Guide to purchasing an electric vehicle

Electric car charging station
Purchasing guide for electric vehicles from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). Role of electric vehicles (EVs) in Portland, where to purchase or lease EVs, info on Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, cost savings, and more links.
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The idea of switching to an electric vehicle can be daunting, but purchasing one has never been easier or more affordable. There are rebates to help with the upfront cost, and electric vehicles have lower lifelong maintenance and fuel costs.

The role of electric vehicles in Portland 

Alongside strategies like building denser, better connected, more sustainable neighborhoods and reducing vehicle miles traveled, transportation electrification is a key strategy in advancing Portland’s decarbonization goals. Transportation is the largest single contributor to Portland's greenhouse gas emissions. Prioritizing clean fuels will reduce emissions while reducing localized air pollution such as ozone and particulate matter, which are linked to negative health impacts and are often concentrated in communities where more Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color, and low-income people live.  

However, electric vehicles will not solve all our problems. Continuing to drive vehicles of all types contributes to congestion, results in localized air pollution from tires and exhaust emissions, and our reliance on automobiles continues to result in unfortunate deaths that undermine our Vision Zero goals. The city encourages Portlanders to continue to walk, bike, roll, scoot, and take transit for as many trips as possible, and to consider switching to an electric vehicle if the car-free lifestyle is not for you.  

Purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle

The idea of switching to an electric vehicle can be daunting, but purchasing one has never been easier or more affordable. 

Oregon drivers can receive up to $7,500 in rebates from the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. All Oregonians are eligible to receive up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of a qualifying EV. Low- and moderate-income Oregonians can save an additional $2,500 on purchasing or leasing a qualifying new or used EV on top of the standard rebate. For questions about program eligibility or the application process, contact DEQ

Are you interested in purchasing an EV but aren’t sure which model makes the most sense for you? Resources from local organizations like Forth Mobility can help you out with their Drive Finder, which matches you to the best EV for your budget and lifestyle. 

Cost savings of driving an electric vehicle

Owning an EV has fewer ongoing costs than a conventional gasoline-based vehicle. EVs typically require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because there are fewer fluids and fewer moving parts relative to a conventional gasoline engine, brake wear is significantly reduced due to regenerative braking, and the battery and motor of EVs require little to no regular maintenance.  

Assessing your charging needs

When thinking about buying an EV, you will need to consider how much you drive to help you understand how frequently you'll need to charge and what battery range you'll need from your EV.  

According to data from Oregon Metro, the average daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per person in Portland in 2019 was 18.40 miles. This is relatively low compared to the national average, which was 25.49 daily VMT per person in 2019. To help determine your specific daily travel needs, consider whether you drive to work or school daily and what type of errands or other activities you drive to. If you take public transit, bike, or walk to most of your regular destinations, charging on a weekly basis rather than a daily basis is likely appropriate. 

The other main factor that will determine how frequently an EV needs to be charged is battery range. Battery range will vary based on the model of the EV and the age of the battery. While some new models of EVs are boasting battery ranges of over 300 miles, the majority of new EVs on the market have capacities between 200 – 250 miles per charge. Additionally, it’s important to know that battery storage may become less effective over time so an older EV that may have started with a battery capacity of 200 miles could have a lower range after several years of use. A federal government mandate requires EV manufacturers to warranty batteries for 8 years or 100,000 miles, giving consumers a rough estimate of when batteries start to degrade significantly. This is particularly important to keep in mind if purchasing a used EV.  

While concerns about battery range are understandable, looking at daily travel habits, battery capacity, and the rapidly growing availability of public charging stations may help alleviate some of those concerns. Many studies have found that range anxiety disappears after you purchase an EV and become used to finding and using charging stations, and 96% of EV owners surveyed by AAA in 2020 reported that they would purchase or lease another EV the next time they were in the market for a new car. Please visit our “charging your electric vehicle” page for more information on public charging in the Portland area.