People are curious about electric cars. I was too, but when I went to pick up my recent rental car and found out that all they had left was a 100 percent electric vehicle, to be honest, I almost turned it down.
I'm extraordinarily unfamiliar with how to use an electric car. My aunt gave me a ride to the rental place and she waited for me in the parking lot in case I chickened out (shout out Aunt Nancy). She knows how important it is for me to get to work without car issues since I’m driving on the road for over and hour by myself in the middle of the night to get there. Why was I so nervous? I'm sure it was the fear of the unknown, some of it warranted and some of it not.
Lots of people are curious about electric cars. I know this because I’ve only rented this electric car for 4 days and I get asked about it constantly. Suddenly, I'm the national spokesperson for all things electric. I've been asked, "how far can you go on one charge? Do they need oil changes? Where do you charge up? How does it drive? Well, after my experience, I can answer all of these questions for you and I do below.
I told you in an earlier post that my car died on the Garden State Parkway, you can read that crazy story here. It was a harrowing experience to say the least. After that, I was not exactly in the mood to “try something new” but when I was only left with the option of an electric car or an Uber ride every morning at 3 am, I decided to step out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I did, for the most part.
Here Is What Everyone Wants To Know About Driving Electric Cars
How long can you drive before you run out of juice?
In my case about 289 miles. I drive 70 miles each way to work every day so I needed to fill up nightly to be in the safe zone.
Do you ever need to get gas or an oil change?
No. This car is 100% electric so you are free of all that. Charging up is free in lots of places and some places charge you a small amount but overall it is a huge savings. However, all electric vehicles run about 4 thousand dollars more expensive than their gas guzzler counterparts so you will pay more up front. The government is offering incentives to buy electric, I’ve seen some offers of up to $6,500 which more than covers the upcharge, but I also hear those offers are drying up. Basically, if you plan on keeping your electric car for a while you will recoup that 4K and then some.
Where do you charge up?
There are apps to help you find charging stations but this is where the electric car becomes a hassle. The regular charger takes at least 4 hours on my car to get to a full charge, at home a full 24 hours did not even give it a full charge up. They do have "fast chargers" available (the only way to go) but I was still on one of those for 90 minutes to get my fill.
I’ve heard there are chargers that fill up in 20 minutes but I have not been able to find any of those “super chargers”. Literally, I was at the Celia Cruz rest stop charging station sitting on the curb working on my tan for an hour and a half. Grrrrrr. I was lucky that the only two charging stations were not being occupied or I would really have been in a bind. Will this get better in the future? Yes. More stations are going in as I write this. In fact, Monmouth County has been awarded a reimbursement grant to promote electric vehicle tourism by installing 12 EV chargers in the county. Six of them will be at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park in Long Branch. They will also be installing six dual port level chargers in downtown Freehold by the Hall of Records. You can read more about that in The Patch here. As more stations go in and the technology gets faster, more people will be able to make the switch.
How Well Does A Fully Electric Car Drive
This was the most surprising part for me. My electric rental drives amazing! There is way more pick up than with a gas car. It handles fantastically, it is smooth and actually very fast. I had to check myself on the speed because there is so much power. I really did not expect that and I was pleasantly surprised.
As for me, I love that there is no noise, it drives with more pick up than a gas vehicle and in the long run it saves big money. I also feel really good about using something that gives us more independence from foreign oil. Of course, it goes without saying that these electric vehicles are game changers for the environment too.
However, for me, I’m just not there yet. I commute too far to deal with the time consuming fill ups. I will however say this, for a retiree, or for someone who has a short commute to work or better yet, if you have a charging station at your work, I say go for it! Once every charger is a “super-charger” and I can be guaranteed that I can fully charge up in 20 minutes, I’ll be all in.
Electric cars are getting more popular, especially in New Jersey. Here are some of the best places to live in our state: