Peter's EV journey

Peter's Story:  Confessions from a self-professed EV fanatic

My EV journey has mostly been about CO2 and climate change. If you think it is tough keeping a large family sedan above 40mpg today, imagine doing it on the Autobahn 35 years ago. 16 years ago, after the inattentive guy behind us totaled our family wagon (not too difficult given its age), we replaced it with the car that would turn out to be our gateway drug: a Prius that started my obsession with EVs. When the Leaf showed up in 2011, I was on the list early, and we haven’t looked back. Now, many Leafs, Bolts, and other EVs later, the main challenge is to keep enough cars charged for 4 drivers in the home (during college breaks). But we’ve never gotten stranded in over 200k fully electric miles.

I can’t remember paying for any maintenance other than tires and windshield wipers. We have an old Leaf for everything around town, a Bolt for everything in town and ~200 miles beyond, and a Tesla that could essentially go anywhere (EPA rated at 358 miles). Trips to Eugene, the coast and Mt. Hood are routine in the Bolt, while Bend or Seattle require a bit more careful driving or a brief charging stop. For long trips, Tesla’s charging infrastructure is unmatched, and we can get ~150 miles of range in under 10 minutes (though it can take longer when the battery is not empty, or in extreme cold). But with the non-Tesla infrastructure improving rapidly, range anxiety should not be an issue for anybody that gets the right car for their needs.

I use the 2013 Leaf most days – even in January, it still has a range of over 70 miles (when driven carefully), and it’s up to 90 miles in the summer. Yes, it has a healthy battery (still at 11 bars out of 12), so those numbers are not true for each 2013 Leaf out there. It does everything I need, has all the power I should have, and I’m not worried about a bird ruining the pristine paint (because there isn’t any pristine paint). My wife loves her Bolt, and it does everything she needs, unless we go on (very rare) longer road trips. In that sense, the Tesla is almost a backup vehicle (for those road trips, and for when the kids steal the other two vehicles), even though it’s obviously the most fun to drive, and the safest.

While this started out of concern over CO2, it undoubtedly saved us a lot of money on fuel. Depending on the vehicle and your driving style, you’ll get about 3-4 miles per kWh, and at PGE’s normal rate (~$0.13/kWh), that translates to 23 to 31 miles per dollar (or 69 to 93 miles for every $3 gallon of gas you put into your ICE tank). If you switch to PGE’s “Time of Day” (you pay more during some periods, but less at night), nighttime charging gets you to 46 to 61 miles per dollar (or 138 to 185 miles per $3 gallon of gas – but watch for the extra cost of the power consumed during the day, so this only works if you’re driving a lot, or don’t use much power during the day, or both). And no maintenance cost beyond tires, windshield wipers, and the same 12V battery replacement you occasionally need in an ICE vehicle – not only does regenerative braking recapture energy that is otherwise wasted, it also saves you from using your brake pads unless you stomp on the brake pedal.

Peter Hoeckel