18 Months With An Electric Car (ok a Volt)
As the semi long term owner of a Chevy Volt, I have been putting extra effort into treating it as a pure electric. After 18 months and 18,000 miles I have only used 88 gallons of gasoline. My previous car only got 16 mpg, so the quick math is that I didn’t use over 1000 gallons of gas. No tanker trucks needed to carry that 8000 pounds of fuel across the roads. 250 barrels of oil didn’t have to be refined to make gasoline. The state lost nearly $300 in taxes I didn’t pay on that gas, and “they” aren’t happy about it.
Environmentally, the electric car looks like a no brainer. Especially if you have Solar Panels on your roof and can use the sun to charge the car as several of my neighbors and my friend Randy Jackson of SunPoweredEVs.com do. Elon Musk says the car is making me money compared to driving a gas car. Teslanomics is the industry term for his presentation.
Many Volt owners have posted complaints on other blogs stating that they were being overcharged at public stations for the hourly electricity because it only has a 3.3 KwH charger, and most “real” electric cars have a 6.6 KwH charger. Effectively the Volt owners like me were paying twice as much for electricity at these public stations.
Blink fixed that September 1st, 2014 with a new plan that charged by the KwH. When got the email I glanced over it and thought to myself, “Finally, I can plug in for less than an hour and not pay for the full hour.” Yesterday I used that plan for the first time, and to me public charging is dead.
At home I am on the “electric car charging plan”. I pay just 12 cents a KwH and can only charge my car between midnight and 6 AM. Overall this works quite nicely. On rare occasions I’ll charge during the day at 29 cents per KwH but that isn’t a regular occurrence.
Given that a Chevy Volt takes 3.5 hours to charge at a rate of 3.3 KwH, I pay about $1.38 each night to drive about 40 miles each day. There is about a 10% difference between what the car says it used to go those 40 miles and what the power meter says it used to charge. This is likely charger loss.
I plugged in at a Blink Public Charging Station located conveniently at Carl’s Jr. while I got lunch and got an email that I was on the new rate of “just .49 per KwH”. So lets do the math. 3.3 KwH charger, was $1 per hour and Volt owners complained. A full charge was about $4 on that method.
$4 to go 40 miles is about the same as $3.80 for premium to go 35-38 miles on a gallon of gas. Economically speaking Bilnk was a break even on the Volt. when charging at $1 per hour. Then word broke that Blink chargers could “throttle back” and give you less electricity per hour than the 3.3 KwH, so no one really knew how much it cost.
Today I know. 49 cents per KwH times 3.3 KwH is $1.617 per hour. A 60% increase? A full charge now at a blink charger will cost a Volt owner a whopping $5.65! Now that Premium us under $3.50 even in the highest gas tax areas of Los Angeles, that means a Volt driver is paying Blink a premium of $2.15 for every 40 miles they drive.
Now I understand why Elon Musk had to make superchargers free for Tesla owners. Could you imagine paying $80-100,000 for a car for the privilege of paying the equivalent of $5.65 per gallon of gas? You know would have about the most expensive car to own period.
Many states are trying to enact a “mileage tax” so that all cars will pay based on the miles they drive, not the fuel they use. In some ways a smarter idea. Every year you just give your mileage to the DMW and they prorate payments for the next year. If they take the tax off of Gas, it would essentially kill the electric car all by itself. Gas could be closer to $2.00 for every gallon, so say 30 miles driven. Electricity at .49 per KwH would run about $4.00 for every 30 miles driven. Twice as much to drive electric? No one is going to buy that plan, and that is what Blink and NRG want you to do.
The only way to make an electric economically viable is to charge at home or get a Tesla with free charging on the road. So, until someone makes a more reasonably priced electric that goes 150-200 miles on a charge, I won’t be going pure electric any time soon.
I sent this email to Blink with no response:
Cancel my account.
And then I started looking into NRG. Even without the monthly membership fee NRG isn’t much better. NRG can be less expensive if you have faster L2 charging, which the Volt does not. Given that I can get 80% of my driving done without public charging, I think I’ll use gas instead of the electric chargers. The only car that could cover 100% of my normal driving is the Tesla. No other electric I can find offers a 120 mile plus range for those once a week trips to downtown, but I don’t have 100K laying around for a car, nor do I need one that big.