Owning an Electric Vehicle in Virginia: Charging Costs, Incentives and More

Virginia is fast becoming an electric vehicle friendly state thanks to expanding charging infrastructure, available incentives, and low electricity rates. As of September 2022, over 31,000 electric vehicles were registered in the state, accounting for around 0.4% of all vehicles. While EV adoption is still in early stages, Virginia has set ambitious goals to transition more drivers to electric cars.

So what‘s attracting EV owners to Virginia? This comprehensive guide examines the key factors potential buyers should consider, including upfront costs, charging infrastructure, electricity rates, incentives and more. Read on to find out if owning an electric vehicle makes financial sense for Virginia drivers.

Charging Infrastructure in Virginia

Access to charging stations is critical for any prospective EV owner. The good news is Virginia continues to grow its charging network through public and private investments.

As of September 2021, Virginia had about 1,139 public charging stations with 3,301 charging ports. This includes a mix of Level 1, Level 2 and DC Fast Charge connectors. Over the next five years, Virginia expects to add between 19 to 26 more stations with 150kW DCFC chargers thanks to a $106 million allocation from the federal infrastructure bill.

The city with the most chargers is Virginia Beach (551 stations), followed by Richmond (418 stations). Rural cities like Martinsville (6 stations) and Big Stone Gap (2 stations) have the fewest charging options currently available.

Types of Chargers Available

There are three main types of EV chargers available in Virginia:

  • Level 1 – Slowest, used for overnight charging at home. Provide about 2-5 miles of range per hour charged.
  • Level 2 – Offer 10-20 miles per hour of charging; commonly found in public locations.
  • DC Fast Charge – Fastest option which can provide 60-80 miles of range in just 20 minutes.

Level 2 chargers are the most widely available, with prime locations including shopping centers, hotels, parking garages, and airports. Virginia Beach has 62 Level 2 stations, while Richmond has 96.

DC Fast Chargers are less common but new funding aims to accelerate deployment. Virginia Beach currently only has 2 DCFC locations, but Richmond fairs better with 32 stations.

Charging Station Locator Apps

Finding a public charging station is easy thanks to apps like PlugShare and ChargeHub. These provide maps of nearby stations along with useful filters to find the right charger type, power level and price information. They even let you see if a station is currently occupied.

Apps are invaluable when planning longer trips in electric vehicles. Drivers can map out charging stops along their route to ensure they don‘t run out of juice.

Cost of Owning an EV in Virginia

While the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is typically higher than a similar gas-powered option, Virginia drivers can save substantially on ongoing fuel and maintenance expenses. Electricity prices are also affordable compared to the national average.

Here‘s a full breakdown of the costs:

  • The average residential electricity rate in VA is $0.115 per kWh, which equates to around $0.14 per mile of driving. This is about 8.5% cheaper than the national average EV running cost.
  • In addition to regular car registration fees, EV owners must pay Virginia an annual $116.49 highway use fee.
  • Insurance premiums run higher for EVs – averaging around $2,228 per year according to Forbes.
  • Maintenance costs are lower thanks to fewer fluids, filters and brake pad replacements needed. But when repairs are required, they tend to be more expensive.

To give a complete cost example, let‘s look at three popular EV models available in Virginia and break down annual ownership costs:

2023 Tesla Model Y Long Range

  • Purchase Price: $52,990
  • Electricity Cost: About $12 per full charge (300 miles)
  • Insurance: Approximately $2,800 per year
  • Cost to Charge: $0.14 per kWh x 75 kWh battery = $10.50
  • Est. Annual Cost: $16,450

2023 Rivian R1S

  • Purchase Price: $78,000
  • Electricity Cost: About $17.66 per full charge (300 miles)
  • Insurance: Approximately $2,600 per year
  • Annual Cost: $18,750

2023 Chevy Bolt EV

  • Purchase Price: $27,495
  • Electricity Cost: $7-$10 per full charge (250 miles)
  • Insurance: Approximately $1,800 per year
  • Annual Cost: $10,500

As demonstrated, annual running costs for an EV in Virginia may only amount to about half compared to their gasoline counterparts. Take the Chevy Bolt EV which costs just $10,500 per year to run, whereas an equivalent small hatchback can easily exceed $15,000+ per year in gas and maintenance expenses alone.

Over a 5-10 year ownership period, the long term savings are substantial.

Incentives for Buying an EV in Virginia

To further reduce costs, Virginia offers generous cash incentives for drivers who purchase an electric vehicle:

  • Federal Tax Credit – Qualified EVs are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit which directly reduces your tax bill. There are no state caps or sales limits on the federal credit.
  • State Cash Rebate – As of January 2022, Virginia offers a point-of-sale rebate worth $4,500 off new EV purchases. Used EVs under $25,000 also qualify for a $2,500 rebate.
  • Emissions Testing Exemption – Pure battery electric vehicles are exempt from emissions inspections which are otherwise required in certain VA counties.
  • Utility Company Rebates – Some providers like Dominion Energy offer $125 rebates for installing Level 2 home EV chargers. Others provide discounted TOU rates.

In total, savings from tax credits, rebates and reduced charging costs typically offset higher EV prices within just a few years of ownership.

Is Virginia Ready for More EVs?

Thanks to accelerating infrastructure expansions, charging an electric vehicle in Virginia is getting easier than ever. Major highways will soon have numerous DCFC options located every 50 miles or less. And electricity rates are affordable compared to the US average.

For those looking to escape volatile gas prices, an EV can save over $2,000+ per year in refueling costs alone. Include federal and state incentives valued up to $12,000 in total, and most EV models pay for themselves within 5-7 years.

In summary, Virginia still has room for improvement but increasing adoption shows the state is certainly on pace to become a promising EV destination in years to come.

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