Charging, road trips, maintenance, and more: 8 EV owners reveal the realities of going electric – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Charging, road trips, maintenance, and more: 8 EV owners reveal the realities of going electric

Many early EV drivers from across the US have installed their own chargers and say taking road trips while electric is easier than it seems.

Blink Charging; Electrify America; Tesla; Chevrolet; Alyssa Powell/Insider

Insider spoke with dozens of EV owners as plug-in cars gain traction.We compiled the experiences of eight EV owners across the country.From California to the East Coast, from Tesla to Ford owners, here’s what they said.

We tracked down EV owners from across the country to hear exactly what it’s like owning, charging, and even road-tripping in a plug-in vehicle.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Charlotte Scot, 76 — Old Lyme, CT —
Kia EV6
Charlotte Scot has had three EVs.

Charlotte Scot

As I got older, I really wanted to do something for the planet, and I certainly don’t drive as much as I used to. So what’s more perfect for a senior than an electric vehicle?

My little BMW i3, named Orangina, was adorable. I bought it about a year old in 2015. I would only have to charge maybe once a week, even with just a 100-mile range. It was small. It was capable. It was how I could afford to get into electric vehicles back then. It really eased me into EVs. I learned pluses and minuses.

Technically, it held one gallon of gas, so it was sort of a hybrid.

I wanted more range, but I liked not having to go to the gas station. I put a ChargePoint charger at home. The utility gave rebates so I got my charger for practically nothing. Now, I don’t think my home charging costs $20 a month. An office down the street from me also had free chargers. I never really looked at another gas engine.

Planning was a big thing to know — where you could get a charge if you needed it. I also bought an adapter so I could use Tesla chargers. I traded it in for a Hyundai Kona EV about three years ago. It’s a wonderful car, compact, with a range of about 250 miles, so it was quite a leap forward.

I’m not a fan of Mr. Musk, so I never considered a Tesla. I leased the Kia EV6, named Snazzy Radish, about five months ago, and they took $7,500 off its price.

I have a bumper sticker on the back of the car that says “I identify as an electric vehicle.” I think I identify with it. It’s like, ‘Hey, folks, you can do this. You don’t have to buy a Tesla. You don’t have to spend $100,000. There are vehicles that are available.’

Rick Samuels, 71 — Portland, OR —
Tesla Model 3
Rick Samuels, retired from the IT industry, drives a Tesla and a Nissan Leaf.

Rick Samuels

The Leaf was the first, affordable, practical EV. We leased our first Leaf for three years in 2011. I was commuting 30 miles a day, which was an ideal range for a first-generation Leaf. We then bought a two-year-old, lease-returned 2013 Leaf.

In 2014, when the first lease ran out, Nissan was almost giving 2014 models away. It was $1,000 upfront and $100 a month for a two-year lease. At the end of the two years, in 2016, Nissan gave us another 12,000 miles and kept the payments the same. At the end of the third year, we ended up buying it for $9,200. We had the 2013 and the 2014 for some time.

In early 2021, we wanted a car with more range, so we ended up leasing a 2020 Leaf SV-Plus with 200 miles of range. The lease price reflected federal and state tax credits plus a factory incentive. We live in a floating home and a nearby members’ club allowed us to put Level 2 chargers in the parking lot.

Last fall, we took our first real road trip, and that’s when we found out how abysmally bad public charging infrastructure is.

The problem we found was finding ones that worked without a problem. At that point, we said, if we’re going to drive an electric car, and we want to take trips, pretty much our only choice is a Tesla, so we bought a used Tesla Model 3 and sold one Leaf.

We have taken several trips in the Tesla and never had a problem charging. We’ve had it for a year and have not had any significant problems with it. Our Leaf, which now has over 80,000 miles on it, has also never needed any significant repairs. We really only had to get the 12-volt batteries replaced.

I tell people that if it’s going to be your main car for trips, the only electric car I would get right now is a Tesla. In two or three years that may be different, but right now, their public charging infrastructure is just so much better. You don’t have to worry about a card reader not working or about a screen being vandalized.

We see no need to have a gasoline-powered car. And we hope we will never have to buy another gasoline-powered car.

Jim Selgo, 66 — Goodyear, AZ —
Volkswagen ID.4
Jim Selgo, a retired public education principal, drives a Volkswagen ID.4.

Jim Selgo

In February 2019, I was still working daily and driving 50 miles round trip. I had an interest in electric cars and bought a new 2019 Nissan Leaf. My wife had a 100-mile round trip drive two nights a week, so we ended up buying a new 2020 Chevrolet Bolt for her.

The Bolt looks small but inside had plenty of room and it got 270 miles of range (the Leaf was only 170) so that’s why I decided to sell the Leaf two years ago and then keep the Bolt.

Recently, I traded that in for the Volkswagen ID.4. I got the $7,500 tax credit, and it was listed at just under $52,000, but with discounts and everything, I got it for less than $40,000. They’re great to drive, the torque and the speed are awesome, and I really like regenerative, one-pedal braking.

When I was first shopping four years ago, even the dealer didn’t have a good understanding or knowledge of EVs, so I kind of went into it blind. Then I learned a lot about them, and really the only negative that we had then — and it’s getting better — is in regards to long-distance traveling and finding charging stations. When you purchase the Volkswagen, you get three years of charging at Electrify America, so I could technically drive across the country using their stations at no cost.

We also have sunshine most of the time here, so I put a solar rooftop on my house. It’s been 36 consecutive months that I have not paid a dime for electricity or gasoline because I power at the house. I never paid a dime for maintenance or repair, either. The only thing is tire rotation and that’s done for free. I will not go back to a gas engine.

We are really happy we did this, and not just financially — they’re nice cars, just powered differently than in the old way.

Portia Zwicker, 43 — Schnectady County, NY —
Chevrolet Bolt
Portia Zwicker and her husband each own a Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Portia Zwicker

My family has an overall goal of lowering our footprint and getting off all fossil fuels.

It took a little while to be ready financially, and we did a lot of research before making the choice. In August 2020, we started a lease on a 2020 Chevrolet Bolt. Two months later, we bought a second, used Bolt. Both have about 259 miles of range.

The major reason for the Bolt was it was the most affordable option. I chose to lease because I figured the EV landscape would change a lot over the course of the lease, and at the moment, that was the best financial decision. I ended up buying out the lease, too.

The Bolt is the slowest of fast-charging cars, and that’s the biggest downside to it. What I didn’t expect is a kind of pooh-poohing at Bolt drivers specifically, because our cars charge slowly. Other EV drivers get upset at us taking up time at charging stations. The next EV for us will be something that can charge faster. We’ve got our eye on the Equinox.

We only have Level-1 charging at home, because we just don’t need anything else. My husband has free Level-2 charging at work, and I also had that for some time. We public charge when we road trip, so that’s the most we ever pay. Just something I’ve become used to is: Always have a backup plan. Make sure you understand how fast charging works.

Bob McGill, 78 — League City, TX —
Tesla Model 3
Bob McGill drives a Tesla.

Bob McGill

At the end of August 2022, I took delivery of a new Tesla Model 3.

I’d been thinking about it for a while for all the usual things, like not having to buy gas, and I’m a retired computer nerd so I like cutting-edge technology. I considered the Nissan Leaf for a while and the Chevrolet Bolt.

I primarily charge at home and rarely charge outside the house. I bought the home charging unit from Tesla, and an electrician friend installed it for me. It costs about $50 per month for electricity. I don’t plug it in every night. I get about 300 miles on a charge and I have over 22,000 miles on the car now.

You’re not having to do any maintenance. There’s a bit of a learning curve about charging. There was a little bit of anxiety at first about being able to charge whenever I needed to. But it turns out, there’s plenty around. It’s not difficult to do that. I took a trip to Alabama in May, and I’ve never driven the Tesla over there, but I was able to find places to charge.

If somebody feels like EV is what they want to do, they should. They’re a little more expensive, but the amount of gas savings will make up for that.

Lisa Holland, 59 — Atlanta, GA —
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Lisa Holland owns a Mustang Mach-E.

Lisa Holland

I really wanted a Leaf when it came out, but the range wasn’t very practical because we do go to Florida a lot. Teslas became more affordable and with more range, and I toyed with that. I was driving an SUV at the time and it was costing too much to fill up, so that’s when I started looking hard for an EV.

I bought my Mustang in 2021, the California Route 1 trim for about $45,000 with the $7,500 tax credit. There was absolutely no maintenance, no oil changes, no transmission problems — just a car sitting on a battery.

When I charge at home at night, my utility gives me a discounted rate to charge off-peak hours, so my power bill has only gone up $13 at most. They also gave me a rebate when I had an electrician put the outlet in my garage. Ford provided the charger. Last December, I traded in the first Mustang for the GT.

The thing I was concerned about most was range and getting out of state. Traveling is a little difficult for me here in the Southeast, especially going to the Panhandle in Florida.

Most people that I talk to are concerned about batteries and the cost of replacing them. I think that’s a big misconception. It’s just been great for me, because I’m saving so much money, not spending it on gas or maintenance. It’s easy.

Jason Luu, 31 — Los Angeles, CA —
Tesla Model 3
Jason Luu drives this Tesla.

Jason Luu

I got my Tesla Model 3 in 2019. One of the biggest reasons why I got it was to not have to go to the pump anymore. I like tech-savvy things, and so I thought I’d get ahead of that curve. Another selling point for me were the tax incentives at the time. I did get the $7,500 federal tax incentive, and the state of California also offered $2,000. My utility provider also offered another $1,000.

I installed a 220-volt outlet in my home and I’ve done that in my new home as well. I know that that might be a deterrent for some.

In a very densely populated city like LA, for those living in like either condominium buildings or apartment buildings, they might not have that kind of infrastructure to charge overnight. But then I’ve been pretty impressed with the Supercharger network. Luckily, my work has charging stations where I can charge for free.

I feel like when people think about purchasing EVs, they get a little hesitant on range anxiety. But on a given day, the average person is not going more than the full capacity of the battery, and you wake up and have a full charge. From a charge perspective, having it installed at your home and having that capability really is a game changer.

But to the average person, you map out your day. There’s not much uncertainty in terms of where you’re going. You’re going to work, home, and stopping by the grocery store. You can plan ahead.

Jerry Schotz, 59 — Champaign-Urbana, IL —
Chevrolet Bolt
Jerry Schotz has two Chevrolet Bolts.

Jerry Schotz

We had two gas-powered cars. In May 2021, I purchased my first EV, a new 2021 Chevrolet Bolt. When we tried the EV, we were a little leery of what it was going to be like, so I still kept my Toyota RAV4.

In November 2021, we found a used 2020 Chevrolet Bolt, trading in my wife’s 2017 Nissan Altima for it. We were fully electric by the beginning of 2022. We’re surprised a little bit at the vitriol that we get from people because we own EVs, but we’ve been very happy with it since then.

Both batteries have been replaced during the recall. The only maintenance has been tire rotations.

I put a 220-volt outlet in the garage and plug in the car there, since 90% of our travel is local. Between the electrical panel upgrade and the outlet, it was around $1,500. This year is also our first year having our own solar on the house, so now we’re driving completely for free. Before we did solar, it was probably adding $50 a month to the bill.

We took our first road trip to Branson, Missouri, from Central Illinois, a good eight-hour drive, and I plotted out the routes with planners and PlugShare. It was a little hard to find fast-charging but we made it there and back without any problems.

We took a trip to Wisconsin, we’ve taken trips to Indiana, through Tennessee, and Kentucky. Electrify America saves us pretty much all the time. I think one of the biggest things about charging that was surprising to me is how slow even fast charging gets in the wintertime, because of all the protections for the battery.

Regenerative braking is the coolest thing to me. We’re happy about the lack of emissions coming out of our car. We’re not contributing to any sort of greenhouse gases from driving.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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