TRENDS IN THE TRADES: CHOSING AN EV/PHEV

In 2013, Lorraine and I purchased our first PHEV plugin Hybrid Electric Car as her primary transportation needs. We researched the few PHEV models available and found the car that fit her driving needs. We looked on line and found the car that fit our needs about 150 miles away. We worked with local dealer of choice, a long-term customer of our previous farm equipment business and agreed on the trade difference. A few days later, we drove home in our new PHEV.

At the time of the purchase, we negotiated the optional 240-volt charger for permanent mounting in our garage as it charges twice as fast as the 120-volt charger. Having years of electrical wiring experience, the 240-volt, 20-amp circuit was easy to install in our garage. Bottom line, if there is a choice available always select the 240-volt charger for your personal driver. Every time we park our PHEV inside our garage, we automatically plug it in to insure a full charge for the next adventure

A standard 120-Volt charger was included with the car. The long cord with this charger is ideal for use on those overnight stays away from home. The negative – a full charge takes several hours using the 120-volt charger. Always bring a long extension cord when parked a distance away from a 120-volt electrical outlet.  

Shortly after the purchase, we notified Adams Electric Coop, our home electrical supplier as they advertised a special promotion for all new EV/PHEV car users. As advertised, they reduced the charging rate per KWH from eleven cents to seven cents. The special rate required a switching circuit to shut down the vehicle charging during peak load demand that frequently occurs on those extremely hot summer days. Central Illinois summer temperatures frequently exceed 90 degrees in the summer with humidity reaching 75 to 90 plus percent. We have no recall of ever having the charging circuit switched off by the power coop. Their monthly magazine publication featured a story on our PHEV, one of the first electric cars in their service area.

Our first PHEV provided fifty miles of transportation on a full charge of 8 Kilowatts at seven cents per KWH for a total cost of 56 cents to drive 50 miles. Our second PHEV, a 2018 model, achieves over 60 miles on a full charge of 8 Kilowatts averaging just less than one cent per mile fuel costs. Pretty fair rate today with local fuel exceeding $4.00 per gallon in many areas. In case you want to know the average MPG, often of interest for many cost conscious drivers, both the 2013 and the 2018 models average well over 250 miles per gallon. 

The joy of a PHEV allows the driver to select driving on electric only or run the engine charging the battery for an average 39 MPG rate. If you do the math, the cost per mile is almost 10 cents per mile using the engine. That equates to over 10 times the energy cost of operating on fuel VS electric only.

Lorraine drives the car over 90% of the time averaging about 35 – 40 miles per day and never running out of electricity. The nine-gallon fuel tank, used when running on the engine powering the generator only and not the drive axle, provides over 300 miles range. Add the 50 to 70 miles on electric, your total driving range is well over 350 miles, far more than two seniors can travel without stopping. Displayed prominently in the instrument cluster are the total miles available on electricity and the grand total using all on board fuel.  Due to the limited number of miles driven on engine power, we use hi-octane fuel without ethanol. For the entire year of 2017 and over 8000 miles of driving, we never purchased one gallon of fuel for our PHEV. We had such a positive experience with our 2013 model; we traded up to a 2018 model of the same PHEV brand.

Weather and temperature have a major impact on the number of electric drive miles available. Our current 2018 model will average over 70 miles on electric drive during the spring and fall when climate control demands little power. Keep in mind, the amount of cabin climate control requires varying amounts of the same power we use for propulsion. When the outside temperatures are comfortable with the use of only a ventilation fan, there is very little impact on the propulsion energy. When the outside temperatures are over 90 degrees, the air conditioner consumes more of the electricity. Conversely, in the winter with temperatures in the teens or near zero, clearing the windshield and heating the cabin consume a great deal of electricity. Both of these situations reduce your mileage availability commensurate with the temperature extremes.

Will an EV or PHEV fit into your personal or business driving environment? Carefully consider the following before selecting the vehicle of choice.

Selecting a personal EV / PHEV for your transportation needs

           Vehicle budget / price of the vehicle / costs per mile driven

           Driving style / miles per day on average / work commute miles round trip

           Miles per charge / Charge at home / Charge at work / Type of charger for your residence

Do I need a backup vehicle powered by gasoline or diesel for those cross-country adventures?

Check out government incentives – We received the federal rebate of $7500 with the new purchase in 2013 and State of Illinois denied the rebate of $4000 as the purchase was out of state. Study all options, both federal and state before you purchase.

Selecting a business / commercial EV / PHEV for your transportation needs

           Business vehicle – Transportation or delivery

           GVWR – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating / Net payload

           Miles per day or delivery route / will the vehicle handle the miles without charging

           Charging station at the business location for charging over night

Carefully study all options and select the correct vehicle for your application. As this article ends, we recently topped off the nine-gallon fuel tank on our PHEV with just under five gallons. Our previous visit to the fuel station was just over eight months ago. Due to the lower KWH costs we did not notice an appreciable increase of our electricity usage.