18 votes

Electric car sales increased by 43% in 2020

17 comments

  1. [17]
    kfwyre
    Link
    This isn't super on-topic for this article but I figure this is a good place to ask: what do I need to know about owning an EV? Anyone have a handy link to a quick 101 or want to share their...

    This isn't super on-topic for this article but I figure this is a good place to ask: what do I need to know about owning an EV? Anyone have a handy link to a quick 101 or want to share their personal experience/knowledge?

    My current car is pushing 20 years old. It's still alive and kicking, but it's definitely showing its age. I plan to drive it until maintenance costs make its upkeep prohibitive, and I intend for my next car to be an EV. What do I need to know right now about that decision should my car decide that tomorrow is the day it gives up the ghost?

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      It's not too terribly complicated to own an EV. The one thing that's terribly different from owning an ICE car is that you typically charge your car at your home overnight instead of periodically...
      • Exemplary

      It's not too terribly complicated to own an EV. The one thing that's terribly different from owning an ICE car is that you typically charge your car at your home overnight instead of periodically filling a gas tank.

      For the car itself, honestly, you should probably just do the same things you would already do - go out and try them and see which one you like the most in the price range you can afford. The biggest difference is that instead of worrying about fuel efficiency and transmissions, the only big thing to worry about is estimated range. You can get good deals on used EVs as well, so long as they aren't Tesla, but if you are looking in that market, keep in mind that the capacity on those batteries are going to be diminished, and the car's estimation on how much remaining milage you get is really a "guess-o-meter"; there are too many variables in the real world for it to know far you can go, so you should assume it's overly optimistic. On my Leaf, driving on the highway typically gives me a range that is slightly more than half of what it tells me.

      Because it's been 20 years since you've been car shopping, you should also be aware that new cars have a lot more standard in them than they used to. Things like backup cameras have become a standard feature even on ICE cars, and every EV will have features like regenerative breaking built-in.

      One thing you might want to do is to consider where you will be powering your EV from. If you don't have an electrical outlet near where you park, you will need to get one installed.

      If you need to get an outlet installed, consider paying a little bit more to wire it for 240V (You're in the US, right?) so that you can install a more powerful Level 2 EVSE (the device you use to connect your car to power). While the 110V Level 1 EVSE will likely give you all the range you need for most daily commutes, having the level 2 charger will charge your car faster (which might be more important if you tend to do long trips regularly). This is something you should consider after you pick out your car, though, as different cars have different maximum draws and you should typically match the hardware to it. In any case, if you do use a Level 1 EVSE, don't use an extension cord; if the wires are too thin, they can cause a fire.

      Finally, if you are planning on taking long trips in your car, make sure that your car supports DC fast charging. Some manufactures have it as a standard feature, but not all of them do, so it's worth asking just to double-check.

      And one last addendum - if you are planning on long drives and are looking in the used market, check to make sure that the car you are buying use the CCS Combo system (or is a Tesla). There used to be two charging standards, but the other one, ChaDeMo, is no longer being produced, so all new DC fast charging stations are going to be CCS (or Tesla).

      The only other thing I have to say is that you should probably consider buying it sooner rather than later. If you are already worrying about maintenance on your car being too much, then I would say that it's probably time to start making the change, especially because I'm imagining that you're already dealing with poor mileage and expensive maintenance. The EV will not only solve those problems, they'll continue to be a very small part of the ownership experience. Besides that, I'm pretty sure you'll get more trade-in value for your old car if you don't give it to them with existing problems.

      11 votes
      1. DaveJarvis
        Link Parent
        Another option is to get a Load Miser or similar. These devices allow to you time-share between your laundry power supply and car charger. In practice, it's rare you'll ever want to charge your...

        If you need to get an outlet installed, consider paying a little bit more to wire it for 240V

        Another option is to get a Load Miser or similar. These devices allow to you time-share between your laundry power supply and car charger. In practice, it's rare you'll ever want to charge your car and do laundry at the same time.

        The FLO Home G5 - Level 2 Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station pairs very well with a Load Miser. (When the electrician connects this to the exterior wall, that may also a good time to ask about adding another exterior 120V outlet.)

        2 votes
    2. [8]
      xnaas
      Link Parent
      Note: The below is all US/North America specific. If you live somewhere with real winter, plan on having 50%-70% reduced range during those months. Not a concern for me in central Texas, but I've...

      Note: The below is all US/North America specific.


      what do I need to know about owning an EV?

      What do I need to know right now about that decision should my car decide that tomorrow is the day it gives up the ghost?

      If you live somewhere with real winter, plan on having 50%-70% reduced range during those months.

      Not a concern for me in central Texas, but I've seen enough confused and upset people over it, it's worth mentioning this.


      If you're in the US/Canada and plan on taking any road trips that will require you to actually charge your vehicle to reach the destination, use a better route planner (ABRP). Even before you buy, this will give you an estimate of how awful it is to go cross-country in a non-Tesla still if you're in the US/Canada. In Europe you have many, many more options due to there being a universal standard plug, but it's still the "wild west" here in The States.

      Political side note: if the Biden administration does one thing...let it be a forced standard plug for EVs here, please, for the love of god.

      The non-Tesla charging situation is getting better all the time, but it's still got a long way to go.


      I've had my Model 3 LR since December 2018 and have driven it from Austin to the East Coast before, so if you have any Tesla-specific (or just any further general EV questions), don't you (or anyone!) hesitate to ask.

      6 votes
      1. [7]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        We actually do have a standard connector in America, SAE J1772. There is only one company who doesn't use it, and that's Tesla. For DC fast charging, there's the CCS connector, which is basically...

        Political side note: if the Biden administration does one thing...let it be a forced standard plug for EVs here, please, for the love of god.

        We actually do have a standard connector in America, SAE J1772. There is only one company who doesn't use it, and that's Tesla.

        For DC fast charging, there's the CCS connector, which is basically SAE J1772 with an extra bit for the two chonky DC pins. There were companies who used the ChaDeMo connector, but they have all switched to CCS.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          stu2b50
          Link Parent
          I'm curious, and the answer is probably no, but is it possible to buy like a plug converter that goes from Tesla to normal and vice versa?

          I'm curious, and the answer is probably no, but is it possible to buy like a plug converter that goes from Tesla to normal and vice versa?

          3 votes
          1. Akir
            Link Parent
            From what I have heard from Tesla owners, there is a converter which will allow you to charge a Tesla with a Level 1 or 2 EVSE or a CCS DC fast charger. But because of Tesla's patents nobody...

            From what I have heard from Tesla owners, there is a converter which will allow you to charge a Tesla with a Level 1 or 2 EVSE or a CCS DC fast charger. But because of Tesla's patents nobody else's cars are going to work with Tesla's Superchargers.

            3 votes
        2. [4]
          xnaas
          Link Parent
          Thus the inclusion of the word forced in my comment. Nearly all companies have proven that they need to be forced to do the right thing and Tesla is no exception. Granted, I'd've preferred...

          We actually do have a standard connector in America, SAE J1772. There is only one company who doesn't use it, and that's Tesla.

          Thus the inclusion of the word forced in my comment. Nearly all companies have proven that they need to be forced to do the right thing and Tesla is no exception. Granted, I'd've preferred everyone just adopted Tesla's much sleeker plug, but it's whatever. Just want one everywhere. :P

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            Akir
            Link Parent
            I don't know if it actually comes with the car, but the Tesla to J-plug adaptor is actually made by Tesla. So in effect, 100% of EVs use this connector, even though the implementation by one...

            I don't know if it actually comes with the car, but the Tesla to J-plug adaptor is actually made by Tesla. So in effect, 100% of EVs use this connector, even though the implementation by one manufacturer is kind of stupid.

            As much as I agree we typically need to force the industry to be better, this is one case where they industry has actually decided to do it by themselves. And all the stupidity about Tesla's exceptions are entirely on the shoulders of Tesla itself; they are the only ones using proprietary connectors and communications protocols.

            Granted, I do think that the current standard is a little too basic and needs to be adapted for "smart chargers" that are capable of transmitting data between the car and the power source. That's going to be a lot more important when (and if) we ever transition to "smart grids". I, for one, would love it if I could set my car to only charge on off-peak hours instead of having to use the (astonishingly unreliable) timer that I'm using currently (and that I have to constantly turn off whenever charging away from home).

            1. [2]
              xnaas
              Link Parent
              Are we talking about different plugs? The only J1772 I know is unimaginably slow and not actually included on any newer cars? While it'd be fine for home charging or some such, it definitely...

              SAE J1772

              So in effect, 100% of EVs use this connector

              Are we talking about different plugs? The only J1772 I know is unimaginably slow and not actually included on any newer cars? While it'd be fine for home charging or some such, it definitely doesn't solve traveling.

              In North America, the only way for a Tesla to plug into any of the type/combo 1 CCS plugs is this 3rd party adapter (there might be others by now, but this is the only one I know of).

              1. Akir
                Link Parent
                I wrote a lot, but then I realized it just made things a lot more confusing than it needed to be. Just watch this video - he goes over all the detail I wanted to tell you but with a welcoming...

                I wrote a lot, but then I realized it just made things a lot more confusing than it needed to be. Just watch this video - he goes over all the detail I wanted to tell you but with a welcoming Texas accent.

                Just in case he didn't mention it, the ChaDeMo standard for DC quick charging has been discontinued in the US in favor of CCS. So all EVs sold in the US that support DC fast charging will support CCS. All US EVs support J1772 no matter what.

    3. [5]
      Eabryt
      Link Parent
      My car isn't even that old and I already want to trade it in for an EV. I wish I could find a car that's as good as a Tesla in terms of features and range, but not a Tesla.

      My car isn't even that old and I already want to trade it in for an EV. I wish I could find a car that's as good as a Tesla in terms of features and range, but not a Tesla.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        DaveJarvis
        Link Parent
        Have you seen the Hyundai Kona?

        Have you seen the Hyundai Kona?

        1. [2]
          Eabryt
          Link Parent
          I haven't looked too closely at it but I've started hearing rumours of good things. I have an Elantra right now that I'm not a huge fan of, but I think that's more specific to the issues I've had...

          I haven't looked too closely at it but I've started hearing rumours of good things.

          I have an Elantra right now that I'm not a huge fan of, but I think that's more specific to the issues I've had with this specific car than Hyundai as a whole.

          1 vote
          1. DaveJarvis
            Link Parent
            I've had my Kona for about a year. After driving a two-door RAV4 for 20+ years, it was quite the leap forward. The 450+ km range is kicker, the handling is superb, all the modern features took...

            I've had my Kona for about a year. After driving a two-door RAV4 for 20+ years, it was quite the leap forward. The 450+ km range is kicker, the handling is superb, all the modern features took some getting used to, the interior is spacious, and there are many thoughtful conveniences sprinkled throughout. The level 1 charger could have been a smidge more accessible and more control over the on-screen dashboard UI elements would be nice.

            3 votes
    4. Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      Check Plugshare to get an idea of what kind of charging options are around you. Your day-to-day commute is gonna be awesome and easy. You either charge at work or at home (or both!). Just plug the...

      Check Plugshare to get an idea of what kind of charging options are around you.

      Your day-to-day commute is gonna be awesome and easy. You either charge at work or at home (or both!). Just plug the car in when you get to home/work and never worry about range ever again, unless you have some sort of crazy commute distance. Even a standard 120V outlet will be fine for this. I get 5 miles of hour per charge out of mine, which sounds bad at first, but that's easily 60+ miles overnight, which more than enough covers my commute. You don't have to get the level 2, but if you don't have any other charging options near you, I would recommend it. You'll never know if you'll be in that scenario where you drove 150+ miles in a day, only to sleep a few hours, and then get up and have to do it again or make a trip or something. I didn't bother since I have level 2 charging at work and a nearby supercharger in case of emergencies, but I'll still charge at home sometimes.

      Trips are going to be a different beast, and that is going to depend on what kind of car you get. One of the big draw of Teslas is the supercharger network, where you can fill up 70% of your battery in about 30 minutes. I can't speak to the other EV manufacturers since I don't own one of theirs, but I know their options are more limited and they typically don't support the charging speeds that Tesla offers. That was a big deal to me, as I was, at the time, driving from Knoxville to DC every quarter at the very least, and had Covid not hit, was planning a few trips to see friends and family.

      If you're taking trips, you can use a better route planner to get an idea of your realistic range, charging stops, and estimated time for traveling. It's been pretty accurate in my experience. Feel free to play around with different makes and models to see what suits you best.

      The other big thing, and I'm shocked no one has mentioned it yet, but the driving experience is so much better. Every EV benefits from instant torque. It makes driving much more fun and engaging, and there's no shifting through gears. It's a smooth ride, and the car feels great because the weight is so low to the ground. How low are EV centers of gravity? Really low, it's practically impossible to flip a Model X, for example.

      I used to hate driving. I don't anymore. Trips with autopilot are a breeze. The car does a considerable amount of the driving. The small corrections to maintain lane. Those small things that add up over time that make driving tiring aren't there. You'd get a similar experience with the comparable options like Chevy's Supercruise.

      The other thing I want to touch on is vehicle maintenance. It's supposed to be a lot less in an EV, as there just aren't nearly as many moving parts. No transmission. No spark plugs. No oil changes. Even your standard brakes are going to last significantly longer since EVs use regenerative braking to extend their range (one pedal driving is awesome btw). MIT put together a tool to compare carbon outputs and cost of vehicles. You can see the cost breakdown (acquisition/depreciation, fuel, and maintenance) if you select a couple of vehicles and choose the bar chart layout. The expected maintenance costs of even the Model S are cheaper than a Honda Accord, and other EVs are cheaper than that (below Toyota Corolla territory).

      In the winter, despite the 20-40% range decrease you can expect to see, my Tesla heats incredibly quickly. Within 2 minutes the cabin is 75+ F after being near freezing. They can be pretty handy even colder than that! Here's a video of one starting at -34 C in Canada.

      I will never, ever go back to a combustion vehicle. It's like trying to go back to a flip phone after using a smartphone. If you have any questions or want some advice feel free to ask!

      1 vote