Plugging in can make sense at a time of high gas prices
by Susan Gilbert, Contributing Columnist
Alarming prices at the gas pump are causing more people to consider moving to all-electric vehicles. Electric companies are on board with increased use of their product and are coming up with incentives, rebates, more charging stations and information on upgrading home charging systems.
If you drive an electric vehicle, you know that powering your car with electricity is less expensive than using gasoline or diesel. Some electric cooperatives have off-peak charging rates that can give some a lower price for charging in overnight hours.
For a cost comparison, visit ee.odec.com/electric-vehicles, where you can explore available EV models, calculate savings and see charging times.
Having owned an EV for about seven years, I will say they offer some huge advantages. There is almost nothing to service. No spark plugs to worry about, no oil changes, no radiator to leak or water pump to fail. The brakes last for years because when you take your foot off the accelerator (not the gas pedal), EVs offer regenerative braking, which can add a minimal charge.
We were told upon purchase that the battery was guaranteed for eight years. Because the cars were new, representatives didn’t have experience to know how long the battery would last. In seven years, we have lost only 20 miles of range, going from a 230-mile capacity to 210. If this trend continues, it has many more years of service.
There is an enormous amount of interior space in our Tesla Model S. It looks like a sleek sports car but has plenty of room for 5 passengers. Unlike gas-powered vehicles, there is no transmission hump down the centerline of the car, so the backseat center passenger has ample leg room.
It surprises people at the market when we lift the hood and toss in our grocery bags. Because of having no engine or gas tank, our EV has more storage space than the large, chunky hybrid SUV we use for long trips.
The best part is the driving experience. We call it the “zip-zip” car because that is what it does. Touch the accelerator, and it zips to 60 mph in about 3 seconds. That’s a neck jerker. But it sure is nice when you need to accelerate into another lane or merge into a line of traffic.
A federal income tax credit up to $7,500 is available for the purchase of a qualifying EV. Your eligibility for income tax credits depends on your personal tax situation, so it is a good idea to speak with a tax professional for guidance.
It takes more time to make long trips in the EV because we must stop for a 30- to 45-minute recharge about every 200 miles. That means rather than averaging 70 mph on the trip, it is more like 55. You must be aware of charging station locations and possibly wait if all the chargers are in use.
Because you are not paying the roughly 28 cents-per-gallon road tax with gas purchases, your annual registration will increase significantly. Ours went up by a factor of 10, from about $20 a year to more than $200.
Range anxiety is real. Missing a charging station could mean being stuck at the side of the road for hours and then having to be hauled to the nearest charging station. If that is not a high-speed charger, you could require a full day of charging to get the range you need.
EVs are quickly changing the way we look at automobiles. Now is a great time to learn more about them, give one a try and begin learning how they fit with your needs, lifestyle and the way you drive.
Powering your car with electricity is less expensive than using gasoline or diesel.
Susan Gilbert is CEO of Apogee Interactive Inc., which works with many Virginia and Maryland electric cooperatives on energy analysis and member satisfaction.