One of the things I have been thinking about since the eruption of the Tesla/New York Times feud, is whether electric cars are truly practical yet for the average family. I’m not talking about a $100,000 Tesla S, or taking a road trip up the Mid-Atlantic coast in the middle of a harsh winter; I’m talking about for local driving, commutes around town, etc. Can electric cars fit into a real life scenario well, or are there just too many drawbacks?
For me, the biggest issue is the range. Even if it’s just tooling around town, the miles can add up quickly. Last weekend Sarah and I ran a handful of errands. It started out with a trip to a quick morning appointment and breakfast, which turned out to be 20 miles round trip. We were home for an hour, then headed back out from my parents house to our future house (20 miles), from the new house to a furniture store (another 7 miles), to the movies, and then on the back to my parents again (20 more miles). Altogether, that’s almost 70 miles of driving in one day. It’s a bit unusual, as we usually don’t do quite that much driving in one weekend, but some of it included spontaneous detours for furniture shopping and the movies.
What would worry me if we’d used an electric vehicle with a 100 mile range (like a Nissan Leaf), is that we would be down to a very narrow range before running out of juice. 100 miles sounds like a lot of miles, but we blew through close to that in one day without even noticing. If I hadn’t added it up for this thought experiment, I would never have guessed that we had covered that much. It makes me wonder whether an all-electric vehicle is truly practical for a spread out, suburban existence.
This isn’t an entirely hypothetical conversation. Sarah’s car lease is up in about a year and we are slowly discussing what her next vehicle should be. I drive a Prius, and we take it everywhere; I can’t even begin to quantify the savings over the last few years, but it has been a great investment. We debated electric cars, but our lives are just a touch too spread out; we both drive 15-20 miles each way to work, and having a car that would require being recharged or swapped out at the slightest detour or deviation from routine would not fit for us, as much as we would love to try.
Do you drive an electric car? Have you had any experiences with range issues? Let us know in the comments!