The Sierra Club has just unveiled a “quiz” that tries to help you know which electric car to buy. While it’s a good idea, and the questions make sense, the answers they give aren’t very good. Even so it’s worth going to http://content.sierraclub.org/evguide/pick-a-plugin and seeing what suggestions they have.
There’s an idea commonly held about electric cars – the typical EV’s can only be used around town because the driving range is too short. The quiz perpetuates this idea with two questions: “How many miles total do you drive in a typical day?” and “For long trips, would you consider using another car in household, renting, car-sharing, carpooling, or taking bus/train/plane?”
This is an important consideration. If you routinely take long road trips, an electric car with only 80 miles range and no fast charging will be impractical. A road trip in such an electric car is, tedious. You drive 70-80 miles, stop for 3-4 hours, and repeat. While the long distance trip can be taken it’s going to take a long time. Especially if you have kids – that 3-4 hour charge time will add a whole new dimension to “are we there yet”.
Fast charging, even the CHAdeMO and CCS style, makes a big difference – if your local area has enough fast charging infrastructure. The Sierra Club quiz didn’t take that into account.
Bottom line is that medium range trips are quite possible with an electric car, so long as it has fast charging, there is fast charging along the way, and/or you can charge at the destination. If you’re a real hard-core road tripper, and can afford it, nothing electric beats the Tesla Model S. Good news that in a few years (2017ish) we’ll have more choices for proper road trip electric cars.
Where I got stopped on the quiz is with this question: “Do you have access to an electrical outlet in a garage or driveway at home or at work?”
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