Did you know that emissions from cars, trucks and buses make up over 40 percent of the climate pollution released in Massachusetts? Here on the Cape, transportation emissions are even higher: 55.5 percent.

In the race to reduce air pollution and cut greenhouse gas emissions before our climate reaches a dangerous tipping point, cutting vehicle emissions is the highest priority.

How can you be a part of that process? Walk, bike or ride mass transit if you can. Plan errands so you drive less. And when it’s time to purchase a new car or truck, choose an electric vehicle.

Now is an ideal time to kick the tires on an electric vehicle (EV), learning how they run, what they cost, and which model will meet your family or business’s needs. The Falmouth Energy Committee offers the following information as a start.

What is an EV?

First, the basics: There are two types of EVs: A Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) runs entirely on electricity. The Chevy Bolt is an example of a BEV.

A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) runs on electricity stored in its battery and switches to a gas-powered engine after the battery charge is used up. The Mitsubishi Outlander SUV is an example of a PHEV.

How far can I go on an EV?

Most EVs can run more than 100 miles on a charge and some can travel 200 to 300. Tesla Model S achieves 520 miles on a single charge. PHEVs currently get about 30 miles on a single charge, and sometimes fewer miles during colder months. But remember, the gas-powered engine kicks in after the charge runs out, so “range anxiety” is not an issue.

How is an EV charged?

It is possible to charge your EV at your home (or other location) by plugging into a garage or an outdoor AC outlet; this mode of charging takes about 10-12 hours. The faster Level II DC charger takes about 3-4 hours to achieve a full charge, depending upon your car’s battery size. A Level II charger is purchased separately (about $600, plus installation), has to be hard-wired and needs to have a dedicated circuit in the main panel. The fastest Level III DC charger can give a full charge in about an hour. Level III chargers are increasingly available on major highways, parking garages and shopping centers making long-distance trips in an EV entirely feasible.

Are electric vehicles more expensive to buy than gas-powered cars?

There are generous financial incentives available that make purchasing or leasing an EV a smart choice. Consumers can claim up to $7,500 in federal tax credits for electric vehicles. In addition, Massachusetts’ Mor-EV program offers a $2,500 rebate for BEVs and $1,500 rebate for PHEVS, including light, medium and heavy duty trucks. The Green Energy Consumers Alliance offers a “Drive Green” program with pre-negotiated discounts on EVs and PHEVs and takes the haggling out of the car-buying process. Be sure to check its site full of information: www.greenenergyconsumers.org/drivegreen. There are incentives for installation, too. A US federal tax credit gives individuals 30 percent off an electric vehicle charger and installation costs (up to $1,000). One must purchase and install by December 31, 2021, and claim the credit on your federal tax return.

Statistically speaking, you are likely to trade in your vehicle in the not too distant future. (The average duration of vehicle ownership is nine years.) US carmakers like GM, as well as the state of Massachusetts, have pledged to transition its cars and SUVs to all-electric by 2035.

EVs contribute to cleaner air and save money by eliminating or reducing trips to the pump. They require minimal maintenance—just tires, windshield wiper replacement and fluids on all-electric vehicles. EVs also contribute to healthier air, they run quietly and are extremely responsive and fun to drive.

So start picturing yourself behind the wheel of an electric car or truck. You may soon want to leave your gas-powered vehicle in the rear-view mirror.

Ms. Carey, North Falmouth, is a member of the Falmouth Energy Committee and drives a Honda Clarity PHEV.

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