It would be more climate-friendly for my husband and me to walk, bike, and use mass transportation than to drive automobiles, of course. However, our home is in a semirural, unwalkable area that has limited bus service. Our best solution is to own electric vehicles (EVs). We have solar panels, and we’re retired and home during the day: we charge our cars on sun.
In 2017 we got a Chevy Volt with a 53-mile range on battery and a gasoline engine backup. We bought it at a time when all available EV models except Tesla’s had a range of less than 100 miles. Living in a remote area, we had some “range anxiety” at first, but range proved not to be an issue for us. We’ve rarely used the backup gas.
With our range anxiety eliminated, we took the plunge in 2019 and purchased an all-electric Bolt. We still have both our EVs, but we choose to drive the Bolt most of the time.
The small battery on the Volt allows us to use the 120V charger that came with the car. When we got the Bolt, we installed two 240V, 50A circuits for quick chargers. We bought one quick charger for the Bolt so that we could fully charge the car overnight if necessary. We also use the Volt 115V charger, which my husband has adapted for use with 240V to cut charging time in half.
My husband also built an electric bicycle that he planned to ride the few miles to our older son’s home so they could carpool for the 40-mile one-way commute to their workplaces. Then the pandemic hit, and we all started working from home. Eight months later, my husband opted to retire; now he uses the e-bike for exercise. We live on the top of a big hill, so the assist from the battery comes in very handy!
The advantages of owning EVs go beyond benefiting the climate and helping us reduce our carbon impact. I’m grateful we don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning and we aren’t polluting the air with lung-damaging fumes, particularly when our cars are idling. In addition, I absolutely don’t miss going to the gas station. We haven’t taken a long trip in one of our EVs yet, but we know several EV owners who have done so quite successfully.
The cars are also a joy to drive! They’re quiet and very quick off the line (not that we would know about that 😉). We discovered another unexpected bonus when our power was cut off during Santa Ana wind events last year: we were able to use the Bolt battery as a power source for our home. It kept our refrigerator, freezer, laptops, and cell phone running throughout the time that the power was off.
We have been driving EVs for about four years now, and we would never go back to an internal combustion engine vehicle.
We’re happy to answer any questions anyone might have about our experiences as EV owners.
1. In California, transportation produces about 50% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. (https://www.energy.ca.gov/about/core-responsibility-fact-sheets/transforming-transportation)
2. Are you ready to learn more about EVs but aren’t ready to talk to a salesperson (who may or may not have that much knowledge about EVs)? Contact your local Electric Vehicle Association. The EVA is a nonprofit organization made up of friendly EV enthusiasts who are happy to share their expertise with you at no cost. The EVA frequently holds informational events where you can get a close look at EVs, ask questions, and even ride in the EVs.
Electric Vehicle Association: https://www.myeva.org/
Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego: https://www.sandiegoev.org/
3. As an EV owner, I’m frustrated at the false information and propaganda surrounding these cars! Remember that a lot of such misinformation is being propagated by the fossil fuel industry. Here are two good articles that debunk EV myths.
From the EPA: Electric Vehicle Myths - https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/electric-vehicle-myths
The 8 EV Myths Everyone Should Stop Believing - https://energy.drax.com/insights/electric-vehicle-myths/