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Electric Vehicle Selection

How to Find the Electric Vehicle that Fits Your Lifestyle

So you’ve decided to buy an electric vehicle for your next purchase, and don’t know where to start?

If shopping for a new car wasn’t difficult enough, now we need to learn about everything that goes into owning an electric vehicle (battery distance, charge time, electricity costs, etc.) and may not know where to start. Follow these steps to find the electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle.

Buying a new electric car doesn’t have to be daunting.  For many, buying a car is one of the largest purchases you will make, so understanding how to shop for your next vehicle is important to help save you time and stress throughout your shopping journey.

“Narrow down your shopping list”

How to Buy a New Car in 10 Steps | Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com)

In a KBB article listing 10 steps to buying a new car, they list “Narrow down your shopping list” as a key step, which may be the most important step to save you time and prepare you for your next vehicle purchase. 

But, how do you narrow down your list when there are thousands choices, and new cars coming out every month?

Luckily we’ve created a better way to research the best electric car for you.

In this article we discuss…

The Problem

The problem with most car websites is they don’t really help you narrow down your list unless you already know the make and model you are looking for. You’ll usually start with a body type or two, that still leaves thousands of vehicles to search through. Also, most car websites rely on ads revenue, so their goal is to get users to increase clicks, not save time. Finally, most car websites haven’t fully adopted electric vehicles as the future.

Car searches don’t help you find the electric car to fit your lifestyle

Many of the big-name car sites we turn to have several shortcomings that do a poor job of meeting our needs as consumers.

The first shortcoming is the search. Whenever you turn to buy a product, you are looking to fulfill a need. In my case, our family needed a safe, reliable, seven-seat electric car with a 200-mile range.

Today, car sites prompt you to search for a car by body size or vehicle model. You are forced to look through pages of content searching for electric cars that best fit your needs.  The search by body style or model works well if you know what car you are looking for but is of little help if you want to find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle.

If you have not settled on a vehicle, searching through countless pages of information is time-consuming, and unless you look at every vehicle, you may miss out on a vehicle candidate that meets your needs.

Electric Driver collected feedback validating 61% of people considering a car are looking at more than one option.
Electric Driver validated that most shoppers do not know what specific electric car to buy.

Display Ads lead to Poor Experiences

Part of the reason car sites make you look through countless pages is financial. Most publishers make money by displaying advertisements on their websites. Therefore, the More pages car sites show you, the more money they make. As a result, they have an incentive to show you as many pages as possible when you visit their website.  Any feature that will reduce the number of pages you will consume makes these car websites less money. Therefore many of these car websites place a gauntlet of pages in front of their visitors. 

Financial Incentive

The last but vital reason car sites do a poor job of covering electric cars again is financial. Gas-powered cars make up 98% of the automotive market. As a result, car sites focus most of their resources and mindshare to make money off the gas-powered auto market. As a result, electric cars are not a major priority for most car websites at this time.

 


A Better Way to Find the Best Electric Vehicle that Fits Your Lifestyle

Having experienced difficulties researching what right electric vehicle best fits our lifestyle, we decided there had to be a better way. Electric Driver is my opportunity to create a better way to research and find the right electric car for you. We believe electric cars are the present and the future. Therefore Electric Driver’s only focus is electric cars. Focusing exclusively on electric cars allows us to create an experience completely dedicated to addressing the unique needs and questions that arise from electric car shopping.

Helping Shoppers Transition to EV owners

Electric cars can save you time, money and reduce your emissions, leading to a healthier environment. Our goal is to help show you the benefits of owning an electric car. We feel once you experience these benefits electric cars provide, you will have a hard time going back to a gas-powered car. Before we go on, I won’t ask for your help. When visiting Electric Driver, if you do not see an answer to an important question you have, please let us know. We want to create a better experience and need your help creating this better way to research electric cars.

How to better research and shop for electric cars

  • Research Starts with Your Needs
  • Comparison Shopping Helps Make Decisions

Research Starts with your needs

When you look to buy a product or service, you search for a solution to your problem. In our case, when we wanted to buy an electric car, we needed a vehicle that could seat seven, travel at least 200 miles on a charge, be safe, reliable, and we wanted to cut our monthly gas bill. We wanted to find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle. Our list of needs served as a checklist to evaluate which electric cars were contenders. Whenever you shop for a high-priced item like a car that will stay with you for years, spend the time determining what is important to you. Your needs are what will guide you to a better purchase decision. 

Electric Driver's survey feedback of biggest concerns car shoppers have when buying an electric car.
Electric Driver compiled the top concerns car shoppers have when considering a vehicle.

 

Any shopping journey begins with knowing what needs are important to you. Our solution is what we call a needs-based search. After you tell us what matters to you, we ask for your price range, how many people you need to transport, and how far you need to drive on a single charge.

Electric Driver needs-based search matches you with the top three vehicles that fit your needs.

Electric Driver then goes to work and matches you with the vehicles that most closely match your needs. The specific needs we use on Electric Driver result from countless interviews and feedback from people like you. 

When We Shop We Compare 

When considering a purchase, you make decisions, evaluate between multiple imperfect options, and find the solution that best meets your needs. Whether it’s deciding which college to attend, what movie to watch, or what car to buy, our nature is to compare and evaluate trade-offs between available options. In our example, our search at the time had us selecting between two choices, a Tesla Model X or Tesla Model Y. When using our list of needs to evaluate each vehicle, the seating was the tiebreaker for us. The Tesla Model X won out in the end because the seven-seat option was roomier and had more interior space.

You want to know what is important to you going into the shopping process in order to make better decisions.  Make sure you do your homework and leave no stone unturned when looking for suitable options to evaluate. The worst feeling is purchasing a high-priced vehicle only to find out your search overlooked a better option. 

How We Help You Compare and Evaluate to find the best fit for your lifestyle

Once you enter your information into Electric Driver’s needs-based search, we go to work. First, our website goes through all available electric cars to find which ones best meet your needs. Then Electric Driver presents you with the top three electric cars that most closely meet your needs within your budget. The search helps find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle, Next, based on your needs Electric Driver shows you evaluate all three vehicles and shows you the trade-offs between all three options. Furthermore, Electric Driver also identifies which vehicle is the closest match. If for some reason, you do not like a specific vehicle, you can replace it with another electric car of your choosing. Once you have identified a potential candidate, you are ready to learn more about that specific vehicle.

Electric Driver's comparison page
Electric Driver’s comparison page helps you evaluate between vehicles to determine which one best fits your needs.

Vehicle Overview with Pros and Cons

While most have heard of electric vehicles, a small percentage admit to being knowledgeable about them. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, approximately 98% of drivers say they’ve heard of electric vehicles, but only 30% say they’re knowledgeable about them. 68% say they have “heard of” plug-in EVs but “don’t know much about them.”

Our goal is to help give you a better picture of what it would be like to switch from your gas-powered car to an electric vehicle. Most people want to know how much money they would save by switching to an electric car. Electric Driver can estimate how much you could save by switching to an electric car. In the background, we use gas and electricity prices in your state to give you a local estimate.

The image below is the overview section for a 2021 Tesla Model 3 to illustrate what you can expect. We also share with you some benefits and drawbacks of owning an electric car.

Electric Driver 2021 Tesla Model 3 Overview
Electric Driver’s overview shows you how much you can expect to save in electricity costs versus gas plus other essential information.

 

Estimated Cost To Own an Electric Car

Another question you may have is how much does it cost to own an electric car. Specifically, how much can I expect to pay for maintenance, electricity, and insurance? Electric Driver provides estimated costs for maintenance, insurance, and electricity based on each specific electric car. In addition, electric Drive estimates cost based on what state you live in and what electric car you are considering. We also provide an estimate of what a gas vehicle would cost to own to help you visualize what you can expect to save by switching to an electric car.

Electric Driver Cost to Driver displaying insurance, electricity and maintenance estimates
Electric Driver Cost to Drive provides you with electricity, insurance, and maintenance cost estimates based on your location.

 

Electric Car Environmental Impact

Understanding what kind of environmental impact switching from a gas to an electric car is not clearly understood by many people. You know electric cars are better for the environment, but probably don’t have a deeper understanding. Electric Driver set out to find out more about the environmental impact. We show the environmental benefits of owning an electric car. We also created an electric car model-specific feature that shows how much carbon emissions you will save.

Electric cars are a good choice for the environment, but they do not eliminate emissions. Specifically, when you buy electricity from your electric utility, you may be creating some emissions in the process. Each state has various means they generate electricity including, coal plants, petroleum, hydroelectric, nuclear, or renewables. For example, electricity from coal creates more emissions than electricity from renewable resources. Electric Driver gives you insight into where your electricity is coming from and how much emissions you create.

Rest assured, the emissions from electricity in most cases, will be much less than what a gas-powered car creates. Ideally, the better option is to buy your own solar panels and further reduce your environmental emissions. Below is a rendering of our environmental impact feature, which should be available in August 2021.

 

Electric Driver provides environmental impact by model
The image shown is a rendering of our environmental feature that should be released in August 2021. The feature will show you how much emissions are saved and where your electricity comes from within your state.

Understanding your Electric Car

Once you have a leading contender, the next step is to learn more about the specific electric car and how it fits your lifestyle. Specifically, you want to see how the electric vehicle could fit into your life.  Now looking beyond your core needs is acceptable because you are trying to figure out how this vehicle can fit into your life. Understanding the warranty, reliability, and other features will help you visualize what owning this electric vehicle would look like.

 

Electric Driver vehicle specs of a Tesla Model 3
Displayed are safety, reliability, warranty, and charging information for a Tesla Model 3.

 

EV Charging In Your Area 

An Important yet overlooked question people may not consider is an electric vehicle charging in their area. Your electric vehicle will do most of its charging at home overnight, but there may be times you need to charge away from home. Therefore, you will need to have electric vehicle charging infrastructure in your area.

Electric car charging for Tesla Model 3 in Orange, CA shown.
Electric Driver also shows you a map of available chargers in your area.

 

Electric Driver – No Ads, Electric Vehicle Centered

No Display Ads on Electric Driver

We want to create a better way to research the right electric car, and display ads will get in the way. By skipping display advertisements, Electric Driver can remove unwanted distractions. By having Electric Drive be display advertisement free you are free of influence allowing you to be clear-headed when selecting the electric car that is right for you. 

An Electric Car Centric Experience to Help You Find the Best Electric Vehicle for Your Lifestyle

Electric Driver wants to help you find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle. So Electric Driver created a unique electric car research experience designed to help you identify and select the right electric car with ease and no distractions. If you encounter a question on your electric vehicle journey that we don’t answer yet, let us know. We aim to get more people to save time, money and reduce their emissions by owning an electric car. 

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Driving Electric Cars Electric Car Charging

EV Charging Troubles Road on a Long Road Trip

A friend of mine was kind enough to share a road trip where he ran into all kinds of adversity. I hope you find it entertaining and insightful.

the One thing that I do after buying a new car is to take it on a long road trip. So, having recently bought a new electric car (an Audi e-Tron and my first pure BEV), I looked forward to taking it on our annual trip from Southern California to Lake Tahoe, a journey of 470 miles. In preparation for this trip, I planned charging stops using the PlugShare site. To ensure that the trip would go without a hitch (as we would be traveling through sparsely populated areas), I planned for various scenarios several times and even installed the app on my phone. I especially looked forward to this trip as it would allow me to both tests the experience of using an EV for a long drive and the state of the charging infrastructure.

On a hot late-July summer evening my teenage son and I started this trip with about 70% charge. I drove the first leg and our planned first charging stop was about 70 miles away. It went almost as planned and we were able to use the Electrify America station without too much trouble (we did have to switch to a different charger after the first one didn’t work). Twenty minutes later we were on our way. Our next stop was about 2 hours away. My teenage son drove in typical impatient teenager fashion and we were making good time.

By the time we pulled into the Electrify America station, it was around 9 PM and dark already. The desolate station was on an abandoned gas station in the middle of nowhere and the dusty road was only partially paved. As we parked, the red “Charger Unavailable” text on all four chargers made my heart sink.  Using the PlugShare app, I was informed that CalTrans has installed a free charger in the adjacent rest stop (yes!). We drove a few hundred yards to use that high-speed (50 kWh) charger. As we plugged in, the charger would not start. Unplugging and retrying several times yielded the same result. At this point, my stress level was starting to rise.

“Ok, let me call the Electrify America customer service,” I thought to myself.  Luckily someone answered promptly, and a cheerful voice asked how my day was going. After initial pleasantries, I told her the problem with the Electrify America chargers not working, and she helpfully offered to reboot all the chargers. I nervously waited as the machines rebooted through the DOS-like blue screen with white text. A few breathless moments later, the familiar plug-in prompt appeared on the screens. With high hopes, I plugged in as I remained on the phone. Shortly thereafter, the dreaded error screen reappeared, and again and again as I tried all the chargers. After rebooting the machines again and retrying, the service rep told me she didn’t know what the issue was and asked me to look up the closest charger that I could get to with my PlugShare app. I told her that would be about 25 miles of backtrack.  Then she apologized that she couldn’t help me any further and offered a free charging session next time.

So we took the only option left at this point and drove 25 miles back the way we came. This charger belonged to the ChargePoint network and was located in a dimly lit gas station closed for the night, again practically in the middle of nowhere. With a deep sense of dread, I scanned my ChargePoint app, and it prompted me to plugin. Fingers crossed, I plugged in.  Nothing happened: no powering up noise, no charging in progress display. At this point, I was on the verge of panic and about to soil my pants. In one last desperate attempt to charge up, I tried the level 2 charger right next to the 50 kWh charger. After plugging in, I was ecstatic to see the charging in progress display.  That feeling soon dissipated as I realized at this rate, we would need about 8 hours to accumulate enough charge to get to the next planned Electrify America station 123 miles away. But at least we were charging, and stress turned to annoyance.

Let’s try to make the best of this time, we convinced ourselves. Since neither of us was sleepy, we decided to watch Netflix to pass the time (thankfully there was still a reasonable cell signal). After watching our favorite classic sci-fi (Terminator 2) in the arid 90-degree heat, we waxed philosophical and had discussions on different topics for hours (and cheering every time we noticed another 10 miles of range added). I grew drowsy and took a nap as my son watched another movie. Catching glimpses of the near-full moon illuminating thick clouds, I drifted in and out of consciousness as it uncharacteristically drizzled lightly in the high desert.

Slowly but gradually, the sky brightened ever so slightly. Eventually, the eastern expanse turned a drab orange shade, and we went outside to stretch and use the restroom. Two cars pulled into the parking lot, and we chatted with the families—they were on their way camping and decided to stop to let the dogs out for a walk. At a quarter to six, we left the charging station with about an estimated 110 miles of range for our next leg of the trip (I mentally added some miles to the range to compensate for the higher speed my son was driving at as I would be driving now at a slower speed).  Uneventfully we arrived at our next charging stop in exactly the time I thought we would (2 hours), with a 3% charge remaining as we pulled into the charging station.

The chargers didn’t work, but by now we were used to it: a phone call to customer service resolved the issue through a reboot, and we were compensated for our troubles with a free charging session (though the speed never reached the designed 150 kWh/hr rate but at a slower 50 kWh/hr rate).  As this was a bigger town, we went across the street to eat breakfast while the car charged. The next charging stop was also relatively uneventful, and everything just worked at the maximum rate.  Unfortunately, since this was summer fire season, a forest fire blocked our way, and we had to detour an extra 47 miles around. We finally arrived quite exhausted at our destination in the early afternoon. Over the course of our 4-day stay at the hotel, we enjoyed a great benefit of an EV—the free level 2 charging station at the hotel was able to fully replenish the battery every night, and our car was ready to go every morning for a full day of driving around the lake (saving us $120 worth of gas money).

As our vacation ended and on our way home, we did not experience the same traumatic experience with the charging stations. However, none of the charging stops was quite flawless. The first stop took a while to connect due to a volatile cell signal on my phone (which I can’t blame on the charging infrastructure and which could be overcome by using a credit card to pay instead of using the app). The second stop took two tries to find a working charger—but at least we got 150 kWh/hr (which shut off unceremoniously after two minutes, so we tried a second time without any further issues). The third stop was at the station that had given us grief the first night, but now the chargers were working, albeit only at a 30 kWh/hr rate. For the last stop, we also had to try several chargers (entailing moving and reparking the car in different stalls) before finding one that worked, though it said complimentary session (yes!) but only at a 50 kWh/hr rate.

While we were charging, a fellow EV owner came over to ask if everything was OK, and we started chatting about our ownership experience (he owned the same car and was on the first charging stop of his family vacation). He offered the very helpful tip of using the Electrify America app to check the last time someone had used a charger to quickly find a charger that was likely to be working. After that, we arrived home safe and sound.

Audi e-Tron back from long road trip

Reflecting on this experience, I am still a firm believer in EVs. I believe that my experience the first night was probably an outlier and that it was most likely caused by a transformer station somewhere being knocked out by the recent heatwave, therefore, cutting quick charging to chargers belonging to three different networks. Furthermore, we were traveling through a very rural part of the state (that there were no Tesla superchargers for hundreds of miles), and the experience would be different had we traveled through more populated urban centers.  I would still take my EV on another road trip and would not hesitate to buy another EV. The vacation saw a total of 1,600 miles driven, and we averaged 2.7 mi/kWh (or an energy equivalent of 90 mi/gal!) with a very heavy SUV (it weighs over 6,000 pounds with passengers and luggage) through hot California weather requiring the use of AC. The ride quality was exceptionally smooth (no shifting gears) and quiet (no engine noise).  More hotels are now installing free level 2 chargers for their guests, and this amenity really highlights one of EV’s greatest benefits. Ultimately, as with every new experience, driving an EV requires a bit of getting used to and some adaptability.  Additionally, this unique experience afforded me the opportunity to talk to more travelers than I usually would as I speed on my way to my destinations.  Someday far into the future, I hope that my son can look back on this unusual experience and appreciate the time that he got to spend with his dad at the dawn of the EV age and tell this story to his children and their children of how things used to be.

Categories
Driving Electric Cars Electric Car Charging

How to Own an Electric Car and Live in an Apartment

Considering buying an electric car, but Not Sure how to charge an electric car at an apartment?

Living in an apartment certainly presents more challenges with charging an electric vehicle, but don’t be discouraged.  There are many solutions to charge an electric car at an apartment with no charging stations.

It is estimated that nearly 39 million people in the United States call apartments home, and demand for apartments continues to rise across the globe.  But, many apartment complexes still do not offer charging stations for electric vehicles as demand grows and commitment from governments and auto manufacturers to produce more electric vehicles increases.

Now, if you’re really serious about buying an electric vehicle, it’s time to get creative to make your dreams come true.

Charge at Work

If you still work at a physical office and commute to an office, this is the easiest (and one of the cheapest) solutions. More and more companies are providing EV charging for their employees, so if your company provides chargers, you can charge up all day and leave work on a full charge.

If you commute to work, but your office does not provide EV charging, there is still hope. Many companies receive incentives for providing EV charging to their employees.  Why not ask and see if they are open to it? It’s likely you won’t be the first one, so the more interest they have, the more likely they would consider providing this perk to their employees.

Find Public EV Chargers Nearby

Find public charging stations near your home or office or any other place you visit frequently like a mall, restaurant, or gym.  There are many apps like Chargemap, Chargepoint, and Plugshare that show EV charging stations nearby, with photos, reviews, and real-time availability.  Even Google Maps lets you search for “EV charging stations“.

Plug Into a Wall Outlet

With a heavy duty extension cord, it is possible to charge your vehicle by running it from an outlet in your apartment to your vehicle.  This would be considered Level 1 charging where you are plugging the vehicle into a standard 120-volt outlet. If this is an option for you based on your parking, you will generally get a few miles of charge per hour or about 20-50 miles of charge over 10 hours.  If you commute less than 50 miles per day, you could plug your EV in every night and have close to a full charge the next morning.

Ask Your Landlord or Property Manager to Install an EV Charging Station

If you haven’t struck up a conversation yet with your property manager about EV charging stations, now may be a better time than ever.  As more and more people start to consider electric vehicles, apartment complexes will eventually have no choice but to install charging stations.  It is possible that your landlord has been considering this, but is waiting for more tenants to request EV charging.

Installing EV charging for tenants benefits both the tenant and property.  It would allow the apartment to advertise EV charging as an amenity and potentially charge higher rents.  Much of this would depend on the parking situation and the type of complex you live in.  It could be in the best interest of the property to consider this sooner rather than later.

Companies like Chargepoint and EverCharge work with your property to install EV charging stations on site.  ChargePoint even offers a template letter you can send to your landlord.  The apartment may pay for installation, but ask tenants to pay a small monthly maintenance fee.  This is in addition to all usage costs from charging your vehicle.  So, this may not be your best choice.

Look for Apartments Nearby with EV Charging Stations

If all else fails, it might be time to search for apartments in your area with EV charging stations.  If your lease is expiring soon and you were already considering moving, this could be your opportunity.  Find a place that offers EV charging, so that you can finally purchase that electric vehicle you’ve been eying.

Owning an Electric Vehicle while Living in an Apartment

Consider purchasing an electric vehicle with a longer-range battery, even if you don’t plan on taking long road trips.  The extra cost upfront could make up for the time spent charging.

All electric vehicles have different battery ranges, but most use the same charging methods.

Charging Types

  • Level 1 charging uses a standard 120V outlet, the same you’d plug your toaster into.  This gives about 3.5 to 6.5 miles of range per hour or up to 60 miles in 10 hours.
  • Level 2 charging uses a 240-volt outlet, the same you plug your oven or clothes dryer into. This gives about 12 to 35 miles of range per hour or up to 350 miles in 10 hours. Likely a full charge.
  • Level 3 charging, or superchargers (DC fast charging), gives about 90 miles in 30 minutes. These are typically only found in public charging stations.

Understanding the  different types of EV charging may also be helpful so that you can make an informed decision on how best to charge.

Charging electric vehicle

Owning an electric vehicle, even if you live in an apartment with no chargers, doesn’t have to stop you from purchasing your first electric car.  You may need to get creative and use multiple methods of charging listed here, but if you are really set on buying an electric car, you can make it work!

Categories
Electric Vehicle Maintenance

Electric Car Maintenance Saves Time

 

In my last post, I looked into how electric cars save you 13 hours a year by charging at home.  In this blog post, I will explore how electric car maintenance saves time. Speaking from personal experience, we have had no required maintenance in the three years of owning two electric cars.  Electric cars have fewer moving parts, no need for oil changes, and longer cycles between brake changes. Dealers have cited a 35% to 50% decline in service and maintenance.  

Gas-Powered Cars Require Frequent Maintenance 

When I owned my internal combustion car between oil changes,  regular maintenance, and tire care, I got my car services three times per year. Being that most of us work throughout the week, vehicle maintenance occurs during the weekend. Driving to your local service center, dropping your vehicle off, and completing paperwork typically takes about 20 minutes on average.  Services can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to complete. I will assume that for the sake of simplicity, most people will wait for about an hour for the average service. Once the service is complete, it takes you to check out and pay for your service and drive back home. On average, we will say it takes another 20 minutes. Therefore the time you spend to get your vehicle serviced takes about one hour and forty minutes.

That means the three services eat up five hours per year as well a fair amount of expense. So between maintenance and skipping the gas station saves electric car owners an average of 18 hours per year which is quite liberating.

 

Since we have owned our two electric cars for over three years, we have only had two services. Of the two services, only one was required, which was replacing a blown-out tire. In that case, Tesla came to our vehicle can change out our tires. The other service was optional. My wife had to unearth any issues we could fix while still under warranty. We had two more instances outside of maintenance when we found some fit and finish issues with our Teslas. In both cases, Tesla sent a mobile technician to our home to get the issues fixed, which took no time on our part.

 

Over the Air Updates Save Time

One of the other cool time-saving features that have applied a lot of fixes has been over-the-air updates. Just like your smartphone, most electric cars receive software updates over the air. Those software fixes can improve your vehicle range, acceleration, and a whole host of improvements that the carmaker and remotely fix through software. 

 

Beyond less frequent maintenance and charging your electric car at home, there are other ways electric cars save you time and bring convenience to your life. To learn more about what maintenance costs look like and the right electric car based on your needs, visit Electric Driver.