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Electric Car Details

September 4th, 2020 at 03:35 am

I did a quicker fuel savings post (my last post). Just a more general summary if you are curious about fuel savings and a more general update. This one will be a little more in-depth.

Every electric car out there right now is very different. I think driving an electric car is a big jump (no matter how open you are to the idea) and we most definitely got there a lot faster with the hybrid car as the gateway to electric. It was literally just a day or a week before it was, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” I will say that all of my hesitancy was dumb. Really and truly. Change is difficult.

But anyway, I share because there is really nothing similar about our two cars right now, or any of the other electric cars on the market. They all have their pros and cons.

Infrastructure is also going to vary widely where you live. In California we have great battery warranty protection and chargers everywhere. Is worth mentioning because there’s a lot of areas of the country where I probably would not buy an electric car.

Of course, mostly to the point, you have to have somewhere to charge. If your employer or apartment complex provides chargers, that’s great. I wouldn’t recommend an electric car at all to my kids, because who knows what kind of charging options they will have over the next several years. If you own a house and can charge at home, that’s the most ideal. You aren’t going to refuel in the old sense of gas stations. You are going to recharge your car overnight while you sleep. Or maybe while you shop, go to the movies, eat out, or while you are at work.

Probably the best I can do is share what I know (in more depth) about our hybrid and compare with what will change with our electric car.

Volt (“hybrid”) - 50-ish mile electric range. Just about enough for my commute. That car also has a 350-ish mile gas range. 400 miles total on one charge and one full tank of gas.

Bolt (electric) - 240-ish mile electric range

{Edit to add: We are coming up with 260-mile range on longer trips and I expect 300+ with city stop/go driving. Don't have a good handle on how far it will go city driving because have not tested more than 10 miles. I will update again when we are doing more normal driving again, it may be another year}.

Note: We mostly drive the Volt/hybrid for my commute, which is all open freeway. Stop and go traffic generates more electricity/fuel and is more ideal for electric car driving. It’s going to be interesting to see how many miles we get out of the all-electric car with MH’s more city driving. (It could go up to a 400 mile range with the right conditions). I read today someone drove from Tahoe to Sacramento (about 100 miles? downhill) and actually generated more miles than they used. Crazy! The range will depend on how you drive. I feel like I really have no idea with the Bolt yet, we have to get used to it.

My commute is roughly $1 per day, hybrid electric driving. The quick napkin math is that during summer we probably pay $6 to drive the 200 miles on the all-electric car. $5 during the rest of the year (cheaper electric rates).

In either case, charging with a regular outlet isn’t really practical. It is for some (if you can charge at work or only drive a few miles per day), but hasn’t been practical for us. This is the slowest way to charge.

Volt (“hybrid”) - My 50 mile range will fully charge after 4 hours on our Level 2 charger (we installed in our garage). It takes about an hour to add 12 miles. It gets charged overnight, at home.

Bolt (electric) - The 240 mile range will fully charge after 10 hours on our Level 2 charger. (It can also just be charged overnight). It takes about an hour to add 25 miles. I don’t know any of the logistics/details (don't ask me why), but if we use the same chargers, we will be getting twice as much range as we had been with the Volt. More value, when it comes to free charging. A night out downtown might get us 100 free miles on a public Level 2 charger.

{Because I charge the hybrid every night for my commute, we expect we will charge the all-electric car on the weekends}.

The Bolt also has a fast charging option. It takes about an hour to get 200 miles of range with the fast chargers. Fast charging is only available on public chargers.

Apparently not every electric vehicle has fast charging capability. It was a deal breaker for us, so we were careful to get the fast charging capability.

NOTE: I didn't know this, but MH pointed out to me that the charging on our car is slower than most. Just a reminder not to judge all electric vehicles based on one vehicle. They are all so different!

Volt (“hybrid”) - Virtually nothing
My car has a gas generator and an electric engine. It is absolutely nothing like a traditional gas car (under the hood). The maintenance is virtually nothing. It does need oil changes once every two years.

Bolt (electric) - Nothing
I am exaggerating a wee little bit, but really not much.
Literally the maintenance schedule on a Bolt: replace the air filters, replace/check the tires. First maintenance at 150k miles. For reals.
No oil changes. No state smog inspections.

This is kind of a general sum up of what I know going into this electrical vehicle purchase. It is by far not an all-inclusive list of all things electric car, but just some key points.

Electric fuel (our utility company) is roughly 1/3 of the cost of gas fuel (our region). YMMV. (That was pre-pandemic. MH paid $2.50 for gas the other day, so maybe we are currently at 1/2 price. Either way, I will take it. 😁 )

There's two major mind shifts with an electric car:

1 - Rethinking how you fuel (as mentioned above).

2 - Switching around what affects the "mpg" the most. Stop-and-go city driving is good and will add more miles to the car's range. (Braking generates electricity). Long freeway trips will be less efficient and you will be more subject to higher fuel prices out on the road. So pretty much the opposite of a gas car.

Edited to add:
I was just reminded of one more thing. In the Volt/hybrid, the A/C seems to cost pennies to run but the heat sucks a lot of energy. This is another mindshift. If you just use the heated seats and steering wheel, it's a much more efficient way to stay comfortable in the cold weather months. I honestly thought the heated steering wheel was ridiculous (for our climate) when we bough the hybrid. MH finally set me straight. He told me, "Don't you keep saying that women lose more heat in their hands?" {My life was changed when I learned that all I needed to do was to put on some gloves to feel significantly more comfortable. & I mean like inside}. That is my DOH moment. He's right. Most of the time I don't even bother with the heat on the hybrid. I do primarily use the heated steering wheel to keep warm in the winter months. I expect that the electric car will be similar. I don't mean in a "sacrifice" kind of way. I mean in a "I have never in my life been more comfortable during winter" kind of way. It's different but also more effective. Heated steering wheel and seats should be a deal breaker when buying an electric car. One reason we went with the premium trim is because *all* the seats are heated.

Another Edit:

One thing I didn't mention initially in this post is performance. The electric cars are both very zippy and handle hills like they are nothing. It's worth mentioning because is another reason it feels so "blech" to go back to driving the gas car. I looked it up out of curiosity.

Electric 0-30 mph: 2.5
Electric 0-40 mph: 3.7
Electric 0-60 mph: 6.3

Gas 0-40 mph: 5.4
Gas 0-60 mph: 9.5

Personally, we are both very boring/careful drivers, but it makes it *so much easier* to merge onto busy roads and freeways. For that reason, it feels safer and just makes driving easier.

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