It’s taken less than 2 weeks of ownership to experience a fundamental shift about personal vehicles. Electric is the way to go for most, with few excuses. I can understand making exceptions for having to tow heavy loads or needing a utility vehicle for work (using it on the job site, not simply commuting). For the typical commuter, town runabout, or even the long road trip however, I can see no reason to not utilize modern electric vehicles.
Fuel is an expensive pollutant, requiring in most vehicles an engine with hundreds of moving parts (pistons, cams, transmission gears, pumps) to burn fuel and gain only about 20% of the potential energy stored in fuel. 80% is lost, and that doesn’t factor in the energy required to convert oil to gasoline and the energy then required to transport it from refineries to gas pumps. Electric cars have an efficiency of 80% after factoring losses to AC to DC back to tri-phase AC. This alone makes electric vehicles 4 times as efficient as internal combustion engine vehicles. Electricity can be produced in a multitude of fashions, from hydroelectric, to wind, to solar, to nuclear. Notable exceptions like Chernobyl aside, nuclear is a clean and safe way to produce electricity.
A common detraction about electric vehicles is that they will become an untenable strain on the electric grid. This infrastructure, already in place for at home charging, is augmented by charging stations at destinations as well as Super Charger destinations along common long trip routes. Strain on the grid can be alleviated by scheduling cars at home to recharge during off-peak hours, such as between 11pm and 6am in most cities. Further alleviation can come in the form of home solar panels, such as the Tesla Solar Roof, which after seeing recently I think would be a lovely addition to any home.
When it comes to cost, there’s no getting around it. Teslas are expensive, and even considered luxury vehicles. I’m not going to assert any differently. However, there are 6 options from the list below that fall under $30K after tax credits, with the Nissan Leaf S falling just under $21K. With the average price of a new sedan being $23K, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that a consumer looking for a new car shouldn’t consider electric.
Noise pollution is another area where EVs surge ahead of ICE vehicles. After driving an EV, already I detest hearing loud exhaust clearly designed to amplify rather than muffle. Performance vehicles can now be whisper quiet thanks to electric.
What about road trips, you say? Thanks to an ever-growing network of Super Chargers, and L2 charging stations around the US, chances are your closest charger is only a mile or two away. Sites like Plug Share allow for travelers to find charging stations, and Tesla’s in car navigation allows for planning to charge en route. I would also encourage people to consider taking the train or flying for trips, as these options are typically less damaging to the environment.
You will save on maintenance as well. Regular oil changes, radiator flushes, and fluid checks are a thing of the past when driving electric. In fact, Teslas only have a scheduled fluid maintenance for checking and changing the brake fluid every two years.
I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life. I have always traveled from point A to B in a front or rear wheel drive car, without needing all wheel drive. I’ve owned two Camaros, which I’ve managed to drive successfully in the snow and ice as well. I have owned a Tahoe, and I did not notice a huge advantage to driving a truck with 4WD over a sedan or coupe. Given EV’s superior traction control, even driving on the ice with a Tesla has been a breeze, and I have the rear wheel drive model. Get the right tires for the conditions you drive in. A rear wheel drive car with good all season tires will beat an all wheel drive vehicle with balding snow tires every time.
I would like to offer the notion that we should re-evaluate how we perceive cars. They’re a vehicle to carry passengers from place to place, nothing more. They don’t need to be large, they don’t need to be lifted, and they certainly don’t need to have massive wheels. They’ve become a part of culture, and that makes change all the more difficult. People see cars as a part of their personality, an extension of themselves, when, pragmatically, that’s simply not the case. They’re a tool to do a job, and they should do that job as efficiently as possible.
I look at ICE commuter vehicles as relics now, to be replaced by EVs at some point (2035 if legislators have their way). There are problems to solve, such as sourcing enough rare metals to construct current generation batteries, and how we can recycle and reuse components from those batteries for the next generation of vehicles. I’ll leave you with this perspective. ICE technology has had over 100 years to reach where it’s currently at, improvements continue to be marginal at best. EV technology is only 15 years old, and improvements over that short time have been staggering. We’re only just beginning to see what potential EVs have to offer society.