25,000 EV miles

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 29, 2016, 2:30 PM | comments: 0

I noticed yesterday that about 7 months of being an all-EV family, and including the year prior, we have now logged 25,000 combined miles on our electric vehicles. That's a whole lot of driving! The 2015 Nissan Leaf came to us in August 2014, and the Tesla Model S in August 2015. The former is averaging a little under 1k miles per month, the latter just over.

There are a lot of things that I could tell you about driving EV's, but the biggest thing is that it's a whole lot of fun. I never want to go back to a gasoline car. Ever. It seems outright barbaric to drive something that makes thousands of little explosions every minute to make the car go. The feeling of even the Leaf giving you that instant torque is addictive. The unexpected point of joy is never going to gas stations. You just go home.

Late in the summer, we have to decide what to do with the Leaf, as its lease will be up. If we need to buy more time, my understanding is that Nissan is in no hurry to take back the cars (the new model has a bigger battery, negatively affecting resale), so we might be able to extend the lease a bit. So maybe we can get the new Chevy Bolt if it ships on time and in volume. We'd also consider the BMW i3, which has strangely had some lease deals that are competitive with the current Leaf. We'll do a reservation for a Tesla Model 3, but we're realistic in understanding that the actual delivery could be 18 months out, at best. Overall, the Leaf has been an excellent, maintenance-free car. It's a little tank, and perfect for commuting and daily use. It doesn't go long distances, but we don't need it to.

The Tesla is, of course, the best car ever made, or so one would assume given the reviews of the auto magazines and Consumer Reports. At the very least, it's the safest car ever made. For Thanksgiving, we proved out that road trips are a non-issue, but admittedly this is an advantage unique to Tesla because of the supercharger network. It's a comfortable car that showcases everything that technology is doing for driving. My only real complaint (other than the cost) is that it's a big car, and I'm not a fan of big cars. It sure can carry around a bunch of people and their stuff, and a robust Ikea trip is no big deal either. People staring at you is uncomfortable, however. I don't want the attention, I just want to drive a very capable electric car. At the 3-year sell-back option, I wouldn't rule out selling it, because the guaranteed price would be a positive equity situation, and in 2018, there will be more options (that cost less). If the Model 3 can use superchargers, I suspect that's the world we'll live in.

Beyond that, perhaps it's time to answer the frequently asked questions...

How long does it take to charge?

I hear this all of the time, and people think I'm being a dick when I answer, "I don't know." I really don't. I plug it in when I get home and that's that. We plug the Leaf into a standard 110 outlet, which is slow, but I know it charges about 5 miles per hour. Considering the rated range is only 70 miles (real life we get 80 to 100), we know it will finish before morning. Supercharging the Tesla is exceptionally fast, exceeding 300v/300a, but again, the time it takes is only when the battery has enough charge to get to the next supercharger. In practice, that was a 20-minute endeavor on our road trip, and most of that time was spent acquiring food or using a restroom.

Where do you charge it?

At home. The only time we ever charge in public is when we're doing a road trip, and use the "free" Tesla superchargers, or if there's a parking advantage. Otherwise, public charging infrastructure is mostly irrelevant. Home is your charging station.

Aren't you worried about running down the battery?

Aren't you worried about running out of gas? It's the same answer.

How long before you have to replace the battery?

Never. The Leaf is a 2-year lease, the Tesla has an 8-year, unlimited mile warranty on the battery and the motors. I'm not going to have that car in eight years.

But it's not big enough.

I hate that argument for any car. My parents had a Chevy Citation, and somehow the four of us managed to get around just fine. People today either overestimate the size of their children or they carry too much shit around. That said, the Leaf works fine for commutes, grocery shopping and the like. The Tesla hasn't had any issue carting around three adults, two children and all of their luggage, without even using the frunk. It handled a large Ikea run as well.

How does it affect your electric bill?

It depends on how much you drive. Our electricity costs around $0.124 per kWh, and the two cars average about 4 miles per kWh. So if we drive both cars 1,000 miles per month (which never happens), that's 500 kWh. That would be $62 in electricity. In practice, we spend $40 or less because we don't really do more than 1,500 miles combined per month. But if you want to compare to gasoline, driving a pair of reasonably efficient cars that do 30 mpg would be about 67 gallons. At $1.99 per gallon, that's $133. If your car is less efficient, say some giant SUV doing 15 mpg, you're now up to $266. I'm not saying this necessarily makes up for the cost of the car (it definitely doesn't in the case of the Model S), but that's what you're looking at. Our lease payment on the Leaf if $105, so the savings work out there. This will only continue to get better, and once we've got solar on the house... watch out.

Yeah, but your electricity is made by coal!

Actually, ours mostly comes from natural gas, but yeah, fossil fuel, I get the point. While I admire the long-term goal of reformed energy, mostly we drive EV's because they're amazing and more fun. Still, the economy of scale of centralized electric generation means that it's far more efficient than any one-off gasoline engine. This story only gets better as solar grows (it had a great year in 2015). Then you have interesting stories like Tesla making their battery factor self-sustaining on solar. They're exciting times. The electric car is a little ahead of the progress in electricity production, but not by much.




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