Got Electric? Car that is.


Do you have an electric car? Have you tried one?

Why Haven’t You Bought an Electric Car?

For 36 months months, I drove a Chevy Volt.  18 months ago, charging was free and plenitiful.  Then everything changed.

Leases on electric cars like the Fiat 500e or Nissan leaf went as low as $199 per month.  That is less than most people spend on gas.  If you can charge at home and go everywhere you need to go, these cars are a smoking deal.

I needed more range so I went with the Volt.  The Plug in Prius or PIP only goes 16 miles on electricity.  The Ford Fusion about the same.  I averaged 43 miles on battery and about 42 miles per gallon when using gas, but I live in a very flat area so the numbers are better than average. This was the Gen I Volt. With the Gen 2 Volt, I bumped that up to 65 miles of range and 50 mpg when using gas. In 36 months I used 14 gallons of gas while covering 32,000 miles in the Gen 2 Volt

When I first got the Volt, I didn’t use any gas for three months.  SouthCoast Plaza had free charging and it was always open.  I would go meet my wife for lunch and top off.  Bella Terra in Huntington Beach had free charging, my work locations in Hollywood and LA all had easy charging.

Then it changed. 

PIP’s started to appear and the owners are constantly plugging in, more Volts doing the same.  And then Bella Terra started charging $2.00 per hour to plug in.  On a slower charging Volt, this gets crazy expensive.

At home I am on the night charge plan, so charging is 11 cents per KwH.  My car has about a 12 KwH battery and due to some heat loss takes about 13 KwH to fully charge.  $1.41 per day to fully charge and go 43 miles per day.  Not bad.

Charging at $1.00 per hour at 3 Kw per hour, means about four and a half hours for  a full charge, and it is the same as buying gas.  I have a problem with paying by the hour like this as a Volt owner though. Recently I have seen rates as high as $3.20 per KwH. Thats like paying $7 a gallon for fuel. Really?

Follow the Money

In short, I know the state isn’t getting any road tax, and someone is skimming that huge profit margin.  I’ll pay for gas and know that 40 cents is helping to pay for roads.

Many times when I see an open charger, the fees are $2.00 per hour or higher.  I have seen as high as $9,00 per hour in Seal Beach CA.  That is some expensive parking.  

Bella Terra found a nice balance charging 22 cents per KwH.  More than I pay at home, but less than the price of gas, and just enough to keep people from charging who don’t really need to.  The free chargers at the Block at Orange and SouthCoast Plaza get abused by people looking for free juice. Whole Foods added a free charger though. Oddly it is open a lot.

One upside is I have noticed that many places are now blocking two spots for each charger.  If I leave my charging door open, all but once the other person has plugged me in on the Free Chargers.  LAX airport lot at Terminal 2 has done it every time.  Terminal six doesn’t quite have enough extra spaces.

I was looking forward to a Gen 3 Volt. Sadly GM axed the Volt. I did visit the RenCen to learn more, but I’ll save that for a CoolToys TV episode. Now it looks like either a smaller Tesla or sitting on the sidelines waiting for a better EV

.   The perfect solution for me would be a Volt with the range of a Fiat 500e.  One day a week I need about 85 miles round trip.  Those days end up being one charge and one gallon almost to the number. Sadly that Volt won’t every happen.

Overall my average is 169 mpg.  Just a tad better than what I was driving at 16 mpg.  Why aren’t you driving electric?