Category Archives: Ev Politics And Policy

EV related public policy

A terrible value proposition, if you count in dollars.

“Driving green” won’t save me money, so I don’t have that as a motivator.   I can look totally short-sighted and concentrate on not buying gasoline, but in total dollars an EV is far more expensive than the alternatives.

My daily commute is 31 miles round trip, 22 of which are on the I-5 during the early and late edges of rush hour.   My car is a manual-transmission 2000 Honda Insight gasoline hybrid, one of the most fuel efficient cars ever made and an absolute engineering jewel.   With its original battery and 150,000 miles on the odometer, it routinely turns in an average of 52 MPG.   This summer I’ve been spending weeks at a time out of town so the car’s been sitting, and I once went seven weeks without refueling because I was commuting so little.

The car is long-since paid off and requires almost no maintenance.   My daily cost to commute is roughly $3.50.

In a surge of optimism last year I bought a cool Kalkhoff electric assist bicycle, as I’d learned that the long hill between me and the train station was a insurmountable obstacle for my middle-aged legs and middle-sized gut.   The bike does the job;  it just plain flattens out that hill and lets me make the 5 mile ride to the train station in an easy 38 minutes, no sweat.   The train (the Sounder) is doing its barely-loaded backhaul so there’s always plenty of room for bikes;  most days there are three or four passengers and two or three bikes per car.   It’s an easy two miles from the south station to my office.

But that’s not cheaper, either;  the daily train fare is $8.50 round trip.

And it’s less practical.   I take my little dog with me to work most days because it’s too hot or too cold or too long a day alone on our boat.   And she’s terrible with baskets or trailers.   And I live in Seattle, where soaking rain is a certainty much of the year.   And it’s much slower;  the trip takes close to 90 minutes, compared to 35 on the highway.   And I have to get up at 5 AM to catch the 6 AM train.   And I ride through a villanous section of town (Pioneer Square) every day, and along the most hazardous bicycle corridor (2nd Avenue) in town.

So why on Earth would I want to buy a super-expensive, limited-range automobile ?

If I’m honest, it’s because it’s cool and it’s comfortable.

That little Honda is amazing, but it’s 1800 pounds of aluminum and is more or less a roller skate on the highway.    The compact EVs I’m considering are an order of magnitude more comfortable and safer than that little car.

Somebody has to take the plunge and be an early adopter.   Somebody has to take the step of trading the convenience of an ICE car for the low emissions of an EV.

So why not me ?

At work we have lots of ‘car guys’.   On any given day there are three or four tuned Audis in the parking lot, and most of the guys have at least three vehicles;  their commuter, their fun car, and their project car.   We hire extensively from the UW’s Formula One team.

I’ve talked with some of my colleagues, including one who let me drive the Leaf he borrowed from his neighbor for a week.   They all say they might consider driving electric if there was charging at work.   And the company owner says he is willing to install charging stations and pay for the electricity if there’s a demand.

Same thing at home;  there are six hybrids in the parking lot but no EVs.   The neighbors I’ve talked to say they might consider driving electric if there was a place to charge.  I’ve taken on the job of convincing my neighbors that our overcrowded parking lot should have a charging space.

So there we are.  It’s more expensive.  Less practical.  Has hurdles for charging.   Makes no commercial or financial sense at all.

But boy, howdy, do I like breathing clean air.   Bet y’all do too.

EV Envy

I know I want to drive electric.

My mom was a recycling activist back in the Seventies and I remember very clearly a conversation I had with her about the oil embargo in 1979. “Smart people will figure out how to solve these problems. They have to.”

I don’t think she expected two Bush/Cheney administrations and a willingness to engage in perpetual war to keep gas cheap.

Mom’s voice rings in my head every time I hear an argument about how you could buy 4000 gallons of gas for the price difference between an EV and ICE car.

Somebody summarized the issue simply on another website:

“Park your car in a closed garage with the engine running. Is your main concern running out of gas ?”