Switching from a conventional car to all-electric vehicles wasn’t easy for either Ithaca resident Alison Klafehn, or Brooktondale resident Veronique Domaratsky. They each had concerns that gave them pause in their purchase. Do they regret the decision? Here we share their stories.
Before Alison bought a used all-electric Toyota Rav4 earlier this year, she had a lot of reservations about making the switch. She already drove an efficient hybrid electric Prius. Plus: “I could run out of battery. Where were the places to charge? Would I have to install a charging station in my house?”
She was especially concerned about running out of battery, so she spent a lot of time considering her driving habits. “I thought about how I drove to work, and how I drove on the weekend.” Alison realized she spent 99% of her driving in-town, and took an occasional road trip. The car she purchased gets about 140 miles to the charge, which has been more than enough to sustain her day-to-day driving.
So far Alison has never run out of battery, has found convenient places in Ithaca and Syracuse to charge her car (some of which are free), and did not install a charging station in her house. In fact, all it takes to charge Alison’s car at home is an extension cord and an outlet—no special adapters or installations were necessary. Her new car also does not need gas, oil changes, or engine maintenance—which will add up to save Alison an estimated $800 per year, an “immediate return on investment”.
Alison recommends that anyone thinking about purchasing an all-electric vehicle consider their driving habits. “Think of your day-to-day driving, don’t worry about those rare occurrences or trips”. Alison points out that renting a car for such trips is do-able. Additionally, Alison notes that aggressive driving, accelerating and braking abruptly, will decrease the efficiency of the all-electric engine. For anyone wishing to learn more, Alison recommends the EV drive electric event, held locally in Ithaca every September (and organized by her husband, Jim), and points out that there is a lot of information online.
For Veronique Domaratsky, a Brooktondale resident, one pro of an all-electric vehicle outweighed these considerations: "I wanted to get off fossil-fuels". Veronique used to travel about 60 miles a week in her previous vehicle, a Honda Accord. She has now driven just over 6,000 miles in her new Nissan Leaf, and since Veronique charges her car with her residential wind-generated electricity, she has stopped roughly 1.67 tons of Carbon emissions from being generated.
Veronique does not own her Leaf—she leases it. Different options for leasing all-electric vehicle exist. Veronique chose a common lease agreement: pay $3,500 up-front, and $ 199.90/month for three years—warranty included. Veronique notes that this three-year lease is a popular option as the technology for all-electric vehicles is quickly improving. Veronique was also able to claim a federal tax credit upon signing the lease, which saved her $2,500.
Initially, Veronique had reservations about how far she could travel in her Leaf, but those quickly dissipated. She travels to Ithaca more now than she did in her previous gas-powered vehicle: "sometimes I'll go two times in a day". Her farthest trip in her electric vehicle was to Long Point Beach, a round trip of a little over 60 miles. That distance is very doable for her Leaf, which typically gets roughly 100 miles a charge, even after being in operation for over two years. Veronique notes that this range will decrease if traveling mostly uphill, and that "Ithaca is a hilly place". Due to this, she recommends having more miles available than a trip needs, for example having at least 80 miles of charge for a 60 mile trip.
For Veronique, who works at home, the change from a gas-powered vehicle to an all-electric vehicle has not brought many additional changes to her schedule. She finds it easy to charge her Leaf at home during the times when she does not need it, although a full charge takes roughly 15 hours, and it is better to wait until the car has cooled off from a trip before charging. She received a charger with her vehicle, and like Alison, can simply plug it in to a regular 120V electrical outlet. Veronique has estimated that charging her car at home costs her about $15 per month in electricity--much less than what she used to pay for gas.
For people considering purchasing an all-electric vehicle, Veronique, like Alison, recommends figuring out your driving needs, or "how many miles are you going to need to go on a charge". Veronique also notes that there are many pros to owning an all-electric vehicle. She finds her Leaf to be "fun to drive", since it accelerates quickly and is very quiet. There is also very low maintenance, since all-electric vehicles do not have an engine or radiation system.
So what is the verdict on all-electric vehicles for Alison and Veronique? Both all-electric vehicle owners found that their reservations, mainly "range anxiety" and charging time, did not hold up. Both drivers would also recommend an all-electric vehicle to someone who does not take long trips daily. If this article has gotten you thinking more about purchasing an all-electric vehicle, see this article and the GYGB webpage for more information on all-electric vehicles.