Have you ever considered driving a zero-emission electric vehicle to avoid volatile gas prices and high maintenance costs of traditional cars and trucks? If you haven’t, you should really give EVs another look and join a growing number of people who are making the switch. The technology is improving rapidly, and these cars offer a smooth ride, quick acceleration, and very low maintenance and fuel costs.
If you think an EV is in your future, here are a few considerations:
A common objection to EVs stems from range anxiety, the fear caused by concerns about running out of power in a limited range vehicle. This doesn’t happen with traditional vehicles, as gas stations are easy to find in most places. A vehicle’s range should be a purchase consideration, but not a deal breaker. Some battery electric vehicles have a range as low as 62 miles, while others can travel distances of 335 miles on a single charge.
If you are like most working Connecticut residents, EVs are a good choice for your commute. The 2015 Fast Facts from the Connecticut Department of Transportation found that 95% of residents travel less than 50 miles to work each day.
“I was originally concerned about the range limits,” said Dave Paquette of Canterbury, who recently purchased a Nissan Leaf with a range of nearly 110 miles. “But since I use this primarily as a commuter, and since I have another vehicle for family trips, it works out. If 90% of your driving is commuting, it’s a great car.”
“My highway (fastest) route to work is 48 miles, and my EV is rated for 107 miles on a single charge,” said Al Corsi of Milford. “However, the regenerative braking mode extends the range to about 130 miles. My experience has been great so far.”
There are over 400 public charging stations in Connecticut, and more – and faster – chargers are steadily getting installed. (Maps of public charging stations can be found at EVConnecticut, PlugShare, or through network providers such as ChargePoint and EVgo.) Most EV drivers charge at home, and take advantage of public stations as needed at workplaces, destinations, and along travel corridors.
EV drivers say they are mindful about the limits of their charge, however proper planning and switching from the fastest route to the shortest distance helps. Apps and in-vehicle systems help drivers find charging stations just like they were gas stations. And again, an advantage of EVs is that drivers can also fuel up at home or work – wherever there’s a plug. EVs also tend to have powerful regenerative braking systems (like hybrids do) to help feed the engine battery.
Incentives and great financing options
Avoiding the gas station and repair shop are not the only ways EV drivers see savings. The Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) can reduce a purchase or lease price by several thousand dollars, and a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is still available. Some dealerships also run specials that offer deep discounts of their own or from manufacturers.
The Connecticut Green Bank has partnered with three local lenders (CorePlus Credit Union, Mutual Security Credit Union, and Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union) and local car dealerships to offer Smart-E for EV loans on new or used EVs for a limited time. With maximum loan amounts of $30,000 and terms up to 72 months, it’s never been a better time to purchase an EV. The year 2018 will mark the release of the most advanced models yet.
Go solar and fuel is free
If electricity is the fuel source for your car, and your house has solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, you could effectively drive for free. “If you have solar panels and produce excess power, it pays for itself,” said Paquette.
When Corsi installed solar panels at his home in Milford, he was looking ahead to adding an EV within five years for this reason. “Our solar panels are providing benefits beyond a lower electricity bill,” said Corsi.
If you already own or lease an EV, but do not have solar on your home, the Smart-E Loan can help. The loan would allow you to finance the total cost for the installation of solar and/or a charging station at your home with a low fixed rate and flexible terms.
Improved lifestyle, better future
Lastly, don’t overlook the environmental and lifestyle benefits of an emissions-free ride. Tailpipe emissions are the largest contributor to air pollution in Connecticut, and switching to an EV can make a difference with a clean ride.
“As a child, I thought it would be cool to have a car powered by electricity,” said Paquette. “My kids love it, and love that it doesn’t ‘make smoke’.”
For Corsi, his EV has triggered some positive lifestyle changes.
“While planning my errands around the availability of charging stations, my EV takes me to the local library,” said Corsi. “There I can plug-in and charge, walk off to my errands, return to have my car charged. So I’m walking a lot more!”
Both Corsi and Paquette have received their share of compliments on their new EVs.
“Everyone admires the EV,” said Corsi. “It’s quiet, sleek, fun to drive, and so they think it’s a great new experience.”
“I’ve had some family members pretty impressed by it and think it’s cool,” said Paquette. “Others are naysayers and try to come up with arguments against one, but when I present evidence on the cost per mile, [they see] I’m spending half the cost of an efficient gas burning vehicle.”