This month's EV Corner column is written by Chuck Hayward, EV Infrastructure Designer & Analyst.
Earlier this month, we had some friends from out of state stay with us. With 4 adults and 2 kids in car seats, we couldn’t all fit in our EV, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 pictured above. So we ended up driving both our EV and our gas truck. And like Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, our experiences of the vehicles were a tale of contrasts.
After we picked our friends up at the airport, our first stop was Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth. We were at about half charge, so we decided to take advantage of the ReVision-installed chargers there and top off.
My favorite joke I learned: Why did the crab cross the road? To get to the other tide.We charged for about 2 hours. During that time, we walked around telling each other bad jokes and exploring the lighthouse. Then we went over to the beach where we skipped rocks and looked for shells. Finally, we made it up to the Children’s Garden. It features a giant stone slide and the kids must have done about 100 rounds on it. The adults got in a couple of runs, too!
Throughout the four-day visit, we plugged in each night when we got home. We spent our evenings making lobster pasta, playing games, and reading bedtime stories to the kids. And each morning, we woke up to a full charge, ready to explore again.
With the gas truck on the other hand, we were hoping we wouldn’t have to fuel it while they were here. But the low fuel light finally came on the night before we had to take them back to the airport. Turns out the only range anxiety we felt was in our gas vehicle! So my friend and I left in the truck a few minutes earlier than everybody else in the EV so that we could stop to fill up on the way to the airport. For 5 minutes, my friend sat inside the truck while I filled up. It was next to a noisy roundabout and even though it was 88° outside, he couldn’t run the A/C since it has to be turned off while fueling. With EVs, you can continue to run the A/C while you’re sitting and using a fast charger for 15 or 20 minutes.
You'll find various anti-idling signs around South Portland. (Image: SoPo Sustainability)A/C use isn’t just an issue when fueling. Being able to use A/C in an EV without idling is a big advantage. When we got to the airport, their flight was delayed by 30 minutes. We pulled into a parking lot to spend the extra time together. Some of us got to comfortably wait in the EV with the A/C on, but we couldn’t do that with the gas truck since idling is noisy and pollutes. It’s actually illegal to idle for more than 5 minutes in the state of Maine.
How about costs? Both the charger at Ft. Williams and our home rate are about $0.25/kWh. Our EV averages 3.4 miles/kWh, meaning it costs us about $0.07/mile to drive. The gas truck averaged only 17.8 mpg, even though it is a smaller, 6-cylinder Nissan Frontier. With gas costing about $3.60/gallon, that means we pay $0.20/mile to drive the truck. That’s almost 3 times as much!
Even though filling up the truck with gas only took five minutes, it was inconvenient and uncomfortable when we were forced to do it. EV charging took longer overall, but it mostly happened passively while we were enjoying other activities. The only time actively spent on EV charging was about 30 seconds to plug and unplug the cable – even less time than it takes to pay at a gas pump.
The EV was also way more comfortable throughout the hot weekend and more fun to drive. After effortlessly merging onto the highway one time with the EV’s instant acceleration, the kids kept asking us to make the car ‘zoom’ again. To borrow from Charles Dickens’ end to A Tale of Two Cities, “An EV is a far, far better thing that I drive than I have ever driven.”