Thinking of electrifying your ride? Learn more with SIAS Spokesperson Tom Voelk
-Seattle International Auto Show Spokesperson Tom Voelk
Thinking of electrifying your ride? There are many great reasons to do it. The Pacific Northwest is rich in hydro and wind generated power. We enjoy some of the greenest and cheapest electricity on the planet. EVs don’t need oil changes or trips to the gas station. With loads of instant torque and a low center of gravity, they’re satisfying to drive. And even before gas prices rose higher than Mt. Rainier, electric vehicles were much cheaper to operate.
Plus, there’s much more choice now. Automakers have woken up and offer new EVs that ride on sophisticated electric architectures. More models are hitting showrooms every month. It’s an exciting time. But before getting too amped up about ditching gasoline, there are some things to consider.
For the best electric car experience, I feel strongly that owners need the ability to charge where they sleep. Commercial charging stations can be expensive, easily four times residential rates. Beyond cost, juicing up at home is time efficient. A quick 10 second plug-in when arriving at home in the evening means a “full tank” in the morning. The only things you’ll buy at gas stations are Diet Coke and Cheetos.
It’s best to install home 240-volt Level 2 charging that’s significantly faster than 120V. A good wall-mounted charge unit will cost between $400 and $800 depending on features. Level 2 installation costs differ wildly depending on where the electrical breaker panel is in relation to your parking spot. Eliminate surprises. Before bringing home your new baby, call an electrician for an estimate (and to make certain your home electrical panel will handle the extra load). Be sure to look for state tax and local utility incentives that may apply.
Some 85% of all EV charging is done at home. Plan on traveling quite a bit? Before buying, hop on the internet to check your normal routes for chargers. This wise move ensures your trips are doable and stress free. Let’s say you travel between Seattle to Spokane weekly. On Electrify America’s site alone I found four stations along the route. Or try the Chargeway phone app that maps out many different providers. The charging infrastructure is growing on main highways and interstates. Electrify America, ChargePoint, EVGo and Shell Recharge are all investing.
Armed with charging confidence, feel smug about your financial prowess. Electricity is cheaper than gasoline. The E.P.A. estimates a V8-powered Ford Mustang GT costs $4.75 to drive 25 miles. The electric Mustang Mach-E GT drops that to $1.31. Over the course of five years the estimated difference in fuel costs is $10,250. And those numbers are based on national averages. Washington’s gas tends to be pricier and our electricity costs 28% less than the US average.
With no engine or transmission, maintenance should be less expensive. And with a high percentage of braking done by regeneration drag that feeds electrons back to the battery, brake pads should last longer too.
True, electric cars tend to be more expensive when it comes to retail prices. Batteries are still very expensive. Most automakers can still take advantage of the tax credit Uncle Sam offers (as much as $7,500). On new and used EVs, Washington state offers a sales tax exemption of up to $2,110. Factor in those savings when calculating your finances.
Pure electric vehicles aren’t for everyone, especially when installing Level 2 charging is financially or physically difficult. That’s when plug-in hybrids (or PHEVs) make sense. These are electrified cars with a gas engine that generates electricity once the battery is depleted. Depending on model, they can run up to 20-50 miles on electricity alone before defaulting to a regular hybrid dynamic. If it can go at least 30 miles or more on battery power alone, it qualifies for the same sales tax exemption as a fully electric car. I recently tested a Ford Escape PHEV that travels an average of 37 miles on a full battery. Charged every night, that’s around 13,000 miles of pure electric range annually, plus the freedom to switch fuel sources to gasoline for long road trips. I own two PHEVs. Both charge overnight on standard 120-volt power, so there’s no need for special wiring or charging equipment. A big advantage. Typically, I buy one tank of gas a year. My wife drives hers more and fills up two or three times annually. Yes, annually.
EVs sales have been accelerating. Skyrocketing gas prices will jolt those numbers even higher. Fun fact, Washington state has the second highest market share for EVs in the US. Between electric car demand, the chip shortage and the general craziness embracing our world, the EV or PHEV you might want could be in short supply. Just like traditional gas-powered vehicles. It’s important to talk to a dealer and find out what they have coming into stock. Shop multiple dealers for the best pricing. Maybe there’s a shortage, but vehicles are still being manufactured. There’s a growing trend where buyers are choosing to order cars in the exact specification they want and waiting for delivery. It means waiting longer for your ride, but making sure it’s exactly what you want.
It very important to research the newest electrified cars and crossovers that are coming to market. These are vehicles designed from the ground up with impressive technology and exceptionally fast charging speeds. The Hyundai Ioniq5 and Kia EV6, both built on the E-GMP platform, travel over 300 miles on a charge and can juice from 10 percent to 80 percent in around 18 minutes when using the right commercial fast chargers. That’s up there with the Porsche Taycan.
Nearly every automaker has an EV or PHEV in their lineup. Many already have a bunch. These are excellent cars you’ll want to own, not just a vehicle to “save the planet”. Buying any car is a big investment. Make sure you take the time to discover the one that’s right for you.