The Inflation Reduction Act offers great incentives for purchasing electric vehicles. What do South Dakotans need to know about EVs and charging infrastructure?
Electric vehicles (EVs) have become a prominent topic within the climate change conversation, with scientists and politicians discussing and sometimes arguing about the damaging impact of our everyday driving habits on the environment. However, EVs are not a simple topic easily understood through a simple Google search. It takes some deep diving to understand the important facts of EVs in your local area. What are some of the basics of EVs in the Midwest, and some of the new and innovative technologies that are coming out everyday?
Electric Vehicles: The Basics
EVs are vehicles powered by electric batteries, which weigh on average 1400 pounds. The vehicles are plugged into either an outlet at home or at a charging station, and after a certain length of time, the batteries become fully charged similar to gas. The amount of charge an EV has indicates the number of miles it can travel, known as “range”. Similar to gas stations, you do want to be aware of where charging stations are along the route you are traveling to charge up.
When purchasing an EV, make sure that there are dealerships near you that have the required tools to work on the vehicle. Only technicians who are certified in electric vehicles will service them. Usually they require special charging stations, tools and lifts to work on these vehicles.
Electric vehicle owners should make sure their battery charge never gets below 20% on average. Also, be prepared for suspension maintenance on these vehicles, as EVs have heavy-duty suspension to support the 1400-pound battery. Oil should be changed every 60k-80k miles, depending on the model.
Buying and Driving EVs in the Midwest
Within the Midwest, the number of places that sell EVs has been growing. Local readers have probably begun to see EVs from brands like GM, Ford, Toyota, Tesla and Rivian around South Dakota – and wondered Where do they charge those things? The greater Sioux Falls area has 95 charging stations and counting. You can use Google Maps to find charging stations near you as well as websites such as plugshare.com. In addition, most electric vehicles are equipped with a GPS that locates the nearest charging station.
Don't worry; most of these charging stations are friendly to all the varied electric vehicles on the market right now, and they are prepared to use the J1772 charging ports. If your EV is not a Tesla and you need to use a Tesla charging station, you will have to buy an adapter for Tesla’s charging stations.
If you are looking to purchase an EV, there are multiple area dealerships that carry EVs, such as Luxury Auto Mall and Billion GMC/Chevrolet. Subaru just released their Subaru Solterra EV. There is a Tesla dealer in Council Bluffs, Iowa. However, if you want to purchase a Rivian, you will need to order one online.
What’s Coming Up?
Electric vehicle technology is constantly evolving with new developments that improve on the existing technology. These ongoing efforts will make EVs even more accessible and more environmentally beneficial than they currently are.
Due to the complexity and variety of resources needed to manufacture them, lithium EV batteries have been difficult to recycle. Companies are now finding a way to recycle those batteries properly so that the mixed components can get reused. Companies like Battery Recyclers of America will pick EV batteries up essentially from any of the 50 states to recycle them for you.
More big news for drivers looking for alternatives to petroleum-powered combustion engines is not on the market yet: a new clean resource currently being tested as a way to power vehicles. The Korean Institute of Mechanical Research in Mobile Power is looking at 2L-class hydrogen-fueled engines where hydrogen is injected into the combustion chamber.
“Compared with gasoline engines, the newly developed hydrogen engine helps to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and fine particulates by 99% and 90%, respectively, which meets EU requirements for zero-emission vehicles.” (Green Car Congress 2023, https://www.greencarcongress.com/2023/09/20230908-kimm.html)
Electric Vehicle Readiness in Sioux Falls
Locally, the City of Sioux Falls has started conducting an electric vehicle readiness survey. The results will most likely be released at the beginning of January. If you would like to keep an eye on the result, follow the link at https://siouxlandlib.org/sitecore/content/Corporate/Home/public-works/environmental-recycling-hazardous/sustainability/ev-study. The survey's goal is to help the city research how prepared it needs to be for electric vehicles by determining if there will be a large influx of EVs coming into Sioux Falls.
I took the survey myself; a majority of the questions relate to what people know about EVS, how people feel about EVs, and the knowledge or information people currently have regarding these vehicles. With electric vehicles becoming more affordable and the technology constantly adapting, there is a lot of confusing information out there.
Electric Vehicle Incentives for Buyers
New tax credits available for electric vehicles were created last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Who qualifies and for how much credit depends on the level of income, the particular new or used car model, and when it is purchased. Taxpayers could receive full or partial tax credit. Also, home EV chargers may qualify for up to an additional $1000 tax credit. The U.S. Department of Energy provides useful specifics on their website at https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/new-and-used-clean-vehicle-tax-credits.
Happy EV motoring!