1.5 Years of Electric Driving

I’ve been meaning to write about the electric car we purchased a little over a year and a half ago but honestly — what is there to say? It’s a car. It gets me from point A to point B, and it does so really well.

There was a time when driving a car powered by electricity was novel and there were a million things you needed to know but — I think those days are largely over. It’s a car. It does car things. I just have a ‘gas station’ at home so the lie “I’ll get gas in the morning” is no longer necessary.

We got the 2023 Electric Kona limited. It’s honestly been the best car we’ve ever owned, but probably that’s mostly because it’s the newest car we’ve ever owned. Many of the things we like about it have nothing to do with it being electric:

  • Smart/adaptive cruise control is great on the highways. You set the upper speed limit but the car has a radar in the front that slows it down if the cars ahead of you slow down.
  • Lots of safety features none of our other cars have. It’ll auto-brake for you if someone slams on their breaks ahead of you and you don’t react fast enough. The slightly more interesting option for me though is that it will detect cars in your blind spot that you might be pulling in front of and stop you. (I had this happen to me when I was pulling out of on-street parking in my neighborhood when an Amazon Prime truck turned down my street going about 2x the speed limit. I didn’t notice it because he was going so fast entirely in my blind spot, but the car did and prevented me from getting in front of it.) Also — love having a backup camera.
  • CarPlay is great.
  • I had heated seats in a previous car, but this car has cooling seats as well and that’s just really awesome in the summer.

It did cost a bit more than we hoped to pay for a new car, but the significantly lower operating costs have already been helpful. We were paying close to $450/mo on gas. In the winter when our solar panels don’t generate enough to offset our electric use, we were paying anywhere from $50-$125/mo in electric costs. (not entirely from the electric car, but figure this is a good SWAG of how much we pay)

We kept a gas car that is our “adventure car” — the car we take camping, the car with AWD for mountain driving, and the car that’s old enough if it gets a little banged up, no big deal — but we use the electric car as our “default” so we only gas up the adventure car about every 6 weeks or so. (Unless we are adventuring, obviously)

I’ve seen memes about how electric cars are so bad for the environment, yada yada yada. But I think that overlooks how bad cars (and all the related infrastructure — how much land is devoted to parking cars, highways, gas stations, storing cars in garages, etc) are compared to nearly any other form of transportation. Electric cars are an (in my view, minor) improvement over gas cars environmentally but still nearly any other transportation option is better — walking, biking, electric biking, electric scootering, any available transit (bus or train) — in roughly that order.

All that said, we live in suburbia and can’t get away from using a car, and of all our options, the electric car we have has been a wonderful addition to the family. If you are in a situation where you can regularly charge your car at home — I think it’s nearly a no-brainer if you want to buy a new car. They are a bit more expensive than the other new options, but the reduced operating costs and simpler mechanics mean you will be able to own and run most electric cars much longer (and more affordably) than most gas cars.

If you’re not someone to buy a new car — probably for the best — still get the most efficient used car. That, in my view, remains the best option environmentally and fiscally.

Finally — the best electric vehicle I own is not the car, but my e-bike. It is SO fun to ride. Being a bike I can get more distance than the e-scooter I also own, and I can get a small bit of a workout in too. If you were to get anything, get an e-bike! They’re the best electric vehicle you can get right now and even a super fancy one will cost way less than even the least expensive car.