I struggle to explain why, but I want an electric car. My trusty VW Rabbit is getting up there in age and I'm thinking about a replacement. The next generation of electric cars are increasing in range and decreasing in price. With the Tesla Model 3*, Chevy Bolt, BMW i3, an updated Nissan Leaf and the rumored Apple Car, I’m thinking seriously that my next car might not have an internal combustion engine.
But why? When I talk to people about electric cars, most of them don’t get it. At all. And I’ll be honest — I struggle to explain it. I’ve been seriously thinking about it over the last week and I'm trying to understand why I’m so intrigued by an electric transmission.
Going the distance. An electric car fits my driving habits. Newer electric cars boast a 200 mile range. Most days, I drive about 40 miles. But some days, it's almost 100 miles. Having a 200 mile range gives me more that enough juice to go anywhere I need to go without dealing with range anxiety. My wife’s SUV will work for long trips and I can use the electric car around town. I'm also close to charging stations on campus so if I need an additional charge, I can easily do that.
Less maintenance. I hate scheduling maintenance for my car. Electric cars have no oil changes and really only need tire rotation regularly. Less ongoing maintenance is appealing, but replacing a giant battery someday will be expensive.
It's not about the environment. Most people want an electric car because it's more environmentally friendly. But in reality, that depends on how your electricity is generated. Here in South Carolina, much of our power grid is nuclear power, but a significant percentage is still coal. While I'm sure an electric car is better for the environment than its gas powered alternative, it's not a driving factor in my purchase decision. (I do think that getting America off its oil addiction is good foreign policy.)
It's not about the high cost of gas. When gas was $4/gallon, electric cars were a hot idea because they were potentially cheaper. Gas prices are relatively low and if you calculate cost of ownership today, the electric car isn’t going to be the most cost effective. So switching to an electric car isn’t about money.
I’m not interested in a hybrid. I think hybrids are cool, but they are still cars with internal combustion engines. They have all the complexity of a normal car with the added complexity of an electric car. I have lots of friends with Prius (or Priuses?), and they all love them. But my interest in an electric car isn’t because I want to use less gas. I don’t want to use any gas at all.
I’m in love with the technology. I’m completely and totally in love with technology. And an electric car is the cutting edge of technology. From the drivetrain to the internal controls, an electric car is the most advanced piece of technology on the road.**
So will my next car be electric? It's definitely possible and I think it all depends on timing. If I had to buy a new car today, it wouldn't be an electric. Too many interesting cars on the market that are a better fit for me. But if I can hold out a couple of years, I'd be surprised if I don't go electric.
* Since I haven't already put money down on a Tesla Model 3, I won't be getting one this decade.
** At least until self driving cars arrive.