By on June 3, 2013

2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Day five in our week-long look at living with an EV started once again with a full battery. If you’re just checking in, catch up by going to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 before coming back to the saga, I promise we’ll wait for you. Since I’m still afflicted with religion, and because the Episcopal denomination despises change, my Sundays have taken me to the same church, the same building and the same pew for over 33 years. It also means driving 22 miles each way because finding something closer would involve change.

This aversion to change isn’t unique to my religious sect, it’s practically an American virtue. The real impediment to EV proliferation isn’t the range, economy, economics, or availability, it’s change. The average American commutes less than 6 miles in each direction a day. Even with a lunch break where you head home and back to work again we’re talking 24 miles. If you consider the adage of 12,000 miles a year (according to the US census) that expands to a still-manageable 33 miles a day. If we look at the ownership demographics by household, 9.1% of us don’t have any cars, 33.8% of us own one car per household leaving the 57.1% majority owning 2 or more cars. Indeed the “average” household owns 2.8 cars. While I’m of the firm opinion that EV’s can’t fit everyone’s needs, they can satisfy 90-95% of our needs and could easily be that second or third car in the garage. But that would require a change in how we look at transportation.

Right now the car is a freedom device. We know that if we wanted to, we could hop our car/truck/SUV and drive from California to New York. It doesn’t matter to us that we never do, we know we could if we wanted to. The car is more than just transportation, it’s liberty and adventure on wheels. Part of what allows this freedom is the near instant fuelling ability and the range of around 300+ miles. Whenever there is a car that strays from this norm, we point it out. We praise a car if it gets 500 miles of range and damn it to failure if it manages “only” 200. This is part of the reason cited for the slow development of natural gas infrastructure, Americans can’t stomach a 5 minute fill-up every day let alone a multi-hour charge.

It's a plug. (courtesy bornandbreded.files.wordpress.com)

That fallacy is further fuelled in some respects by the EV makers by not including a home charging station in the car’s price tag. (Advertising them like a “normal” car doesn’t help either.) Speaking with EV owners, many of them started out thinking they could live with the 120V plug that came with the car only to end up spending around $2,000 to get a home charging station later. That penalty has dropped rapidly and 240V EVSEs are down to around $450 but they are still overlooked by many. By having one of these stations, your EV would always leave home charged. Even if you had a late night of partying and rolled in a 3AM, the average EV would be completely full by 7AM for you to head into work with a hangover. That helps range anxiety, but doesn’t address the fact you have 100 miles of “freedom” per charge.

I am not one of the bunch that thinks Tesla’s Supercharger network is the answer to this problem. Yes it will allow you to get your Tesla from San Francisco to New York, but based on 30-35 minute charges every 200 miles the trip would take you an additional 8 hours. 8 hours isn’t a huge deal when you’re going across the country, but many still see it as a limitation. I think the answer is that other car you have in your garage. I think it’s lovely that there is a group of environmentalists out there that have a purely EV garage, but I don’t think that’s palatable to most of us. I also don’t agree with the legislation that allows EVs in HOV lanes, but since the law exists I tell people looking for a second car or a commuter car that they can’t overlook the value of that sticker. When I had the Honda Civic Natural Gas for a week, I saved 35 minutes of commute time a day and didn’t have to take as many “shortcuts” to avoid traffic. The savings to my sanity and the increased time at home have to be factored into your decision as well.

2014 Fiat 500 Electric, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

As the briefest drive yet in Zippy Zappy came to an end I started to realize that if I was willing to give up the sense of freedom that comes with a gasoline powered car, it would be possible to integrate an EV into my life. Maybe that thought would have occurred to me earlier if EVs were advertised with a commuter car or second car angle. I’d be interested to hear from our readers about their daily commutes, average numbers of miles and exactly how often you deviate from the norm.

 

Looking for the other installments? Here you go:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 6

Day 7

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97 Comments on “Living With an EV for a Week – Day Five...”


  • avatar
    tbone33

    “33 miles a year” should probably read “33 miles a day.” I love this series!

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    In Seattle driving is still the fastest way to commute unless you are fortunate to live / work on a bus route and only need one bus, transfers are just hopeless. Being able to drive in the HOV lanes is a huge plus but I am not sure that applies to WA. Electricity is comparatively cheap to so an electric car is definitely an option. I see quite a few Leaf’s and have seen a few Tesla S’s to.
    The downside is that the roads (Seattle city mostly) are in such bad shape the battery and sensitive electronic components will get destroyed in short order from being shaken about.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Gas and diesel powered cars also have “sensitive electronic components” that get shaken about and somehow they manage to keep running day in and day out, even in Seattle. I’m sure the electronics in EV’s are up to the task.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No free HOV/HOT lane access for EVs in WA but with the right situation the savings vs gas could pay for the HOT lane access if you traveled where there are HOT lanes instead of HOV lanes.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Great article and series — thanks!

    To me, EVs make more sense as occasional rental cars rather than something I would buy. Similar to rental bicycles here in Denver and other cities. Park them at charging stations across town in convenient locations. Rent one to commute or run errands, then return it to a charging station.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Don’t underestimate the value of that HOV use sticker. Today my Altima hybrid was in the shop and I drove home another company ride, a Prius. That enabled me to use the HOV lane which shaved 20 minutes off my commute. That is why you do see NRA stickers or other right of center decals on Prii. They may not care about the environment, but they sure care about their time. I could save 40 minutes a day if today was an average. Instead of 32 on my Nissan, I got 46 MPG. So, you save cash to boot.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    EV’s still only make sense as a second car. I just got back from a week-long, 1000 mile, camping trip in the Eastern Sierras. None of the camp sites had electricity. Try that in an EV. Meanwhile, my ’05 xB pulled down around 40mpg, all loaded with gear.

    If you’re married, and the fam has an SUV for road trips, go ahead and get an EV. For the single person, it just makes no sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      Depends on what that single person wants to do. If they want to go to work, go shopping, and participate in recreation/entertainment/culture within 40 miles or so, an EV can do EVERYTHING they need. If they need to run long roadtrips, they’ll need something else. Most people take those longer drives about 3 times a year; at holidays and vacation. That’s a great time to rent a car if you have an EV.

      But you are correct, if someone wants to drive 1000 miles a week, going camping, an EV is not the right vehicle. Some other people like to walk from place to place while camping, I believe it’s called “backpacking” – that’s also a fine activity for EV owners.

      BTW: If you averaged 40mpg in your toaster, you were going ~50mph on flat roads the whole time. I had a xB as well – 06 manual – and ran the numbers at every fillup for 30k. The car was incredible – it averaged right around 30mpg regardless of if the driving was all city or all highway. (with cruise set to 72-3mph) Only car I’ve ever had that averaged the same city or highway. The only time I neared 40mpg was experimenting with hypermiling on flat rural roads around 50mph, and on non-ethanol fuel. Simply amazing vehicle though – we still miss it.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic

        @Thinkin’

        +1

        I’m a single person who falls into the category you describe, and I’m toying with buying an EV in the next year or two.

        I’m probably in the minority though.

      • 0 avatar
        AFX

        “I had a xB as well – 06 manual – and ran the numbers at every fillup for 30k. The car was incredible – it averaged right around 30mpg regardless of if the driving was all city or all highway. (with cruise set to 72-3mph) Only car I’ve ever had that averaged the same city or highway.”

        That’s because the xB had a puny engine and the aerodynamics of a barn door. 30mpg was normal for that engine, if it’d had better aerodynamics the highway mileage would have been much higher.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        “But you are correct, if someone wants to drive 1000 miles a week, going camping, an EV is not the right vehicle. Some other people like to walk from place to place while camping, I believe it’s called “backpacking” – that’s also a fine activity for EV owners.”

        Funny you should mention this…just last weekend I went backpacking. I drove 27 miles to work, then drove about 120 miles to the trailhead, then the car sat for 3 days, then I drove 140 miles home. There is no EV (including a Tesla S) that would have been able to do that. So you don’t need to get into the 1000-mile-per-week range to exceed an EV’s limitations, and I don’t see how backpacking is a fine activity to engage in using an EV, since there are no electrical hookups at a trailhead that is like 5 miles off of any paved road.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      I always say, identify your infrequent needs, then buy something to meet them. Don’t investigate renting or borrowing. Don’t buy based on what you need most of the time – that’s a strategy for suckers.

      For example, I just got back from putting my boat in the water for the season. I need an F-350 dually to haul it and therefore I had to buy a big, expensive F-350 and use it as a daily driver the other 363 day a year. Some people suggested that buying a vehicle based on something I only do a couple or few times a year was a bad idea, but what was I supposed to do? Buy a normal car then rent a truck or hire someone to haul the boat a couple times a year? Yeah, right!

      I once knew a kid who could only afford one nice outfit. He was a great guy but his family was kinda poor. He wanted to go to prom senior year, so obviously his only option was to buy a tuxedo and then wear it every time jeans weren’t nice enough for an occasion. He had no other options. (He looked good at church and his Grandma’s birthday party, though!)

      Twice a year I fly back East to visit family, so I had to buy a Boeing 757. It was millions of dollars to acquire and costs a ton to operate, but what other options were there?

      • 0 avatar

        I note your sarcasm, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

        My wife mostly just travels by herself & my son (18 mo). We have a 7 passenger CUV — because we DON’T want to rent one for 1 mo/year at $80′ish/day. It also saves parking when fees when they go out & 2 other moms, ea w/ one kid come over. Transfer car seats & done!

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        “I just got back from putting my boat in the water for the season. I need an F-350 dually to haul it and therefore I had to buy a big, expensive F-350 and use it as a daily driver the other 363 day a year. Some people suggested that buying a vehicle based on something I only do a couple or few times a year was a bad idea, but what was I supposed to do? Buy a normal car then rent a truck or hire someone to haul the boat a couple times a year? Yeah, right!”

        Why do you think that’s a bad idea? It’s what I do, and it has been extremely effective/beneficial for me. Many a compnay has gone under because of your logic. Ask European car makers why “overcapacity” is a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I know a single person who has a Leaf as his sole vehicle and does just fine with it and has taken it on road trips of a moderate distance thanks to the network of Level 3 chargers in our area. It does add about 50% to the time the trip takes, since it is drive ~1hr, charge for ~1/2 hr ect, but for the few times he needs to go 200 mi or so it works for him just fine. He often does more than the single charge range in a day by charging at his destination w/o having to wait around.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Actually, if I were to go to 2 cars/trucks, a gas or diesel beater pickup would be the second car and a pure EV would be the first, since most daily driving can be done with power to spare on a single charge, and for those outlier ‘freeeeedom’ trips (or hauling peat moss, big screen TVs or a motorcycle trailer) having a versatile ‘work’ truck would suit me fine.

      “We know that if we wanted to, we could hop our car/truck/SUV and drive from California to New York. It doesn’t matter to us that we never do, we know we could if we wanted to. The car is more than just transportation, it’s liberty and adventure on wheels.”

      That describes many SUV owners as well, they don’t need Quadra-Drive or selectable hill-descent mode, but it’s nice to know they’d have it if they ever did take their $50k+ SUV on a rocky trail.

      • 0 avatar
        highrpm

        I drive a full size van most days. Every time I try to do the math on all the gas I would save by keeping another small car around for 70% of my driving, I always come up with break-even at best.

        Remember when you are calculating your fuel savings from a third car, to also keep in mind the extra insurance, registration, maintenance costs, and depreciation from that third vehicle. It doesn’t make economic sense.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        “That describes many SUV owners as well, they don’t need Quadra-Drive or selectable hill-descent mode, but it’s nice to know they’d have it if they ever did take their $50k+ SUV on a rocky trail.”

        As if they would. I’ve seen these sparkly fullsize SUVs and pickups dodge around tree branches the size of my thumb and serve to avoid manhole covers that are sunk perhaps an inch below grade.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          I don’t care what car you’re in — it’s stupid not to avoid those things when you can. Why would you have your suspension take the hit when it doesn’t need to?

          Even on a full-size SUV, you’ll make your car last longer and keep its alignment for longer if you avoid those kinds of things when you can.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I’m calling shenanigans on your xB getting 40 mpg — you’re probably only counting coming down the mountain:

      http://www.fuelly.com/car/scion/xb

      Easy to get high fuel economy going down the mountain — if you’re coasting, most engines will use no fuel.

  • avatar

    About 30 miles going to study and back everyday. In the morning takes about an hour. I leave home at 6:30-6:40 and arrive at 7:30ish as class starts at 8. If I leave home at 7, I arrive late, so uyou can imagine the traffic. I can´t imagine what the heavy, stop and go traffic and heat would do to battery or battery life. Back at lunch time anything from 20 to 40 min. No way to charge at work or class, unless I extend dome cord that I imagine would get promptly robbed.

    Weekends to Dad’s home or friends in town restaurants etc. 40 to 50 miles. Not traveling much these days but the small towns around here are all 125 miles roundtrip. No EV charging stations either.

    EVs are far away from my reality.

  • avatar
    redav

    My commute is 13 mi round-trip, plus a few more if I go out for lunch. We have no hills, and winters are virtually non-existent. I drive across town a few times a month, and out of town every few months. An EV would satisfy 95%+ of my trips. I’m probably the ideal candidate for an EV.

    I currently have two cars, and the EV as commuter is exactly how I would treat one. My needs/wants are for an efficient car for commuting, an upscale one for business purposes, a fun one, and one for utility like hauling my bikes. (It’s assumed I’d have a gas vehicle available for long trips.) An EV easily satisfies the commuter req. If Tesla sold a 3 series competitor, it would also satisfy the fun & upscale reqs, too., which just leaves the hauler. I could then easily fill that need with a small truck or wagon.

    However, something like this car would only fit my commuter need, and filling the other three with a single vehicle is extremely unlikely.

  • avatar
    sco

    i live in No Cal, the perfect eV climate, and have a 42 mile commute each way with a 220V charger in my parking garage at work. This weekend I said no to a 3 yr lease on Honda Fit EV, $260/month, no money upfront or at the end, free 220V charger, unlimited miles, HOV sticker and Honda would pay my collision insurance. And i liked the car. Why no deal? I own a Honda Odyssey (wife) and Scion Xb (mine) and leasing the Fit would have meant selling the Xb, leaving us with only a minivan to drive anywhere over 50 miles – and we drive lots of places more than 50 miles away. An eV could be a third commuter only car but seriously, I only need two cars, a larger dog hauler for my wife and an efficient commuter car that can also handle longer trips economically. Until the eV becomes that second car, I the target market am not on board.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Sounds like a Volt would be the ticket for you IF you wanted to make the leap. You would maybe have to run the ICE for a mile or two for your commute and have the ability to take those longer trips at will.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      You could have saved enough on gas and insurance to justify keeping the Xb as your “third” car with that deal.

      I only wish Honda will start offering the Fit EV lease here in Florida, I will be first in line for that deal. My commute is almost exactly the same as yours, and in my GTI I would be spending over $200/mo on gas alone if I had to drive into the office every day. Luckily I don’t but I spend almost that in just errands and things driving my “fun” car around.

      I would use the EV, especially with unlimited miles, for everything local; shopping, going out to eat, running the kids or the dogs around, etc. I have a CRV for long trips, the GTI and MR2 for fun cars, and if I had a Fit EV then the GTI would probably get sold for something less practical and more fun… classic muscle car, old Porsche, who knows.

      And why would you need a selection of two “road trip cars”? if I had a minivan I would always use that, they are so perfect for traveling, especially with kids. We rent them a lot just to make the trip easier.

  • avatar
    burnbomber

    Here in the Great Plains, there’s no EV infrastructure to help pass through the EV anxiety. I would seriously think twice if there were EV chargers about, but for now, forget it. I’d rather American Electric Power got my dollar instead of the Sheik.

    But when I consider the dollar, it comes down to economics and the EV doesn’t work for me. Like some American men, I’ve always enabled my better half with the primary, 500 mile range do anything mobile while I enjoy hand me down beaters. Like 15 year old 220k mile bombers. I’m actually famous for my beaters and I because I can wrench pretty good (and with the local pull-a-parts), they work well for me. That’s the death rattle for the economics of an EV. They can’t compare to the economics of a true beater.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      >>That’s the death rattle for the economics of an EV. They can’t compare to the economics of a true beater.

      Point taken, but part of the issue there is that, at present day, there are no EV beaters. Isn’t it a bit more valid to compare apples to apples?

      • 0 avatar
        AFX

        “Point taken, but part of the issue there is that, at present day, there are no EV beaters.”

        What about all those unsold Fisker Karma’s out there ?. Instant beaters from day 1. I’m sure there’s other failed EV makers out there too that have cars lying around.

        I think Fisker should have asked Crosby, Stills & Nash if they could borrow a line from their song Southern Cross for their corporate slogan “…and we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do”.

        • 0 avatar
          burnbomber

          Look what I just saw on the AOL Autoblog–

          http://www.autoblog.com/2013/06/03/nissan-leaf-resale-value-expected-to-take-a-hit/

          Turns out there is a more valid comparison and that’s with used rental Leafs for about $13k. Still doesn’t quite compare to a $1300 GM A-body, but then very little does. Those are getting up in age so they’re harder to find in decent shape. To truly compare, maybe we can assign some value to being environmentally conscious. Now there’s a topic to discuss, as both vehicles (used beater vs used Leaf) are “recycled” in place.

      • 0 avatar
        highrpm

        Ah, but there are EV beaters out there already. I have run across more than a few first gen Prii, Civic Hybrids, and Insights with bad battery packs at the auctions.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          None of those are EVs, they are hybrids, they still take gas they just use less of it. So you are comparing a used car that gets like 50mpg to other used cars that might get around 30mpg. If they cost the same, fine, but the cheapest used Prius is usually around $7k with 100k miles or so, and a equivalent ICE-only car is typically less, so the comparison is tricky considering potential maintenance costs, batteries, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      New cars can’t compete with the economics of a true beater, either, but people still buy new cars.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Nothing wrong with a good beater, but have you factored in the cost of gas? If your beater gets 25mpg and your commute is say 50 miles each day, you spend $7/day on gas, times 5 days a week is $35, plus weekend driving means a tank a week or so. With an EV there is no gas costs, and from what I understand the cost of charging at home is negligible to your electric bill, on the order of $25/mo or so tops.

      If the Fit EV lease deal was available to you, thats $239/mo and it takes no gas, no maintenance, and apparently no collision insurance. And no time at all wrenching on it, you just drive it and plug it in. I calculate that I would save $200/mo just not having to buy gas, and I could drive a brand new car for under $50/mo or so. If the new Spark EV comes out at a legit $199/mo lease then I might even beat that number.

      I am sure you can still drive a beater for less than a new EV no matter how you slice it. But you are still driving a beater every day, which sort of sucks. We can all live without cable TV, cell phones, air conditioning, eating out at restaurants, buying new shoes every year or so, etc, etc. But we spend the money to have a better quality of life.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Motorcycles have ranges between 100-200 miles per tank and people love em. I agree that EV stuff is all in the marketing.

    Well, and the price. I could do an EV car for 10K… not no damn 40K. That’s the real roadblock.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Well, and the price. I could do an EV car for 10K… not no damn 40K. That’s the real roadblock.”

      +1.

      It seems like all the EV backers forget that everyone isn’t an IT consultant or attorney that makes $120k.

      • 0 avatar
        badcoffee

        40K is pretty close to average for a new vehicle anymore, although your 40 will get you a lot more toys on an ICE than on an EV

        and you can buy the iMiev things for 10k after rebates

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Many EV backers know that everyone doesn’t make $100k/yr, but they also know that not every car / buyer needs to be the same. Just because not everyone can afford a thing doesn’t mean it isn’t good for the thing to be available. Obviously, the goal is for more people to afford it, but just because we aren’t already at the finish line doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start the journey.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I have a 70 mile commute that I make twice a week. I’m there for 24 hours so the time to charge the car isn’t an issue, but whether my employer would let me leech off their electricity is. Because that commute happens at rush hour, and the return leg is going with the flow of traffic including the potential for some awful backups, I’m not comfortable attempting it on one charge. However, pretty much everything else I do is within a 15 mile radius, and a lot of it within 10. That traditionally involves lots of suburban stop and go traffic hell so an EV would work well for that. At my previous job, it would have worked great as that job was only 7 miles from my house. I couldve rented a car for when I needed to do a road trip.

  • avatar
    badcoffee

    Living in EV town, USA (atleast if Mitsubishi had its way,) most of the EV’s I see out and about are used by small businesses as cheap advertising and for running around town. The local mitsu dealer advertises these things for less than 10k after rebates, but we don’t have the charging structure in place for most people to use them.

  • avatar
    stadt

    My partner drives a 1997 Protege and I drive a 2012 Insight. We currently rent and that precludes us from purchasing a LEAF to replace the Protege, but once we purchase a home, a LEAF is next. Honestly an EV could meet both our commuting needs, but it’s nice to have one ICE car for longer trips.

  • avatar
    Jimmy7

    I have a Volt. My round-trip to work and back is just under 50 miles and I only charge at home. I get between 46 and 51 miles a charge and it takes under 10 hours to recharge on 110. In a year I’ve purchased $275 of gas to go 13,000 miles, and I don’t need to rent a car for road trips or worry about recharging on the road.
    Sorry to hijack a discussion about living with electric cars, but there is a middle ground that meets most of your daily needs with electricity without limiting your options. I drive one every day.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      Exactly what i was thinking. Why rely on a pure electric car and spotty infrastructure when you can have a Volt or Prius plug- in and have none of the range anxiety?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The Prius plug in is a joke, during its supposed all electric range it will fire up the ICE if you want to actually keep up with traffic, either in rate of acceleration or do common freeway speeds (62 MPH max EV speed), and once that ICE has been started there is a minimum run time to get it up to temp so it meets emissions regulations.

        The C-Max and Fusion Energi like the Volt can go their entire EV only range w/o needing to rely on the ICE to help it accelerate or do common freeway speeds (max EV speed 85mph).

        • 0 avatar
          David Hester

          Didn’t know all of that regarding the Prius plug- in, but you get my point, right? If you’re going to have only one car, given the almost complete lack of EV charging infrastructure (here in flyover country, anyway) that we have (or, rather, don’t have) today, why would you rationally choose a pure electric with no ICE backup a la the Volt over one of the hybrids?

          It goes back to the points Alex was making about freedom. Yes, a person’s normal routine might enable them to accomplish 85- 90% of their driving tasks on electric power alone, but what happens when the random chaos of life intervenes? Sure, you can leave home for work with less juice than it would take you to make a round trip with the plan to charge the car from a public charger near your office while you worked, but what happens when you show up and the charger is A.) being used by somebody else or B.) out of service for some reason?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “I get between 46 and 51 miles a charge”

      That’s nearly double what several other people have reported (25-30 mi of pure electric propulsion).

  • avatar
    blarfmarfle

    Alex, this series has been great. Your video reviews are the main reason I come to this site, and your experiences living with an EV have been exactly what people need to hear- the real life tradeoffs for this kind of vehicle.

    Between ferrying kids around to school and activities, and going to work, I average 60 miles a day. If something work-related pops up I might have to put an additional 50 miles on the car in a pinch. So most of these EVs (combined with their poor cold weather performance here in the Midwest) just don’t cut it.

    My wife and I have an understanding that when Tesla opens a service center/ showroom here in Iowa we are getting one. They did two things that I wish other EV makers would understand- they made a beautiful car, and they put 7 seats in it. See, I know there’s no economical reason to buy an EV, since I’ll never make the money back in gas savings. And honestly I don’t care about the emissions. And it’s expensive. But with a 7 passenger car that looks as good as the Model S with a 150 mile range (in the winter, with the 80kWh battery pack), we can use one of our other cars for long trips and enjoy driving a high performance, beautiful, tech packed car for most of our daily driving. Even with all our kids. If Tesla can make a car that is less expensive but still have the beauty and utility of the Model S, they’ll convert a lot of people. Yeah, maybe it’s not an “only” car. But neither is my Miata, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thrilled to have it and use it when I can.

  • avatar
    prabirmehta

    My wife & I leased a Leaf about a month ago as a 3rd car. My commute is 13 miles each way and the Leaf is perfect for that role. However, the use of the car has expanded and we now drive it most of the time, even on weekends. Georgia’s $5000 tax credit makes it virtually free to lease. We save a ton of money on gas. I’m trying to convince my wife to get rid of one the other 2 cars. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The ads they have been running around here depict that your situation is not unique. Most people buy a Leaf as a second car but after living with it for awhile it becomes their primary car as it fight your spouse over the keys to be the one to drive it or something to that effect. However a 26 mile round trip does not really utilize it fully and would leave a lot of miles on the table when the lease is up.

      • 0 avatar
        prabirmehta

        You’re right. We own newer BMWs – an X5 & Z4 – and still prefer to drive the Leaf. I know someone else who has a very fancy car and a Leaf. He drives the Leaf everywhere. It’s nice not to put miles on the other cars. No fights so far. The Leaf is “my” car. :) Nissan wouldn’t do less than a 12,000 miles lease. I’ll probably end up putting 7,000 miles per year.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          prabirmehta – - –

          You said: “We own newer BMWs – an X5 & Z4 – and still prefer to drive the Leaf.”

          If you prefer to drive a Leaf over a Z4, you’re not really DRIVING the Z4! (^_^)…

          Actually, sometimes I enjoy driving my 1996 Dodge Ram pick-up over my Z4 too, for other reasons…

          ————–

          • 0 avatar
            prabirmehta

            I agree! :) That’s coming from an enthusiast who my wife says is way too picky about his cars. I’m sure the Z4 would be a lot more fun on the track, at higher speeds and is great with the top down. At city speeds though the lack of hesitation in the Leaf vs. the automatic in the Z4 (couldn’t talk my wife out of that one) changes things around.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @NMGON — ahhhh see, he has an automatic Z4… you were right, he isn’t really driving it. :)

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I’d consider it. My commute is 3 miles each way, my wife goes about 7; either of us could use an EV for the daily run.

    We do fairly routine long trips, though, so one of our cars would still be a 50mpg hybrid.

    Our fuel savings with an EV would be fairly negligible, though. The grocery store is 4 miles away. All in all, our routine short-distance driving is probably no more than 3K miles/year, each. That’s on the order of $400 to feed my routine driving in my used Corolla for a year.

    I’d still consider an EV but the EV would have to be fairly modestly priced to compete with what I already have and how I use it.

    • 0 avatar
      highrpm

      You have summed up the irony of owning an EV. If you have a long commute (where the real fuel savings could be), an EV won’t easily make the trip.

      If you live 3 miles from work, then it doesn’t matter what you drive since your fuel costs are negligble either way.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I love the day by day experience you have shared with us!!
    I would consider the 500e since it would more than handle my round trip needs even with the 120v charge but…
    I dont know if the car will be available in Tn. and if the government incentives are the same as in California.This is still a $42000 car!!

  • avatar
    grrr

    I consider EVs in that exact same vein. I have a Mazda2 as my second car which today for the first time in over a year I took further than 20km from my house. Once I can get an EV for a similar price as an ICE powered car, it’s a done deal considering the running cost differences. My commute is 10km each way to work, and if I go out on an errand that day, I might hit 35km, easy, even without charging anywhere other than home.

  • avatar
    AFX

    A few things I wanted to say here:

    1. An EV makes perfect sense as a city rental vehicle. Pick up your car at a charger in town, run your errands, and drop it off at another charger for the next person. Once rental EV cars become popular they can legalize prostitution too, because no guy is going to get laid after picking up his date in a rental EV.

    2. Charging an EV takes time, lots of it. If the EV manufacturers had any sense they’d put the charging stations outside of places that would keep people occupied for a few hours, like restaurants, bars, malls, and movie theaters. Even better would be a drive-in movie theater. You could hang the speaker on the window on one side, and plug the car into the charger on the other side, while you watched Who Killed The Electric Car.

    3. If Tesla wanted to make their charging stations more popular they’re going to have to find a way to keep their car owners distracted while the Supercharger is charging the car. Every Tesla Supercharging station should come with a free beer dispenser and free Wi-Fi, so you can get drunk and surf the web for porn on your laptop or phone while you’re waiting for your car to charge.

    4. If a person were to get electrocuted charging their car on a Supercharging station would their shadow be burned into the concrete like the atomic bomb victims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki ?.

    5. The ultimate irony would be to put a Supercharging station next to a Jiffy Lube and see who gets done first.

    6. If EVs really do become popular will kids start hotrodding their cars with bigger batteries, stronger motor magnets, and rewinding their motors for more power ?. Will they start putting stickers on their trunklid showing the kWh of their car ?. Will they make the “W” in kWh red thile they do with the “R” in type-R ?.

    7. A fun thing to do would be to call up the salesperson who sold you your EV and complain about your mileage dropping significantly. Tell the salesperson you just stopped off at the fleamarket and got a bitchin’ deal on a Pyramid 1000 watt amp, and some 15″ MTX subs, and you can’t understand why you’re only getting 25MPGe now.

    8. Large high capacity batteries are soon to be a thing of the past for EVs. Scientists are now currently working on an environmentally friendly method to produce electricity in the form of a hybrid supercapacitor. It’ll involve a long haired cat and an acrylic blanket, and a back and forth motion sort of like an old washboard. If people ask you what kind of power your car runs on you can tell them “electriskitty”. Scientists are currently working out the technical drawbacks to the charging system, but they’re reporting that wearing chain mail works as both a Faraday Cage to keep you from getting electrocuted, and it also keeps the cat from scratching you to bits while the charging process takes place.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      They have charging stations at Safeco/Quest fields in Seattle and at the Rose Garden in Portland so you can get charged while getting drunk and watching base/foot/basket ball or Hockey.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      AFX – - –

      Brilliant! Good morning laugh.

      I, too, read about the super capacitors. They would allow charging an EV car in the same time as fueling with gasoline. BUT:
      ….What about high-humidity “bleed” in the system – say in Florida or Georgia?
      ….How big are these things? Electrons don’t like to live next to one another.
      ….What weight are we talking about here?
      ….Do they involve precious metals or a technology that pushes the price way up?
      ….What about the massive capacitor charge that would be imparted to an emergency crew in the event of an accident? (If you’ve ever been “stung” by a capacitor, you’ll know what I mean: these things can kill you.)

      —————–

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Alex: I agree with every word of your Day 5 installment. The EV’s compromises should be acknowledged – not ducked – by mfrs. And throwing in a charger would be helpful. I bought my own for $750 and installed it myself, although many people can’t do this.

    My mileages:
    Daily commute = 18 miles round trip
    Common variation = 30 miles a day vs 18 miles
    Average miles driven per day in the Leaf = 25 miles/day over 248 days

    Like eggsalad above, I also had a wonderful 05 xB1 (it got 30 mpg town, 35 mpg highway). I averaged 28 miles a day in that car, so the Leaf is just about keeping up with it. Obviously I can’t make any long trips with it, but I rarely did with the xB; in fact, more than 2 hrs in that car was torture. But I’m saving $100/month in gas above the $15 or so extra in electricity I’m buying at home.

    We also have a beater 01 Elantra (daily driver) and an 09 Sedona for daily driving, family trips, and hauling/towing. All the cars get a lot of use due to having 2-5 drivers in the house at any given time.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I have a 4Runner, a Prius v, and a MINI and live in rural WV. For the sake of simplifying the calculations, I’ll consider the MINI as only a car for pleasure driving rather than trips or commuting.

    Trip driving: 8000mi/yr
    Commute driving: 3500mi/yr
    Local non-commute driving: 6500mi/yr

    At $4/gallon and a vast majority of these miles being driven by my Prius v, my cost is $1800/yr. If I replaced the Prius v with a 100mi capable EV (with $0.02/mi operating costs… accurate for WV, I think) and drove the trip miles with my 22mpg 4Runner, my yearly fuel cost would be $1650. For sake of comparison, replacing my Prius v with a midsize sedan that averages 35mpg in my all highway, ideal driving conditions, the cost would be $2100/yr. So, by going to an EV, my “fuel” expenses would decrease by $150/yr over my Prius v and $450/yr over a theoretical midsize sedan. Not bad savings, but probably not enough to make me jump to an EV.

    The $7500 that WV throws at EVs makes it a whole different ball game. Assuming the Rav4 EV were available here:
    $50k MSRP – $10k Toyota incentive – $7500 fed tax credit – $7500 WV state tax credit = $25k. Now we’re on par with a midsize sedan.

    If I didn’t insist on having a 4WD for my occasional trips across the mountains, an EV plus a midsize sedan could drive my fuel cost down to $1150/yr. Having 2 midsize sedans in the family would be $2050/yr. Unfortunately, we’re pretty much relying on very large government incentives (especially in my case) for EVs to make sense.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    50 mile round trip commute, plus when I’m on all that could happen multiple times a day. We also have six vehicles between the two of us in the household. So we’re by far from average on the statistics.

    That being said, I’d warm up the idea of a EV when they get cheap enough (and I don’t have to afford it with a government handout). It would have to be cheap though; cheap enough to warrant tossing the car away in several years when the batteries were depleted, or replacement batteries coming way down in price.

    As of now we have cars for commuting, a newer SUV for long trips, a new car for nice nights out and short trips. And some others for fun. I could fit a EV in there and get rid of the falling-apart Jetta.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      My commute average is about the same, although I usually don’t need to make extra trips during the day. I’ve wanted an EV for about a decade now, but the battery tech just wasn’t good enough. It’s getting pretty close now, and I figure in another 5 years or so I should be able to pick up a used EV, swap in a new, higher-capacity battery pack, and be good to go.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I suppose I’m somewhat of an X-urbanite; I live in the suburbs, work in a different suburb, and avoid the city like the plague. There’s a decent network of high-speed highways circumnavigating the city center and traffic is not bad despite the fact that work and home are on diametrically opposite sides of the city.

    My commute is 23 miles each way but with the kids’ activities I deviate from the “straight-home” at least once a week, adding up to 15 miles to the trip home. We have hills, being on the fall line and having to cross the river between home and work. Most commuting is highway speed or multi-lane 45mph suburban highways with traffic lights, but at least 60% controlled-access highways. We do have “winter” here in Virginia, but it’s not like out west in the mountains but it’s worse than it was down in Georgia too.

    While it’s theoretically possible to meet my day-to-day needs with an EV, I’ve been driving a full-size quad-cab pickup on this commute for 6.5 years now (and in a different circumstance for 4.5 years before that). I’m just starting to wrap my head around the possibility of a compact hatchback or midsize sedan for my commute. An EV is just a bridge too far despite the fact I have a 220v outlet in my garage (always figured it was for a genset or welder, which I don’t own, but I can’t fit a car in my garage and still get in/out anyway). Like you said, change can be tough. Even though I plan to keep my pickup and purchase something more fuel-efficient for daily use within a year I have a hard time justifying the expense despite 18mpg and $3k/year repairs on the old truck given that I need something large enough to haul 3 kids, one of whom is in a rear-facing infant seat. I’ve yet to see an EV that could fit that bill.

    • 0 avatar
      fozone

      “I need something large enough to haul 3 kids, one of whom is in a rear-facing infant seat. I’ve yet to see an EV that could fit that bill.”

      A Tesla can swallow that load easily — it has 7 seats, and multiple trunks. Affordable, it is not! The big hope is their Model X will bring their vehicles to the regular joe next year…

  • avatar
    forevaclevah

    Alex:
    I completely agree with your assessment of freedom in this country and how it relates to cars. Our car culture is more than just people owning transportation devices, its about our vast country and its road infrastructure. The car in America is the freedom vessel.

    EVs aren’t for everyone, but they do make sense for many that can afford them. The higher upfront cost means you are buying down the future price of gas. The thing is, gas prices are still low. So until gasoline prices rise to $6-7 gallon, EVs will be too expensive for the average buyer.

    Thanks for this series! I really enjoyed reading!

  • avatar
    mcarr

    For me, EV’s just aren’t there yet, but I have no doubt that someday they will be. I think when they are able to get 150+ miles per charge in the dead of Minnesota winter, and the price premium isn’t substantially greater than an ICE car, then I’ll be interested. Until then, I think the real market will be EV’s with a gas generator, ala Volt, though the price needs to come down.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed.

      I keep my cars until they rust through. I kept our neon until the 2nd tranny died @ 210k, the ac broke, it was rusting through etc.

      I live on the IL/WI border with commute speeds between 45-70 or so. No charging available at work, so I need something that 15 years from now will have a REAL range of 60-70 miles (assuming no details) at highway speeds at 100F or -20F, heater or AC full blast. I’m guessing I’m looking for an EV with 300 mile range @ 60mph and then that should do it….

      until then, I’ll stick with ICE.

  • avatar
    Toshi

    My wife and I are planning on leasing a LEAF in Seattle in a month or three. Here’s why it makes sense for us:

    1) We’ll offset the cost of the two year lease fully (and then some) by selling our bought-used second gen Prius.
    2) I’ll perform the EVSE installation work myself–Seattle code allows for in-home electrical work by the homeowner, with a permit, of course.
    3) Seattle power is cheap and clean at baseline, and an extra $12/month gets one renewable energy credits such that all of one’s electricity use is offset. Effectively zero carbon power without paying for home PV!
    4) Both my wife and I are motivated to make the switch, probably the most important factor. She will be the primary driver, as I’m a bike/bus commuter.
    5) New EVs are sales/use tax-exempt in Washington, further sweetening the sweet deals.
    6) Zipcar is always there in a pinch if all else fails…

    Would it be cheaper to run our Prius into the ground? Of course: any new/newer vehicle will cost more an an already-depreciated one. To us, though, we anticipate that going electric be totally worth it, subjectively.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    i have enjoyed reading this 5 part series and thinking about what is possible there and what is possible here. i request an addendum to the series – in the winter – away from california. pick a large metropolitan city and do two or three days. the differences may be enlightening.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Right now EV manufacturers are either selling these things at a loss, or pretty darn close. They are more expensive than ICE cars and customers are enticed to buy them with tax incentives. Charging stations in large urban areas are paid for with tax dollars…

    How is this the “future” of the automobile if it’s an inherently unprofitable venture, and interest in the business is being kept by a steady flow of someone else’s money. We keep getting reassurances that the technology will one day advance to the point that this is profitable, but I have yet to see it.

    I’d love to see the eco-warrior crowd put their money where their mouths are and invest in this technology without walking over to their local and federal government with hands outstretched. We went through this garbage already with ethanol, that’s worked out so well that most politicians won’t even mention it as an “alternative fuel” anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      fozone

      The issue is one of scale — there is no inherent reason that EVs should be more expensive, and in fact they have almost no moving parts; the bulk of their technology is tied up in electronics, which we all know get cheaper over time, not more expensive.

      But scale is everything. This is why government lending a hand during the build-out phase is important. As scale is achieved prices will plummet.

      Elon Musk understands this. Notice that his other company SpaceX is taking the same approach as Tesla. They know the only way space will be cheaper is if they can routinely crank out their rockets on an assembly line. Until that point, it’ll remain expensive to launch anything.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “I’d love to see the eco-warrior crowd put their money where their mouths are and invest in this technology without walking over to their local and federal government with hands outstretched.”

      What makes you think they need the $7500 incentive? Do you have special insight into who is actually buying the EVs or what the current lifestyle of the “eco-warrior” is like?

      Reducing GHG emissions is important to me. Building a solar-powered house is impractical near where I work, so I bulked up the insulation and switched to a high-efficiency furnace. I deliberately chose a house that’s only 3 miles from work and walkable to all schools. I walk and bike to work myself, when the weather’s decent. When suitable, our weekend errands are by bike. We don’t have a large assortment of gas-powered toys in the driveway or garage.

      I don’t need an EV to have a relatively small footprint, I’ve already got that. And I’m not going to beggar myself reducing my footprint further when it’s pointless because the many millions of the Fox-indoctrinated will just suck up any additional resources my lifestyle frees up.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        KixStart – - –

        Thank God for the “Fox-indoctrinated”.
        Somebody has to have a sense of reality (occasionally).

        ——————-

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        I’m glad that you chose a house 3 miles from your work and are wealthy enough that your lifestyle affords you the benefit of 7500 dollars is not that much in the grand scheme of things. If I “deliberately chose” my home 3 miles from work, I’d probably get mugged/shot walking to my home which would have been broken into if I managed to get there in one piece.

        We uneducated Fox-viewers often have to commute to work, sometimes an hour and a half and across state lines, and spend over a decade saving to buy ANY home of our own (energy efficient or otherwise). Our commutes are often out of EV range, and our employers aren’t pressured by those progressive souls on NPR and MSNBC to put a car charger out front or a gender neutral bathroom inside. It seems that money is better invested on not laying off workers instead of making one person out of 1000 feel better about their carbon footprint.

        If it comes to 7500 dollars, I’d choose the cheaper car. Hell, I choose 2000 dollars cheaper for my wife because I make her car payments. I hate that gas is expensive because government is blowing tax money on toys for the wealthy EV buyer (who, by your admission DOESN’T CARE about the tax breaks and can afford to live and work where they want).

        The problem with people like you is that you are privileged enough to think that the rest of us who have to work hard, commute, and scrape by should be held to the same idiotic environmental standards like you. Go live in some commune in Vermont, where everyone tries to fart once a day to reduce methane emissions, and let the rest of us get on with our lives, unburdened by your ethical taxes.

        It’s only fair.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          I live on the side of town with the cheap houses and small lots. I frequently hear colleagues in my pay grade whining about their commutes because they drive out to their new construction McMansions on 3-acre parcels in the sticks, so they can play the country squire on the weekends. Their commute takes them past a lot of other houses, just like mine, which are too small and mean for their grand sense of self.

          Maybe that’s you… maybe not. But my lifestyle isn’t a matter of “woo-hoo, I can afford anything I want.” I work for a living. I don’t work for a company that’s all about some kind of feel-goodism and free chargers for all, I work for a company that’s busy outsourcing all the jobs they can and I pretty much bust my butt every day. If I’m “privileged,” then “privilege” is in a sorry state in this country. The money I have I earned and found a way to keep. And it occurred to me early on that burning gas to ride around in something I didn’t need, anyway, was not the way to keep as much of my money as possible.

          Now, maybe you’re all offended because I’m making judgements about you but you will note that you’re all about uninformed judgements about the “eco-warriors.”

          And if you’re watching Fox, you are wasting your time:
          http://mediamatters.org/blog/2011/11/22/seven-surveys-make-a-trend-for-fox-and-viewers/167217

  • avatar
    Fordson

    OK Alex, this is what – 50-something comments, and nobody has questioned your less-than-6-mile-per-day-one-way average American commute? Where the heck did you get that number? My research says the average American commute is 16 miles and 25.1 minutes, each way.

    If the average American commute were under 6 miles each way, we could dispense with EVs and go straight to bicycles on the scale of the Netherlands or Indonesia.

    For my situation: I live 27 miles from work – takes me from 30 minutes (freeway) to 36 minutes (backroads). My wife works at home. We have a 2007 Sienna Limited, purchased in anticipation of an adoption of twin 2-year-olds…that fell through when it was 98% done. We have an 8-year-old son and one 70-lb. dog (probably will be a second dog at some point). I have a 2011 GTI Autobahn that I drive in good weather (live in Rust Belt) and a 2003 SVT Focus that I use in winter and occasionally the rest of the year.

    We use the GTI or Focus for road trips of over 300 miles (say 6-8 of those per year), unless we are taking someone else also, or it’s a backpacking trip when we have large packs and the dog going, too – then we use the Sienna.

    We need to sell the Sienna – we don’t need that much room. I would love a Mazda 5 if they could get out of their own way and the styling of the new ones did not suck. CUVs are not larger enough inside than the GTI/Focus to make one worthwhile as a Sienna replacement, and I have no need for AWD, really (I know they’re not all AWD). I wish there were more mini-minvans like the 5. The xB/Soul/Cube class of vehicle (apparently designed by, and for, those described by their friends with a faint smile and shake of the head as “a real character”) are not under consideration.

    From my commute description, I am a real candidate for a Leaf or the Fiat 500 EV. I would save a ton on gas. The only problem is I would go from a loaded, chipped GTI to a Leaf or 500E, for 54 miles every day, plus I would have to look at the Leaf at least twice a day, when leaving home and leaving work. I really respect the Leaf and the 500E as vehicles, though – VERY well done for what they do and hit the sweet spot of the EV market. Either one world get me to and from work for like $2 a day and that is a really significant savings.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Since you already have the Sienna… why bother getting rid of it? You will take a hit, and it is the perfect road trip car. My GTI barely breaks 30mpg on long trips and as soon as I get off the highway that mileage drops. Plus its not comfortable, it rides too stiff, the back seat isn’t big enough for a 70-lb dog and an 8-yo, not to mention another dog, and the cargo capacity is pretty small when you are using the back seats. The Focus is essentially the same size car so no change there and the MPG is worse IIRC. Last week we drove a rented Grand Caravan from FL to TX and averaged 27mpg on the highway trips both ways, including stops. I cannot imagine your Sienna is much worse than that. Keep the van and use it as intended, for family trips.

      I love my GTI, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a great commuter car unless your commute is a Tail of the Dragon road or requires lots of turbo passing. Dump the Focus, keep the GTI for when you want to have some fun and get an EV for commuting/winter/around town use. I bet you easily save enough in gas to cover the lease payment on the EV.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Huh. I love my GTI for commuting. I find it very comfortable – the seats are an order of magnitude better than those in the Focus, and better than the overstuffed pillows in the Sienna.

        When we go on road trips, we try to avoid the superslab, and frankly the Sienna is out of its element on winding two-lanes at 55-60 mph, even with the hi-po all-seasons I have on it. The GTI is great on the interstate – it just picks ‘em up and puts ‘em down, and has a great stereo and is very quiet. Yeah, it rides stiffer than the Sienna, but most of the roads I travel are not really in bad shape. On two-lanes, the GTI is where you want to be.

        On equivalent drives, the Sienna will get 26 mpg and the GTI 31.

        The Sienna would be the perfect road trip car if we had the planned 3 kids and 2 dogs, but with just us, we’re rattling around in it. It’s plenty powerful and if you get it up on the interstate, pointed in the right direction and set the cruise, it’s fine, but in any other kind of driving – it’s a definite demotion from either the Focus or the GTI. It’s a nice whale, but it’s a whale.

        I figure if I used an EV for ALL commuting I would save like $175 per month…not enough for the lease, but it’s a chunk of change, no doubt.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Agreed, the seats of the GTI are terrific. But quiet?? a GTI? My GTI is anything but quiet, maybe compared to the Focus I guess, but the engine noise is loud, especially when it revs, and the road noise is loud too, and gets worse as the performance tires wear out. And stiff… yea its stiff, and I live in Florida where we don’t have frost heaves or terrible roads. When we drive it to places that have actual winter, it just crashes over every bump and pothole. I hate doing that to the car, it just feels wrong! The vans (and our other cars) are just more comfortable.

          But I do agree, winding 2-lane roads I would rather be in the GTI, but then again my wife, kids and dogs will not let me drive them on winding roads the way it needs to be driven, I would have dog puke all over the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      1) Why keep the SVT focus around for winter driving when it really brings little to the table versus your GTI? The GTI has stability and traction control and the insurance (and related taxes, registration, etc) cost probably eats up the savings from not having to drive the Sienna when you and your wife are driving separate vehicles. Seeing that you have one of the few desirable Focii in the used market, you’d probably be best off cashing in on that. I drove my GTI for 4 winters with no issues.

      2) If you really want something good on gas and spacious, it is hard to beat a Prius v. I doubt you’ll love the looks or the drive, but this ex-GTI owner finds it an easy vehicle to live with thanks to the great back seats, soft ride, and huge cargo area. A similarly sized efficient vehicle is a TDI sportwagen, but the back seats aren’t quite as spacious or configurable. They are the same as the GTI, IIRC. I’ve spent a lot of time in the back seat of the v tending to our 9 month old and the sliding and reclining rear seats make it a pretty nice place to be. It is a great mini-minivan for a family with 1 kid. I even installed a 2″ hitch receiver on it for my mountain and road bikes. It has plenty of space for my backpacking trips, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I keep the Focus because I like it, it’s paid for, and I don’t want to drive the GTI in winter – I know it would do fine, but I see what winter driving has done to the Focus, and I’m not going there again.

        I considered a Prius V, considered a Sportwagen – still am.

  • avatar
    greg

    Thanks for this series. I am probably the ideal candidate for an EV: My daily commute is 13 miles of Los Angeles freeway. A zero emission car would get me the HOV-lane cheater sticker. Post-rebate pricing in the low 20′s isn’t a dealbreaker. There’s seemingly decent charging infrastructure out here. My ego could handle being seen in the 500e or even a Chevy Spark EV.

    Using freemaptools, I plotted a circle with a 40 mile radius around my home. I leave this area three or four times a year, tops. After studying that result, I realize I do not have range anxiety as much as lifestyle anxiety.

    Would I get an EV? In spite of the above details, I don’t know if it’d be a worthwhile purchase. I have two cars (2006 & 1998), both paid off. Insurance/registration is relatively cheap. Using the Gas Cubby phone app, I know the fuel cost for the car I would replace with an EV is $0.21/mile. In your Day Three post, you paid $7.84 for a full charge. With an 85 mile range, that works out to $0.092/mile? I don’t drive enough for the fuel savings alone to offset what the other costs would be. When the time comes to replace one of my cars, an EV would make sense, but ditching one of my cars now for an EV would depend on the price I put on things other than money.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Keep in mind that $7.84 wasn’t a full charge from zero and was billed at $0.49 per kWh vs his home rate of $0.21 or the national average of $0.11. Use your rate at home and investigate any discounts for EV charging to see just how much your cost would really be.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    Deleted


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