Electric Cars

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Exvalley

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Who here owns an EV? I leased a Chevrolet Bolt for my teenage son. I absolutely love it.

Some thoughts in no particular order:
1) It's an absolute blast to drive. 0-60 in 6.5 seconds is nice, but what's really nice is the instant torque. It is incredibly zippy.
2) I love never having to go to a gas station. Just pull into the garage and plug in.
3) It's a perfect second car. I doubt that I would make it my only car. Longer trips can be done, but there is a LOT of downtime and I really don't want to have to deal with range anxiety.
3) The range takes a big hit in the winter. We go from about 260 miles in the summer to 160 in the winter. If you don't use the heat you can get about 180 miles. But I always use the heat. I live in USDA Hardiness Zone 4b.
4) It's nice to have instant heat in the winter. No need to wait for the car to warm up in order to get heat.
5) The Bolt was surprisingly affordable. We leased it for $199 per month with no money down.
6) Maintenance is so much cheaper. No oil changes is a big plus.

I must say that I am sold on EVs, and there are a lot of new models about to be released. I got ours because I was looking for something cheap for my son to drive. Now I want one for myself!
 

trainman74

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Unfortunately, I live in an apartment building, and although I have my own parking spot (and an individual electric meter), there's no plug-in for an electric car. I know I'm far from alone in facing this. I'd like to see landlords given incentives to install plugs.
 

Bob Dylan

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Who here owns an EV? I leased a Chevrolet Bolt for my teenage son. I absolutely love it.

Some thoughts in no particular order:
1) It's an absolute blast to drive. 0-60 in 6.5 seconds is nice, but what's really nice is the instant torque. It is incredibly zippy.
2) I love never having to go to a gas station. Just pull into the garage and plug in.
3) It's a perfect second car. I doubt that I would make it my only car. Longer trips can be done, but there is a LOT of downtime and I really don't want to have to deal with range anxiety.
3) The range takes a big hit in the winter. We go from about 260 miles in the summer to 160 in the winter. If you don't use the heat you can get about 180 miles. But I always use the heat. I live in USDA Hardiness Zone 4b.
4) It's nice to have instant heat in the winter. No need to wait for the car to warm up in order to get heat.
5) The Bolt was surprisingly affordable. We leased it for $199 per month with no money down.
6) Maintenance is so much cheaper. No oil changes is a big plus.

I must say that I am sold on EVs, and there are a lot of new models about to be released. I got ours because I was looking for something cheap for my son to drive. Now I want one for myself!
Perfect for Urban settings, and short trips!

But overall, cars like the Prius and other Hybrids are better overall Daily Drivers!
 

PVD

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And in between, and gaining popularity are the plug in hybrids. As battery technology improves, many of them can achieve the average commutes, recharge easily overnight, or at work if provided, and no "range anxiety. NY Power Authority sends a group of various cars ( volt, bolt, pacifica plug) and a group of specialists to present to the class to the training center where I teach alternative energy systems to electrical apprentices. We have 4 "chargers" (actually EVSE since the charger is actually in the car) A few years ago I trained to teach EVITP classes (electrical vehicle infrastructure training program) but haven't actually taught a full curriculum class. All this stuff kept me so busy, I really miss it. Since I retired in 2013 I really found a sense of fulfillment in helping to shape the next generation of electrical workers.
 

railiner

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I considered getting a plug-in Prius, but for my use, more longer trips, well beyond the EV mode range of the plug-in, the “standard” hybrid delivers better mileage, account of carrying a lot less battery weight.
If I still commuted, it would be a different story.
 

PVD

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My sister and brother in law each have a Prius, they have been extremely satisfied. My brother in law replaced his original one, my sister was going to get a new one this year, but spent a bundle on a back operation for her dachshund.
 

Devil's Advocate

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People are always telling me that EV's don't have enough range, but it turns out that typical urban commuting can be handled by almost any current generation EV and an overnight charge through a standard 120V outlet. If you have to go on a cross country trip you can rent a conventional car or get an EV with a 300+ mile range and an extensive charging network. At least one EV is rated up to 400 miles per charge now. Some of the people who tell me that's not enough struggle to last more than two hours between restroom breaks but they still expect to drive six hours straight somehow. My Accord can manage up to 700 miles on a single tank but after 300 miles or so I need to stop and do something else for a while just to keep my sanity. So why would I need more than that on a single charge? Because I might find a rare blue moon excuse to use it? Choosing a vehicle based on 1% of your trips seems silly.
 

Exvalley

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As much as I love my EV, they really aren't practical for long distance driving.

The EVs that are "affordable" to the masses have a range of about 250 miles. The rare models that offer 400 mile range come at a HUGE price premium - one that really can't be justified.

So let's take the 250 range model and go on a sample trip. It's winter. Your range is really 160 miles. But that's what the car says and not what you will actually get. Since you are driving at interstate highway speeds, your range will be more like 140 miles. And you aren't going to pull up to a charging station with a completely empty battery. So you plan on 120 miles until your first charge. But there aren't a ton of Level 3 charging stations out there, especially in the more rural areas between cities. Your best option is a charger that is 100 miles. After driving the 100 miles you pull up to the charging station. You get lucky and find one that isn't being used or is broken. You plug in. But it's winter, remember? The battery charges much more slowly in the winter. Hopefully there is somewhere decent to wait. You are lucky. There is a McDonalds nearby. After sitting in McDonald's for nearly two hours your battery is 80% charged. You aren't going to charge it past 80% because Level 3 charging slows WAY down after 80% to avoid damage to the battery. This is especially true in the winter. And since you pay based on time, not based on electricity used, it makes no financial sense to go past 80% even if you had the time to sit and wait. So now you pull out of the charging station. But instead of 140 miles for your range, now you have 112 miles. And the process repeats itself...

Can you rent a car instead? Sure. But that's a pain in the neck and far from cheap. One rental per month will pretty much negate the savings of owning an electric car. And that doesn't factor in the reality that an electric car is usually more expensive than a comparable gasoline powered car.

I am a HUGE advocate for electric cars, but I believe that we need to be honest about what they are good at - and what they are not good at. I want owners to be happy with their purchase, not frustrated. Happy owners make for great ambassadors.
 

railiner

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I bought a 2004 Prius, and replaced it with a 2010...so I clearly do like the car. In my case, I am retired now, so no commuting. I do "shuttle" back and forth, between my apartment in Queeens, and my home in Florida. I drive nonstop, except twice to refuel, and use the restroom. I was a professional driver, so am used to long drives, and actually enjoy them. The Prius is a great car for that use. YMMV :)
 

Qapla

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@Exvalley made no mention of what carrying or towing a load does to the range of an EV.

How does carrying 5,000 pounds of cargo impact the distance? What about towing an RV or work trailer?

If you already live in a rural area where chargers are not plenty, common or convenient, then you have to rely on getting to and from your destination with the charge you got at home - how can you be sure you will make it back home if there are no charging stations between your home and your destination?
 
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My previous employer had two Volts and was happy enough with them. The guy who often parked next to him in the parking structure near our office had a Leaf and had not made it home several times (obviously didn't figure his commute distance vs mileage well enough before he bought). A friend bought a Leaf as an impulse buy and regretted it - part of the problem was that running the heater in winter halved the range iirc. I'm concerned about the recyclability of the batteries in any of these vehicles - not sure that they aren't worse polluters long term than burning gas.
 

me_little_me

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I have two hybrids - 2009 Camry bought in April 2008 and 2012 Prius bought that year. Not a bit of trouble with either one - in fact we just replaced the Camry 12V battery - after TWELVE YEARS! Nothing but oil/filter changes and new tires.
There is only one problem with having hybrids. We can pass every gas station but have to stop and hug every tree. So embarrassing!
 

Exvalley

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@Exvalley made no mention of what carrying or towing a load does to the range of an EV.

How does carrying 5,000 pounds of cargo impact the distance? What about towing an RV or work trailer?
The impact on range is exactly what you would think - not good at all. EVs are fine for light towing around town, but that's it.

A friend bought a Leaf as an impulse buy and regretted it
I would have regretted a Leaf as well. The range of the Leaf until very recently was 107 miles. That's the range you get if you drive in warm weather under ideal conditions. That's just not enough range. The Leaf also had poor battery thermal management.
 

railiner

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My previous employer had two Volts and was happy enough with them. The guy who often parked next to him in the parking structure near our office had a Leaf and had not made it home several times (obviously didn't figure his commute distance vs mileage well enough before he bought). A friend bought a Leaf as an impulse buy and regretted it - part of the problem was that running the heater in winter halved the range iirc. I'm concerned about the recyclability of the batteries in any of these vehicles - not sure that they aren't worse polluters long term than burning gas.
I’ve wondered about alternative methods of regenerating energy, besides the battery...some sort of flywheel that could be spun up by hydraulic engine retarder braking, and then used to accelerate?
 

Exvalley

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It's hard to argue against a PHEV (plug-in electric hybrid). This is especially true for a one car household.

An EV worked for us because we already have a gasoline powered car for longer trips, so we didn't need the range of a PHEV.
 

Exvalley

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I’ve wondered about alternative methods of regenerating energy, besides the battery...some sort of flywheel that could be spun up by hydraulic engine retarder braking, and then used to accelerate?
The Chevrolet Bolt has "one pedal driving". One-pedal driving uses highest available level of regenerative braking, which captures otherwise lost energy from deceleration and sends it back to the Bolt EV battery pack. It doesn't just help with your range, it means that your brakes will last MUCH longer. I find myself using the brakes every now and then just to make sure that they don't rust up.
 

railiner

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I was just thinking about the environmental issue of the batteries, not expecting any improvement in mpg, by my alternative....
 

PVD

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Lots of research into less onerous battery chemistries, looking to use materials that are less damaging to the environment to mine and process, easier to recycle, and where the mining is less damaging both socially and environmentally. Achieving those goals, as well as improving energy density (how much energy can be stored in a given package) is likely the next big advance ( or group of small steps) in energy storage. Keep in mind that large scale energy storage is critically important to wider use of renewable energy.
 

Exvalley

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There are also some major advances in repurposing EV batteries. A battery that has 70% capacity is not good for an EV, but it is perfectly fine for home energy storage and other such uses.
 

Ziv

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I have had a 2013 Chevy Volt for 7 years and really like it. I get 40-44 miles of all electric range in the summer, then the onboard gas genset kicks in and I get around 38 mpg and can drive all day on the gas genset. When the temperature is below freezing I get around 28-30 miles of AER before the genset kicks in. Electricity costs a little over a dime a kWh where I live so my 30 miles a day of driving uses about 8 kWh, which costs around 80 cents, or $24 a month. My condo charged me $25 a month to plug my car in.
The cool thing about the Volt is that you have the "best" of both worlds. And since the usable pack capacity is just 10.8 kWh, you can plug into any regular 110 outlet and get a full charge while you are at home sleeping. A full charge takes around 10 hours with a 110 outlet and around 4 hours with a 3.3 kW charger. The "worst" part about the Volt is that it is a 2 + 2 sedan, with 2 very comfortable seats up front and two kind of cramped seats in back.
Inexplicably, GM chose to stop making the Volt last year but the used ones are great cars, especially the last year where they have 7.2 kW max charge rate. I like that because you can get 22 miles of additional AER while you are eating lunch instead of just 11. I have used a whopping 104 gallons of gasoline in 7 years and I could have cut that in half if my Volt charged faster while I break for lunch. Driving the last 6 or 7 miles of the day using the genset on your way home is mildly frustrating when you know that faster charging would have made your day all electric. The up side is that your car is always fully charged when you wake up, I have usually gone to the gas station 3 times a year for the past 7 years.
One important thing to remember about electric cars is that you don't NEED a dedicated charger to own one, though they help a lot. You just need a regular 110 plug if you are at home for at least 9 hours every night. 9 hours of charging will get you around 45-50 miles of additional AER which is more than most people drive in a day. If you are home for 10 or 12 hours you will get 50-65 additional miles of AER. Many apartment buildings are allowing plug in car owners to plug their cars into regular outlets and charging them a nominal fee like $25 to $35 a month for the privilege. Which is a bit more than the cost of the electricity most electric cars actually use in a month.
 

Devil's Advocate

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As much as I love my EV, they really aren't practical for long distance driving. The EVs that are "affordable" to the masses have a range of about 250 miles. The rare models that offer 400 mile range come at a HUGE price premium - one that really can't be justified.
If cost is the issue then people should complain about price rather than claiming EV technology still cannot manage functional driving range like we’re stuck in the 1990’s. Current EV models can handle long distance driving and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of videos detailing the experience. It's true they're expensive but they do exist and they can keep on driving as long as most humans can.

So let's take the 250 range model and go on a sample trip. […] But instead of 140 miles for your range, now you have 112 miles. And the process repeats itself.
I drive more than 100 miles each way about three or four times per year. So around 99% of my use case is handled by even the cheapest and most basic of EVs and a 110V plug. The rest of the time I can rent whatever I need. The US has some of the cheapest car rentals in the world. Lack of reasonable consumer protections can sometimes turn minor fender benders into profit centers, but the cost of renting itself is relatively cheap. The only time it's been a major logistics issue is when I'm arriving or departing on Amtrak and need to pickup or drop off outside of normal business hours.

I am a HUGE advocate for electric cars, but I believe that we need to be honest about what they are good at - and what they are not good at. I want owners to be happy with their purchase, not frustrated. Happy owners make for great ambassadors.
I agree, which is why I say EV’s are good for the vast majority of typical daily driving needs but refrain from claiming they come with any savings. EV’s have never been cheap and buying one with the intention of saving money in a country with inexpensive combustion vehicles and some of the world's cheapest fossil fuel has never made much sense to me. If you want to save money get a hybrid. If you want to reduce pollution get an electric vehicle and push for more renewable power generation.
 
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Exvalley

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I drive more than 100 miles each way about three or four times per year. So around 99% of my use case is handled by even the cheapest and most basic of EVs and a 110V plug. The rest of the time I can rent whatever I need.
The top two reasons why people report that they did not consider an EV are (1) range anxiety; and (2) a lack of charging stations. Both of those concerns are quite valid. Even if you only need the range a few times per year, rather than renting a car you could just buy a car that works in all situations. The vast majority of consumers prefer the latter, which is quite understandable.


I agree, which is why I say EV’s are good for the vast majority of typical daily driving needs but refrain from claiming they come with any savings. EV’s have never been cheap and buying one with the intention of saving money in a country with inexpensive combustion vehicles and some of the world's cheapest fossil fuel has never made much sense to me.
I beg to differ about EVs never being cheap. Despite an MSRP of about $44,000, my lease is only $199 per month with no money down. 10,000 miles per year - which is definitely sufficient since the vehicle isn't used for long trips. My local electrical utility gave me a free $500 Level 2 charger and a $1,500 check. Maintenance and fuel costs are a fraction of what I would pay with a gasoline car. So I have found EV ownership to be cheap. When I purchased my Bolt, a local Volkswagen dealership was offering eGolf leases for $99 per month. I didn't qualify because the offer involved a state incentive that had an income cutoff. But a lower income household could lease a brand new car for $99 per month and get a free Level 2 charger. The misconception that EV ownership can "never be cheap" is arguably the biggest misconception out there about EV ownership.

I love my EV. But that's because it is a tool in my toolbox. There are advantages and disadvantages to EVs. Fortunately, my other vehicles negate the disadvantages and I am left with an incredibly affordable form of transportation that I love to drive.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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I beg to differ about EVs never being cheap. Despite an MSRP of about $44,000, my lease is only $199 per month with no money down. 10,000 miles per year - which is definitely sufficient since the vehicle isn't used for long trips. My local electrical utility gave me a free $500 Level 2 charger and a $1,500 check. Maintenance and fuel costs are a fraction of what I would pay with a gasoline car. So I have found EV ownership to be cheap. When I purchased my Bolt, a local Volkswagen dealership was offering eGolf leases for $99 per month. I didn't qualify because the offer involved a state incentive that had an income cutoff. But a lower income household could lease a brand new car for $99 per month and get a free Level 2 charger. The misconception that EV ownership can "never be cheap" is arguably the biggest misconception out there about EV ownership. I love my EV. But that's because it is a tool in my toolbox. There are advantages and disadvantages to EVs. Fortunately, my other vehicles negate the disadvantages and I am left with an incredibly affordable form of transportation that I love to drive.
I’m glad you found a stack of incentives that worked well for your situation, but where I live people who say they are looking for a "cheap" car are unlikely to qualify for discounted lease terms and would likely get hosed with a $44,000 car loan. They would also struggle to float the cost of rebates and are unlikely to live in a house with a functional garage that is both up to code and can be modified at will. It's true that I said EV’s have never been cheap, however I do believe that EV’s will become less and less expensive over time. It will probably take a long time to reach Mitsubishi subcompact levels of cheap but even that is a possibility someday. The sooner the better in my view. 👍
 
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Exvalley

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My rebates were available to all and I got absolutely nothing from my state. Only $1,500 from my utility. So, in total, I got less than most jurisdictions give. Many states put mine to shame.

Are EVs as cheap as a Mitsubishi subcompact? No. But you’ve moved the goalposts with that argument. EVs, with incentives, are often cheap, even if they aren’t the absolute cheapest possible new vehicle. Of course that depends on incentives. Fortunately, incentives are plentiful, often embarrassingly so. But it would be nice to get the MSRP down. I agree with you there. However, keep in mind that the lower cost of ownership makes up for some discrepancy in MSRP.

Also, you don’t need a garage for an EV. Just a regular wall outlet and perhaps an extension cord. A level 2 charger is a plus, but definitely not needed based on your driving habits,
 
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