What is all the hubbub about electric cars and will I be forced to buy one?
No you will not be forced to buy an electric car. To combat climate change, Governments of the worlds largest economies are moving away from fossil fuel vehicles. Some countries will stop and California will stop selling fossil fuel vehicles by 2030 and 2035 and most major automakers are planning to stop building fossil based vehicles. Honda, Hyundai, and General Motors and a few automakers are jointly developing fuel cell cars.
What so special about Electric Vehicles (EV’s)?
Gasoline-powered vehicles typically use about 30,000 components, EVs require about half as many. The entire drivetrain of an electric cars employs fewer than 20 moving parts (most electric vehicles don’t have geared transmissions) With fewer moving parts these cars should be more reliable than its fossil fuel counterparts. There are no oil changes, no complicated transmissions, no need to warm up the vehicle and electric engines are much smaller and generate more torque and power. In many EV’s, updates (like your PC) could happen through the life of your car. Some repairs and adjustments are made online. A few years ago, Consumer Reports, downgraded the Tesla Model 3, due to its braking performance. Tesla repaired it and all of its Ev’s online and with that Consumer Reports revised its ratings. GM,Ford and Tesla made changes that increased the range of its EV’s online.
Why are Electric Vehicles So Expensive?
By the second half of 2021, the average cost of all vehicles sold in the United States was $45.031 (source: Forbes)
Its a relatively new technology. Back in 1982, Sony introduced the first Compact Disc(CD) player. In October of 1982, that player cost $1000.00 ($2300 in today’s dollars). Today, they are less than $20.
Batteries, can make up a third of a vehicle’s cost. EV’s uses the same rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are in your laptop or mobile phone, they’re just much bigger to enabling them to deliver far more energy. The priciest component in each cell is the cathode, one of the two electrodes that store and release a charge. Batteries are responsible for the majority of the weight of the vehicle, which increases tire wear.
In time, technology will reduce the cost and the weight of the batteries.
Tesla is far and away the largest luxury car manufacturer, the average Tesla sells for nearly $55,000. Most automakers have followed Tesla’s lead by offering higher priced model first. The first quarter of 2021, the average price of an EV’s was $67,000. General Motors has just released their newest EV, the GMC Hummer at a price of $113,000.
Ford, Volkswagen, and Hyundai newest EV’s, start at the low forties and they all qualify for the Federal Tax Credit and depending what state you live in you may qualify for additional rebates and incentives. In California, when you combine the Federal with all the state and utility rebates,they could take up to $12,000 off the price of a car. (Google your state (electric car rebate).
The demand for electric trucks and SUV is very strong. Tesla has revived more than one million orders for its Cybertruck and they wont start building them until the second quarter of 2022. Ford’s F 150 EV is completely sold out for 2022.
Next year, Volkswagen and Hyundai/Kia will start building EV’s in the southern United States. Smaller EV’s will come to market in the next three years, with lower prices. Volkswagen already builds a smaller EV, in Germany, we may not see this car until 2024.
The Electric Learning Curve
Unlike fossil vehicles, Electric and hybrids recharge themselves as the vehicle slows down or when the brakes are applied. These vehicles excel in city traffic. Its not uncommon for some EV owners in who only drive a few miles a day rarely charging their vehicles.
If you live in a cold climate, where the temperature routinely drop below 20 degrees in the winter, you will likely charge your vehicle more than someone who lives in a warmer climate. Turning on the heat will dramatically reduce range in EV’s without an heat pump.
The biggest hurdle for EV’s is the availability charging stations. While most home owners home owners will charge their Ev’s at home, there are challenges for renters. Two years ago, if you didn’t own a Tesla which has a huge supercharger network, your options were few. Even fewer if you lived outside a metro area. Today the number of charging stations have more than doubled and will continue to grow as more Americans purchase EV’s.
Only Tesla’s can charge at a Tesla supercharger network* Tesla’s can also charge at other charging station via an adapter that’s supplied with the vehicles.
*Last November, Tesla’s announced, the company will open their huge supercharger network to owner of other EV’s. However,don’t go out and buy an adapter just yet. The program is current available in The Netherlands.
The second challenge are charging times. This could be an issue for long distance travel. Tesla’s supercharger network spans along the major interstates from coast to coast. Even the newer EV’s coming to market with superfast charging is still slower than filling your gas tank. Another challenge for owners of the newer while they can charge at any charging place, the availability of superfast level 3 or 4 charger is currently very limited.
Today there are about a dozen National charging networks, you can download the app to your phone or to your infotainment system in the EV’s. Most will tell you, the type of chargers availability ,distance, and if they are in use. The largest are charging networks are Chargepoint, EVgo, EV connect, Blink Charging, and Electrify America and Tesla.
My favorites are Tesla’s Supercharger Network, EVgo and Chargepoint. Electrify America network, located at WalMart’s and Target’s is maddening, from Credit Card and equipment issues to cables being too short.
The Charging Evolution of the Electric Vehicle
In the beginning, way before the Tesla’s and Hummers and the new Thing-a-bobs. There was the Type one connector (upper left) these were common to the first generation (2010) fugly Nissan Leaf. Which had a EPA range of 73 miles and took a lifetime to charge.
Nearly all of these were charged at home. Between 2010 and 2016, only members of a secret society knew where the public chargers were. Many of these are still on the road. Before Covid, you could purchase a used first gen Leaf for $5000. Today the owners sleep in them as they charge at the Whole Earth Foods stores.
Looking at the illustration, you can see the progression of the connectors used to charge the car. The current Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf use the larger Type 1 and Type 2 ccs combo connectors which significantly increases their charging time from the early generations. However, due to their price point of under $31,000 they aren’t likely to be any major changes in charging times. Meanwhile, the connectors to the right are larger and faster than those on the left.
With the Bolt (2018), I’ve learned to be creative, to charge while I’m shopping or having a meal. Some businesses, restaurants, gambling establishments offer free limited EV charging for their customers.
Newer EV’s promise charging times between 18 to 25 minutes. Most homeowners will charge their EV’s at home, where owners can program their chargers, to charge their EV’s late at night when the utility rates are lower.
Like public charging, how fast your car charges at home will depend on the speed of your charger. The cost for home chargers start at $200 (Amazon) at this price point, these chargers will get the job done but slowly. These chargers will plug into your home’s 110 or 220 plug. More powerful chargers will range from $350 to $1000 and most likely will require an electrician.
According to Metromile, the average American drives 37 miles per day.
Today, if you frequently drive 200 miles a day, an EV may not be the vehicle for you at this moment. Range is rapidly improving if you have the cash. The first Tesla Model S, I drove a few years back, had a range of less than 100 miles. That was 2015. Today, you can purchase a Model S that has a range over five hundred miles.
For most people 250 miles of range is sufficient.
If you live in a major metro area like Boston, DC, New York, San Francisco, Seattle or Chicago and rarely drive beyond the city. A small car with a range of 100 miles may suffice. In these cities there are many places to charge your car, and your drive time is very short. General Motor builds the best selling EV in China, a small car called the “Hong Guang Mini Ev a car with a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 67mph sells for less than $6000.
My Electric Journey
I had never driven or considered owning an electric vehicle. My first drive was an Tesla model S, the car was quick and effortless, unlike anything I’ve ever driven before. Despite a couple of technical issues and a left rear door handle not working from the outside, the owner said he would buy another Tesla.
My car was totaled in the spring of 2019. I received a post card from “Gig Car Share” offering a free rental of a Chevy Bolt. I never thought about or considered buying the homely Bolt. I guess in designing the Bolt, GM decided to go with Prius Chic, a car only environmentalists could love. A tall boxy homely subcompact car. Once inside, I was pleasantly surprised, the tall upright car could easily accommodate my Godzilla like frame and it was fast, quiet and fun to drive. I instantly became a fan of the Bolt and a customer of Gig car share.
Since the demise of my car, most of my time has been behind the wheel of an EV, nearly 4200 miles either in a Chevy Bolt or a Tesla Model 3. A couple of weeks ago I rented a very cramped Honda Civic. The Bolts range in the Gig fleet has been dialed back to less than 150 miles (probably until the batteries are replaced) making it inconvenient for a San Francisco trip. My heart stopped, after spending $44 for nine gallons of gas.
When Tesla’s model 3 was introduced, it became my dream car and by the summer of 2020 ,many of my friends owned them. I asked everyone, friends, strangers (cause you never know) to buy me a Model 3, with the Dual Motors Motors, .
In 2020, EV’s shoppers had two real choices, a Tesla, and the Chevy Bolt. One was like a Camaro, and the other was like a Toyota Camry with a V6. While the Bolt was no slouch and reviewed many awards from the Automotive press, it wasn’t a Tesla.
When it comes to engineering, electronics, Tesla is vastly superior than any EV currently on the road, they are faster, handle better, had a superior range over any EV automaker. However, where they fall short, is in the manufacturing of the car and service. Nissan, General Motors, and all the other automakers have much more experience of assembling cars together and unlike Tesla, have a vast dealer network, where the cars can be serviced.
More than 90% of my friends say, despite the service issues and delays, they would buy another Tesla. Tesla is a prestigious name, and some of my friends wanted me to take a blood oath and not blog about the issues they we’re having with their Tesla’s and I am honoring their wishes.
The source of my issues, are on other blogs, Reddit, You Tube and all over Social Media. Elon Musk reportedly closed the PR department of Tesla. The Automotive press no longer. has the access to Tesla as they once had. There is documented (you tube) videos and news reports where the company was using duct tape in the assembly process of the early Model 3. I have been in Model 3’s that have rattled going over railroad tracks. In the current Consumers Reports 2022 buying guide, owners of Tesla’s report, paint/trim, noises/leaks, body hardware issues, has been worst then average across the entire brand. cars.
As of today*, my first EV is likely to be a Chevy Bolt
Consumer Reports recommend the Chevy Bolt. Last month, CR tested the new for 2021 stretched Bolt EUV and liked it. Where as owners of the Tesla’s said assembly issues were much worst than average. Owners of the Chevy Bolt reported the same issues as being much better than average .General Motors has halted the sales and production of its all electric Chevrolet Bolt. You’ve heard of the Bolt, a homely car with a nice personality that shouldn’t be parked indoors.
GM unlike Hyundai, who skedaddled, after unloading thousand of Excels on unsuspecting American consumers looking for a bargain. GM and the battery supplier LG Chem are replacing every battery on every Chevy Bolt that was ever built and giving those owners an additional warranty on the new battery. Over time, the Bolt was more reliable, better built and had fewer issue than Tesla.
A few hundred thousand Chevy Bolt’s have been sold and as a result, GM has halted sales of the new Bolt until every battery has been replaced . No one has been injured from these fires but a few garages have gone up in flames.
At $30k, the Bolt is the lowest priced electric vehicle in country with a range of over 250 miles. This is before State and Utility incentives . The Chevy Bolt and the Tesla’s no longer qualify for the federal tax credit. Once a automaker sells 200,000 electric vehicles, they are no longer eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit.
Yes, the Nissan Leaf EV, existed, its wavy frog like styling made the Chevy Bolt almost sexy. In the fall of 2018, I knew owners owners of both, the Tesla’s and the Chevy Bolt. However either car was out of my price range. The Bolt was selling for just under 40K and I needed six correct numbers to afford the Tesla.
A good reliable Car
Earlier I said, driving the Tesla is like driving a Camaro and the Bolt was like a V6 Camry. I think at the end of the day, most consumer’s want a reliable car. Currently the best selling car in the world is a Toyota Corolla. Most consumer’s don’t choose the Corolla because of the it’s looks, or it’s ability to corner like a Ferrari. The Corolla sells because of its bullet proof reputation, its history of reliably going from point A to point B.
Like the Corolla shopper, I’m shopping with my bank book. But, I’m distracted, there are more EV’s than ever before, new companies like Rivian, and Lucid. There are some new and very tempting new EV’s have come to market in 2021, some within striking range of the top end of my budget.
The Mustang Mach E, with incentives is an option, finding one is beyond difficult and if I’m to believe the blogs, dealer price gouging is the order of the day. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a home run, much like Fords Electric Truck, if you want one, maybe 2023. I just drove Volkswagen ID4, and its in the running. The Mustang, the Hyundai, and the Volkswagen comes with two to three years of free charging on the Electrify America network.
Back to Reality
Hundreds of the 2021 Bolts are sitting, waiting for batteries. I predict deep, discounts when the EV is Bolt goes in production. Last spring, GM offered a four thousand dollars discount on the Bolt for Costco members. Here in Sacramento, I can download nearly $4000 in instant rebates, one from the state and the other from my local public utility, which could drop the price to the mid twenties. Again, your state, local public utility for rebates.
What will I eventually purchase? Spring 2022