that the value this delivers to the small business owners and professionals is unmatched. 

One of the primary benefits of Steer is its hassle-free sign-up and vehicle swap process. To reiterate: when you join Steer, you don’t commit to owning a vehicle. What you do commit to is paying a month-to-month, all-inclusive fee that gives you access to a fleet of cars and a number of additional services such as insurance, roadside assistance, charging (for EVs and hybrids), maintenance and repairs—the list goes on. Approved drivers are covered by Steer’s insurance policy and are responsible for a deductible for any major accident. You pay a one-time activation charge upon sign-up, but avoid any significant down payments and registration and titling fees. As a business professional, this puts you in control and gives you back time to focus on things that matter. 

Speaking of time, imagine qualifying for cars from the comfort of your own home or business, and having the car delivered right to your door. This is what you get with a Steer subscription. Choose the subscription plan that best fits your needs and apply for membership. There is no haggling, no time wasted at the dealership, and no script to memorize before talking to a car sales representative. The prices are already negotiated, the fuel economy is already memorized, and the car history is, well, less important since members are paying to drive the latest and greatest models. 

We also offer a personalized concierge service, which ranges in style and scope based on the subscription service provider. However, having 24/7 access to a resource to answer any and all questions that you may have about your vehicle has been a major selling point for our current Steer subscribers.

Let’s consider one of the biggest ‘time guzzlers’ that owning a car entails: maintenance and roadside assistance. Car troubles seem like one of those unavoidable hassles, making you late to meetings and events when unexpected problems arise or taking you away from work or family time when you need to take your vehicle to and from the shop. At Steer, we take this process very seriously, and came up with a simple solution – we take care of everything.

A few months ago, one of our current members was, unfortunately, the victim of a hit and run. As a founder of a software development company, she didn’t have the time for filing a police report, taking her vehicle to and from the shop for repairs, waiting for parts to arrive, and figuring out a transportation solution while her car was being repaired. With Steer, we delivered her a new car that same day and handled all the insurance and repairs, saving her time (and money), so she could get back to focusing on what’s most important to her.

  
Benefit #2: Reduced Fuel, Mileage & Depreciation

 

Driving an awesome car does not have to come as an expensive hit to your business. One of our members, a sales rep for K-12 schools in Virginia, recently upgraded his Ford Fusion to a Tesla 3 with Steer and saw minimal changes to his monthly expenses (while his wife “sleeps better at night” knowing he has the latest safety features driving 200 miles a day).

By pricing on a month to month basis, subscribers are never forced to pay any major down payments, allowing more financial flexibility for any potential business or personal expenses. Every little bit counts, and going electric is an excellent value for anyone, particularly small business owners. 

Did you know that on a national average, it costs less than half as much to travel the same distance in an EV than a conventional vehicle? This is a game-changer for the entrepreneur who heavily relies on private transportation to network and grow their business. In addition, some utilities offer even cheaper rates to charge at night, which can further reduce your electricity costs.

Another fun tip: The Federal mileage reimbursement rate is a guideline for mobile worker reimbursement that every small business owner and business professional should consider. As long as the driver’s allowance or cents-per-mile reimbursements are not above this rate, the reimbursement is not taxable.

As of 2019, the reimbursement rate is 58 cents per mile. If you are in a sales or client-facing business that requires you to hit the road on a daily basis, this can be a real game-changer for you and your networking opportunities. Not to mention, you may be able to offset your subscription cost through the mileage reimbursement program—it’s a win-win!  

Check out this simple table below to see how much of an offset you could put towards your monthly Steer subscription. If you drive 100 miles per day, for example, you could offset up to $1,160 of costs, meaning two-thirds of your Steer subscription in the Premier plan (Tesla, Audis, Porsches, and more) would be covered. Besides the financials, if you drive this much on the daily, you definitely need the most advanced safety features – like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and blind-spot sensing – which come with most of Steer’s Premier plan vehicles.

It is important to note that only business use is deductible as a business expense, so driving records will need to be kept in order to prove business vs. personal use. Many of the current Steer members who take advantage of these incentives are in industries such as real estate, construction and military contracting, software sales, and more.

To search all laws and regulations relevant to EVs, including businesses, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Laws and Incentives database.  In addition, the 2020 IRS Standard Mileage Rates have not been published. This blog will be updated as soon as the IRS releases the updated reimbursement numbers.

And then there is the issue of depreciation.

It’s safe to say that anyone who has purchased or leased a vehicle is aware of the scary effects of depreciation. You buy a beautiful new car, and within minutes of driving it off the lot, it is significantly less valuable. In fact, according to CarFax, the value of a new vehicle can drop by more than 20% in the first 12-months of ownership. For EV’s, the depreciation rate can be even higher due to rapidly changing technology. 

As a business professional, there are many risks that you may be willing to take. However, if you have an opportunity to avoid investing in a vehicle that will most certainly depreciate, and instead subscribe to a no-commitment, month-to-month car service that takes care of your insurance, maintenance, and repairs, you are saving yourself precious time, energy and money that you can instead invest into your work. It’s a win-win!

 

Benefit #3: A Sustainable Corporate Image

 

In a world where technology is changing rapidly, and consumers care about your mission statement almost as much as your product or services, it’s more important than ever to be thoughtful in how you invest in your business and build your own personal brand. Whether or not you are a “car guy” (or gal!), your vehicle choice can be a statement to customers.  

How is your brand currently perceived? If you want to showcase a tech-forward, eco-friendly brand, then driving an EV would be a great option for you. One of our members, a real estate agent, told us she never gave out more cards than the first week she had a Tesla X from Steer!

It’s no secret that EV’s feature attractive, cutting-edge designs–and it’s a big draw for their customer base. In a recent survey of EV vehicle drivers, more than 57% cited that “attractive design for my vehicle” to be important. As a representative of your company’s personal brand, it is important to consider all aspects of your day-to-day (yes, your vehicle included) as an extension of your value proposition.

Finally, having a sustainability agenda that you can market to prospective customers while advocating through your own daily choices can often be the quality that sets you apart from the competition. We live in an age where consumers are increasingly aware of and supportive of companies that support social and environmental issues. In fact, according to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 66% of consumers would spend more on a product purchased from a brand that is considered sustainable. While an EV subscription is only one of many ways to reduce your business’s carbon footprint, it is important to consider the impact that integrating sustainable branding and messaging will have on your current and future business operations. 

 

Is an Electric Car Subscription right for me?

 

By now, we’ve talked through a wealth of benefits to a car subscription with Steer.

Steer’s pricing model allows you more cash flow flexibility and can save you money when compared to a traditional lease. These savings are compounded even further when using an EV for business.

Steer can save you a ton of time, eliminating the time and energy spent negotiating at a dealership, and our concierge service ensures you always have a working vehicle and don’t need to worry about insurance or repairs.

Steer’s fleet of high-end cars can even help your (and your businesses) image – both from a sustainability perspective, and, let’s be honest, these are just plain cool cars.

So is it right for you? Only you can make that decision for sure, but we’re here and always happy to help answer any questions.

 

Disclaimer: This article is simplified in order to provide you with general information. It is not tax or legal advice. Please check with your tax and financial advisors for questions related to incentives for your business.

 

Electric Cars in the Winter: The Best Driving Tips & Techniques

It’s no secret; most cars don’t perform well in the winter. Many factors, including cold temperatures, icy roads, and snow, all affect how well your vehicle will drive during the season. Electric cars generally handle and perform just as well, or even better than gas-powered cars during the winter. Plus -you’ll never need to worry about freezing your butt off at the gas station every week!

Still, even for electric vehicles (EVs), cold temperatures and harsh conditions present a few challenges.

Whether you currently own an EV or are considering alternative options like a car subscription to drive them, you must understand how to maximize your EVs overall performance during the cold season. We created this guide and are sharing with you some of the best tips and techniques to follow when driving your electric car this winter. We’ll cover the following: Precondition, Braking, Control, Traction, and Tires.

Before we give you the pro-tips, let’s breakdown the actual challenges electric cars face during the winter.

Challenges

Ultimately it all circles back to one thing, the battery. Battery performance is the biggest hurdle for EVs to overcome in the winter because power and range depletion is simply unavoidable during cold winters for electric cars. EV batteries will get fewer miles and operate less efficiently when it is cold. You will see anywhere between a 10-20% decrease in total range when temperatures drop. In a test study done by AAA, the Chevy Bolt, an EV that usually offers 238 miles per charge, significantly dropped its overall range and only gave 209 miles in cold temperatures. Lower temperatures also really slow down your EVs ability to fully charge. Of course, all of this will vary depending on the EV you’re driving and the exact weather conditions. Another factor to take into consideration is the use of the heater in your EV. Since the ability to control the temperature inside your electric car is entirely dependent on battery power, using your heater for an extended period while driving can significantly drain it. Other challenges to consider when driving your electric car in the winter include handling, traction, driving habits, etc. 

Now let’s see how we can solve these challenges…

Precondition 

 A great feature most EVs have today is preconditioning. The feature allows you to conserve energy and heat for both the interior and the battery with a scheduled “start” time from the car’s control/charging setting if you are plugged in. Preconditioning is good practice and beneficial for a few reasons. First, you will operate more efficiently, which means you’ll get back some of those miles. Also, nobody likes getting into their car during those cold winter mornings. So when you precondition your EV, you won’t have to heat the vehicle using your battery’s reserves, and it will be warm and ready whenever you decide to leave on your trip. In some situations, you don’t have the option to plug-in your EV and precondition, so it’s essential to check the total range before leaving and leave extra cushion for your trips.

Braking

The regenerative braking – that feeling of instantly slowing down when you remove your foot from the accelerator – is excellent for control and efficiency in EVs. However, during the winter, the cold battery limits this feature. Here is another reason preconditioning and warming up your battery is vital. Until the car is warm and the battery can better capture the excess energy created from braking friction, regenerative braking will feel less intense. Some EVs, like the Tesla Model S, don’t even use regenerative braking until the battery is warm. If you’re driving a short distance and your battery never gets warm, you’ll notice that feeling of instant slowdown when you remove your foot from the accelerator is much less than what you’re used to. If it’s a long trip, you’ll feel regen (regenerative braking) operate as usual once the battery warms up. In some EVs, like the Teslas and the Chevy Bolt, even the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 to a lesser extent, the regen feature is really powerful that it offers many EV drivers the one-pedal driving experience. In this experience, EV drivers drive by only using the accelerator to speed up and slow down without ever touching the brake pedal. 

Control, Traction, and Tires

EVs do far better in the snow than traditional cars, mainly because of design and architecture. For all vehicles, the center of gravity is vital for control and handling. With this in mind, EV manufacturers design these cars by placing the heavy EV battery lower to the ground, which gives electric cars a lower-center of gravity. This design contributes significantly to the EVs traction and ability to handle in snowy conditions. Specific EV systems like stability control and anti-braking can further help your handling and traction by monitoring your speed, activating your brakes, reducing power, and preventing your wheels from over-spinning. It’s also essential to continually monitor your tire pressure, and in some cases, it may be necessary to invest in winter tires for your EV, but of course, this entirely depends on where you live. In cities like Washington, D.C. or NYC, where moderate winter weather and snow conditions exist, winter tires won’t be necessary.

Other Tips & Techniques

Here are some more tips & techniques to consider when driving your EV during the winter:

  • Eco-mode is an excellent feature that reduces power output in electric cars, and it’s hugely beneficial during the winter. It’ll help you maintain lower speeds, extend your battery range, and save you money. 
  • Try always to keep your electric vehicle garaged or in an enclosed parking space to ensure your battery doesn’t get even colder than it needs to be. 
  • It might be beneficial to download and use an app to know where charging stations are located before hopping in the car. This is a general rule of thumb for EV drivers any time of year, but extra important in the winter. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in freezing weather and run out of range with no charging station in sight.
  • As mentioned earlier, the use of the heater while driving can drain your battery significantly, so set temperatures appropriately and use some of the unique EV features like the heated steering wheel and seats to compensate. 
  • Finally, drive conservatively. Avoid sudden acceleration and braking, and don’t drive at excessive speeds. All these factors affect the range of your EV, but more importantly, this is just good practice when driving any car in inclement weather. Moderate driving will keep you and others safe on the road. 

Should I Lease An Electric Car? What To Know Before You Do

To lease, or not to lease. That is the question.

In fact, it’s an increasingly common question for people looking for cars today. Traditionally considered a financially preferred option to purchasing a vehicle, leasing is now becoming less and less ideal for those who want electric vehicles (EVs). But why?

There are many factors to consider when deciding to lease an EV in today’s economy. In this guide, we’ll explain all the major factors to think about when leasing an electric car. Also, we’ll reveal new, more flexible, and hassle-free options out there to consider.  

So let’s jump right in!

The Big Financial Picture

Perhaps the biggest factor you should take into consideration is the financial burden. 

The initial down payment is typically lower when leasing an electric car, or depending on how you negotiate, the down payment may not even be necessary. Also, month-to-month payments are typically lower when leasing but this depends on a number of different components including interest rate, length of the lease, mileage, and residual value.

It’s also important to consider tax credits when leasing an EV. Both federal and state tax credits are offered for electric vehicles, but this is not always available when leasing. Because the leasing company can choose to maintain entitlement to the credit, it’s essential to read the fine print of the contract to determine if this credit will be passed along to you. If not, the discount should be reflected in the cost of the lease. All this being said, incentives are changing and phasing out for many popular EVs in the year ahead.

Federal tax credits will be eliminated for Teslas as soon as January 2020; Chevy will not qualify after March 2020, and next up is Nissan. What’s happening? There is a significant stand-off between lawmakers and the Trump administration on tax credits for electric vehicles. Federal tax breaks for qualified electric vehicles first started back in 2008 and will phase out when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles per manufacturer have been sold in the U.S. Many EV manufacturers have reached or are close to reaching this threshold. The Trump Administration has proposed eliminating the $7,500 EV tax credit completely, while other U.S. lawmakers are looking to extend tax credits for the electric car manufacturers with a new “Driving America Forward Act” bill. Be sure you’ve done your homework here as dealerships can be less-than-helpful in explaining the full picture of available incentives. 

Understanding Maintenance Costs

When leasing electric vehicles, just like with a gas car, maintenance costs are another factor to consider. However, there are some differences related to the maintenance of an EV. 

Unlike buying, when leasing an electric car, you’ll almost certainly have mileage restrictions. Standard leasing contracts offer annual mileage limits of 10,000 to 15,000 miles. For some drivers, this is sufficient, but for those road warriors or long-distance commuters, this can be a major burden. Exceeding mileage limits is costly and can set you back financially in a significant way. Dealers, on average, can charge anywhere between $0.10-$0.25 per additional mile.

It’s also important to consider the battery when leasing an EV. How far do you typically drive? Does the vehicle you’re leasing have enough range to get you everywhere you need to go? As with any battery, the lithium-ion battery pack that powers an electric vehicle will eventually become less powerful over time. However, this degradation is gradual, and EV batteries typically come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you plan to lease a vehicle for a standard 3 or 5-year term, you don’t have to worry about the state of the battery life of your vehicle, but you do need to consider the overall battery range that you need.

When it comes to regular maintenance costs, there are some quick wins with electric cars. No more oil changes. No engine repairs or transmission fluids. But with continued use of any car, it inevitably goes through the standard wear-and-tear and will need to be maintained: tires, brakes, and increasingly in these tech-heavy cars, software upgrades. These types of repairs can add unforeseen costs and still take up valuable time. When leasing an electric car, most dealerships require you to pay out of pocket for maintenance costs, and it can undoubtedly add-up during the duration of your lease. Also, it’s possible when returning a leased car, for dealers to charge on anything they deem excessive, including tire traction, windshield wipers, front and back headlights, etc. 

Valuing the Intangibles: Flexibility 

Last but not least: we need to talk about flexibility. Ultimately when you lease a vehicle, one of the major benefits is the opportunity to exchange cars every 3 to 5 years. Lifestyles change all the time, your car should too. The two-seat convertible that you were driving for the last three years may no longer be viable in your current situation, and having this flexibility allows you to change cars based on the circumstances of your life. Or maybe you just love variety!

When it comes to leasing an EV, the motivation to have more flexibility and vehicle options is not drastically different. What is different, however, is the pace at which technology is advancing electric vehicles. Not surprisingly, this is happening much more rapidly for electric cars than conventional vehicles. What may be considered the breakthrough technology of the century for one automaker can quickly become yesterday’s news. Consider the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-PACE, or Hyundai Kona, here are three great, all-electric SUV options that offer over 200 miles of range. Just a few years ago, the Nissan LEAF was one of the few on the market, with only an 85-mile range and a starting MSRP that was higher than the current, refreshed LEAF with a 150-mile range. New and exciting models are being announced by auto manufacturers every day, like the mid-sized Tesla Model Y, an SUV with a 300-mile range that will be available in 2020, according to Tesla. For tech-savvy consumers or those still suffering from range anxiety (the fear that you won’t have enough battery range to make all your driving trips) leasing an EV can be ideal because they can turn in their ‘outdated’ vehicle at the end of a lease-term and opt-in for the newest EV on the market. The longest-range electric vehicles available on the market today far exceed anything we’ve seen in the last few years.

Leasing is Not Your Only Option

Ultimately, it’s important to consider all your options before committing to a multi-year lease. In recent years, alternative options to leasing and purchasing vehicles have gained popularity. Car subscriptions are one of these options, which offers you a wide variety of cars, services, and flexibility for a month-to-month fee. We’ve already covered how subscriptions work, so now let’s look at how a car subscription is different from leasing by comparing it to what we’ve mentioned about leasing above.

Financial: The biggest cost difference with a subscription is that the monthly fee covers the total cost of owning a car. The membership fee is fixed and transparent, with no down payment, registration, or titling fees. This can be beneficial if you want to reduce the financial burden that comes along with leasing a car. With everything included in one easy payment, there are never any expensive surprises. Car subscriptions typically come with insurance, maintenance, and repair costs, included and give you access to a variety of different vehicles to drive, not just one.  

Maintenance: Like many other subscriptions – clothing, movies, groceries – which are all about that VIP service experience, car subscriptions are no different. Compared to a lease, a car subscription covers not only the cost of maintenance, but also handles any service issues, accidents, or insurance claims. This eliminates the usual headaches of car ownership and gives you back valuable time in your day. Subscriptions also come with 24/7 roadside support and, perhaps, the most significant difference compared to a lease, there are no mileage restrictions. 

Flexibility:  Let’s be honest. People want the latest technology, and they want options. Perhaps this is what makes leasing a car so appealing. However, car subscriptions take this to the next level. When you lease a car, you’re still committed for a minimum of three years, and breaking this contract can be expensive. But with a car subscription, there are no commitments – some offer as short as 30-day, month-to-month memberships. You are also not locked into a single car. Imagine having a garage that is continually being filled with the latest EVs, and all you have to do is use the app to drive something different the next day. That is what you get with car subscriptions. Total freedom and flexibility are at the heart of what makes a car subscription valuable and different from leasing.  

Still Set on a Lease? 

Leasing a vehicle can be considered a sensible option for customers who want to pay a lower monthly payment and avoid taking out a loan or putting down the recommended 20% when purchasing a vehicle. 

Drivers who choose to lease an electric car will have additional considerations such as mileage restrictions, wear-and-tear, and fees that may be associated with ending a contract before it is set to expire. Leasing companies will impose additional charges for mileage overages and damage to the vehicle upon lease expiration.

After reading this post, you have already done more research on leasing an electric vehicle than most and are well on your way to making an informed decision on if you should lease an electric car. Consider all the factors and then make the best decision for you.