To celebrate National Drive Electric Week, the U.S. Department of Energy and Energy Saver are spreading the word about plug-in electric vehicles (EVs).
Erik Nelsen from the Clean Cities Team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory talks about his EV experience.
The stars aligned for me a couple years back. My employer opened a new employee parking garage equipped with 36 EV charging stations, and I was ready to park my pickup for a more fuel-efficient daily commuter. I’d still need the truck to pull our trailer and take trips to the home improvement store, but the $250 per month fuel bill just wasn’t practical. In fact, my goal was to get a car payment below that amount and charge primarily at work. So while it seemed like a big jump, our family chose an all-electric vehicle.
Two years later, I can definitely say there’s no turning back! It was a great decision, and here are my top 10 reasons why I love my electric car:
- Pure economics. While I usually use workplace charging, when I do plug in at home, the electricity costs the equivalent of $1.22 per gallon, less than half of even today’s very low gasoline prices. My EV is also rated at just over 100 MPGe (mpg equivalent). Either way you look at it, the savings are clear.
- It drives like any other car. I honestly expected my EV to ride and handle like a clunky electric golf cart. Not only does it drive like any other car of its size, it’s quite peppy! The nearly silent operation does take some getting used to, though.
- It fit our lifestyle. Until I really thought about it, I was worried that an EV wouldn’t suit all my needs—especially those occasional long trips beyond the battery’s range. The fact is that most household trips are within a 25-mile radius, and that applies to both my wife and me. We do have a second car, but the EV easily covers 9 out of 10 trips we need to make—including most of those to the home improvement store!
- Charging at work. This fantastic benefit doubles the potential all-electric commute range for employees who would otherwise have to rely on charging at home. Now it’s also easy to locate and use public stations if they don’t have access to a charger at home.
- No charger installation. Because I can charge the vehicle at work, I rarely have to charge at home. When I do, the dealer-supplied 110-volt cord set is adequate for an overnight charge.
- Charging at work for free. This is a nice perk, but with low electricity prices and the extreme efficiency of the vehicle, it’s just icing on the cake.
- Charging at work with solar energy. Did I mention that the garage and chargers are solar powered? Sure, we can have a long discussion about life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and how the American electric grid still relies on fossil fuels, but the fact is that my car is primarily powered by sunlight!
- An affordable lease. I was interested in a low-risk lease because (1) I was a little unsure how long the battery would last before needing replacement, (2) I wanted to keep my options open as more EV models became available in my area over time, and (3) I still wasn’t sure I wanted to make a long-term commitment to something so new and different. In fact, I found that I could actually pay for the lease on my EV with the amount of money I was previously spending just on fuel to drive to and from work with my pick-up.
- My wife loves it, too! In addition to solar-powered workplace charging, my company’s progressive sustainability practices allow me to telecommute two days a week. On these days, my wife drives the EV to work. So, not only does the EV virtually eliminate my fuel bill, it cuts her fuel bill by about 40%.
- Telling people about it. Most people don’t understand EVs, or they think of them as a novelty. Once I share a few of the facts above, people usually end up nodding in surprise. Gotta love that agreement!
I understand that an EV isn’t for everyone, but if you go through the considerations, you may be surprised at just how well an EV would work for your lifestyle, too!
To learn more, see the full blog post.
- Erik Nelsen, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team