Electric vehicles cause drivers concerns

Tom B. asks:

I am reading more and more about new electric cars and pickup trucks being introduced by General Motors and Ford. I have several questions.

1. I don’t want a car that might leave me stuck at the side of the road when the battery dies. What do you do when the car runs out of battery power?

2. Where can they be charged? I see gasoline stations everywhere, but I don’t see electric vehicle charging stations.

3. I understand that they can be charged at home, but how much will my electric bill increase?


Thanks for asking and these are commonly asked questions. The current generation of electric cars have come a long way from the early first generation that were introduced about ten years ago. In 2012, there was the Nissan Leaf, a great small car that had a lot of room for passengers with a fold-down rear seat for extra carrying capacity. The battery was air cooled and the car had a range of about 70 miles. This meant that for a normal commute of 40 miles a day, the car needed to be recharged almost daily. The Tesla Model S was new at that time and had a much longer range of over 200 miles. Today, most electric cars, SUVs and trucks have a range of 200-300 miles, which is about the range of most gasoline-powered vehicles.

1. Regarding “running out of battery charge “question, electric vehicles have a display that shows the miles remaining and also usually the percentage of battery capacity which is similar to a gas gauge. People who drive gasoline powered vehicles run out of gas too, and while this is possible, most owners of electric vehicles learn when to recharge based on where they drive.

2. Most owners of electric vehicles charge at home overnight so they wake up the next morning with a ”full tank.” If traveling, most electric vehicles display the location of the charging stations along the route. There are also smart phone apps such as “Plug Share” that show all available charging stations.

3. Charging at home is the best way but this involves some up-front expenses. For example, while it is possible to charge from a conventional 120-volt outlet, it would take a long time to charge an electric vehicle. The better method is to ask an electrician to install a 220-volt outlet (NEMA 14-50 outlet is recommend) and a 50-ampere circuit. Most experts recommend the use of a charging station that plugs into the outlet and has the standard SAE J1772 plug that is used by almost all electric vehicles. The cost of the electricity to charge at home is about $10 for 250-mile range or about a third of the price of gasoline needed to travel 250 miles. Therefore, the cost of having the electrical service installed and the charging station, are quickly recovered by the reduction in the cost of “fuel.”

Have an automotive question? Get a straight answer by writing to Jim at jim@jameshalderman.com

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