Saturday, June 2, 2018

Electric Vehicles...

Tesla Model S
I used to be completely against electric vehicles (or EVs in car talk). I thought they were expensive, had too little range, and most of them were probably as fun to operate as a toaster.

But now I'm kind of warming up to them. One reason is, their range is improving. A Tesla 100D has an EPA range of 335 miles. Of course, your range will vary depending on speed, how you accelerate, how much regenerative braking you do, if you run the heat or air conditioning, etc. I'd say you wouldn't want to count on more than 200 miles. But that would get you to Seattle from here.

The other reason I'm warming up to EVs is the performance they are capable of. A high-end Tesla Model S P100D sedan has been timed going zero to 60 mph in less than 2.3 seconds, which many supercars can't achieve. It is very difficult for a gasoline car to match those numbers because electric motors have all of their available torque at 0 rpm while an internal combustion engine needs to hit around 1,000 - 2,000 (or higher) RPM for maximum torque. (Torque, measured in foot-pounds, is the twisting energy a car can put on the road. And as Newton's Third Law tells us, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, so the road pushes back on the car, propelling it forward.) Of course, using the "Ludicrous Speed," as Tesla calls it, will drain your batteries fast.

What's keeping me from buying an EV? First is the cost. A Tesla Model S P100D (with an EPA range of 315 miles) is $123,200 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. The least expensive Model S, the 75D with 259 EPA miles range, is still $71,000 after that federal tax credit. You can buy a very nice sports sedan with that kind of money.

(Your state may also have incentives. Washington State doesn't.)

The other thing keeping me away from EVs is recharge time. I can fill the tank on my car and get about 300 miles range in ten minutes. It takes hours to recharge an EV. How long depends on the source and the EV's battery size.

EVs make the most sense for commuting. Unless your commute is more than 150 miles, you can drive to work, drive home, and recharge your car over night. But few people can afford to own a car just for commuting. Which is why I see Teslas and even Nissan Leafs on the interstate. (The Nissan Leaf is one of those "fun as a toaster" kind of EVs.)

If the price can come down and the recharge time can be quickened to, say, half an hour. I might buy an EV in the future. Might. The Tesla Model 3 is suppose to be significantly cheaper than the S. But according to Car and Driver, that depends on the options. And it doesn't have the acceleration of the Model S. It's just a bit more fun to operate than a toaster, apparently.

So we'll see what the future holds.

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