Opinion: 5 Ways Rural Drivers Benefit From EVs

Jo Borras
by Jo Borras
opinion 5 ways rural drivers benefit from evs

Despite being presented as the ideal vehicle for “urbanites and city dwellers who don’t drive long distances,” it’s actually rural drivers who stand to benefit the most from making the switch to an electric vehicle (EV). And that’s often true regardless of what state they live in or what type of vehicle they currently drive. And, while it’s true that rural communities across the country have their own cultures and characteristics, common themes like longer driving distances, larger vehicles, and a number of shared socio-economic factors all contribute to a potential benefit from vehicle electrification.

So, without further ado, here are five reasons why rural drivers stand to benefit the most from switching to an electric car.

1 – LONGER DISTANCES = BIGGER SAVINGS THAN SHORT DISTANCES

Electric vehicles cost less to “fuel up” than their gas or diesel-powered counterparts, which means that the longer distances traveled by drivers in rural communities equal bigger savings in fuel and maintenance costs for them than for their city-dwelling counterparts.

Most modern EVs offer considerably more range than people think. The Volkswagen ID.4 Pro, for example, offers SUV-style grocery-hauling capacity and more than 260 miles of range – and can charge from nearly “empty” to “full” in under 45 minutes at a level 6 charger …

… that means that every time a rural driver needs to make a six- or seven-hour drive, they’ll need to stop for lunch. Which they were probably going to do, anyway. What’s more, in a Mustang Mach-E or Tesla, which can charge at Level 7, they’ll only need to stop for about 20 minutes.

2 – BIGGER, OLDER VEHICLES = BIGGER SAVINGS THAN SMALLER, NEWER VEHICLES

Rural communities tend to own bigger vehicles like pickups, SUVs, and minivans in greater proportions than urban communities, and they tend to buy used and/or keep their cars longer, as well. In Maryland, for example, one study showed that 49 percent of vehicles in rural areas are more than 10 years old. Larger, older vehicles are more likely to need repairs than newer ones, and they’re less fuel-efficient even than when they were new, so fuel savings from switching to a comparably-sized EV are likely to be even greater for drivers of these vehicles.

How much could drivers save in just fuel? Using DOE and utility data from PGE, a typical five-passenger SUV takes about $35 worth of gas to go 300 miles. An electric car can go those same 300 miles on just $7 of “electric fuel”.

What’s more, with all the available electric vehicle incentives that are already here – with more soon to come – the cost to choose an electric truck is comparable, or even less than the cost to buy a new V8 pickup truck while offering better performance and more “ on the job” capability.

3 – RURAL DRIVERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ABLE TO CHARGE IN A GARAGE

It’s a simple truth that most EV charging occurs at home, in the garage – and it’s also a simple truth that rural drivers are much more likely to live in single-family homes than their urban counterparts who live in multi-unit apartment buildings or townhomes with street parking.

In Maine, Virginia, and Vermont, for example, more than 85 percent of rural and suburban households live in single- or two-family homes with garages or driveways can charge at home from their driveways or garages using standard, commonly accessible 110V or 220V wall outlets.

4 – EVS ARE BECOMING MORE AFFORDABLE FOR EVERYONE

The car market is hot right now, with used cars commanding higher prices than ever and new cars often selling for thousands of dollars above their sticker price. That’s not necessarily true with EVs, which many dealers – especially in rural America – still seem willing to offer discounts on. With the price of certain models being driven down, too, by external factors and up to $12,500 in federal tax credits (not to mention state or local utility incentives) aimed at making EVs more accessible to low and middle-income families, electric cars may be some of the only cars you can get a great deal on today.

5 – RURAL DRIVERS RELY ON THEIR VEHICLES MORE THAN URBAN DRIVERS

It’s been nearly 25 years since the first Toyota Prius hybrids first came to market (yes, it was 1997), and in that time the electronics and batteries in these electrified vehicles have proven themselves again and again to be more reliable, and cheaper to own, than anyone predicted. At least one Tesla driver in Canada, for example, has put more than 700,000 miles on their Tesla Model S …

https://twitter.com/DriveTeslaca/status/1378582364633190400

… which is impressive, but hardly the whole story. In 2019, a shuttle service in Southern California called Tesloop maintained a fleet of Teslas that racked up over 300,000 miles each, with no signs of slowing down.

“The company’s fleet of seven vehicles — a mix of Model Xs, Model 3s and a Model S — are now among the highest-mileage Teslas in the world,” writes Michael Coren, in Quartz Magazine. “They zip almost daily between Los Angeles, San Diego, and destinations in between. Each of Tesloop’s cars are regularly racking up about 17,000 miles per month (roughly eight times the average for corporate fleet mileage). Many need to fully recharge at least twice each day.”

That’s the kind of reliability that people who don’t have the option of casually hailing a cab, hopping a train, or riding a bike to work can – and should – be able to depend on.

In conclusion, it’s not really clear why rural communities and middle America are so often overlooked by EV proponents. Even journalists get this wrong more often than not – frequently overlooking the fact that access to garages means rural drivers don’t need the same level of public infrastructure support to make the switch to EVs viable that city drivers do. At the end of the day, the lower cost to buy, incredible fuel savings, reduced cost of ownership, and better than expected dependability make EVs a no-brainer for your country cousins … if only someone would tell them!

[Images: Provided by the author, guteksk7/Shutterstock.com]

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  • F6Dave F6Dave on Nov 15, 2021

    It's easy to see the appeal of EVs. They're mechanically simpler and perform great. But I can't understand why so few people ask this basic, critical question: where will we get the electricity to charge all these things? Our grid is barely adequate. Remember the Texas freeze last February? People lost power and hundreds died, with many literally freezing to death. And in other places like California, blackouts that were rare just a decade ago are increasing in frequency. How can we possibly add millions of electric cars, trucks, heat pumps, kitchen appliances, water heaters, and countless other gadgets to this fragile grid? Wind and solar can't make up the difference. Governments have spent hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing wind and solar, yet fossil fuels still provide over 80% of the world's energy. And here's an interesting fact: the fossil fuel contribution to our energy mix has dropped by less than one percent in the last 40 years. So why haven't wind and solar made a dent in fossil fuel consumption? The biggest reason is global energy demand, which is growing so fast that all those new wind and solar farms can't even keep up with the increase. And since environmental activists also oppose nuclear, fossil fuels have to handle the growth. Global oil consumption is now at a record 100 million barrels per day. Except for a brief drop in 2020, consumption has been steadily increasing for decades by about a million barrels per day every year. So to answer to the initial question, where will we get all the additional electricity if politicians succeed in forcing the mass adoption of EVs? The answer is there probably won't be enough electricity. We'll have rationing, and the freedom of mobility we now enjoy will be restricted. It's already happening in the UK. Starting in May of 2022, recent legislation will mandate EV charging ports in new residential and commercial construction. These will be 'smart' chargers, which means they'll automatically shut off between 8 and 11 AM, between 4 and 10 PM, and at random 30 minute periods when demand is high. That's effectively rationing, and it's probably already under consideration in a large city near you. We should never forget that energy is the most important commodity on the planet. Without energy we couldn't cultivate food, nor could we process it, refrigerate it, or transport it to market. Without energy clean drinking water would be a luxury, and life saving pharmaceuticals and medical devices couldn't exist. If reliable energy (coal/nat gas/nuclear/hydro) were to disappear, civilization would collapse into chaos in a matter of days. We'd be living in a Mad Max scenario.

  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on Nov 15, 2021

    Lots of differing views here. Mostly intelligent and quite interesting!

  • Laszlo I own a 1969 falcon futura 4 door hardtop, original inline 6 and c4 transmission and it still runs to this day.
  • BklynPete So let's get this straight: Ford hyped up the Bronco for 3 years, yet couldn't launch it to match the crazy initial demand. They released it with numerous QC issues, made hay for its greedy dealers, and burned customers in the process. After all that, they lose money on warranties. The vehicles turn out to be a worse ownership experience than the Jeep Wrangler, which hasn't been a paragon of reliability for 50 years. The same was true of the Aviator, Explorer, several F-150 variants, and other recent product launches. The Maverick is the only thing they got right. Yet this company that's been at it for 120 years. Just Brilliant. Jim Farley's non-PR speak: "You don't get to call me an idiot. I get to call myself an idiot first."Farley truly seems hapless, like the characters his late cousin played. Bill Ford is a nice guy but more than a bit slow on the uptake too. They have not had anything resembling a quality CEO since Alan Mulally turned the keys over to Mark Fields - the mulleted glamor boy who got canned after 3 years when the PowerShi(f)t transaxles exploded. He more recently helped run Hertz into the ground with bad QC and a faulty database that had them arresting customers. Ford is starting to resemble Chrysler in the mid-Seventies Sales Bank era. Well, at least VW has cash and envies Ford's distribution reach and potential profitability.
  • Mike Beranek This guy called and wants his business model back.
  • SCE to AUX The solid state battery is vaporware.As for software-limited pack capacity: Batteries are obviously the most expensive component of an EV, so on the rare occasion that pack capacity is dramatically limited (as in your 6-year-old example), it's because economies of scale briefly made sense at the time.Mfrs are not in the habit of overbuilding pack capacity just for fun, and then charging the customer less.Since then, pack capacities have been slightly increased via software because the mfr decides they can sacrifice a little bit of the normal safety/wear margin in the interest of range. We're talking single-digit percentages, not the 60/75 kWh jump in your example.Every pack has maybe 10% margin built into it, so eating into that today (via range increases) means it's not available to make up for battery degradation tomorrow. My 4-year-old EV still has its original range(s) and 100% SOH, but that's surely because it is slowly consuming the margin built into the pack.@Matt Posky: Not everything is a conspiracy to get your credit card account, and the lengthy editorial about this has nothing to do with solid state batteries.
  • JLGOLDEN In order for this total newcomer to grab and hold attention in the US market, the products MUST be an exceptional value. Not many people will pay name-brand money for the pretty mystery. I can appreciate the ambition of selling $50K+ crossovers, but I think they will go farther with their $30K-$40K offerings.
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