By Maddy Savage
Americans love their cars — their gas-guzzling, air-polluting, smog-producing cars. Although the vast majority agree that if we all drove electric vehicles we could reduce oil consumption and pollution, only a third would consider buying one anytime soon. Far fewer are actually making the switch.
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"We are incredibly excited to announce that the standard Model 3, with 220 miles of range, a top speed of 130 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration of 5.6 seconds is now available at $35,000!" the company announced in a blog post. "Although lower in cost, it is built to achieve the same perfect 5-star safety rating as the longer-ranged version, which has the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the U.S. Government."
By Emily Long
Electric vehicles (EVs) are getting cheaper — so whether you're looking for a way to save on the hassle and cost of gas, shrink your carbon footprint, or simply zip around in a new Tesla, there are lots of reasons to consider a hybrid or electric car.
Decide Whether to Go With a Plug-In Hybrid or Full EV<p>While a conventional hybrid (HEV) relies on its gasoline engine and a small battery to work in tandem, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) can operate on its battery alone — and burn no fuel — for a limited number of miles before the engine starts up to help.</p><p>If you never plug your PHEV in, it'll act just like a regular hybrid with the engine and battery trading off. So while you can charge your plug-in hybrid to get the benefits of battery-only driving over a short distance, you don't have to.</p><p>A full EV, on the other hand, relies solely on its battery for power — which means it has to be charged regularly.</p>
Calculate Your Costs<p>There are a few elements to comparing the cost of an EV versus a conventional car. One is the cost to drive your vehicle off the lot. EVs are still <a href="https://qz.com/1695602/the-average-electric-vehicle-is-getting-cheaper-in-the-us/" target="_blank">more expensive up front</a>: $55,600 compared to an industry median of $36,600. The median cost of a PHEV is somewhere in the middle (<a href="https://evadoption.com/ev-models/available-phevs/" target="_blank">around $46,000</a>).</p><p>Some electric cars qualify you for <a href="https://www.irs.gov/businesses/irc-30d-new-qualified-plug-in-electric-drive-motor-vehicle-credit" target="_blank">up to $7,500 in federal tax credits</a> plus additional rebates and credits offered by your state or city. Some PHEVs have <a href="https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml" target="_blank">slightly lower credits</a> than full EVs.</p><p><span></span>If you install Level 2 home charging equipment, that'll add to your upfront cost (more on that in a minute).</p><p>But the real difference is in long-term costs, which vary widely based on factors like the car make and model; gas and electricity prices where you live; when and where you charge your EV; maintenance costs; and how much you drive.</p><p>For example, it's likely that your <a href="https://craig.bonsignore.com/2012/09/19/one-year-of-electric-driving/" target="_blank">energy costs will be lower</a> with an EV (electricity) versus a conventional car (gas) and somewhere in the middle with a PHEV. Use a calculator (like the FuelEconomy.gov's <a href="https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=phev1Prompt" target="_blank">Plug-in Hybrid tool</a> and <a href="https://www.energy.gov/maps/egallon" target="_blank">eGallon comparison</a>) to get a ballpark figure.</p>
Install a Charger at Home<p>Depending on where you live, you may be able to rely on public charging stations to keep your EV's battery full. But many electric car owners say that it's much easier and more convenient to install a charger at your home if you're able. Your vehicle is likely to spend the largest chunks of idle time parked in your garage or driveway, so if you can charge there you'll save yourself the hassle of waiting at a station.</p><p>If you live in an apartment or have to park on the street or in a public lot, you may be out of luck on this (unless you can convince your landlord or property manager to install charging equipment).</p><p>Setting up home charging is pretty straightforward. You can plug a Level 1 charger right into a standard 120V outlet, though this will juice up your vehicle very slowly (2–5 miles per hour, according to <a href="https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publication/WPCC_L1ChargingAtTheWorkplace_0716.pdf" target="_blank">Energy Department estimates</a>).</p><p>A Level 2 charger uses 240V, costs anywhere from <a href="https://www.consumerreports.org/hybrids-evs/whats-the-right-electric-car-charger-for-your-home/" target="_blank">a few hundred dollars to $1,000 or more</a> to install, and works much faster — adding anywhere from about <a href="https://www.clippercreek.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Level-1-vs-Level-2_Chart_-20180502_Final_Low-Res.pdf" target="_blank">10 to 20 (or more, for some models) miles of range per hour</a> of charging. You can <a href="https://www.energysage.com/electric-vehicles/charging-your-ev/install-a-home-charging-station/" target="_blank">install this type of charger yourself</a> or hire an electrician. Make sure you get the right parts for your vehicle. Tesla, for example, has a specific <a href="https://www.tesla.com/support/home-charging-installation/" target="_blank">hardware and installation guide</a> for its cars.</p>
Take Advantage of Free Charging (and Downtime)<p>Charging at home will add a little bit to your electricity bill, and some charging stations do require you to pay for juicing up your EV. But there are lots of ways to charge for free.</p><p>For example, your office may provide charging stations for employees so you can leave your car plugged in for part of your workday. Some hotels, restaurants, and stores offer charging for patrons. You can also find nearby public charging stations that are free using maps like <a href="https://www.chargepoint.com/" target="_blank">ChargePoint</a> and <a href="https://www.plugshare.com/" target="_blank">PlugShare</a> (which have filters for paid vs. free stations).</p><p>Note that public charging stations often have time limits (similar to parking restrictions). Make sure you check signage and observe any posted rules.</p><p>Plus, you can use any time you're not driving — and any location where you can plug into a 120V outlet — as an opportunity to charge (at your friends' homes, at your Airbnb, etc.).</p>
Plan Your Driving Routes Ahead of Time<p>Your vehicle's range may be one of the biggest limitations to consider before you buy. Most EVs have a range of fewer than 300 miles, which makes longer trips difficult unless you can find charging stations along the way. PHEVs have very <a href="https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a27127697/plug-in-hybrid-2019/" target="_blank">short driving ranges per charge</a> — generally enough for commuting or running errands — but will switch to gas when needed.</p><p>Since there are far more gas stations than charging stations, driving a full EV over longer distances requires some planning. Google Maps <a href="https://lifehacker.com/how-to-find-ev-charging-stations-using-google-maps-1829884348" target="_blank">shows you nearby stations</a> and what kind of equipment is available if you search "EV Charging" or "EV Charging Stations." <a href="https://lifehacker.com/chargehub-finds-charging-stations-for-your-electric-veh-1743937351" target="_blank">Apps like ChargeHub</a> and <a href="https://www.plugshare.com/" target="_blank">PlugShare</a> offer similar mapping features.</p><p>Depending on where and how much you drive, an EV's range may be plenty. But if you travel a lot, you may end up frustrated with charging stops and route planning if an EV is your only option. If charging stations are few and far between, if there's a line of cars already waiting, or if you simply don't want to stop for longer than a lunch break, this could get really old, really fast.</p><p>A possible workaround: if you road trip less frequently, rent a car as needed for distances beyond your EV's range. Or go with a PHEV, which can switch to gas for longer journeys.</p>
Use the Right Charging Equipment<p>If you have to charge your car away from home, make sure you use the <a href="https://www.energy.gov/eere/electricvehicles/vehicle-charging" target="_blank">right combination of charger and plug</a>. Most vehicles have a standard J1772 port that connects with a Level 1 or Level 2 charging unit. Some cars can also connect to faster Level 3 charging equipment using one of a few different connectors (called CHAdeMO and SAE Combo).</p><p>Teslas can hook up to proprietary <a href="https://www.tesla.com/support/supercharging" target="_blank">Supercharger stations</a>, though Tesla also has J1772 and CHAdeMO adapters for stations outside of its network.</p><p>Your car's specs should outline <a href="https://chargehub.com/en/electric-car-charging-guide.html" target="_blank">which connectors and charging systems</a> your EV can use (or it's something you'll learn on day one of ownership). It is possible that not every charging station you encounter will have fast charging options, but you should be able to connect to any Level 2 charger with or without a J1772 adapter.</p>
Maintain Your Vehicle<p>EVs don't require regular oil changes like gas-powered cars. But that doesn't mean you can simply charge and go. You still have to attend to other <a href="https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/top-5-electric-car-maintenance-issues-and-their-costs/" target="_blank">standard-issue car maintenance tasks</a> and regularly inflate and rotate your tires, change your wiper blades, and keep an eye on brake pads. Some <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/67951o/should_i_get_an_electric_car/" target="_blank">EV drivers report</a> that underinflated tires can significantly affect your car's range. Basically, maintenance matters.</p><p>But most EVs come with much less frequent maintenance checks than conventional cars (case in point: the Chevy Bolt has no <a href="https://insideevs.com/news/330737/chevrolet-bolt-requires-almost-no-maintenance-for-first-150000-miles/" target="_blank">scheduled maintenance</a> outside of tire rotations every 7,500 miles, air filter changes every 22,500 miles, and coolant flushes <em>every 150,000 miles</em>). There may be some minimal maintenance required on batteries and electronics, and of course, things can unexpectedly go haywire.</p><p>By contrast, PHEVs will be <a href="https://www.energy.gov/eere/electricvehicles/electric-car-safety-maintenance-and-battery-life" target="_blank">on similar schedules to conventional cars</a> because they still have gas engines and associated fluids.</p><p>Depending on your specific service needs, your neighborhood mechanic may not be equipped for the job (if specialty tools are required, for example). In that case, you may need to seek out a dealer who works on your EV model.<strong> </strong></p>
Prepare for Extreme Temperatures<p>EVs <a href="https://jalopnik.com/heres-what-happens-to-your-electric-car-in-a-bitter-can-1832151810" target="_blank">have some quirks in cold weather</a>. All cars are slightly less efficient in the winter, but EVs lose some of their range (<a href="https://www.energy.gov/eere/electricvehicles/maximizing-electric-cars-range-extreme-temperatures" target="_blank">25 percent or more</a>) because batteries are very sensitive to temperature. Plus, it takes energy to power climate control — whether you're running the heat or the air conditioning.</p><p><span></span>One way around this is to <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/electric-cars-cold-weather-temperatures" target="_blank">precondition your EV</a> while it's plugged into your charger — this warms the car and the battery so stored energy goes toward powering your actual drive. It's similar to turning on your gas-powered car's heat before you actually need to get in and drive away, but with most EVs, you can turn on or schedule this function with a connected app. Heating both your battery and your EV's cabin ahead of time means you'll be warmer and your car will be more efficient despite the cold weather. You can also set preconditioning to work in the summer so your car is nice and cool for your commute.</p><p>With a PHEV, heat relies on the gas engine. If you want to stay on battery power, turn on your heated seats until you can't handle the cold and need to blast the heat.</p>
Don’t Forget to Turn Your Car Off<p>EVs and PHEVs are generally a lot quieter than regular vehicles — which means it's easy to get out, shut the door, and forget that the car is running. Remember to turn it off before you walk away. While it's unlikely you'll come close to draining your battery before you return, you probably shouldn't get in the habit of leaving it on. You may have the option to enable an alarm that goes off when you've left your car running. Some EVs <a href="https://www.motortrend.com/news/chevrolet-bolt-ev-engineers-reveal-11-cool-facts-car-year" target="_blank">automatically shut off</a> after a set amount of time — and Teslas turn off when you exit and close the door behind you.</p>
By John R. Platt
It's a cold Wednesday morning, and I'm standing in the dark outside a hotel waiting for my rideshare vehicle to arrive.
My phone chirps to let me know that an unusual car is about to pull up: a Tesla. The driver greets me, and I eagerly climb in the back seat — after I figure out how to open the door (the recessed, aerodynamic handles are just as novel to me as the rest of the car).
After revising its three-year U.S. power forecast, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has predicted major declines for fossil fuels and nuclear power alongside strong growth in renewables by 2022, according to a review of the data by the SUN DAY Campaign, a pro-renewables research and education nonprofit.
International Energy Agency Also Updates Renewables Forecast<p>The International Energy Agency (<span style="background-color: initial;">IEA</span>) has not been known for optimistic forecasts of renewables growth. In the past, <span style="background-color: initial;">IEA</span> has been criticized by groups like the <span style="background-color: initial;">UK</span>-based Environment and Climate Intelligence Unit for continuing to predict an oil and gas-dominated future, despite promising signs coming from wind and solar.</p><p>As <a href="https://www.desmog.co.uk/2018/04/04/international-energy-agency-undermining-efforts-climate-change-through-scenarios-inconsistent-paris-agreement" target="_blank">DeSmogUK reported in April 2018,</a> Dr. Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the nonprofit Environment and Climate Intelligence Unit, warned that the IEA's lagging forecasts on renewables growth created "a growing risk that commercial decisions are not based on the facts on the ground."</p><p>At this point, the <a href="https://thinkprogress.org/renewables-now-cheaper-than-new-coal-or-gas-across-two-thirds-of-the-world-c4980412cb53/" target="_blank">cost of wind and solar combined with battery storage</a> is cheaper than coal power, much <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2019/08/30/bernie-sanders-climate-plan-nuclear-phase-out-attacks" target="_blank">cheaper than new nuclear power</a>, and in many places also competitive with natural gas. In some areas, electric utilities are already moving from coal to renewables and skipping over the so-called <a href="https://www.sightline.org/2019/02/12/calling-natural-gas-a-bridge-fuel-is-alarmingly-deceptive/" target="_blank">"bridge fuel" </a>of natural gas. The argument for a <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2019/02/22/inevitable-death-natural-gas-bridge-fuel-renewables" target="_blank">natural gas "bridge" </a>to affordable renewable energy has been crumbling, and the economics of future power generation don't look good for this fossil fuel.</p><p>Even the skeptics at the IEA are starting to catch up. In recent reports, IEA now says renewables are expected to <a href="https://www.iea.org/renewables2019/" target="_blank">grow 50 percent in the next five years</a> and <a href="https://www.iea.org/offshorewind2019/" target="_blank">offshore wind power</a> is capable of producing more electricity than the world can use. </p><img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA2MzM5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2NzMwMzUyMn0.lsK0LNRYn1X9MX57ujQyKmGt1CvK3EbHBDz8XrgYox4/img.png?width=980" id="b7c41" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3ef570046272d2f07e54aa2036c0f497" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Offshore technical wind potential vs. electricity demand. IEA Offshore Wind Outlook 2019
It’s The Economics, Stupid<p>Meanwhile, Murray Energy, the largest coal company in the U.S. (whose CEO is a <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2018/04/11/rick-perry-and-bob-murray-renew-conservative-call-subsidize-coal" target="_blank">big fan of asking the Trump administration for coal bailouts</a>), <a href="https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/29/coal-giant-murray-energy-declares-bankruptcy/2494360001/" target="_blank">recently declared bankruptcy</a>. Forbes published a column explaining how that came about. The answer can be summed up in three words: <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2019/11/03/murray-energys-bankruptcy-dovetails-with-the-rise-of-tesla-and-new-energy/" target="_blank">"free market forces."</a></p><p>Another recent report highlighted those free market forces as it forecast potential losses for Europe's coal industry to the tune of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-23/coal-power-plants-face-7-3-billion-losses-in-europe-this-year" target="_blank">$7.3 billion this year.</a></p><p>In a sign of how things are changing, Forbes interviews Robert Threlkeld, global manager for renewable energy at … General Motors.</p><p>"It is a business transformation," said Threlkeld. "Customers decide when they will use clean energy resources — not just wind and solar but also demand response and energy efficiency. It is a comprehensive solution."</p><p>Quick reminder: General Motors is currently siding with the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/climate/general-motors-california-emissions-trump.html" target="_blank">Trump administration</a> in the battle with California <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2019/10/30/oil-house-oversight-hearing-clean-car-standards" target="_blank">over fuel efficiency standards</a>. This is not a company with a track record of being "green" on principle — it's all about the money.</p><p>Which is why natural gas and nuclear are fated to suffer the same fate as coal in the power generation sector.</p><p>While the IEA and FERC have taken their time catching up to the economic reality of renewables, the free market has already caught on.</p><p>Warren Buffett is widely hailed as one of the greatest investors of all time, and he invests to make money, not save the planet. Buffett recently loaned $10 billion for a <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2019/05/14/fear-greed-shale-fracking-oil-warren-buffett" target="_blank">major fracked oil company merger</a> and has profited off of <a href="http://beniciaindependent.com/tags/berkshire-hathaway-inc/" target="_blank">oil trains </a>with his company BNSF for the past decade.</p><p>However, Buffett is also in the power generation business and owns utility company PacifiCorp, which in October announced long-term plans to shut down coal generation in Western states and <a href="https://earthtechling.com/2019/10/pacificorp-drops-coal-for-14000mw-of-renewables/" target="_blank">replace it with renewables</a> — not natural gas.</p><div id="a2dd7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ZLD8061576661186"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1188490551487807488" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Renewables & storage undercut natural gas prices, increase stranded assets: RMI https://t.co/TJAHBS2bCb, check out… https://t.co/wT9tRQMuCo</div> — PlantATree.urbieta.com (@PlantATree.urbieta.com)<a href="https://twitter.com/UPlantATree/statuses/1188490551487807488">1572193203.0</a></blockquote></div>
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When it goes live in three months, Hyundai's 150-megawatt system will overtake Tesla's 100-megawatt facility in South Australia as the world's largest industrial energy storage system, Independent.ie reported. Sorry, Elon Musk.
By Ben Jervey
If it feels like the oil industry's attacks on the burgeoning electric car market are well coordinated, that's because they are. The industry is following a blueprint laid out decades ago, and refined ever since, by Koch network insiders.
Charles Koch, April 2019. Credit: Gavin Peters, CC BY-SA 3.0
Koch Student Commons, on the ground floor of the University of Kansas' business school. Credit: Frank Morris / KCUR, public domain
Support for free market principles was strong at CPAC 2018. Credit: Zach D. Roberts for DeSmog
Col. William Knight holds a battery-charging device for a plug-in electric vehicle at Joint Base Andrews, which is replacing its entire passenger vehicle fleet with electric models. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo / Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen, public domain
Gas cars facing off against electric cars. Credit: Electrek
Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. Credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Senator Marco Rubio at an Americans for Prosperity "Road to Reform" event in Manchester, New Hampshire in 2015. Credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0
The Pine Bend oil refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, run by Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Koch Industries. Credit: Tony Webster, CC BY 2.0
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By Venkat Viswanathan and Shashank Sripad
Electric vehicles — specifically, the Tesla Model 3 — are dominating the U.S. market for premium sedans, but are barely even on the radar in the busiest automotive category, which includes SUVs and pickup trucks.
The immediate reason is economics, but it has a lot to do with physics as well: Larger, heavier, less aerodynamic electric vehicles need larger, heavier, more expensive batteries to power them. Our research has looked at the energy needed to move cars and trucks along the road, and has identified the important factors that affect power usage.
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By Ben Jervey
Drivers of electric cars are being unfairly punished by punitive fees in several states, according to a newly published analysis by Consumer Reports. Legislators in 26 states have enacted or proposed special registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) that the consumer advocacy group found to be more expensive than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gasoline vehicle.
www.desmogblog.com<p>In 2019, eight states passed new fees for <span style="background-color: initial;">EV</span> registrations or increased current fees, and of these, Consumer Reports found that all but one would be "extremely punitive" — or would cost <span style="background-color: initial;">EV</span> drivers at least 50 percent more than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gas-powered car.</p><p>All told, there are already 18 states with EV fees higher than the annual gas tax equivalent for an average new car, and at least eight more punitive fees have been proposed. </p><p>The current highest fees in place are found in Arkansas and Wyoming, where EV owners must pay what a driver of a vehicle that gets 13 miles per gallon does in gasoline taxes. </p><p>The highest proposed fees are in Missouri and Arizona, which would translate to the gas tax paid by a vehicle that gets 9 to 10 miles per gallon.</p>