Readers can tell by past articles that I believe that individual efforts for Creation Care can make a difference. Of course, governments need to make the greatest difference with policies phasing out fossil fuels and plastic and encouraging renewables and recyclables. But if each one of us embraces a personal lifestyle of simplicity, uses renewables, recycles the others and avoids plastics, we do a small part of creating a larger movement that helps save future generations from a burning planet.
I have been interested in buying an electric car for several years. Unfortunately, some of the manufacturers of good electric cars, like Hyundai and Kia, only market them in states that have legislation promoting electric vehicles. Ohio is, regrettably, not one of them. So I had to limit my search to manufacturers that sell electric cars in Ohio that have had good reviews and are at a price I could afford despite the lack of government encouragement. My condo board had the foresight to get a Smart Cities grant to install three electric chargers in 2019, so I did not need to worry about how to charge.
I test drove several cars, but in the end I settled on a 2022 Chevy Bolt. This was partly because of my handicap. Sedans like the Tesla 3 and the Nissan Leaf are very close to the ground. The Bolt has a 7” ground clearance and high seat, so I can get in and out easily. Like the Tesla 3 and Leaf, the Bolt has a history, having been introduced in 2015. I like buying a car where the manufacturer has had times to work the bugs out! That’s why I didn’t test the new electric cars from Ford and VW that are also available in Ohio, though they are probably fine cars.
The Bolt’s maximum range is supposed to be around 250 miles, but for someone like me who mostly just drives around in Columbus, that is plenty. And it’s in the right price range for me. Not that electric cars are cheap compared to a similar gasoline engine car. But considering that I will never need oil changes, or tune-ups, or to replace a muffler or catalytic converter, and the need for a frequent brake job is less likely, the initial cost will balance out. My service schedule says that every six months I rotate the tires.
So, what’s it like to drive? Likably different. The basic controls are like any car, though I will say that the GM engineers did a good job with ergonomics. There are no gears, so acceleration is smooth and surprisingly powerful. Most electric cars have a feature called single pedal driving. Because of the ability to use regenerative braking rather than the disc brakes on the wheels, you can engage this feature and just use the accelerator for both movement and braking, recharging the battery every time you slow down or come to a stop. It takes a little getting used to, but it quickly becomes natural.
The biggest change is the large screen to the right of the dashboard. There you can get not only the backup camera picture, audio info, and mapping, but readouts of the state of your batteries, your driving efficiency, your KW hours per mile, the amount your battery is using to propel the car, run the air conditioner, the radio, the lights, etc. The dashboard itself keeps you aware of how much charge you have remaining. If I were a real electric car geek I might be experimenting with how to get the optimum stats. But I just drive.
Charging is very easy. The Bolt like other electric cars comes with a 120 AC charger you can use at home. But commercial chargers work faster. To use them you do need to either get a charge card or download an app for the charger you use the most, but once that is done you just pull up to the charger, swipe your phone or card, plug it in, lock the car and walk away.
There are already more chargers in Ohio than you might imagine. There are apps that locate them for you and help you plan longer trips. With government encouragement, there will certainly be many more chargers available in the near future.
If you charge your car every day at home or at work it only takes a few hours to bring the charge level up to full. Prices per KW hour vary, but most are still cheaper than gas to “fill the tank.”
So, if you are in the market for a new car, I hope you will consider driving electric. It’s good for the future of our earth. I know that there are used Teslas, Nissan Leafs and Chevy Bolts available if the price of a new one is too steep. I’m already seeing more electric cars in the Columbus area. I hope the trend continues.