Two things happened recently that has spurred my interest in electric vehicles: 1) Watching a Netflix show on Elon Musk’s desire to reduce our fossil fuel consumption by starting Solar City and Tesla Motors, and 2) Getting into my new tennis buddy’s Tesla Model S P85+ and being absolutely amazed! My friend used to work with Elon at Paypal, and now runs an enormous internet company. Crazy how interconnected we all are.
14-year old Moose is a gas hog with an average mpg of around 15. But as I said in a previous post, anybody who doesn’t DESTROY their old car before buying even a hybrid is adding more pollution to the Earth. Now that electric cars are a reality and Moose is becoming a safety issue, I’m wondering whether going electric is the way to go.
THE BENEFITS OF AN ELECTRIC CAR
Based on my net worth rule for car buying, I can buy a Tesla Model S, but I won’t because I feel stupid spending so much on a vehicle with my current level of income. More importantly, it’s too wide to comfortably fit in my narrow San Francisco garage. Instead of buying a Tesla, I’m thinking about buying a Nissan Leaf ($33,000 pre rebates), a Fiat 500Ce ($33,000), or a Smart Car Electric ($20,000).
I’m clearly not going to be attracting the ladies in these pint-sized cars. But who knows. Maybe I’ll attract their eco-friendly hearts!
1) HOV lane, baby. There’s almost nothing I hate more than sitting in traffic. I can’t believe people are willing to get their nerves fried sitting on the freeway for an hour to go to a job they don’t really like. Is that not bat shit crazy or what? On the flip side, I totally admire people who are willing to endure torture every day to go to work to feed their families. I actually left the house at 8:15am to drive down to Redwood City for my consulting gig one day because I wanted to be reminded to never settle for a job I don’t absolutely want to do.
The California Legislature passed two bills that extend access to the state’s High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes until 2019 for solo drivers of electric cars and plug-in hybrids. That’s right baby! All those suckers sitting in traffic can kiss my bumper as I whizz by them in my babe-mobile. I’m not sure other states are as forward-thinking with regards to electric vehicles. Definitely not New Jersey given Chris Christie’s ban on Tesla’s direct sales business model.
2) Government rebate. I’m all about taking as much advantage of the government as possible because they are always deciding who benefits and who loses with their arbitrary rules. Electric vehicle purchasers in California are eligible for a $2,500 rebate from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) until funds are exhausted. Furthermore, the US government offers a $7,500 federal tax credit with the purchase of a new Tesla acquired for personal use. That’s $10,000 from the government I get to knock off the purchase price of my electric vehicle. Suddenly, $23,000 for a Nissan Leaf doesn’t seem so bad. If you are being hit up with AMT, don’t qualify for a child tax credit, are paying a marriage penalty tax, and can’t deduct your student loans, you can finally get something from the government with their EV rebate.
3) Incredibly fun to drive. I’ve test driven a Smart EV and a Tesla Model S and both are incredibly fun to drive. The power is constant when you step on the accelerator pedal as there are no gears. Electric vehicles are still a novelty so the fact that only a few people have them probably make them even more fun to have.
4) Zero emissions. Obviously producing zero emissions is one of the greatest benefits of owning an EV. Once you get an EV, you can then look down upon every other non-EV driver on the road. You can even pass some Grey Poupon when parked next to another EV driver at a stop sign. It’ll be great! Like one big exclusive club of EV drivers doing our part to save the world. Let’s skip over the energy costs for producing EV batteries in this article.
5) Cheaper to operate. The general math I’ve found after speaking to dealers and owners of EVs is that it costs about half as much to operate an EV vehicle as it costs to operate a gas vehicle (Gas – higher electricity bill). You can also be a fantastic cheapskate and simply plug in your EV at dealership charging station like I see many people do at the Nissan dealer on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.
THE MAIN CON OF OWNING AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE
Range. The Nissan Leaf, Smart EV, and Fiat 500Ce can only go 70 miles until a recharge is needed. 70 miles is enough for most people to zip around a city or go to and from work, but 70 miles is definitely not enough to go on an extended trip. Lake Tahoe is 190 miles away from San Francisco, for example. There’s no way I’m going to spend 4 hours at a quick recharge station every 70 miles to get to Tahoe.
For those of you who love to fill the gas tank when there’s at least one click left on the gas meter, you will have way too much anxiety owning an EV because the number of EV charging stations is tiny compared to the ubiquity of gas stations.
The second biggest concern is the cost of replacing the rechargeable batteries. Best you ask your dealer for as much specifics as possible as I hear it can cost $10,000+ every five years. The solution is to therefore lease an EV vs. buying.
WHAT I PLAN TO DO
I won’t be buying an electric vehicle until:
1) I can make $1 million a year to afford a $100,000 Tesla Model S
2) Tesla comes up with a cheaper, but similar 250 mile range model for closer to $40,000.
3) Nissan, Smart, and Fiat up their range from 70 to 200+ miles while maintaining their sub $33,000 price tag.
4) The government incentivizes people even more and spends a huge amount to subsidize the buildout of EV recharging stations.
I really like the idea of leaving a smaller carbon footprint at an affordable price. My only fear is that Moose won’t last long enough until any of the four points are made. Let me go feed him some motor oil now.
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Updated for 2017 and beyond.