Can An EV Go Where I Go?
JUL 25 2012 BY MARK HOVIS
One of the favorite discussions over electic car comparisons is: “Can an EV go where I go?” An ominous challenge as more than 16 different models enter the market through 2013 is to understand what type of EV best fits one’s driving patterns. More specifically, which is the best fit: a purely electric car BEV(Battery Electric Vehicle), or a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), which includes a somewhat smaller battery as well or an EREV (Extended Range Electric Vehicle). In order to find the right EV, first you should consider your driving patterns.
If you are a total random driver like a daily traveling salesman with long commutes, then most likely there is not yet an EV for you unless a range of 250 miles per day will suffice. If 250 miles fits, then you will look very impressive sitting behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S. This is a luxury vehicle currently aimed at a very small sector and though pricey, arguably one of the finest production autos ever made. Compare the Tesla Model S to a Lexus LS and you will find this EV superior in every way. For the rest, you simply need to look at your driving habits to find the right fit for you.
If you have a commute of 40-50 miles per day, there are many options. Currently the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus lead the way for the US market. Many reading this will quickly tout, “What if I want to take an extended drive?” For most families, one EV per house will make the most sense for their commuter car. You will still have the other family car, which will remain the preferred car for extended trips. Hence, in most cases, one of these vehicles will work without sacrifice or change to your daily routine. These EVs are the group driving the introduction of charging stations, yet 80% of your charging still occurs in the comfort of your home. Keep in mind that all EVs will diminish their range by 20% over 6-8 years. For this reason I recommend that your driving habits reflect 60% of the EPA rating. Some of you are still thinking, “I still need the extended range.” Fear not, there is an EV that will do that too.
If you have a commute of 25-40 miles “one way” yet still have a random need to drive extended ranges as well, the Chevy Volt will do exactly that. In fact, these vehicles will allow the vast majority to enjoy owning an EV by simply plugging into a household 110V outlet. Do you remain at work for 8 hours? Do you sleep 8 hours? If you answered yes to these questions, a regular 110V outlet will have you fully charged for another 40 miles. These extended range EVs also are equipped with a gas powered engine that will provide hundreds of miles without range anxiety. So don’t worry if you drive a little more than 40 miles, forget to plug in, want to drive to the mountains, do whatever your lifestyle dictates. It will do that, too.
If you have a commute of 10-20 miles “one way” and still have a random need to drive extended ranges as well, the Toyota plug in Prius or the Ford Energi C-Max, Ford Fusion energi, or Honda Accord add to the available choices. If you are already progressively thinking about two EVs, this very well may be the right mixture for your family’s driving needs.
Conclusion: There currently is an affordable EV for well over half the population’s driving habits. Some will use the growing charging station infrastructure being built primarily to support the BEV. Others will be drawn to the extended-range and ease of charging the PHEV or an occasional fueling. In either case, after savings in fuel and tax credits, EVs can cost the same monthly payment as a comparable auto in the same class. The EV has less maintenance, better warranties, lower cost of ownership and truthfully much more fun to drive. Don’t believe it? Test drive an EV, and be sure to accelerate hard at 35 mph and 55 mph as if you were passing an ICE. You are going to be surprised at the results!