Ice Ice Baby

An EV and an ICE: some great day I may be able to combine the two.

As I understand it, “owning the libs” means saying, or better yet, doing something that infuriates members of the Democratic party and their ilk. Yesterday — yes, only yesterday — it occurred to me that while the phrase doesn’t seem to exist in ordinary lexicon, “owning the cons” is every bit as viable. And easy to do, as easy as these two words put together: electric vehicle.

Most days, I go to Yahoo to get some of my news, because they aggregate from a bunch of sources, which I do consider in deciding whether to click on a headline or not (among those I never consider for reading: Fox News and Huff Post, which, now that I think about it, has dedicated itself to doing nothing more than “owning the cons” for quite some time now). And then I do what you’re really not supposed to: I read the comments.

Not all of them, of course, but by skimming them I feel like I’m getting a pollster’s sense of “the people” and their collective view on an issue. I figure the Yahoo commentariat is more egalitarian than, say, the Washington Post’s.

So yesterday I clicked on some headline — something car-related; Jalopy, maybe? — because it had an acronym I knew, EV, and one I didn’t, ICE. Now I’ve learned: not just for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE stands for Internal Combustion Engine.

I frankly didn’t realize we were at the point of needing to make a distinction, since the vast majority of cars in our great wide world are ICE (look at me flinging this around like I’ve used it forever), but I guess when you’re a car site and you want to discuss everything that’s wrong with EV’s you need to be cool with your preferred mode of motoring, and what could be cooler than ICE?

The thrust of the article was that it’s now more expensive to drive an EV than an ICE; therefore, why are we wasting time and resources trying to force everyone to give up their beloved gas engines? The author padded his “stats” a lot, assuming that EV drivers must spend mile upon mile searching for a place to charge, and factoring the “opportunity cost” of having to wait while the vehicle charges, which I frankly think would be difficult to quantify in a dollar-to-dollar comparison. And knowing some people who will drive across an entire metro area just to save a couple pennies on each gallon of gas, I’m not sure “deadheading” is just an issue for EV drivers.

But I had forgotten how infuriating EV’s are for the right side of the commentariat. They react with fear, anger and a whole lot of “facts” that are so far out there they can’t even be “alternate facts.” It’s amusing to read along as people spew such venom and wallow in misinformation. I am owning the cons simply by getting into my car every day.

Which was not my intent, back when I bought my EV, a 2015 Nissan Leaf, in 2016. I had set my sights that car-buying day on two used vehicles, the Leaf and a Subaru Forester (an ICE, I now know). I test-drove the Leaf first and never made it to the Forester.

Nor is it my intent even now, when the temptation is much greater, to own the cons, although I love my electric vehicle and am happy to proselytize, or at least wax enthusiastic, about the experience. I don’t, at least so far, really care whether you’re driving an ICE or an EV. I’m driving an EV, and that works for me, better than the ICE’s I loved and drove for decades.

I do, I guess, want enough people to drive EV’s that manufacturers will keep producing more and different models. What I really want is for someone to come out with a small or mid-size affordable pick-up truck, but it’s dawning on me that I could be waiting another decade or more for that. Used Ford Lightnings are currently (an electrical pun) asking well north of $80,000.

Driving an EV for over six years now, I am well aware of their limitations. Range is the big issue, and while I only get 75-ish miles per charge, a new Leaf (one you might want to turn over) can get three times that. For every conservative commenter who frothed and tried to find a stretch of highway (I-70 through Utah came up a lot) that would be “impossible” for an EV to manage, along came an EV driver to assure them he or she had recently made that drive without issue.

I had a college student last fall challenge me on lithium, which is extracted at great environmental cost. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to ask her where she stood on fracking, an equally fraught process. Lots of commenters were outraged — on their electronic devices powered by lithium-ion batteries — about the batteries, and their lifespan, in EV’s. That’s a concern, and so is the ability of our electrical infrastructure to handle the increased load.

But assurances such as the person who angrily announced that charging an EV was like roasting a 29-pound turkey all day every day are just wrong. Lynn did cook a turkey right before Thanksgiving (one I’d won in a drawing at the health food store, and I was instructed to never win another), but I don’t recall our bill suffering because of it.

The level of willful ignorance surrounding EV’s astounds me every time I read an article like yesterday’s, both from the writer and the commenters. Our electrical co-op has an EV check-out program, where you can take, rent-free, a Chevy Bolt for a week to see how you like it. It obviously doesn’t speak to too many, because there hasn’t been a massive uptake of EV’s around here, although when I pass the city’s (still free) charging station, I see a larger array of cars parked there. The last car owners I talked to were charging their plug-in hybrid, which gives them 25 miles per charge. This lets them run around town gas-free, but also lets them go out of town without range anxiety.

The one I just don’t get, which was the premise of the article, is the insistence that EV’s are expensive to own. They cost more to buy, although I paid around $16,000 for a “used” one with 500 miles on it, which was only $3,000 more than I paid 24 years earlier for my used Geo Tracker (with 13,000 miles on it).

When I first got it, it lived outside and I used regular ol’ 110-volt power from the garage outlet, without ever noticing an increase in our electrical bill. Now it lives in a garage and feeds off a 240-volt charger that cost about 145 gallons of gas at $3.50 each. I’ve had it over three years and don’t feel it will need to be replaced anytime soon.

A “fill-up,” which generally lasts me about six days, uses 13 kilowatt hours, or roughly $1.69 for the week (you could add in a share of the service fee, and you could subtract the solar power, but let’s just go with $1.69). I had my mechanic do maintenance for the first time last summer, at a cost of about $400.

I don’t drive around looking for a charger, since it’s at my house (where many EV owners charge), and the “opportunity cost” is that I blog while charging, so — priceless. Bonus: this apparently drives some people whose views are well to the right of mine absolutely bonkers, so rather than owning me as I believe the article intended, I feel like I’m the one coming out on top.

It works for me, anyway.

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