The Long Road to Electric: part 2

(this blog post was written two weeks ago and for some reason, it was never published - so better late than never)

We've had the electric car for just over two weeks.  So far, it has been truly amazing.  We bought it knowing full well that it wouldn't be a car that we took on road trips.  It's purpose was for puttering about in town.  It does that brilliantly and very inexpensively.

In a typical week, we drive about a hundred miles.  The Subaru Outback, never a particularly economical car, would get about twenty-one miles per gallon for in town driving.  I'll be generous in my calculation and call it twenty-five miles per gallon.  With the cost of gas being just under four dollars a gallon, that's about sixteen dollars for weeks worth of driving.

The electric car is doing about six miles per kilowatt hour.  At a cost of just under ten cents per kilowatt hour (sorry Californians, we're all hydro around here and electricity is cheap), a week's worth of driving is costing us under two dollars.

Yesterday, we decided to experiment and drive to Eugene and back: about eighty miles.  The electric car gets its best mileage at city speeds, not highway speeds.  While we can get close to a hundred miles of range in town, on the highway, it doesn't do so well.  We knew we'd have to recharge in Eugene.

The trip down to Eugene took about eighty percent of a full charge.  We parked the car at Lithia Nissan of Eugene, plugged it in and then walked downtown.  We visited the Saturday Market and several shops.  About three hours later, we wandered back to the car and found it at eighty percent of full charge.  It displayed an estimated range of seventy miles.

We drove home.  It was as simple as that.  We arrived in Corvallis with fifteen percent of full charge, ran a couple quick errands in town and then home.  The electricity cost to us for the trip was less than two dollars.  One of the benefits of early adoption of this technology is that charging stations are usually free.  While the car charged in Eugene, we were not charged at all.

Why did it use less power to drive home?  There are a lot of variables that have noticeable effects: head winds, and elevation gains/loss, etc.  When driving to Eugene, we were heading toward a storm.  On the way back, there were no storms.  Could it be that Eugene at 426 feet versus Corvallis at 228 feet would make much difference?  I don't know, but it surely is a contributing factor.

In all, it wasn't as convenient as using the Subaru would have been.  We had to park at the charging station and then walk to our destination.  We didn't have the spare power to drive around in Eugene, the car had to spend the time recharging for the trip home.  Overall, however, it was a good experience, though a different one than the Subaru would have given us.

My conclusion from this?  I still get to be smug.