Electric vehicle technology has been around for over a hundred years, yet most Americans still drive gas-powered vehicles. Some consumers have “range anxiety” and worry their battery will run out of charge before reaching their destination, while others simply don’t understand how the charging mechanism works. The act of filling up at the gas station is ingrained in our daily lives, and switching to plugging in your car at night is a transition some are hesitant to make. Luckily, the new generation of electric vehicles offers a combination to suit our modern lifestyles and our desire for long-distance road travel. By switching your car from a traditional gas-powered vehicle to an electric vehicle, you can take part in the #26 most effective way to reverse global warming.
1914 Model T Ford – Not Electric
Here are some of the benefits of using electric vehicles:
Short Range Trips
According to AAA, on average, Americans drive 29.2 miles per day. The 2015 Chevy Volt has an electric range of 38 miles on battery only, meaning most days you would not need to use gasoline to get around town. In fact, when we first purchased our Volt, I actually forgot where the gas cap was located because I drove it for four months without needing to fuel up. For those of us with longer commutes, the 2018 Nissan Leaf has a battery range of 151 miles. Imagine an emissions-free commute!
Charging the Car – More Fun than the Gas Station!
For longer trips like vacations and traveling for business, the 2015 Chevy volt has a gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery is empty, for a total range of 382 miles on one charge + one tank of gas. This is an excellent option for those who don’t drive much during the work week (maybe you work from home or live in a walkable city), but still want to get out and explore on road trips. Our Chevy volt transported two adults, a child, and our belongings from Florida to Oregon when we relocated across the country. Basically, when the battery runs out, you’ve got a good old-fashioned gasoline car which gets 37 MPG (miles per gallon).
This Particular Vehicle Won’t Get You Very Far
Charging with Solar PV
The convenience of charging your car up at night instead of fueling up at the gas station each week can’t be beat. When your electricity comes from rooftop solar, you’ve got a clean source of energy to fuel your driving.
Electric Vehicles Can Be Charged By Solar Panels
Gasoline engines come with more moving parts, fluids and points of failure than an electric engine. By switching most of your miles to the electric engine (as with the Chevy Volt), you prolong the life of your gasoline engine (think extended time between oil changes and less time spent in the shop). Fun fact – the Nissan Leaf doesn’t actually require any oil changes or spark plug replacements, simply because the car does not use either.
Fewer Moving Parts Means Less Maintenance
Let’s take a look at how much it really costs to drive an electric car. Based on our experience and meticulous tracking of utility costs, the Chevy Volt uses about $1 of electricity for each charge (38 miles). To go that same 38 miles with a gasoline engine (let’s assume 37 MPG like the Volt’s gas engine gets), at $3 per gallon of gas, that same trip would cost just over $3. So using gasoline costs 3x as much as using electricity to drive in the same car. Note this does not account for the cost savings of getting your electricity free from the sun (with rooftop solar) – this is the cost we paid to charge our Volt in Florida before we installed solar on our home. If you’ve got rooftop solar on your home, the cost savings are even greater!
Actions You Can Take Today:
- Take a look at how many miles you drive in a day, and see if an electric vehicle could work for you!
- Calculate how much you spend on fuel in a gas-powered vehicle and compare that to an electric vehicle
- Go test drive an electric vehicle!
Related LEED® v4 Credits:
- LEED BD+C, LTc Green Vehicles (1 pt)