Concord is home to more than 400 electric vehicles, making the Town a leader in zero carbon transportation. Electric vehicles (EVs) play a big role in achieving our climate goals and reducing the almost 40% of community-wide emissions generated by transportation. We set out to chat with a local about why he drives an EV, and how he gets around some of those typical EV worries! From the pleasant surprise of the “instantaneous torque” to the importance of a fast charge at home or work, Andrew walks us through his experience.
Q: What type of EV do you own, and how long have you owned it?
Tesla Model 3, just over 2 years.
Q: What motivated you to buy an EV?
I grew up playing with, taking apart, and building toy electric cars and other electromagnetic devices, and really enjoyed learning about electricity and magnetism in school, so the core technology drew me in to begin with. I'm generally frugal with time and money so the significantly decreased regular maintenance and fuel savings were also a big influence. I rent my house (where electricity is included), so I got permission for home charging before buying my car.
Q: What is your favorite thing about driving an EV?
The instantaneous torque when pressing the go pedal is way more useful than one might think. Turning out into traffic from stop signs, up to speed from tiny entrance ramps, and just feeling more connected and in control of the ~2 ton machine around you is a much safer experience in my opinion.
Q: It’s common to hear people worry about the range of EVs. What has your experience been like finding places to charge your car in Concord and elsewhere?
Finding places to charge has been way easier and more frequently free than I expected. If you can charge at home or work, that's even easier than gas cars because you don't have to plan or stop anywhere in your day, just plug in at the place where you already spend dozens of hours each week. Outside of those, resources like Plugshare can help you filter to stations that support your car, and have check-ins from others to tell you if a plug is out of commission for any reason. I have been amazed at how many places in Concord and elsewhere that charging points are available. They're all over the place; you just don't realize it until you look. Teslas in particular have route and charge planning built in so you can enter a destination like Washington DC, and the car will navigate you to the 2 charging stops along the way so you don't need to worry about it at all.
Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about buying an EV but worried about costs or maintenance?
An EV does tend to have a higher initial cost of ownership, but lower recurring cost. Fueling an EV is cheaper and long-term maintenance for EVs is expected to be far less than gas cars because EVs have far fewer moving parts in the drive train. Planned regular maintenance is nearly nonexistent on my EV. Things like brake fluid and wipers still need to be replaced, but there is no oil or transmission fluid to replace. I can say I've enjoyed zero maintenance costs over two years and no drive train issues at all. For new EV drivers, a lease may be a good option to try out EVs for a while and experience the difference without the commitment to a purchase. Also, I recommend not buying the first model year of a car, until they work out the bigger kinks, so that you have less maintenance woes later on.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about electric vehicles?
I think the biggest misconception is that range available on 100% charge is the most important metric for an EV. What I've found that matters most for a good ownership experience is the speed of charging available at home, work, or relatively close by. If your car can go 400 miles but only regains 3 miles of range per hour of charging due to the type of charging available, you will likely have a miserable ownership experience. Talk to the sustainability office at your workplace regarding what they already have or could have installed. They may be eligible for grants and incentives. I installed on my own a higher power outlet in my home for $150 in materials, and there are even easier methods like purchasing a "quick 220" that doesn't require specialized knowledge or permits, just plug and play. Plus, there are rebates available from CMLP for home charging, and programs for multi-unit properties, too. Nearby high speed charging can be a big help, but it's hard to compete with the convenience of home or work charging. Another common misconception is that getting an EV is a sacrifice to help the environment. What I’ve found is that it’s an upgrade to your transportation that also helps the environment.
Q: Anything else you would share with future EV drivers?
If you have questions or want to see what an electric vehicle is like, ask a neighbor or even a random EV owner you meet on the street; most are happy to show off their car and give you honest answers. Look for future Concord Drive Electric ride-and-drive events to talk to owners and test drive cars. Also, it’s good to know why EVs tend to use more energy in heating the cabin – EVs are incredibly efficient at converting energy to motion. This has many benefits, especially for fuel cost. This means that EVs have very little waste heat compared to gas cars. Gas cars lose an enormous amount of energy in the form of heat escaping from the engine. In the winter, gas cars use this waste heat to help heat the cabin. Since EVs don’t have this waste heat, they must use battery power to heat a resistance unit or power a heat pump in addition to making the car move. That’s why a lot of EVs have heated seats and steering wheels, to limit the amount of cabin heating necessary. Even still, EVs are more efficient even in the winter and definitely better for the environment, no matter where you charge.
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