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Electric Car Updates

May 19th, 2021 at 12:53 pm

I heard last year that there was some retroactive tax credit for installing car chargers in your home.  We amended our tax return about a year ago and just got the refund check.  With interest, was about $250.

{These retroactive tax changes are driving me crazy!!  Much to my favor, but makes it hard to plan.  Should just be grateful I no longer work in tax and that it's just my own tax returns to worry about and constantly amend.}

We also returned from our beach vacay.  The hotel we always stay at is about 10 miles past the college that MM(17) will be attending.  We already did a very rushed 2-day trip in May.  It was fine and clearly the electric car is absolutely fine for this trip (600 miles roundtrip).  But we went an entirely different way this trip and had more time to be a little more efficient and to choose less expensive chargers.  Very roughly, might have spent $40 on our first trip (with very little time or planning).  Is a $75 gas fuel trip in our gas sipper (current gas prices), and we probably got it down to $30-$35 this last time. (I will get the exact dollar amount, below).  Of course, it will be cheaper when MM(17) is at college and we can use the free college chargers.  There's also a garage near the campus with chargers, at $1 per hour.  So we will have some good options.

This time, we went an entirely different route, stopped at different chargers, etc.  Last time we didn't see another soul charging.  This time we saw a lot more people.  Strangely, the busiest charger was in the sleepy little beach town we were staying at.  I'd expect to see more people charging closer to the Bay Area?  But the beach was a good stopping point for driving down to LA.

We did stop in the Bay Area to see family on the way down, but this was the first time we decided not to also stop and charge.  It makes more sense to charge when the battery is lower.  Then it charges back up more quickly.  So we let it go (though we were stopped anyway).  There's no lack of chargers to choose from on the 101.  So we went both ways on the 101 this time (which is the same distance as coming back more inland on I-5.  I-5 currently lacks chargers).  <---& even that I think is probably moot.  It's just going to take us some time to get more comfortable with the car and how it behaves on this trip.  We seem to be perpetually over-estimating by 50 miles (always having 50 miles left when we get to our destination).  It really isn't that big of a deal to come back I-5, there's certainly more than ample chargers.  I think we just enjoyed the more choice of going the 101 route.  Probably more psychological than anything.

We spent $32 charging (out and about).  Technically $37, including charging the car up fully at home before leaving (about $5 for a full charge).  Total miles driven: 665

Plugged in at home overnight and started out with a full charge.

Stop 1, about half way (150 miles).  Stopped for lunch which was *divine*.  Stopped for 1/2 hour and gained 100 miles of range. 

Car range is roughly 240 miles.  Destination was 300 miles.  Added 100 miles on the drive, so had 40-ish miles left when we reached the hotel.  We did stop and drive around the Bay Are a bit.

We did also use free fast chargers at the rest stops, but those were purely bathroom stops we'd do anyway.  We ended up with about 70 free miles from pit stops (one stop each way).

There's two ways to play the recharge for the trip home.  You can spend some time at a slower charger or you can fast charge (most efficient from about 20% to 80%).  Or I guess a combo of both.  It was a pleasant surprise to find out that the beloved hotel I have been going to my whole life, that they had chargers!  I am guessing in the future we will get whatever free charging we can get on the college campus and can just top off at the hotel.  This time we just lucked out.  We had a couple of errands we wanted to run and those were all right next to the fast charger.  So the next day we went over there and ran errands and added 140 miles to the car.  Took about an hour, but we just charged while we were busy running into a few stores.  This charger was walking distance to the hotel and to our favorite restaurants so this will be an easy lunch stop in the future.  

The thing about the hotel charger was that it is expensive.  Electrify America chargers are roughly 1/2 the cost of gas (for our car).  The hotel slow charger was about the cost of gas.  Electricity at home is roughly 1/3 the cost of gas, for reference.  I think the charging at home and the charging at the hotel kind of offset and overall still kept our fuel costs very low.

After we got back to the hotel we just plugged in and charged (to top it off) while we lounged by the pool.  We could have just been even more lazy and left it plugged in overnight.  But at that point we just needed 60 miles.  It took about 2.5 hours to top off.  The slow chargers are nice for somewhere you will be all night (or day) anyway.

On the way home we stopped mid-way again (same place) and stopped for 45 minutes for about 130 miles.

Had 50 miles left when we got home.  It will take some time to just get used to the drive/car.  It depends so much on the terrain, how much A/C you use, etc. that we honestly weren't sure if we had enough to get home and if we may have to stop again.  But we decided we were ready to go and could always stop 5 minutes for a top off if we needed to.  *shrugs*  Of course, we expected really heavy traffic.  It wasn't so bad, but there was enough stop-and-go for us to have 50 miles left when we got home.  Without the stop-and-go I think we'd have enough left, but maybe just 20 or 30 miles.  Braking regenerates energy.

I personally find the electric car more convenient than gas for around town and for our frequent Bay Area trips (we now need less fuel stops for that trip, and is a trip we make 1-2 times per month). Before, we'd have to make sure we had a full tank before we left or stopped on the way.  We always refueled on the way home so that we had gas left for the work week.  Now we just have to make one small stop, and even that is probably just being on the safe side.  If we ever hit any traffic on that drive, stopping to fuel is not necessary.

600 mile road trip = *shrugs*  It 1000% depends on your personality.  I said to my friend, "You have to stop and eat anyway" and she looked at me like I was crazy.  Okay, sure, most our friends rather leave at 6pm on a Friday to get to LA at midnight.  That is so not us.  We always stop and picnic at the rest stops, and take our time.  As they put in more free chargers at the rest stops, that is 1000% what we will do, but what we did before anyway.  Finding out our hotel had a charger though, certainly made life easier.   & this trip we were very much just wanting to rest and recharge our batteries.  We didn't really drive anywhere else.  In the future, we may want to travel a little farther and explore.  So being able to just plug in when we get to the hotel and not think about it (just wake up the next day with a full charge), that will definitely be nice.

I am still curious about a longer road trip, but not sure when we will ever get to that.  It will be an experiment when we do.

For whatever reason, Electrify America is putting their chargers at all the outlet malls.  We stopped at so many outlet malls!  I found them to be a nice place to stop because of all the restaurants and bathrooms. 

So that is a general sum up of a longer trip.  One that will be made frequently in our future, with MM attending college over there.

There was about 5 weeks in between trips.  During this time DL(15) started going back to school full-time, in person.  MH got his wish, with just driving the car around town and seeing how far he could get.  I mean, we had a few freeway trips thrown in.  If just driving to/from school/work, MH and the kids, I expect the car will probably go 350+ miles with all the regen (from braking).  

In this case, MH drove 300 miles during these 6 weeks and did not need to recharge in between bigger road trips.

That said, he did find a free charger at a movie theater.  I think it's mostly moot because at the time our nearby theater was closed.  It has since reopened.  But he is going to some other movie with free charging today (we have a gift card).  He will get about 75 miles free charge.  It may be 30 miles roundtrip diving to get there.

It may be mostly moot in the short run (with our neighborhood theater opened up) but I guess as the free movie screenings open back up, that is where he will get use out of these free chargers.  I think MH would be in heaven.  Free car charging and FREE movies!?  What else could you ask for?  😁  The free movie screenings are all over the place.

Edited to add:  Just a reminder that every EV is *so* different.  This is one of the slower ones to charge, for reference.   I wouldn't judge current EV technology based on our car choice.  We have more time than money; our primary motivation switching to EV was to save money.  This car was the sweet spot for our personal situation.  I was just reading about all the new cars coming out that will charge roughly 200 miles in 20 minutes. 


7 Responses to “Electric Car Updates”

  1. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    So last summer we roadtrip with 2 tesla and found it inconvienent. But what are your thoughts on a tesla versus other types of EV which you have to pay for charging versus free super chargers? The superchargers are great but finding them are a pain. Also relying on overnight at the hotel for 2 tesla is a problem because you have to circle back and switch out your cars. And when you roadtrip we missed a few hikes because the tsla wouldn't have made it with the incline to where we were going.

    But overall our friends love them. I notice they work great in the city where you charge every night at home. You really don't need 300-400 miles because most people just run around town and charge at home.

    But I am curious your thoughts about what you bought (did you ever say what you got) and what you paid versus buying a new EV or new TSLA which is pricey. My BIL is buying a Y and it' about $70k OOP with taxes, fees, and 3rd row. I would not say it's cheap.

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    LAL, I don't know anything about Teslas. Didn't consider them whatsoever, not in our price range.

    Yes, I have said what we bought and how much we paid. We paid $17,500 for a Chevy Bolt. We swooped in when prices hit rock bottom last summer. For reference, this is for a fully loaded vehicle. Same car is back up to $20K+ value right now.

  3. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    As you can see I can't remember who did what when. But I try.

  4. Lots of ideas Says:

    Just reading this made me feel anxious...if you run out of electricity and get stranded on the side of the road, what happens?

  5. MonkeyMama Says:

    @LOI - would probably have to get towed to a charger.

    I don't know how you would run out of electricity. There are a bajillion chargers. I've never run out of gas before. Being a responsible planner, it's the same with electricity. I would like to get to a place where we feel comfortable running the electricity down to -0-. It will just take some time. For now, we seem to consistently over-estimate by about 50 miles. At some point we will adjust and feel comfortable with less buffer. It's 100% us. Though admittedly, it is more guessing than we are used to in a gas car, but it's never been in a situation where the car went less miles than we expected it to. That is probably by design, that the car under-estimates how many miles it has left.

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    P.S. I think also because electric cars are kind of the reverse of gas cars in that they get much better mileage in traffic and unexpected circumstances (braking generates energy and increases range). We didn't know how much traffic we might hit, but if we did hit traffic it would just increase the range of the car.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I have to comment on the 101 - such a beautiful drive!

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