You’ve heard and read a lot about solar PV systems for your home and how great they are, but you don’t just have to go green at home. Thanks to today’s technology, you can be green on the road too! Today’s top electric cars come with lithium-ion batteries, regenerative braking, electric motors, and can be charged anywhere at anytime for ultimate convenience. While this seems to be a standard in electric cars, each one has its own individual look and style with its own unique features. Each car helps the environment so pick the car that is best fit for you… or that you think looks the prettiest.


TOYOTA PRIUS (HYBRID)Reasonably priced at $24,200, the Toyota Prius is “the hybrid that started it all.” It has 51-MPG city, 48-MPG highway, and 50 MPG combined. It is Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) certified. It’s regenerative braking technology captures most of the energy that would have been lost during braking and stores in back in the battery, specifically for EV-mode where you can drive 1 mile solely on battery power. Regenerative braking also increases fuel savings. A special feature of the Prius is its Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD). The engine, the electric motor, and a combination of both are able to power Hybrid Synergy Drive. HSD automatically chooses whichever mode gives the best MPG.


CHEVROLET VOLT (PLUG-IN HYBRID)The Chevrolet Volt is a nice fit for those who don’t drive long distances on a daily basis. Its battery life gives about 38 miles, but its generator adds an extra 342 miles. In total, it can go 380 miles on its battery and a tank of gas. The gas-powered generator also gives the battery enough power to keep it alive until it can be recharged. A 120V outlet can fully charge the battery in 10-16 hours, which costs around $1.70 per day. A 240V outlet can fully charge it in roughly 4 hours. The Volt has also has an electric drive unit that moves the wheels using electricity. The electricity either comes from the battery or from the generator.


CHEVROLET SPARK EV (ALL-ELECTRIC)The Chevrolet Spark EV is an all-electric car meaning that it is completely gas and emission-free. There is absolutely no tailpipe, but there is a lithium-ion battery that can charge fully in 7 hours using a 240V charger. This may seem like a long time, but SAE Combo Fast-Charging stations can charge the battery 80% in 20 minutes! The Spark EV is also estimated to get 128 MPGe city, 109 MPGe highway, and 82 miles per charge. With numbers like these, you can save $6,250 in fuel costs in 5 years. It is also the cheapest electric car at a starting price of $18,495.


As an all-electric vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric uses no gas, requires no oil changes, and emits absolutely no CO2into the air. It has an EPA-estimated 110 MPGe city, 99 MPGe highway, and 105 MPG combined. It can also get 76 miles on each charge. It has such great MPG numbers because of its 107 kW electric motor. As expected, it can charge using either a standard 120V outlet or a 240V outlet. You can monitor and schedule charging using your smart phone. Its regenerative braking recaptures 90% of the energy that would otherwise have been lost. Ford took regenerative braking one step further with Brake Coach, which tells the exact percentage of braking energy that was recaptured after each stop.


The Kia Soul EV is the second cheapest all-electric car featured at a starting price of $26,200. Its lithium-ion battery has 27 kWh worth of energy for maximum driving range. In fact, the Kia Soul EV has an EPA-estimated range of 93 miles, the best in its class. Its electric motor has 109 horsepower and a 96% efficiency rate. It has an electric drivetrain so there’s no revving the engine or gear switching. A unique feature of the Soul EV is its Standard DC fast charging. It has a 6.6 kW charger so you can charge your car 80% in just 30 minutes!


The VW e-Golf also has DC fast charging equipped. Using a 240V wall box, it fully charge in roughly 4 hours. The e-Golf has the third highest miles per charge at 83 miles. Its 115 horsepower electric motor gives 126 MPG city/highway and 105 MPGe. It is has a starting price of $33,450, which is more expensive than most of the cars featured, but is still much cheaper than the BMW i series, Tesla, and the Mercedes B-Class Electric.


The Mercedes B-Class Electric is on the pricier side of electric cars with a MSRP of $41,450. It does have the standard electric feature of being able to be charged using a 120V or 240V outlet, however, regenerative braking is optional. Although, why wouldn’t you want it? It saves additional energy so you can save more money! Another plus to the B-Class Electric is its driving range. It has 87 miles of pure electric range- the second highest range featured!


The BMW i3 is close in price to the Mercedes B-Class Electric. It has a MSRP of $42,400. It is one of two cars in the BMW i series. It has a 124 MPGe, can get up to 81 miles per charge (all-electric model), and is available with a range extender that doubles the electric driving range. The range extender is a gas-powered, two-cylinder engine that keeps battery life at 5% so you don’t have to stress about making it to the nearest charging station. The battery can be fully charged in 3.5 hours. You can check the charging status of your car using your smart phone. The BMW i series offers a BMW i Charging Station for at-home charging.


The BMW i8 is the second car in the BMW i series. This sports car has 76 MPGe with a total mile range of 330 miles, and can charge completely in as little as 2.5 hours. It has four driving modes that are all environmentally friendly: Comfort, Sport, Eco Pro, and eDrive. Comfort mode is a nice balance between fuel efficient and sporty. Sport mode uses the electric motor to give the car a boost in speed. Eco Pro is a more efficient and optimized drive style that can be used in all-electric and hybrid mode. eDrive mode gives you 15 purely electric miles at 75 mph. It is the priciest car featured at a base price of $136,500.


The Tesla Model S is the second most expensive electric car mentioned in this article. Prices vary from $75,000-$105,000 (cash price) depending on the type of battery you purchase, but there is a reason why it is so pricey. It has the highest safety ranking in America, comes with an amazing autopilot feature, is available with an all-wheel drive dual motor, and has an EPA-estimated 270 mile range. Of course it can be charged using an 110V outlet or a 240V outlet at home, at your friend’s house, or a charging station. Use 240V for a faster charging time. You can even set a charging time for your Tesla using the Touchscreen feature or a smart phone. (It is best to charge your car between the hours of midnight at 6am because that’s when electricity rates are lowest).

All of these cars are great options because they run on electricity. More often than not, you will be charging your car at home and using that electricity, which would seem to help run up your electric bill, but it doesn’t have to! Aside from charging at night, solar power can offset the amount of electricity used during the night and could even reduce your bill to zero dollars. Now who doesn’t want that? Contact HES Solar to find out more about home solar elctric panels and home charging stations and schedule your free energy evaluation today!


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We are a San Diego-based, family-owned solar company. We have been an energy innovator since 2001 and can handle projects from small, rooftop solar panel additions to large-scale commercial microgrid systems. 

Our website is a great resource for your solar research. We’d also love to speak with you to answer any specific questions you have about your project. Click here to be contacted by an HES Solar representative, or simply dial us at 619-692-2015. We don’t use call centers so you’ll speak with a full-time HES Solar employee in California.

Robert Laverty

Senior Energy Consultant, Residential

Robert Laverty joined the HES team in the summer of 2018, bringing his ten years of solar design experience and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound with him. Robert is dedicated to finding solutions to help families produce and store electricity in order to reduce their reliance on grid power as well as help reduce their household’s carbon footprint. Robert’s experience as a newspaper editor as well as his involvement with the sustainability-focused Rocky Mountain Institute drives him to constantly seek out innovative ways to meet energy needs through renewable resources as well as helps him share those ideas with Southern California homeowners. When not at work or volunteering time with his church or community, Robert spends time with his wife and two sons or pursues his passion of fly fishing.

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