Electric Vehicles

We participated in an Electric Vehicle (EV) event in Keene this past Saturday. I felt like a Trekkie at a Star Trek gathering. Volts and Bolts, Teslas , Priuses, and Leafs. Carl and I had a great time comparing notes with other EV owners. How far can you go? Is not the torque phenomenal? How do you charge and where? How much money have you saved not buying gas? How often do you flip the bird at gas stations as you drive by?

Tipping points. A year ago, there was very little talk—unless you are an EV geek—of electric vehicles and even less about climate change. Both topics percolated but neither were mainstream. Look at the news now. Today, in particular, because today is Climate Strike day. Climate change is here to stay. So are electric vehicles.

Tesla is an energy company that happens to make cars. A Tesla is different from other cars because it is electric from start to finish. Tesla built the car as an electric car, rather than retrofitting—dare I say it?—an old-fashioned combustion vehicle. My experience when I first got into the car? It’s a very large and very fast computer that sounds like a Star Trek shuttle. There is nothing so exciting as pressing down vigorously on the accelerator pedal. Whoooosh!

Teslas, like Star Trek, embody a hopeful and adventurous future. Because people like their torque. And even Teslas are becoming economic.

That’s what I realized at the EV event. I’d been feeling a little defensive about owning a Tesla. And worried that we got a couple of perks that friends of ours who bought a Tesla two months later didn’t get. Was Tesla cheaping out? Were they already lowering their standards?

Tesla cars have a reputation. Ca-ching! They are expensive. The woman next to us at the event owns a Model S that she bought 1 1/2 years ago. She liked the luxury of her Model S. I looked at her car and compared it to ours. We had neglected to wash Darwin. (Yes, that’s our Tesla’s name.) And we had a two inch lift kit installed so that the car’s body is higher off the ground. And so Darwin looks more rugged and tough. A fabulous trait in my opinion, given the hill to our house that it’s going to have to climb in the upcoming winter and mud seasons. 

Too, I prefer the lowly Model 3’s dashboard to the Model S’s. Tesla is making these cars better and more and more streamlined, making simple the complex. And that’s when I realized that my worries about lowering standards were unfounded. People buying later in the game aren’t getting what we got. But let’s shift that perspective: they are buying Teslas. A year ago, this was unheard of. No one could buy a Tesla who didn’t have $60-100,000 extra in their bank account. Now? We see families of five getting out of their Model 3s. They’ve done the math. The kW cost of electricity is less than the cost of a gallon of gas. There is no maintenance cost. No fuses or valves to replace. No oil filters, air filters, or black goo to contend with. And instead of going out of your way to find a gas station or charging station, most people can charge their cars overnight at home. More on that below. But to finish up our first eureka moment, you’re as likely to run out of battery power as you are to run out of gas; you have only to remember to power (gas) up. It is amazing. Exciting. Tesla has paved (sic) the way and proven that we can make this transition from fossil fuels.  They take away minor perks in order to make the cars more accessible to more people. Instead of whining that we didn’t get a life time of free Super Charging, we celebrate that we have a most amazing car. Because it is so maintenance free, it will likely be the last car we have to buy; think price per use.

The 2nd eureka moment, Carl and I had at the EV event has to do with charging up the battery of one’s EV, be it Leaf, Prius, Bolt or Volt, Tesla or whatever else is coming down the line.

You can charge your car in two ways: at home or not at home. At home, you pay for your electricity. You will end up paying about half as much for the electricity as you would have spent on gasoline. How so? Remember past posts!

Note 1. The price of gasoline is going to go up. And up. And up and then there will be no gasoline. 

Note 2. The price of electricity is variable. Think Demand Response. So charging overnight is less expensive. Win/win. You charge for less money as you sleep.

Note 3. Charging at home can be as little as a third the cost of buying gas. Charging at a charge station is about half. Do that math! And add in the cost benefit of your solar panels while you’re at it.

If you are out and about, and realize you won’t make it home, there are more and more charging stations going on line. And anywhere you can plug in a regular power cord, you can charge your car, assuming you have remembered your charging cord. Charging the car might take a while. Depending on the voltage coming in, it can take anywhere from 2o minutes to 2 days to get a full charge. 

Plan to plan.

DC Fast chargers are now down to ten minute/80% charge. Tesla’s SuperCharger is about the same. (They use a different plug in handle than everyone else and so require an adaptor. Buy now! You might get the adaptor for free. 😉 Remember: this is capitalism!

The VW settlement money is being put into EV infrastructure . . . where there’s the political will. Which is a bit confusing here in New Hampshire.  Governor Sununu vetoed 5 energy bills recently . . .. But that’s for another day and, perhaps, another post. 

Between our 2012 Leaf and our 2018 Tesla, we have around 100kWhs of battery storage. Our house has 20 kWhs. If we plug in our cars at night, our cars would suck up every drop of power we have and cause the fossil-fueled generator to turn on. Thus, we choose to only charge our cars on sunny days. We use the renewable energy source first with a back up of fossil fuels. We are able, thus, to lower our use of fossil fuels considerably. This is our choice. We could also charge overnight. Though our sleep would be disrupted by the noise of the generator, the ugly side of our home’s electricity generation.

This is a cool article that was published by the NYTimes, showing where each state gets their electricity:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/24/climate/how-electricity-generation-changed-in-your-state.html

A couple of other EV points. Batteries work best in 70 degree-ish weather. Ice cold causes them to chill and run not quite so long or far. So winter results in the 310 miles a charge that we get in summer down to we-don’t-know-yet. Maybe this will get Carl to drive slower. 

The Climate Strike is today. We will be in Keene at 3PM. It’s time. Put on your marching boots.