Electric Vehicle FAQs

What are the benefits to owning an EV?

The City supports active and sustainable modes of transportation, like walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation. However, if a car is essential for individuals to travel around or through Cambridge, electric vehicles are an environmentally-friendly option compared to cars powered by internal combustion engines (ICE). Benefits include:

       Decreased Emissions

Battery electric vehicles do not emit any pollution at the tailpipe. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, EVs can emit up to 99 percent less conventional air pollution than ICE vehicles even when charging from the grid. Although there are some emissions associated with the production of electricity when EVs are charged through the regional power grid, there are zero emissions if an EV is charged from renewable sources such as solar or wind.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) have both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. When they are running on the electric motor, they do not emit pollution at the tailpipe. But when the ICE takes over or recharges the battery, pollutants are emitted.

       Enhanced Efficiency

Electric vehicles are more efficient than vehicles with internal combustion engines. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the battery to power the wheels—internal combustion engines only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline.

       Simple Maintenance

Electric vehicles are simpler and cheaper to maintain than ICE vehicles. EVs do not need regular oil changes.


Electric vehicles are better-suited for urban driving compared to internal combustion engines. They provide a smoother, quieter ride and stronger acceleration in the stop-and-go traffic of cities.

Additional Resources

How are EVs Charged?

There are different types of charging equipment, referred to as Levels 1, 2, and 3:

  • Level 1 involves plugging into a standard wall outlet.
  • Level 2 (most common) uses specialized equipment with a 240-volt connection, similar to the type of plug used for dryer connections.
  • Level 3 is a rapid charging option

While many EV owners across the country charge their vehicles at home, this can be challenging for Cambridge residents who do not have access to a driveway. To address this challenge, the City installed public charging stations in several municipal owned parking lots throughout Cambridge. View City-owned charging station locations

Are there incentives for owning EVs?

       Current and Prospective EV Owners


As of January 1st, 2019, Massachusetts' MOR-EV program has reduced the maximum offered rebate amount from $2,500 to $1,500 and will no longer accept applications for the purchase or lease of hybrid electric vehicles or vehicles above $50,000. Click here to view eligible vehicles; applications are due within 3 months of purchasing the vehicle,
To learn more about the program or the application process, please review their FAQ.

Federal tax credits

Electric vehicles (both battery electric and plug-in hybrids) purchased after 2009 are eligible for a federal income tax credit ranging from $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the battery capacity. The full amount of the tax credit will decline after the manufacturer has sold 200,000 EVs, such as for Tesla and General Motors.

Drive Green

Drive Green is a limited-time EV discount program run by The Green Energy Consumers Alliance. It aims to make choosing an EV easier and more affordable; anyone is eligible to participate and receive a discount to purchase or lease a wide selection of EVs at a participating dealer.

       Corporate Partnerships

Eversource EV Make Ready Program

Eversource is looking for site hosts to partner with for their EV Make Ready program, which offers to cover the build-out of electrical infrastructure at parking lots to support the eventual installation of electric vehicle charging stations. Follow the link to learn more about the program, who is eligible, and how to apply.


MassEVolves is a new state program that encourages and recognizes private sector investments in transportation electrification through electric vehicle awareness campaigns and electric vehicle charging programs. It will support companies in achieving their ZEV aspirations by providing information resources, sharing relevant experiences and, when appropriate, mentoring others.

What kinds of electric vehicles are there?

There are two types of electric vehicles (EVs):

  • Battery electric: These are all-electric vehicles with an electric motor in place of an internal combustion engine (ICE). The power used to run the electric motor is stored in the onboard battery and recharged from the regional power grid. Newer EVs are expected to have a range of 80-300 miles per charge, depending on battery size, driving style, and weather conditions.
  • Plug-in hybrids: These are vehicles that combine electric motors with internal combustion engines. The ICE can run the vehicle or recharge the batteries if the electricity runs low. Plug-in hybrids will get about 10-50 miles on the electric motor and battery alone. Unlike a hybrid vehicle, plug-in hybrids can be recharged from the electric grid.

Just like traditional cars with internal combustion engines, EVs come in a variety of makes, models, and colors. They range in cost from a $24,500 Misubishi iMiEV to $100,000 luxury Tesla models.

Explore EV makes and models: