Driving Experience

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles – also known as EVs – are cars, trucks and other road-ready vehicles that “plug-in” to use electricity either as their sole fuel or a first fuel backed by gasoline.


Most vehicles on the road today are still powered by an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline or diesel.


A hybrid electric vehicle has an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, with only one of these engines directly powering the vehicle at a time. An HEV doesn’t “plug-in.”


A plug-in hybrid has a larger battery than an HEV and must be plugged-in to be recharged from an electrical outlet or a charging station.


A battery electric vehicle is powered entirely by electricity stored in its battery, which is the sole power source for its electric motor. A BEV must be plugged into an external power source to recharge.



EV Cars on the Market

Hawaii EV Dealers and Showrooms by County



How Far Can I Drive?

The latest EV models are being released with battery ranges of 200+ miles per charge. For example, the 2020 Kia Niro EV has a range of 239 miles, the 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus has a range of 226 miles, and the 2020 Hyundai Kona has a range of 258 miles when fully charged. Where can an EV with those ranges realistically take you in Hawaii? Picture these road trips!


Range Anxiety

Driving in Hawaii

Range anxiety is the worry that your EV is going to run out of charge while you’re out and about. The question “Will I make it home?” is not one you want to have to ask yourself.

To feel comfortable about buying an EV, you need to know your vehicle will be ready to meet and exceed your needs every day. That includes days when you’ll need to use your EV a lot. Predicting your average use and your occasional above average use before buying an electric vehicle is important to avoid range anxiety. 

The miles an EV can travel on a single charge depends on factors that include the type of EV you’re driving, your driving speed and habits, the outdoor temperature and environment. Hawaii’s year-round mild climate is actually ideal for EV performance. Sure, most of us use our air conditioning while driving. But heating and defogging? Not so much. 

New battery electric vehicles should have a driving range of 100 to 250 miles. Plug-in hybrids may have a range of up to 300 miles since they also use gasoline power. For most EV owners, a complete recharge is not usually necessary for routine daily driving. However, the good news if you do need a quick charge, Hawaii has many fast charging stations statewide – and there are more being installed all the time. Even if you rarely use fast chargers because you can charge at home, it is reassuring to know they are available.

Source: EV Range Anxiety

Overcoming Range Anxiety

For drivers residing in Hawaii’s rural areas, range anxiety can prove a very real barrier when deciding on whether or not to purchase an EV.

It’s true that EV drivers spend more effort calculating routes and searching for roads they can coast on than drivers of internal combustion engine vehicles do. They also learn to memorize specific routes and the amount of charge each route consumes, and study and adjust their driving habits. That’s just part of ownership.

In considering a purchase, your best bet to overcome initial range anxiety might be test driving an EV, and doing a real-world study of the distances you typically drive daily and whether the places you go have charging stations.

EVs are great for owners with short commutes. And fortunately, for much of Hawai and especially on Oahu shorter drives are more the norm than lengthy road trips. A good salve for range anxiety.

Source: Overcoming Range Anxiety




Electric vehicles cost less to drive, less to maintain, and are even proving safer on the road than vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Think about it. Your car will never – we repeat, never – need an oil change. A gas station? Purchase a BEV and you might forget how to use a gas pump because you’ll never need one for the life of your car. No more gasoline fumes to inhale. No oil leaks. 

Based on statewide averages, the fossil fuel used to create power for an electric vehicle from the grid in Hawaii is 34 to 40 percent less than the fossil fuel required to directly power a similar gasoline-fueled vehicle. This will improve as Hawaii reaches 100 percent renewable electricity. 

Fuel Cost Comparison of a Nissan Leaf to Combustion Engine Cars

*Assuming 10,000 miles driven per year, $31.04 Average Residential Electricity Cost, and $0.09 EV Time of Use

Source: HSEO Facts and Figures, Average Price of Electricity



Thinking of Buying an EV?

Before you even decide on which EV will be parked in your garage, ask yourself these questions about EV ownership.

How Far Do You Drive?
Evaluate the number of miles you drive daily and your regular driving patterns to determine the mileage range you’ll need from your EV.

What Charging Options Are Available at the Places You Regularly Go?
Determine your options for recharging your EV at home, work, and all the places you regularly go. If you live in a rental home, condo, or multifamily dwelling, check with your landlord, management company, or condo/co-op board about EV charging rules.

How Fast Do You Need to Recharge from Empty?
You have two voltage options to choose from to charge your vehicle at home: a slow-charging, standard 120-volt outlet (one hour of charging = up to 4.5 miles) and a medium-charging 240-volt outlet (one hour of charging = 12 miles). At public places, you’ll find both 240-volt charging and 200-600 volt DC fast charging stations (10 minutes of charging = up to 40 miles). If you can’t decide on the best voltage option for your home, contact out team at Blue Planet Foundation lauren@blueplanetfoundation.org, or reach out to an EV Expert EV Expert Hawaii near you to ask your general charging questions. 

Source: EV for Homes


Which Vehicle is Right for Me?

Use Hawaiian Electric's Watt Plan to see an estimate of what your potential savings may be with an EV car.

I love my EV because there's virtually no maintenance required and I don't have to wait in line for gas. Driving an EV makes sense all around; a more efficient vehicle for the owner, more revenue for KIUC, and a cleaner environment for everyone.

Testimonial author photo

David Lee of Koloa (Kauai)