Living With an EV for a Week – Day One

Alex L. Dykes
by Alex L. Dykes
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living with an ev for a week day one

TTAC has borrowed EVs in the past. Nissan even let us snag a Leaf for a week. Since then, I’ve driven every EV on the market except the Model S. (Not for a lack of half-trying, I call Tesla HQ regularly, but am too lazy to visit a Tesla dealer.) Every time I’ve had an EV, the conversation is more about living with the EV than the car itself. This time we’re doing something different. When the review of the spunky little orange Fiat 500e (I’ve decided to name her “Zippy Zappy”) hits in a few weeks, it will be 100% about the car and 0% about EV trials and tribulations. That divorced conversation is happening this week in daily installments.

EV tech is evolving rapidly from every angle, which is why we’re taking a look at it in this way. When the Tesla Roadster came on the scene it was the first real EV you could buy in ages, but the lacking of a standard charging connector, two seats and a steep price tag limited its commercial viability. Next up we had the Leaf which sported the new J1772 standard charging connector and the first DC quick-charge connector in the USA. Sadly there were zero quick charge stations in America when we last Leafed. Just a year into Nissan’s grand experiment there were significant updates to the Leaf and thanks to California’s zero-emissions mandate we have an EV explosion with just about everyone hopping on the eBandwagon. Are they ready for prime time?

The 500e is the most efficient EV on the market. That’s not just because it’s one of the smallest EVs available, but also because technology in this field is moving rapidly. The 500e’s motor, batteries, charger systems, etc are all the latest in design and that is what pushes the little Italian to the head of the pack. [Edit: my apologies, the Scion iQ EV is now the most efficient EV, but the 500e is very close] Even so the 500e is capable of only 80-100 miles depending on your driving style, the climate and your Range Anxiety. I suffer from RA pretty badly so my first day in the 500e I drove home with the cruise control set to 64 on the freeway and used my most efficient (and most level) shortcuts possible. Leaving work at 93% full (thanks to not being delivered at 100%) I stopped at the grocery store 41 miles later having consumed 55% of my battery thanks to climbing a 2,200ft mountain pass at freeway speeds. Range estimate: 75 miles, not too shabby and better than the Leaf on the same journey. 10 miles later my EV told me it would take 15 hours to recharge to 100% using the 110V “emergency” charger. I thought about heading to the beach 12-miles away since the weather was amazing but my RA kept me at home where I looked at pictures of the beach on my laptop. What will tomorrow bring?

Looking for the other installments? Here you go:

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Alex L. Dykes
Alex L. Dykes

More by Alex L. Dykes

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12 of 85 comments
  • Healthy skeptic Healthy skeptic on May 30, 2013

    Alex, as I recall from your Leaf test, your commute and lifestyle involve a fair amount of medium-distance driving, certainly the kind of driving that's gong to challenge any

    • See 8 previous
    • CJinSD CJinSD on Jun 01, 2013

      @tjh8402 "To fill my roof space with panels would in a best case scenario barely meet the average power needs of my house and would cost over 100k installed." If I've spent $100K on electricity in the 25 years that I've been paying bills, I think I would have noticed. This should make people wonder about the energy and resources involved in producing solar panels and whether or not their output is likely to ever cover their inputs. Thinking isn't very green though.

  • AFX AFX on May 31, 2013

    If I was going to get a Nissan Leaf the first thing I'd do would be to add a 100-shot nitrous oxide system to it. Not for the electric motor, because it wouldn't need it, but rather spraying out though the A/C vents to make my daily commute more fun. Gawd, a 100 mile range. I've ridden further than that in one day on a bicycle several times, and I didn't burn any electricity either, just Powerbars and spaghetti. For whatever this thing costs I could go on Craigslist and find an old used Geo Metro 2-door/4-door/convertible or Ford Aspire for around $2000-$3000, spend the savings over the Fiat on gas, and probably STILL come out ahead in the long run.

    • R H R H on May 31, 2013

      Or just get a ninja 250 and actually have fun....

  • Analoggrotto Where is this now? Dead. The Kia Soul rules this segment as Kia rules every segment, and Genesis above it rules the luxury realm.
  • Oberkanone Nope. $8 grand for $120k miles economy hatchback is too much. Over 10 years old. Condition does not change the result.
  • Master Baiter ____________ doesn't want electric _____________.
  • MaintenanceCosts Too bad it's not a Sport; the styling on those is a bit nicer. There's a first-gen Fit Sport with some subtle mods (lowering, perfectly chosen wheels, tint) that used to live in my neighborhood and it may be the best-looking subcompact I've ever seen.
  • Oberkanone BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen have different fleet emissions rules than Stellantis and other manufacturers. This is unfair trade practice and California is the leader of this criminal conspiracy. Unified emissions regulations are needed. Disjointed patchwork of CARB and Federal emissions states results in harm to our economy inefficient manufacturing. CARB emissions regulations violate the Commerce Clause by engaging in extraterritorial regulation.