My first year of driving electric

A year ago I bought a Chevy Bolt, and my first year driving electric has been a great experience.  I’ve never been especially into cars, though I’ve always chosen ones with good fuel efficiency.  Since I am concerned with climate change as well as cost, I wanted something that would lower my carbon footprint and save money.  Concord Municipal Light Plant has been working on greening the electricity supply, plus we’ve got solar panels on our roof, so for me an electric car is the way to go.

I chose the Bolt because its range (typically 230 miles on a charge) can get me to the Cape and back on one charge, and I didn’t want to wait a couple more years for a comparably priced Tesla.  It is my first American car, and so far I’m very happy with how it is designed, inside and out.  It has the best acceleration of any car I’ve driven, and has no transmission, and needs no oil or filter changes since it doesn’t have an engine, just an electric motor.  Open the hood and it is about as clean as when it was new.  That says something about how much pollution it has been putting out the tailpipe as well.

I think keeping the car charged, and not running out of juice while driving, are the big unknowns about having an EV for many people.  We installed a 240 Volt outlet in the garage, not that big a deal, and a $650 charging adapter that I keep in the back of the car.  So charging overnight is really easy, taking about 10 hours.  Charging on the usual 120 volts is also possible but takes considerably longer.  There are also a growing number of fast DC charging stations that I could use in a pinch, though I haven’t had to do that yet.  The furthest I’ve gone is up to northern New Hampshire, where they don’t have too many options yet, and it took me about 3 days to be ready to drive back.  Fortunately, I wasn’t in any hurry.

The electricity use doesn’t amount to a big expense compared with gasoline.  The Bolt gets almost 5 miles per kilowatt hour, which at Concord’s electricity price amounts to just over 3 cents a mile.  At today’s gas price of almost $3 it costs the same as gas for a car that gets around 100 miles a gallon.  That will amount to big savings if it lasts as long as I hope.  People have asked whether it is worth having a separate meter installed to get the Light Plant’s EV rate. I don’t think so, since I hope to see them change the standard rates so more people will start driving EVs, which will be good for their business and the planet as well.

If you are wondering “is an electric vehicle right for me?”, Concord’s Sustainable Energy Committee is helping to put on an “Electric Vehicle Ride and Drive” event next month to help answer that question.  The event will be on Saturday, September 15th at Walden Pond, and bring a lot of EVs together, give people a chance to test drive cars, talk to owners and find out about discounts and all the details on EV ownership, without the pressure of visiting a showroom.  You can find out more and sign up for a test drive on the website ConcordMA.gov/Sustainability.

Brad Hubbard-Nelson

Town of Concord Sustainability and Energy Committee

Posted in environment.