Electric Vehicles (personal vehicle)

Replace your gas Car with an Electric Car

There are many different types of electric cars available for purchase now.

Though the selection of used electric cars is not very high.

 

How far you drive each day impacts the costs associated with owning an electric car. For most drivers, their driving needs can be met by currently available electric cars. If you regularly require towing, plowing, or long distance transportation, your selection of electric cars will be more complicated.

 

Pros

  • Environmental: As the electrical grid gets more energy from renewable sources, the vehicle becomes "greener"
  • Convenience: every day, the car's "tank" is full when you leave. And if your daily commute is less than the full range of the car, you never have to think about charging "on-the-road"
  • Able to heat your car while your garage is closed
  • Minimal maintenance (rotate tires, clear air filters)
  • Fun to drive (more Oomph)

Negatives

  • On road trips, EV are less convenient than ICE vehicles, because you have to plan your stops around the location of chargers.
    • This will get better over time, as more chargers are deployed, and EV charging speeds get better
  • EVs in the cold get 60-80% of their summer-time range. And also charge more slowly when on cold-weather road-trips.
    • Tesla has an advantage when charging on road-trips. (better charging infrastructure, more consistent recharge speeds)

Where to charge your EV?

If you plug an electric car into a normal 110V outlet, you’ll gain 2-5 miles of range for each hour plugged in. This means that if your normal commute is < 24-60 miles, you can regain all of those miles each night (assuming 12 hours plugged in).

 

If you need to recover more than 60 miles in an overnight charge, you should install a 220V outlet in your garage. You will gain 10-20 miles of range for each hour plugged in (depending on the car, and on the amperage of the 220V outlet). This means that a 12 hour overnight session will regain 120-240 miles of range.

 

Charging at a public DC fast charging station (DCFC) is the fastest way to charge your car, but also the most expensive. The speed at which your car charges at a DCFC depends on many considerations:

  • The rated speed of the car’s charger (some cars can only charge at 50kW maximum)
  • The max speed of the charging station (some stations can only charge at 50kW or 150kW max)
  • The state of charge of your battery (lower battery state of charge will charge faster, but as you approach 100% full, the charging rate will slow)

 

Cost per mile for an EV

The operating costs of electric cars are much lower than the operating costs of gasoline cars. Not only in cost-per-mile (fuel), but also decreased maintenance costs (no oil changes, fewer moving parts to break).  When charging at home, an electric vehicle usually costs 1/3 of the cost of a gasoline car to “fill up” ($7 per 200 miles). When charging on a road trip, the costs are usually about the same as a gas car ($25 per 200 miles).

 

Road Trip considerations

Going on road trips is possible, but requires more planning than when using a gasoline car. There are many resources available to EV drivers to help them have a successful road trip.

 

There are many, many, more gas stations than there are EV charging stations. We are accustomed to driving on road trips until the gas tank is nearly empty, and then looking for a gas station. In an EV, you have to plan your trip around the location of the charging stations. The number and location of charging stations is increasing each year, but you should consider the road trips that you frequently take and see the recommended trip schedule for that particular journey.

 

Ideally, on your road trips, you will charge your car overnight while you’re sleeping. This will reduce the number of stops that you have to make each day. This means finding hotels which have available charging stations. (these are rare, but getting more each year)

When driving long distances and using the DC Fast Chargers (ie: DCFC), you should expect to pay approximately the same $/mile as you would in an efficient ICE vehicle. But, when charging at home, you'll be paying ~33% of the cost of an ICE vehicle, per mile.

 

I recommend having a look at:

 

Public charging station notes

When charging at public stations, you should be aware of a few things:

  • If you are dependent upon this station for a successful trip, be sure to check plugshare.com for reviews and status updates
  • Different public charging stations are owned by different companies
    • Most companies require that you have an account with them before you can charge at their stations. We recommend going through this process before you start your trip
  • Having a physical RFID card can be helpful in starting the charge at some stations
  • Using the company’s smart-phone-app can be the most reliable way to start the charging session (assuming that you have a strong mobile signal, and modern phone).

Installing EVSE at Home

There are some monetary programs which can be useful in helping with EV adoption. Specifically, programs which support the installation of EVSE at home, reduces the need for public charging infrastructure.

For example, see Wisconsin laws: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/all?state=WI