We all know that electric vehicles (EVs) are the future, and they’re here today. They’re quicker, quieter, and cheaper to own than old-fashioned gas-powered cars. But the market for EVs is still evolving, with a limited number of models available (though more on the way). And vehicular travel is still built around gas guzzlers and gas stations. In the world of today, how do you find an EV that’s right for you? Even worse – how do you advise someone else about what EV might be right for them? Faced with that dilemma, one of my colleagues took to AEE’s transportation-oriented Slack channel for guidance. Here is the chat that ensued.
Laura Bartsch 9:34 AM
@channel: a friend is in the market for an EV. Family of four, lives in SF, doesn’t want a Tesla. Please advise.
Dylan Cronin 9:36 AM
Audi E-tron, or the new Volvo XC-60
Laura Bartsch 9:38 AM
Also, what do we say about range anxiety?
Nathan Willcox 9:39 AM
I always flag that if someone doesn’t see a great option in current models, and your current car works for you, one option is to wait a year as there will be lots more models.
(Said as a Tesla owner/fan, so Tesla’s are always my first rec)
Laura Bartsch 9:40 AM
That’s what I told them two years ago and now their car is on its last ropes…
Bob Keough 9:43 AM
My neighbor loves his new Hyundai Kona EV. Might be a bit small, but definitely cheaper than the Audi or Volvo options:
Suzanne Bertin 9:43 AM
Nissan Leaf has been in the market a long time now and should be fine for a family of 4. If it ends up being smaller than they like, trade up next year when the Nissan Ariya SUV/crossover comes out.
Adam Winer 9:44 AM
and the Kia Niro a little bigger than Kona, same idea tho
Ryan Katofsky 9:49 AM
@laurab I am struggling with a similar dilemma (we are a 1-car family), and am taking a similar strategy to what @Nathan Willcox just articulated, although my 2012 jetta needs $2,500 in repairs, so I wish I didn't have to make that investment. Model year 2023 should bring some new options, like from Subaru (JV with Toyota on EVs to make an Outback-like wagon). Price point is a big issue. The E-tron is nice but expensive (starting around $66k). I believe the Volvo XC-60 is a PHEV, and the XC-40 pure EV starts at about $55k. The VW ID.4 looks pretty good, starting at about $40k, and has decent range. As Bob notes, there are a number of options in a similar price range or even a little cheaper, but they tend to be smaller, like the Kona, Bolt, Leaf, and Niro.
Nathan Willcox 9:50 AM
On range anxiety, I have always 1) encouraged people to look at how far they need to drive, as it’s often not as far as they might think/fear; 2) highlighted how most charging can happen at home if folks have garage/driveway; 3) lift up apps like ChargePoint which can direct you to nearby chargers while you’re on the road; AND 4) acknowledge that yes, driving an EV requires more planning than a gas-powered vehicle, esp as you get out into more rural areas. But it’s doable.
Ryan Katofsky 9:52 AM
As for range, I think all of these cars offer 230-260 miles, so pretty good for almost all needs (real life range is often less tho). Pack some games for the kids to play while plugged in to a fast charger for longer trips.
Ryan Katofsky 9:55 AM
no problem then @laurab. They'll just sit on their phones and ignore their parents like they usually do
Bob Keough 9:56 AM
To what @Nathan Willcox said, for one-car families, I would add this: Don’t be afraid to rent a big gas-guzzling SUV for those one or two or three big excursions a year when you don’t want to worry about where you are getting your next charge. This will no longer be necessary when there is full build-out of charging infrastructure, but in the short run, what you save in fuel (and emissions) will more than compensate.
Laura Bartsch 9:57 AM
Great point @bobkeough
Bob Keough 10:28 AM
@Ryan Gallentine The conversation took place a little early for folks like you on the West Coast, but feel free to add your thoughts on EV car-shopping, range anxiety, etc.
Ryan Gallentine 11:04 AM
Good morning! Can I recommend the Audi e-tron and the Rivian R1T?
Sarah Steinberg 11:05 AM
Sarah recommends getting an off-lease Volt while you still can, for those without consistent at home charging and not ready to go fully electric! and for those whose target price might be below that of a new vehicle...
Ryan Gallentine 11:12 AM
To me the PHEVs are like those DVD/VHS combo machines you could get in the 90s. Only a short window of time here in the next few years where those models will make sense. But if your typical daily range is 20 miles (or you can charge at your destination) you can mostly zero out your need for gas.
Sarah Steinberg 11:15 AM
Yes! I only use gas when I drive to the mountains. Totally takes care of my day to day driving needs.
Ryan Gallentine 11:15 AM
We've talked about range anxiety before around here. Most of the projections I've seen are predicting 80% of charging capacity will be done at home. I suspect that number will move down as adoption gets closer to 100%, but in a lot of places I think people would be surprised at the number of public charging stations already out there. Download the PlugShare app and see for yourself where they are in your town. They typically have a smaller physical footprint so it's easy to miss them if you don't have an EV.
Heather O'Neill 12:36 PM
Interesting comparison @Ryan Gallentine. We had actually settled on a PHEV because we wanted a car for daily use and the same car to get us to Tahoe with all our stuff (2 kids, dog, skis, crap). The one we want is basically impossible to find but is awesome in terms of range and drivability: Toyota RAV4 Prime. Scott is an EV skeptic and I finally got him to test drive this one and he was sold instantly. But there are so few in the States that you have to pay a huge markup fee. It is less expensive than the Volvo and Audi, and is big enough (the Hyundai and other similar models just aren’t big enough for all of our stuff).
Laura Bartsch 12:50 PM
I will add all of this to the email. Thank you all. I knew you would not fail to deliver. My friend asked me what I thought, and I responded that I don’t have to think about it, my colleagues do that, I just ask.
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