I have been anxiously awaiting the day when I could both afford and justify an all electric vehicle. So, I was very excited when our second household car came to the end of its life very soon after the Chevy Bolt had recently begun shipping. What timing!
First on the affordability – Tesla has been the only electric vehicle that had a decent size battery that you can use for more than just going to the local grocery store and back. But their cars have generally been upwards of $60,000 to purchase.
More than a year ago, Tesla announced its $35,000 Model 3, with 220 miles on a full charge. I read all about it and was ready to shell out the reservation fee for one of these when I started hearing about the Chevy Bolt. This car provides 230 miles to a charge and has a similar $35,000 price tag. The big difference between these two cars was that the Chevy was actually shipping and the Model 3 was not (and still is not shipping to the general public, 6 months later).
I test drove the Chevy Bolt and fell in love with it. With the $7200 tax credit, the car I wanted with a few extra features over the base price came in at under $30,000. That met my “affordable” goal.
The other half of being able to buy it was justifying that I could use this vehicle for all my business travel, and I wouldn’t have “range anxiety” (at least not very often). The range anxiety question is real and it is one of the main reasons people are hesitant to adopt electric vehicles more quickly. Where will I next get to “plug in”? Will I run out of battery power before getting home?
I did think about this quite a bit and looked at my business, my personal travel and what other resources I had available (like a second car). Here are some of the things that make owning an all electric vehicle (EV) work for me:
- My business involves traveling to places within a 30-50 radius from my house – that means I can plug in every night and be ready to visit 3 or 4 customers the next day. I installed a ‘level 2’ charger at home, which can give me 200 miles of new battery charge in about 8-10 hours.
- Once every few months I need to do a longer trip, about 100-120 miles one way. For those trips I have to find a level 2 EV charging station that I can use for most of the day while I am at a conference or workshop; or at the hotel where I might be staying over night. Alternatively, I can use a level 3, fast DC charger for an hour or so. (These are harder to find.)
- There is a second car that can be refueled for the long trips to visit family in other states. I think this is going to be necessary for most people considering an EV. Hopefully we’ll soon figure out how to make quicker recharging stations and make them available everywhere…but we aren’t there yet.
Item number 2 is where I do spend some time pre-planning before I leave the house. So far I am happy to say that Whole Foods has provided the level 3 DC fast charger that has worked and been available when I needed it (in two different cities at least). On the other hand, I am disappointed that more hotels have not installed level 2 chargers for their guests as this is a really easy way to put me at ease if I need to stay overnight somewhere. Whatever planning I do for charging, I also find a back up charging location. You just don’t know if the first one will be working, or someone will be using it, etc. On one trip, I ended up parking at different hotel than where I was staying because there was no EV charger or the one they had wasn’t working.
When I am parked in an EV spot for charging, I leave my business card and cell phone number in an readable location in case someone else needs to use it. They can text or call me so we can share it. Try to lessen the next guy’s range anxiety.
There are so many benefits of my Chevy Bolt over a fossil fuel car:
- I love driving by gas stations and knowing that I will never need to put gas in this car.
- I love knowing that my car has no carburetor, no fuel injector, no spark plugs, no timing belts, no engine block, no muffler, no emissions, no oil changes… way less maintenance.
- I love the acceleration, handling, and regenerative braking.
- And mostly I love that my car is fueled by local, solar energy from my own roof.
What is your experience with an EV or a hybrid plug-in?