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Plug-in electric vehicles (also known as electric cars or EVs) are as safe and easy to maintain as conventional vehicles. While driving conditions and habits will impact vehicle operation and vehicle range, some best practices can help you maximize your all-electric range.
EVs must undergo the same rigorous safety testing and meet the same safety standards required for conventional vehicles sold in the United States as well as EV-specific standards for limiting chemical spillage from batteries, securing batteries during a crash, and isolating the chassis from the high-voltage system to prevent electric shock. In addition, EVs tend to have a lower center of gravity than conventional vehicles, making them less likely to roll over and often improving ride quality.
One safety concern specific to EVs is their silent operation; pedestrians may be less likely to hear an EV than a conventional vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is studying ways to address this issue, such as requiring EVs to emit audible sounds at low speeds. This option is already available on many EVs, including the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. In any case, you should use extra caution when driving your EV in pedestrian areas.
Because of their differing technologies, all-electric vehicles (AEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have different types of required maintenance. Both will require minimal scheduled maintenance to their electrical systems, which can include the battery, electrical motor, and associated electronics. However, because of regenerative braking, brake systems on EVs typically last longer than on conventional vehicles.
In general, AEVs require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because there are usually fewer fluids (like oil and transmission fluid) to change and far fewer moving parts. In contrast, because PHEVs have gasoline engines, maintenance requirements for this system are similar to those in conventional vehicles.
Like the engines in conventional vehicles, the advanced batteries in EVs are designed for extended life, but will wear out eventually. Currently, most manufacturers are offering 8-year/100,000-mile warranties for their batteries. Nissan is providing additional battery capacity loss coverage for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Manufacturers have also extended their coverage in states that have adopted the California emissions warranty coverage periods, which require at least 10-year coverage for batteries on partial zero-emissions vehicles (which include EVs). Check with your dealer for specific information about battery life and warranties.