There's an EV in Your Future
Like it or not, there's an EV (Electric Vehicle) in your future. Perhaps your very next car, perhaps the one after that.
For EVs to take off in Australia, we need at least two of these things to happen:
A car to arrive, almost certainly from Japan or Korea, that fires our imagination and that also has a range between charges of a comfortable 500 kms.
Plenty of charging infrastructure, including fast charge. Note that this doesn't mean big depots all around the country like service stations. The only reason we have this model for fuel is the necessity of large underground tanks to store the petrol and diesel. All you need for electricity is a network of cables. It's likely that charging points will be in parking stations and railway car parks. So, for instance, you drive to the supermarket or shopping centre, park in a spot that has a charging pad like a bigger version of the one for your smart phone, tap your credit card, and when get back from shopping or the movies, your car is charged.
Government incentives to switch to electric (like solar panels). In the US, there's a federal tax credit of $7,500.
Using an EV for Rideshare
But how would such a vehicle go for rideshare driving?
Rideshare Guy contributor Gabe Ets-Hokin thought he could save the planet and make more money at the same time, so he bought a 2018 Chevy Bolt. Find out what happens when you drive for Uber and Lyft with an electric car.
My name’s Gabe Ets-Hokin and I have driven my Chevy Bolt for 32,000 miles and eight months. This is what happens when you buy a Chevy bolt for rideshare.
I’m here with my good buddy Bob we’re going to talk about driving my 2018 Chevy Bolt for Uber and Lyft. I wrote up some questions for Bob to ask me because a lot of my passengers ask these questions.
Bob: Is this a Chevy Bolt or Volt?
Gabe: That’s a good question because a lot of people don’t know the difference between a Chevy Bolt and a Volt. The Chevy Volt is a Chevys plugin hybrid. The Chevy Bolt is Chevrolet’s first long-range electric vehicles, pure electric. It’s got electric motors and it doesn’t burn any gasoline at all. In fact, I haven’t filled up a car at a gas station other than a rental car since last year.
Bob: How long is the range?
Gabe: This car will go 238 miles (381 kms). That’s the EPA rated range. You can get as much as 300 miles (480 kms) or even more. The record on one of these is around 400 miles (640 kms) from a single charge.
Bob: Where do you charge it?
Gabe: Here in northern California it is very EV friendly, so there’s plenty of of charging stations. They’re all over the place. But most of the public charging stations are what are called the level two charging station.
And I guess you’re just talking about the difference between level one, level two and level three chargers. Level one is what you get with the car. It plugs into a 120 volt outlet, just wherever you can get, and it charges very slowly because this battery is so large. It could take two or three days to charge from a fully flat battery.
The level two charge station is what you mostly see. It has one of those J1772 charging handles.
Bob: It looks kind of like a pistol grip.
Gabe: Yeah, it looks like a gas pump and you plug that into the side of the end of the charge port. That can charge the car in about 10 hours from fully depleted. And then there’s the level three and that’s a fast charge and that charges the vehicles so quickly that the computer system in the car actually slows down the rate of charge so it doesn’t overheat the battery and cause a fire. Those will charge the car to 80% in about 40 minutes.
Bob: Time for a cup of coffee.
Gabe Ets-Hokin: Do you know there’s a Japanese standard for fast charge that’s called Chada Mo? And that’s actually a contraction of the Japanese word for charge the car and the time it takes to drink a cup of tea.
Bob: How much did your car cost you?
Gabe: The MSRP for the base model is $37,500, because they wanted it to be under $30,000 with the federal tax credit of $7,500, which expires soon. That’s for the base model, and I have the base model. You can get the fancier one with leather seats and like more safety equipment and other little features and those costs like $41k.
Bob: How long does the battery last?
Gabe: Battery discharging was was an issue with earlier EVs. This car is expected to have 1,000 charge cycles of 238 miles, so that’s a 238,000 mile lifespan. I use an OBD reader, which you can plug into the OBD port in your car, you can measure the battery capacity. This car after 33,000 miles is about the same as when I bought it.
I don’t think I’m going to start having issues with battery memory. I don’t think the car is going to have issues with memory until well over 150,000 miles. And by then it’s going to be time for a new car anyway because when you drive a car for rideshare, for Uber and Lyft, the, your car starts to smell like drunk people and all kinds of awful things after a while, especially with cloth seats.
Bob: What is it like on the drive it on the road for you?
Gabe: Oh Man. Here’s the thing. People think people equate electric vehicles with hybrids, which are designed for maximum efficiency. But this car isn’t like that. This car hauls ass! It’s been tested at a zero to 60 mph (100 kph) times of 5.6 or 5.7 seconds, which is is in the realm of performance cars.
So if you need to get into a hole in traffic or to pass another car, this car really hauls ass. Also it’s really nimble. It has a short wheel base. It has, I don’t know what they call this, this kind of design, but here we’re doing a really tight, you turn and this is, and we’re in the Berkeley hills where Bob lives and the roads are really narrow and this car just makes turns like you wouldn’t believe.
I have never driven a car this size. It’s so maneuverable and easy to get around in. It’s a really fun experience driving and passengers really like it. They’re always impressed by its performance. You’re not giving anything up. In fact, I think you’re actually gaining something with an electric car. It’s not where you have to like sacrifice to get efficiency. You’re actually get efficiency and you get a more fun driving experience,
Bob: What do your passengers say?
Gabe: They love it. It’s really roomy. Like Bob, you’re not a small man. Bob’s two meters tall and he’s sitting back there and he fits pretty good. I even put the seat back a little bit. So he’s, he’s pretty comfortable back there and also the doors are wide and the roof is really high so it’s really easy to get in.
Bob: I have full head room in sitting in the back seat
Gabe: One nice thing from a driver;s perspective is that if it takes less time for passengers to get in and out, you’re going to make more money because the faster those passengers are out, you’re going to be able to get to your next ride that much faster.
Bob: I had three in the backseat on a ride.
Gabe: You can even get three car seats back there, but there’s not a lot of trunk room compared to a big luxury sedan or something. It doesn’t have a huge trunk, but it’s bigger than my last car, so it’s pretty good.
Bob: Do you get special rates from the electric company?
Gabe: Oh yeah. That, that’s one of my reader or my readers questions was, was that, because we also, you know, please go to the website and read the full article, but yeah, Barb asked that.
She asked how you can get the special rate from the utility company. So PG&E is the local utility, but every utility in California, as far as I know, offers a special rate for electric vehicle charging. What they do is they set you up with a new rate plan. I charge for 12.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which means around eight bucks to fully charge the car. And that takes me 215 miles. Like that’s like buying gas for 60 cents a gallon.
Gabe Ets-Hokin: So any, any other questions Bob?
Bob: No, I’m just sitting back here and enjoying the ride. I wonder what’s going to cost me!