COVID-19’s impact on electric vehicles
03.26.2020 - by Noah Barnes
COVID-19’s impact on electric vehicles

All of us at Plug In America hope that you and your families are remaining safe and healthy during this difficult time. As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow, we urge you to follow the CDC’s guidance to wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with others, and stay home as much as possible.

While COVID-19’s devastating effects on people’s health and lives is of paramount concern, it is also having effects on the economy and the electric vehicle movement.

The federal government recently passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to assist the economy. We know EVs are good for our national economy, creating domestic jobs in manufacturing, energy, and other sectors. As Congress considers the next round of economic stimulus packages to get our country back on track, it’s important to consider the future of transportation. We encourage members of Congress to include the Driving America Forward Act (S. 1094 and H.R. 2256), which would expand the federal EV tax credit, in any economic stimulus package.

As the economy has slowed and non-essential businesses have closed, some EV manufacturers, including Tesla and GM, have shifted their production to build much-needed ventilators to assist the thousands of people who are in hospitals right now with COVID-19. Additionally, Elon Musk has purchased 1,255 ventilators from China and has delivered those to California officials.

The economic slowdown is also affecting all vehicle sales, including EVs. Due to “stay at home” orders, many dealerships currently cannot conduct vehicle sales in person, although some are experimenting with ways to sell vehicles online or without personal contact. We hope that they will soon be able to re-open and that EV sales will grow in the coming months. Additionally, some automakers are currently offering 90-day deferred payments or other incentives to bolster car sales.

Likewise, many auto finance companies and utilities are making flexible payment arrangements for those whose jobs and income have been affected by COVID-19. Check with your providers for details.

As more people are staying home, many EVs are remaining garaged for longer than normal. If you’re not currently driving your vehicle on a regular basis, we recommend keeping your battery at approximately 80% capacity, monitor this regularly, and recharge as necessary or simply keep it plugged in if you can set your car to stop charging at 80% capacity. Some EVs may utilize small amounts of power for battery heating or cooling, even when not being driven.

One small silver lining of having fewer vehicles on the road is that air quality, in many cities, is much better than usual. This is further evidence that gasoline-powered vehicles are a major contributor to pollution and the only long-term solution is to switch to clean electric vehicles.

8 comments on “COVID-19’s impact on electric vehicles”
  1. Jerry Cecere says:

    At this time it appears that our 2017 Chevrolet VOLT leased vehicle will be an appropriate purchase when the lease expires in mid July 2020. It’s been a great commuter vehicle, charged nightly at home and rarely needing petro. Until some undetermined future date, our VOLT is a “keeper”! We cannot believe that GM foolishly discontinued this remarkable vehicle.

  2. Jim says:

    Your lithium-ion battery will last better if you keep in near mid-range, like between 30 and 75% of capacity when possible. Being fully charged (or empty) is tougher on the internal chemistry of these things. I only Fill mine right before a long trip, and it is behaving pretty well for a 5-year old battery.

  3. Enid Joffe says:

    While this is a difficult time for all of us, it is especially hard on low income families who have much less income security. South Coast Air Quality Management District is continuing to approve applications from lower income families to replace older, more polluting vehicles with newer, cleaner vehicles. Those choosing plug-in hybrids, EVs or fuel cell vehicles can qualify for up to $9,500. Due to the “shelter in place” rules, and the closure of some dealerlships, approved applicants will have extra time to purchase vehicles. Go to to find out more.

  4. Steve Factor says:

    This is not the time to follow those who cannot plan ahead farther then their next meal or snack. The temporary crash of global oil prices should be an overwhelming signal to avoid fossil fueled vehicles. Saudi Arabia has clearly stated that this move is to force overextended US fracking operations into bankruptcy, then push oil back to $100/bbl while they control the global market. This is exactly the time for those aware of the need for recovery planning to reduce or eliminate dependency on fossil fuels.

  5. Stephen says:

    If you have an electric vehicle, you don’t have to worry about the availability of fossil fuels or deal with self service pumping.. Simply fill up at home.

  6. Brian says:

    I am very interested as I see the slow development and take up of Electric Vehicles in the USA against the vested interests of car companies ,oil industry and governments. If our civilization and future of our children and future generations is to be saved changing to electric vehicles would be common sense not only in the USA but here in Australia and the rest of this planet considering the climate change disaster waiting just around the corner. ..Brian — email. Australia

  7. Michael Teply says:

    Of course I realize this is an extream position, but I would ban fossil fuel cars by 2026 like some of the European countries are doing

  8. Mary Hoy says:

    Does my i3’s battery degrade over time since I’m not driving it right now? Should I keep it plugged in?

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