Environmental Leadership
September 7, 2017

Are you up for the electric vehicle lifestyle?

Curious about what driving an EV is really like? Read on...

You’ll be surprised to learn an electric vehicle lifestyle might not be much different than yours.

Today, few would even consider it because the numbers look like this: Sixty percent of the public has no idea that plug-in electric vehicles exist1. This begs the question, why so little understanding of this emerging EV technology? After all, it’s being publicized by notables like Elon Musk, Apple and Google with great gusto.

With gasoline and diesel prices remaining affordable and the stability of a massive infrastructure delivering petroleum to every corner of our continent, alternative transportation fuels are naturally not attractive. Yet there is a reason to be optimistic. Love or loath the changes in Washington D.C. you must admit that status-quo busting is becoming fashionable. Thinking differently about how we’ve done things for the last 50-100 years is just starting to take hold. And it just may be the change electric vehicles need for greater public awareness.

But, how far can you actually go?

The first real question most people consider about switching to an EV is the range between charges. It’s known as range anxiety, and it’s understandable. When you run out of charge, it’s not just a matter of getting a gallon of gas. Charging is more involved than that. In fact, even today’s Super Chargers may take 20 to 30 minutes to fill you up.

So range anxiety is a real thing, but certainly one you can work around. Here’s what you can do.

• Map out a week’s worth of typical driving.

• Set the trip odometer; use Google Maps or another Map App.

• Determine how far you go daily, weekly and annually.

The U.S. Department of Transportation2 tells us most Americans average about 46 miles per day. Half of the 123 million car commuters of which 78 percent drive solo, travel less than 20 miles roundtrip to their work destinations. Addressing range anxiety, new EVs have bumped up their range capabilities with more potent batteries. It’s out of necessity because a car that can’t go more than 100 miles is difficult for the public to handle, which is ironic considering the previous facts.

The takeaway: an EV can be practical as a second vehicle in many of today’s households, especially as a commuter car.

The incentives can off-set higher purchase prices

The notion that EVs are more expensive than an average vehicle or priced more like premium luxury vehicles holds some truth. While there are now some EV options in the $30,000 to $36,000 range many are in the $40,000 to $60,000+ range. Just for reference, according to Edmonds3, the average new vehicle purchased in 2016 hit an all-time high at $34,077.

However, incentives change this picture. The current Federal EV tax credit is $7,500, and each state may often add incentives to that pot. Plus states often have rebates for home charging equipment.

How does $1.00 per gallon sound?

That’s a pretty attractive concept, even with $1.99 unleaded gasoline often showing up in the market. The economic value of EVs is their real appeal. A recent focus group3 gave credence to this. When 12 EV drivers and others were gathered to think about how their EV purchase came together, the common threads were always costs and savings. They wanted to save on fuel costs, long-term maintenance and the overall cost per mile to operate.

In general, EV drivers are more pragmatic than passionate about green issues. Yes, carbon reduction and sustainability concerns are on their minds, but not necessarily at the forefront. For early adopters of EVs, the bottom line is cost efficiency.

Thirty-percent lower maintenance costs

Here’s more good news. Because electric vehicles have fewer parts — no radiator, no cylinder-driven engine, no bulky transmission and other parts — the cost to maintain is less. As much as one-third lower over the life of the vehicle.

According to a comparison of an internal combustion engine car and an electric vehicle by Nerd Wallet, the findings are clear. Using Edmunds.com’s4 True Cost to Own® calculations based on five years and 15,000 miles per year, EVs are 30 percent less expensive to maintain.

So if you live for the numbers, the Minnesota electric vehicle lifestyle may be for you.

Fuel up at home

Now here’s something else that might win you over to the EV life. You have a fueling station right at your home. You can charge with a standard outlet. But most EV owners opt to install a more powerful recharger. Plus there is often an incentive to upgrade since most states require an electrician to install faster chargers.

Interestingly, a California company is experimenting with ways to share your charging station in the day to other EV drivers for a fee – similar to an Airbnb for EVs.

An added benefit to home charging: New electricity pricing options

Electricity as a product has differing values depending on the time of day. It’s typical that late in the afternoon, as many of us return home from a workday we turn on appliances, and on hot days, the air conditioning. This creates a peak in demand for electricity, making it more expensive to produce.

This also means during nighttime and off-peak hours, stress on our electric system is reduced and rates go down. Which makes the Minnesota electric vehicle lifestyle a bit more inviting. Learn more about residential rates and charging at home.

Fuel up down the road

A growing network of recharging locations is starting to appear across the region. While many of these are around metro areas, new charging stations are also popping up along main interstate corridors, helping you enjoy a road trip, EV style.

Looking for a state-of-the-technology driving experience?

The advantage of driving an EV is that you’re often on the cutting edge of the latest advancements.

  • Most models feature apps which let you control certain aspects of your vehicle. For instance, you may be able to pre-heat or pre-cool your car before using it.
  • Some models feature regenerative braking which adds life to your battery each time you apply the brakes.
  • Other EVs can even pull your car out of your garage for you.

Eliminate 100 percent of your tailpipe pollution

With an EV, you can act on this. Using an EV fits a sustainability narrative. But remember just because you drive an EV it doesn’t mean you’re 100-percent green. After all, that electricity comes from somewhere. Again, you have options. Programs like Windsource® and solar community gardens make it easy to power your vehicle with renewable sources of energy.

Last but not least—EVs are quiet

The final question is this; could you give up the roaring z-r-o-o-o-m of an ICE (internal combustion engine) engine? For so many of us, that sound is etched in our psyche. It’s as common as the crack of a bat at a ballgame, the boom of fireworks or even the sizzling of burgers on the grille. But you may just find that the stealthy, humming sound an EV makes accelerating — is even more satisfying.

  1. Altman Vilandrie & Co https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/01/survey-60-americans-arent-aware-plug-electric-vehicles/
  2. https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/subject_areas/national_household_travel_survey/daily_travel.html
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dOcKJumOcU&feature=youtu.be
  4. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/electric-hybrid-gas-how-they-compare-costs-2015/
  5. https://www.edmunds.com/tco.html