I test-drive new cars each week in order to convey to you, the potential new car buyer, what it is like to drive the new cars I get to test-drive. I’d like to convey to you what it is like to live with an electric car, since most of you likely haven’t had any direct experience of the experience.
So as to warn you about what life will be like in the electrified future.
When I get an electric car to test drive, which is infrequently, it arrives via truck – which is why I don’t get sent electric cars to test drive very often.
A truck is necessary to ship the EV to me – because otherwise, the press fleet driver would have to stop at least once along the way for a lengthy recharge session – because it is some 240 miles from where the press fleet for my region is located in the Washington, DC area to my area in rural southwest Virginia.
Most electric cars available can’t quite make it that far – and the few that can will be unable to make it much farther once they’re delivered.
I’d have to plug the thing in, first.
And for hours, at the least – since my home, like almost all private homes cannot “fast” charge an electric car. You have probably not been told about this, notwithstanding the inconvenience of this. Most private homes have 100-200 amp service panels, which can accommodate a couple of doubled-up (240 volt) three-prong outlets as for electric stoves and such.
The “fastest” charging you’ll be doing on 240 volts from a 100-200 amp home service is 4-6 hours.
Which means you’ll be waiting at home at least that long before you can drive the thing again. In the meanwhile, I could have driven up to DC to pick up the EV – and had an hour or so to spare for sight-seeing.
Which is why the press fleets truck the things to me – since they’re not sending the EV to me to look at it. Or to wait for it. My job is to test drive it. This is hard to do when you cannot drive it.
When a non-electric car arrives at my place, it is ready to go. Fully fueled (EVs only partially charge when they are “fast” charged, which means you’ll be “fast” charging again, soon) because there’s a gas station five miles down the road. The driver stops there for the less than five minutes it takes to gas up the car to full before dropping it off at my place, ready to go – and taking off in the car he brought to my place the week before, to test drive. Which is also ready to go – even if I left it nearly empty. Because he can fill it to full in less than five minutes, five minutes down the road.
He swaps cars – and heads back to the press fleet depot in DC.
If it’s an electric car, they send the truck down to haul it back up to DC. The driver of the truck must load the EV, cinch it down and then he can head back up to DC – using, by the way, a great deal more fuel both ways since a rollback uses about as much of that as a pair of Hellcat Challengers. It also takes him about 20 minutes (twice, at my place and back at the press pool) to do what doesn’t have to be done at all with a non-electric press car.
Anyhow, they truck the EV to me so that it is at least ready to drive when it arrives.
Which won’t be the case if you buy an EV.
Which will never be fully charged when you arrive home, unless you just waited someplace else, just down the road, to recharge it. Do you enjoy hanging out at Sheets for 30-45 minutes before heading home?
Once home, you will need to remember to plug it in – to your 120V or 240V outlet outlet. It is a small thing, but it is another thing. No more just putting it in park and heading inside for supper and sofa.
If you forget to plug it in, you may be staying home in the morning. Or waiting, again, at Sheets.
Plugging in is important for another reason, too. Unlike a non-electric car, an electric car burns power while it is sitting. The battery pack must always be kept within certain temperature parameters, to prevent it from being damaged by getting too hot – and to prevent it from getting so cold it can’t be recharged.
That takes energy – which means electricity.
Whatever range it had when you parked it the evening before will be less come the morning, if you forgot to plug it in. Especially if you left it outside, where it gets colder.
You do have garage space, don’t you? Hopefully, one detached from your home – in case the EV catches fire while it is charging. (I run a cord to outside, far away from my garage and my house.)
You will, of course, have to unplug it in the morning, too – another thing to do that you didn’t used to have to do. These small chores add up to time, over time. Kind of like the time you’ll be budgeting for recharging.
If you have two electric cars, you will need two 240V outlets close enough to where you park to for the cords – plural – to reach from outlet to car. Few homes have a pair of 240V outlets in the garage . .. you do have a garage, right? So you’ll need to hire an electrician to run the wiring.
If your home only has a 100 amp panel, you may discover you are close to capacity plugging in your stove, AC – and car – all at once. Time for an upgraded panel.
Because of all this waiting around, it is necessary to plan around.
I live about 35 miles from anything, so getting to where everything is – and back – entails a round trip of about 70 miles. In a lower-tier EV such as the Nissan Leaf (my review is here) this is about half the thing’s stated maximum range, which sounds like an adequate margin.
But it’s actually less than that – if I need to go anywhere else – since I cannot just go there, spur of the moment. I have to think about where (and when) I will recharge, if I run too low on charge. This is a thing none of us have ever had to think about much, before – because gas is everywhere and it doesn’t take much time to get it.
Have you ever given much thought to running the heater in the winter? It is something you will want to think about, before you buy into an EV. The same goes for the AC. They both use charge, which means less range the more you use them.
You will, in short, be planning your day around your car – as opposed to the car giving you the freedom to not have to think about planning for anything.
Isn’t it grand? Like being pushed to get Jabbed with a “vaccine” that is so effective you have to take another one . . . and then another one . . . and then wear a “mask,” too.
We’d be much better off not taking anything, at all.
. . .
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