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Considering an Electric vehicle? Here's some info

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posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 12:29 PM
I have been doing some research on the cost of ownership of an electric vehicle. I thought I would share some of my findings to anyone who is interested.

For the TLDR crowd, there are quite a few hidden costs, non-obvious future issues, and the decent tax rebates and incentives are expiring literally after less than a year of the first availability. After the success of the EV1 (and it being literally crushed out of existence, but that's another story), why is it now so relatively difficult to produce and own a cheap electric car?

The lease on my car is running out in December, so I have been considering whether to keep my car (pay off that remaining value), or sell it (myself, not dealer rip-off trade in) and get another new car, or even a used car.

I have been considering getting an all-electric car for some time now. Since I currently have a Nissan, I get lots of spam snail-mail from them about new car models, including the Nissan Leaf which is an all electric vehicle.

I have been seeing lots of ads lately for the Nissan leaf. In almost all of the ads and promotions, they mention that the high price of the vehicle (over 30k) is offset by various federal and state tax credits,rebates, and other incentives. Here is an example of the credits, rebates, and incentives available for Arizona:

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit An income tax credit equal to 50% of the cost of electric vehicle recharging equipment capped at $2,000 for individuals and $50,000 for businesses.

Incentive: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit
Description: An income tax credit equal to 50% of the cost of electric vehicle recharging equipment capped at $2,000 for individuals and $50,000 for businesses.

Incentive: New Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicles
Description: An income tax credit of zero to $7,500 for the purchase of a new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle.

Incentive: Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Income Tax Credit
Description: Income tax credit of zero to $75 per each installation to be claimed by individuals and businesses.

Incentive: Reduced Annual License Tax For Electric Vehicles
Description: License fee reduced to a minimum of $5 per year to be claimed buy purchasers/owners of EV's.

Incentive: Electric Vehicle Single Occupancy HOV Lane Use
Description: Unlimited use of HOV lanes by vehicles with Clean Fuel license plate

Incentive: Electric Vehicle Parking Preference
Description: Ability to park in carpool spaces without penalty to benefit drivers of EV's.

So their sales pitch is, "Buy an electric car, it's zero emissions, cheap to maintain, cheap to fuel, and with all the tax credits it costs way less than the 30k base price". What they do NOT make obvious is:

* The biggest federal tax credit offer expires on 12/31/2011, and will also be ended when and if 200,000 units are sold.

* The other federal tax credit offer expires on 12/31/2010.

* You will have to pay an additional $99.00 fee to have a certified technician come to your home to assess and determine if and where a charging station can be installed.

* You will have to get a dedicated 220/240v 40A circuit installed to charge the Leaf. You cannot use your dryer circuit, or install the circuit yourself. It must be a brand new, dedicated circuit, installed and certified by an electrician approved by Nissan. Expect this install to cost around $700.00. You will also have to pay around $50.00 for the electrical permit.

* You will also have to purchase the home charging unit and cables that will connect to the dedicated circuit, expect this to cost around $750.00

* You will have to pay for a certified installation of the charging station. Expect this to cost around $1400.00. There is no apparent way to make the installation cheaper, regardless of any pre-existing circuit you may already have. Even if you already have a 240v circuit only inches away from where the charge station will be located, they will still charge you the full installation price, this has been confirmed by many people who have already gotten quotes and the work done!

* the total cost for the charging circuit and hardware will cost around $2,500.00. Hopefully you will get the $2,000.00 tax credit at the end of the year which will help offset it.

* The electricity to fully charge the leaf will cost about $3.00 which gets you ~100 miles (for comparison gas to fill my Nissan Altima costs about $30 and gets me over 400 miles)

* The battery pack supposedly lasts 5-10 years. No obvious details on how the efficiency or capacity of the pack will degrade during that time (if it totally stops working in 5 years, what shape will it be in after 2.5 years???)

* Even using the 240v charger, it will take around 8 hours to recharge the Leaf.

* There are planned "quick charge" stations which output 480v DC and can recharge the Leaf to 80% of its capacity in 30 minutes.

* While you can plug the Leaf into a normal 110v outlet, this is considered only a "trickle charge" to keep the battery topped off. Don't expect to recharge your car while you are at work, it will take over 16 hours to recharge to 80% via 110v!

* There are not yet any of the 480vDC quick-charge stations in Arizona. I know of at least one that is planned for the Phoenix area, but construction has not begun yet.

* No obvious details on the price of getting the battery pack replaced after 5 years, or sooner if it degrades to the point of not being useful

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 12:35 PM
Please do not consider my post as being against electric vehicles. I am actually considering purchasing the Nissan Leaf, which is the reason I have been researching it in the first place.

Along the way I had many questions. Some of them answered, some of them not. Some of them satisfactorily, some of them not.

One of my biggest questions is, how much is my electric bill going to increase? I currently pay around $400.00/month for electricity. Before you gasp, be aware that is on the "equalizer" plan, which only makes you pay the computed average of your usage for the entire year. In other words, without equializer, in the summer time, my electric bill would be over $800! Note that this is because I live in Arizona, and have 2 air conditioners running all summer long, a swimming pool pump, and I am a systems engineer so for both work and personal use I have a lot of servers and computer/networking hardware in my house.

That being said, I would really like to know how much my electric bill will increase if I have a nightly draw of 240v for 8 hours straight!

Some things to consider with that though, I don't really drive that much. My current car is near the end of a 39 month lease and I only have 16k miles on it. But if I did take a job where I was commuting a long distance daily, would the electricity costs from recharging really be that much cheaper than a gas vehicle?

I'm thinking it would still be worth it because an electric vehicle has very little maintenance cost. No oil and fluids to fill, etc. But I imagine it still needs some maintenance, like the various joints and fittings lubricated, maybe electrical motors for the climate control need servicing etc...and what is the cost if/when the battery pack needs replacement?

All things to be considered

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 12:42 PM
Another thing I found interesting, is once electric vehicles become more common, will the price of electricity be increased, just like cellular providers increasing their plan rates because of people buying smartphones which take up more bandwidth?

Also, I wonder what your employer would say if you asked if you could plug your car into a 110v outlet in the parking garage. Most people take electricity for granted - there's a plug, plug something into it and get power. But for the person who pays the bill for the power (like your employer), I would imagine if you asked if you could plug your car in all day, they would just see dollar signs running down the drain and say NO.

I'm sure this could lead to "ninja charging", where people carry a long extension cord in their trunk, and sneakily top off their battery by plugging into places without asking - the grocery story, outside hotel rooms while traveling, etc.

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 12:49 PM
I love what you found on all the rebates but i need more data on the recharging cost. im not calling you a lier but i find it hard to belive it will only cost $3 to fully charge after 8 hrs of being pluged in.

Plus think about what if everyone on your block get one of these cars. it will put a strain on the power grid incressing the cost of electircity. I would think if everyone gets an electric car the grid will have to be updated.

I will look into the cost of recharging

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 12:53 PM
This may help some, but be wary of the source

Q: How much will it cost to charge the car at a charging station?
A: The national average electricity cost is $0.1147/kWh. That means the average cost to charge the car would be $2.75 from Empty to Full.

I too, pondered the possibility of grid upgrades, in my third post above.

[edit on 24-8-2010 by Blazer]

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 01:30 PM
Good info Blazer but I think your looking at the wrong vehicle.

I think what people should be getting are electric bikes. They make them so they can go as high as 50 MPH . They can go 20 to 30 miles on a charge. They make 2 and 3 seaters.

You can switch between manual pedaling or electric use for exercise.

They would help the economy because they are cheaper than cars and use less resources.

All cars and trucks for residential citizens should be outlawed and everyone should use bikes. If they did this, there would be tons less pollution, healthier people and less fatal accidents.

I have owned 3 cars and 2 trucks in my life. 5 years ago I gave them up for a bike. I have never looked back.

But.. if you just won't give up your car, check out these hybrid electric bike/cars here:

[edit on 24-8-2010 by JohnPhoenix]

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 02:20 PM
Sadly I live in Arizona, and everything is too "spread out" to use a bike, even an electric one. Plus it's just too darn hot in the summer to not have air conditioning. You would think being on a bike or motorcycle the rushing air would cool you off, but at 115F it just feels like a hair dryer

I wish they made a coupe version of the Tesla Model S. I don't really like 4-door cars because nobody ever rides with me even in the passenger seat, so I feel like having a back seat is a total waste.

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 02:32 PM
reply to post by JohnPhoenix

just because you gave up your bike doesent mean the rest of us want to give ours up to. Outlawing cars is crazy. how would you get your food shipments at the supermarket? how would you get your building materials to the jobsite? how would you get your personal tools to the jobsite if your in the union? your going to make me and the avarage california person ride there bike 35 miles to work and back? what about the people that are not atheletic and cant balace on a bike?

im glad i dont live in your world

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 03:33 PM
reply to post by Blazer

Have you considered maybe converting your vehicle over to
hydrogen like these guys did? Its also good for the environment

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 08:28 PM
reply to post by camaro68ss

Why don't you re-read my post and employ a little reading comprehension. I said outlaw cars for residential citizens. Normal people who ride around town to work a few miles away and errands. Of course this would not work for elderly/handicapped or transporting goods to market. It would work for most people for what they use a car for.

For going to work for long distances they could have special public transit for that purpose.

I didn't say all or nothing. Having a car for most is a luxury, not a necessity. People only THINK they can't live without them. People did so for thousands of years. So.. you won't restrict any of this so you can have less pollution and fatal car accidents?

Do you even have a solution or are you just willing to be part of the problem?

[edit on 24-8-2010 by JohnPhoenix]

Mod Note: Replace large quote with "Reply to" tag.

Mod Edit: Big Quote – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 2010/8/24 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 09:09 PM
People lived without cars for "thousands" of years but those people grew their food or hunted in close proximity to their dwellings. They lived near streams and other water sources. They did not have to go to "work", etc.

In these times, people have to drive to work, the grocery store, visit their family, the mall, take the kids to school, etc.

Yeah we don't "need" all of that stuff. Technically you don't "need" the very computer you are reading this message on, or the internet connection you have, or the roof over your head, or the mail delivered to your house.

One of the "benefits" of modern society are things like vehicles, which have allowed us to build and live in bigger cities, spread more apart, and not depending on resources within a 5 minute walk in order to survive. Also bear in mind that I live in Phoenix, where during the summer it is over 100F outside even at midnight - see how much you like walking or riding a bike in that heat. You can't even ride a bike to work unless they have a shower on the premises.

Anyhow I think we are getting off-topic here. Let's debate the need (or lack of need) for modern transportation in another thread

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 09:21 PM
Personally I would be quite worried about driving a car which is hard to find fueling points for in a place that has such large areas of wilderness just in case some kind of emergency came up and I needed to drive a long way in a hurry,
but thats probably just my paranoia

Another thing I wonder, you mention the need for air con, does this car have it? and if so how does that effect the range, I know having the air con on in a petrol car sucks at least a couple of horsepower from the engine

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 09:24 PM
I just found the answer to my own question here so with the air con on full you get 70 miles, 35 each way without having to recharge, that doesn't seem much to me

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 10:20 PM
reply to post by Blazer

I would love to ride my bike, electric or not in the desert in Arizona. You guys have a dry heat. In New Orleans, it does get to 100 F and it is way more humid than Arizona. I could more easily ride 35 miles to work each day on a bike in Arizona. The electric bike makes this a breeze.

posted on Aug, 24 2010 @ 10:39 PM
Yep there is AC and Heat as well (in fact you can turn them on remotely via a phone application). Using the AC as well as other electrical things will slightly affect the distance you can go. a 50-100 mile range is plenty for most city driving. They are building several quick-charge stations that can recharge in 15-20 mins. Apparently they plan to serve coffee and have free wifi so you can hang out while you recharge. You can also trickle-charge while you are at work if your employer says it is okay. The nav system also has a mode where it shows your exact range, along with an overlay of charging stations.

posted on Aug, 25 2010 @ 09:26 AM
Very illuminating. Thanks to the OP, for this research info.

A lot of hidden costs to consider, but still many ways to offset them. Still, you really have to do your homework and prep for such a purchase.

Myself, I still think a hybrid is a better least until the infrastructure can better support electric vehicles (i.e. more charging stations, homes/apartment complexes built with them, etc.)

posted on Aug, 25 2010 @ 10:47 AM
Another thing I found out about the Leaf that isn't obvious - the sound it makes. Apparently a silent car is deemed dangerous to blind and vision impaired people, so they made the car emit a whining sound (via speakers!) so that blind people can hear it approaching. In addition when you back up it makes an annoying lerping sound.

The other sound I guess is okay, but I don't like having a loud beeping sound when backing up - my driveway goes right by my bedroom windows, and everytime I backed out of the garage it would wake up whoever was sleeping!

I'm not against catering to blind people, but honestly, my current Nissan vehicle is so quiet I doubt anyone could hear it coming if I backed into them, and yet they didn't feel the need to make it sound like a garbage truck when backing up

[edit on 25-8-2010 by Blazer]

posted on Sep, 14 2010 @ 05:35 PM
reply to post by Blazer

I think this is a good post. I also quite like the idea of electric vehicles - but I am concerned that, especially in the West, we are being encouraged by governments and industry to believe an increasingly unrealistic scenario, where electric vehicles save us from relying on volatile supply chains and environmental hazards. I have two main issues with the current 'push' from governments (certainly USA & UK appear to have embraced it as if it is something they couldn't dare deflate as a populist idea/wish/daydream for now).

1. Given where countries such as USA/UK are in terms of already struggling with gross underinvestment in power generation/stations replacement, expansion...and for the foreseeable....they CAN NEVER replace all, or even a significant fraction of our oil/gas motoring [certainly not] in less than about 15-20 years - [and probably never to the same scale] - I think.

Why? Just think about the energy consumed. I'm no scientist, but I am sure that if you figured out the amount of energy (joules?) that we use to accomplish our current motoring (including hills, multi-storey car-parks, load hauling, 4x4s, etc...ever noticed how the Leaf rarely gets tested in such normal/testing environments?) and then look at how much extra energy we'd need ABOVE our already increasing demands (thanks to things like computing, domestic appliances, etc...)

I suspect you would rapidly determine that there is no way we could realistically fill the gap in power production...I bet even replacing a third, fourth, even a fifth of traffic would be practically impossible. Go nuclear? Fine, but it ain't quick and would have to be on an unprecedented scale. Go fossil fuel? Defeats the object somewhat on several levels - no? Power generation - I just don't see it happening any time soon - perhaps CERN may come up with something - in fifty years! Please someone tell me I'm wrong.

2. Er, now nobody can really say how this will pan out, given the current state of world and economic affairs, but I'd say that, from a national strategic level viewpoint this following issue looks like it'll present something of a 'spanner-in-the-works' - and at worst shut off development of widespread adoption/manufacture of these cars IN the West for a decade?

Maintaining a large scale supply chain for the Rare Earth minerals used in the cars advanced electric motors...amidst an export embargo/emerging trade war with the world's main source/monopoly - China

Link to original article: Backlash to China curb on metals exports
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Published: 9:52PM BST 29 Aug 2010

China's draconian export curbs on rare earth minerals needed by the rest of the world for frontier technologies is escalating into a serious diplomatic and trade clash with the United States and other leading powers.

The last US mine shut 14 years ago, discouraged by tough US environmental rules. The US General Accounting Office said China now has a "dominant position" with market power. "Rebuilding a US rare earth supply chain may take up to 15 years," it said. Washington is examining claims that China's curbs breach World Trade Organisation rules by giving preferential access to Chinese companies. The US Trade Representative is collecting data from US firms to assess the basis for a legal challenge. There are strong suspicions that Beijing's aim is to force foreign companies to locate technology plants in China. Baotou Steel High Tech Co said in February that it was building storage space for 200,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides. The company has since been told to stockpile metals by party bosses in Inner Mongolia. China Daily reports that Baotou and Jiangxi Copper are aligning their policies and now "virtually control" the market. China claims it will need a growing proportion of these metals for its own industries, but US and Japanese officials say privately that Beijing's methods are not in keeping with the WTO ethos. Japan has already drafted a "Strategy For Enhancing Stable Supplies of Rare Metals" and has been stockpiling. Rare earth metals are sprinkled in iPads, BlackBerrys, plasma TVs, lasers, wind turbines, hybrid engines, and smart bombs. They cannot easily be replaced, if at all. Neodymium enhances magnets at high heat, and cerium is used in catalytic converters. Rare earth ores are not in fact rare, merely scattered and costly to extract. There are ample reserves in the US, Australia, Canada, Russia, and Greenland. A number of explorers are reopening mines but will not produce significant amounts until mid-decade.

So, I guess if that situation continues, we'd get no rare earth metals from China, and 10-15 years to replace supply chain = less efficient motors available for our several hundred million electric and hybrid cars (well the affordable ones anyway), so we'll need even more power/power stations to run them this really a sane path, our knight in shining crumple zones?

edit on 14-9-2010 by curioustype because: edit to initial argument p.1 - clarification of argument.

posted on Sep, 14 2010 @ 05:46 PM
Now those hydrogen cars (Honda) are interesting, they MAY provide an alternative to the electric power grid/generation quandary..., plus there'd still be THAT issue with the motors/rare earth supply AND massive infrastructure to construct $$$$$££££££$$$$$$ - way, way, way more expensive than Obama's long term rail projects for example - I'd imagine.

edit on 14-9-2010 by curioustype because: Simplified sentance

posted on Sep, 14 2010 @ 06:00 PM
reply to post by Gazrok

I thought hybrids, especially the Prius, were increasingly being outed for their fundamental design inefficiencies (heavy:each motor carrying dead weight; packaging and therefore aerodynamic issues) against the most efficient diesel and now even petrol engined vehicles, at least here in the UK/Europe? It is now fairly common to see stories in the MSM here about people getting better mileage, and a significantly better drive in the real world, from the best internal combustion engined non-hybrids (of comparable size/load capacity) overall.

The other thing I don't like about hybrids: manufacturing inefficiency - and the total life-cycle/footprint of the product. Look at what goes into a hybrid vs. a single motor vehicle: more stuff, and generally from more places, usually from a more dispersed global network of sources (i.e. mines, manufacturers...) They never seem to mention that in the adverts?

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