Everything You Need to Know About Owning an Electric Vehicle in Pennsylvania

Over the last few years, I‘ve had quite a few friends from Pennsylvania reach out with questions about making the switch to driving an electric vehicle (EV). As an experienced data analyst and long-time EV owner myself, I totally understand all the practical concerns that come with transitioning from a gas-powered car – costs, charging infrastructure availability, and how EVs handle roads trips are top of mind for many.

That‘s why I put this comprehensive guide together specifically for Pennsylvania drivers, using the latest available data and resources. My goal is to arm you with everything you need to evaluate whether an EV makes sense given your individual driving needs. I‘ll provide detailed cost breakdowns, incentives overview, charging infrastructure analysis, ownership experience commentary, and expert tips to help you successfully navigate EV ownership.

Let‘s get started!

The Current State of EV Adoption in Pennsylvania

Electric vehicles still represent a very small percentage of cars on Pennsylvania roads today, but are rapidly gaining popularity. In 2018, only around 8,000 EVs were registered in the state. However, as of Q1 2022, Pennsylvania had over 25,000 registered electric vehicles, led by Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This over 300% growth in just 4 years signals a major transition underway.

What‘s driving more Pennsylvania drivers to switch to EVs? For one, more affordable EV options have recently entered the market with improved cold weather range capabilities. Federal tax incentives also make purchasing an EV more appealing. But perhaps most notably, Pennsylvania‘s own robust rebate programs create very a compelling incentive for buyers in the state.

When you combine state and utility rebate offers with no gas expenses and very low electricity charging costs in PA (more details below), the 5-year cost savings versus traditional gasoline vehicles make EVs a financial no-brainer for many in-state buyers. Yes, you may pay slightly more upfront depending on the EV model, but you often recoup that extra cost in under 3 years before enjoying several years of practically "free" fuel.

However, before getting too carried away by the financials, let‘s dive deeper into two big questions Pennsylvania drivers have about transitioning to an EV:

  1. What does the current charging infrastructure look like state-wide?
  2. How exactly much does it cost me to charge various EV models?

I‘ll tackle these two concerns first before getting to incentives and ownership experiences later on.

Analyzing Pennsylvania‘s Current EV Charging Infrastructure

Charging infrastructure accessibility remains a key consideration for potential EV buyers in Pennsylvania. The good news? The state‘s networks are expanding rapidly.

Charger Locations# of Charging StationsPorts (Level 2/ DC Fast)Notes
Philadelphia Metro341921 / 123Highest concentration state-wide
Pittsburgh Metro223633 / 67
Retail Locations (Walmart, Target, etc)107492 / 18Average 5 ports per store
PA Turnpike742 / 0Additional 140+ planned by 2030
Interstate Highways334382 / 264I-76, I-80 lead in ports availabilty
Other Major Metros243502 / 31Allentown, Erie, Reading, Scranton
Statewide Total1,2552,972 / 503

Table showing breakdown of EV charging ports available by location in PA as of January 2023 (Source: US Dept. of Energy)

In 2022 alone, Pennsylvania added over 500 new public charging ports thanks to government investments. And much more charging infrastructure funding is on the way soon from the federal infrastructure bill.

Map showing current and planned EV charging locations in PA

Current EV charging infrastructure map for Pennsylvania with planned additions through 2025 (Source: PennDOT)

While Pennsylvania still lags behind some comparable states in charging availability, concentrated investment in metro regions and along major highways has greatly improved access over the last 5 years.

If you reside in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, charging on-the-go is certainly not a major issue currently limiting EV ownership. Even in smaller metros like Scranton, Erie, or Reading, availability of public charging has increased notably, albeit focused in certain retail locations.

For rural owners and longer highway trips, public charging availability remains a valid concern in 2023. But based on current infrastructure expansion plans through 2025, within 2-3 years coverage will have advanced enormously thanks to public and utility investments.

All in all, I suggest Pennsylvania drivers carefully evaluate charging infrastructure specific to their regular routes and destinations before purchasing an EV. Use tools like the Department of Energy‘s Alternative Fueling Station Locator to view stations near planned trip endpoints. While gaps in rural highway access still persist today, current growth trends indicate substantially better state-wide coverage coming very soon.

Electric Charging Cost Analysis for Top EV Models

Now that we‘ve reviewed the locations Pennsylvania drivers can access charging infrastructure today and in the near future, let‘s analyze the actual electricity costs associated with charging various EV models.

As I noted earlier, fuel savings is one of the biggest financial incentives spurring EV adoption across Pennsylvania. When you combine the state‘s very reasonable residential and commercial electricity rates with most modern EVs having over 100 MPGe efficiency, powering your driving with electrons instead of gasoline saves owners thousands of dollars annually.

But to help potential buyers understand true charging costs given their specific vehicle needs, I‘ve compiled this handy comparison table showing electricity consumption and charging expenses for 8 top-selling EV models:

EV ModelBattery SizeRangeElectricity UsedHome Charge CostPublic Charge Cost
2023 Chevy Bolt EV65 kWh259 miles25 kWh/100mi$4.13$10
2023 Ford Mustang Mach E98 kWh314 miles31 kWh/100mi$6.23$15.20
2023 Kia Niro EV65 kWh239 miles27 kWh/100mi$4.46$10.80
2023 Nissan Leaf Plus62 kWh212 miles29 kWh/100mi$4.76$11.60
2023 Tesla Model 3 RWD60 kWh272 miles22 kWh/100mi$3.63$8.80
2023 Tesla Model S100 kWh405 miles25 kWh/100mi$4.13$10
2023 Toyota BZ4X71 kWh242 miles29 kWh/100mi$4.76$11.60
2023 VW ID.482 kWh275 miles30 kWh/100mi$4.95$12

Comparison of estimated electricity usage, home charging cost, and public charging costs for leading EV models (costs based on current Pennsylvania residential and commercial electricity rates)

A few interesting observations jump out from this EV charging cost comparison:

  • Chevy Bolt EV delivers the most affordable charging – With only 25 kWh used per 100 miles driven and excellent 259 mile total range, the Bolt provides extremely cheap household electricity costs around $4 per full charge. Compare that to $50+ for a comparable gas vehicle fill up!

  • Tesla reputation for efficiency holds true – Both the Model 3 and Model S demonstrate class-leading electric mileage efficiency. This translates to lower total charging costs over high mileage driving.

  • Public DC fast charging about 2.5X more expensive – While extremely convenient for travel, DC fast chargers come at a premium price versus residential Level 2 rates in Pennsylvania. For high mileage drivers, installing a home charger saves substantially.

  • EVs vary significantly in efficiency – Note the differences in electricity usage per 100 miles driven. A Kia Niro EV is over 25% more efficient than a Volskwagen ID.4 as one example. Understand your needs to pick the right EV.

No matter what EV model you choose, you‘ll cut your car‘s fueling costs drastically versus traditional gasoline-powered options in Pennsylvania. And by installing a Level 2 home charger and using free public charging when possible, you further maximize savings while enjoying superb vehicle performance and reliability from your EV.

Now let‘s explore the very generous federal, state, local, and utility incentives available that sweeten the deal for Pennsylvanians transitioning to an electric vehicle.

Overview of Pennsylvania EV Purchase Incentives

In addition to all the ownership savings noted already, new electric vehicle registrations in Pennsylvania also qualify for sizable tax credits and cash rebates at both the federal and state level.

Let‘s summarize the current offerings as of 2023:

Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

The federal government offers up to a $7,500 tax credit for new EV purchases up to certain manufacturer sales limits. However, the tax credit does begin to phase out after an automaker sells over 200,000 EVs in the U.S. Which companies qualify today?

AutomakerMax Credit AmountPhase-Out Status
Ford$7,500No
GM$7,500Phased Out Q1 2023
Hyundai/Kia$7,500No
Tesla$0Phased Out Q1 2022
Toyota$7,500No
Volkswagen$7,500No

So shoppers still have many 2023 EV options with the maximum $7,500 federal tax incentive available including new Ford, Hyundai/Kia, and Toyota models – a big discount off purchase price. Unfortunately credits for GM and Tesla purchases have recently expired.

State Rebates through Pennsylvania DEP

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection currently offers very generous cash rebates up to $2,000 to residents who buy a new battery or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Rebate amounts and vehicle qualifications are listed below:

Rebate TypeDetails
Battery electric vehicle purchase$2,000
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle purchase$1,000
Electric motorcycle purchase$500

The state program does limit the total number of rebates issued each year, so apply quickly using PA DEP‘s official rebate portal once you purchase the EV. Nearly $12 million remains available in 2023, but funding is first-come, first-served. Applicants must provide a valid PA driver‘s license and vehicle registration along with purchase documentation.

Utility Rebate Programs

Pennsylvania‘s major utility companies also offer special rebates or discounts to customers installing a home EV charging station or enrolling in time-of-use residential charging programs.

For example, Duquesne Light provides a $500 rebate to offset the cost of a home charger and offers EV-specific TOU rates as low as 7 cents per kWh overnight. PPL Electric Utilities offers special "off-peak charging" rates down to just 5 cents per kWh which helps maximize savings.

Check with your local utility provider to ask about program terms and eligibility needs specific to your Pennsylvania address.

When combined, buyers can stack total incentives of $10,000 or more when purchasing certain new electric vehicles in 2023 and installing a qualifying home charging setup. That‘s an incredible amount of upfront discount that shortens the EV payback period versus gasoline cars even more.

The Real-World Experience of Owning an EV in Pennsylvania

With all the factual data and financial breakdowns covered already, I want to wrap up the guide by giving you a bit of insight into the actual experience of owning and driving an electric vehicle within Pennsylvania from some fellow resident owners:

"We‘ve put over 15,000 miles on our Hyundai Ioniq 5 this first year driving all over Bucks County and taking several longer trips. Having so many charging locations at malls and grocery stores we frequent anyway keeps it very convenient. The fast acceleration is great fun – and not paying for gas anymore is even better!" – Brian from Langhorne, PA

"I‘ll admit I was a bit nervous at first about charging on some trips to see family out in Altoona…but the infrastructure is way better than I realized once you locate stations along your route. And when we charge up at relatives‘ houses, we just plug into a normal outlet without issues. Honestly after a year driving electric, I could never go back to a gas car again." – Anne from Lancaster, PA

"Here in downtown Pittsburgh, finding places to charge publicly has never been a concern. But I mostly just plug in at home and start every day ‘full‘. Given my modest driving needs, my Fiat 500e basically costs nothing in electricity to keep charged. When you add in clean air benefits to the city plus Pennsylvania‘s awesome rebate I got, going electric made complete sense." – Jay from Pittsburgh, PA

As you can tell from actual Pennsylvania EV owners, once daily charging logistics are figured out for your specific driving routes, the electric vehicle ownership experience proves comfortable, convenient and cheap long-term. And the state‘s ever-growing public charging network plus generous rebates provide great incentives versus other areas of the country.

Recommendations and Next Steps if Considering an EV

If I‘ve piqued your interest about transitioning to an electric vehicle in Pennsylvania, here are my top recommendations as next steps while you evaluate options:

  • Take a test drive! Most major automakers now offer electric models to experience benefits firsthand
  • Calculate potential fuel savings using EV comparison tools from PA DEP and PECO that factor your actual driving needs
  • Explore EV charging infrastructure availability along your regular commute and trip routes
  • Research purchase prices and get quotes from dealerships, being sure to ask about qualifying incentives
  • Learn about home charging installation requirements and costs
  • Compare total cost of ownership estimates over 5-10 years for gas vs electric
  • Check your utility company or municipality for local rebates on top of Pennsylvania‘s state offerings
  • Join EV owner forums and groups on Facebook to ask questions specific to your PA region

I hope this guide has provided you clarity and confidence around what owning an electric vehicle in Pennsylvania realistically looks like. Please feel free to reach out directly if any other questions come up along your purchase journey! Making the EV switch myself years ago was one of the best decisions I‘ve made – and soon you‘ll be enjoying the ride while saving money.

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