In late April, after having waited for seven months, my Mustang Mach-E finally arrived. Since then I’ve had to make some adjustments from my gas-powered days and embrace the EV life.
Charging and range anxiety are what give most non-EV-owners pause when they are considering whether or not to make the switch. For the most part this hasn’t been a big issue for me, but it’s certainly been an adjustment.
With a gas car you can essentially drive it around until your fuel level gets low and then head to a gas station. With an EV you can’t, so you don’t want to leave the house with a low battery. You may be tempted to charge it up to 100% every day, but it has a lithium-ion battery just like a phone which will degrade the more you charge it. My system is to plug the car in when it goes under 50%, and limit the maximum charge level to 80%. My particular trim of the Mustang has a range of 270 miles on a full charge, so half that amount is plenty for any day I’m not planning to go on a long drive.
When I do go on a road trip, then things get more complicated. Let me start by explaining the different types of chargers:
Level 1: This is a standard 120 volt plug. It takes several days to charge with one of these.
Level 2: This is a 240 volt plug typically used for dryers and I have one installed in my garage. My car can charge up overnight on a level 2. Most free EV plugs you see (e.g. in front of a grocery store) are level 2.
Level 3: This is a 400–900 volt plug that you find at charging stations that charge a fee. This will charge my car up in under an hour.
Tesla: These are proprietary chargers that can only be used with Teslas, though Elon has announced that they will install adapters for standard EVs in the future.
The only road trips I took this summer in my Mustang were to Chelan and back, where my mother and stepfather have a house. It’s 170 miles away, so I can’t get there and back on a single charge. Sadly there are no level 3 chargers in Chelan, so there isn’t a quick solution. There is however a level 2 charging station at Chelan City Hall where I am able to charge for free. I once left it there all day, but received a nasty note as a result threatening to ticket me if I did that again (there aren’t any notices posted stating a time limit that I saw).
I went to Chelan four times this summer, so I figured out a system. I like to run in the mornings, so I drove the Mustang to the city hall charger first thing and ran back to my parents’ house. It’s only 2.5 miles, but almost all uphill so I get a decent workout. Then around mid-day when we leave for activities I have someone drop my at my car so it’s only there for a few hours. For the rest of my stay I charge my car overnight at a level 1 at the house, and the combination is plenty to get me home.
Yes this is a hoop that an EV owner has to jump through that a gas car owner does not, but now that I figured it out it’s not that inconvenient. The new infrastructure bill working its way through the US Congress has billions of dollars dedicated to building out EV charging infrastructure, so hopefully this will improve soon.
Aside from all that, owning an EV is awesome. The responsiveness is glorious and you really notice a difference when you go back to a gas car. I’m able to drive it almost exclusively with one pedal because when I let up on the accelerator (don’t call it “the gas”) the regenerative breaking kicks in the reclaim the momentum as energy, which is why I get much more range in stop-and-go conditions than driving on the open freeway.
It’s a lot quieter than a gas car and never smells like gasoline or exhaust. Maintenance is less of a concern because there is no oil or timing belts to change.
Also EV owners get to enjoy a sense of smugness whenever a gas car owner complains about the price at the pump. If my car were at 0% charge (which of course it never is) and I charged it fully at home it would cost me between $8 and $10, and in Chelan would only be $2.50! And electricity rates are very stable so I know that it isn’t likely to cost a lot more next year vs this year.
I can honestly say that aside from a small twinge after I drove it off the lot, I’ve had zero buyer’s remorse for my EV. It’s fast, fun and grants me healthy doses of both nerd and liberal smugness.