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Electric Vehicle Road Trip to the Grand Canyon: Easy Lessons Learned Over 2,600 Miles

By David Morgan

We’ve driven about 100,000 electric vehicle (EV) miles since we ditched our only gas car about five years

ago. But we hadn’t gone on a very long road trip, until now. It has been said the lack of fast charging

infrastructure and added wait time are the Achilles heel of EVs, that they inhibit long distance travel.

But is this true?

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Chapter 1 - Dieselgate

You’ve probably heard about how Volkswagen and other car makers lied about their pollution control

systems. But did you know that as part of their atonement, VW’s subsidiary called ElectrifyAmerica is

spending a couple of billion dollars installing EV fast chargers all around the country? Although

ElectrifyAmerica is just one of several companies offering fast chargers, theirs are being installed several

at a time in the same location, a kind of an electric gas station with multiple pumps. And they are super

high power, useful not only for today’s EVs but also models of the not-too-distant future which will be

able to add hundreds of miles of range in a very short span of time.

Chapter 2- Figuring out where to charge

There are several ways you can do this. With our Chevy Bolt we use a website for EVs called Plugshare

which is basically a mapping program that includes charger location with street address, photos, max

power output, price, elevation profile of your trip, nearby places to eat, hotels, and other details, most

of which can be edited and updated by EV drivers. Users can even contact each other. There’s also a

handy app to use while on the road. Thanks to Plugshare, before any long trip I have a good idea of

where I want to charge, what my backup options are, decent places nearby to eat, etc. Most of the

chargers I used on this trip were located within sight of the interstate, often at regular gas stations,

some of which had solar panels on the roof.

Chapter 3- Getting where you want to go next

Our Bolt comes with a free subscription to GM’s navigation service called On-Star. I press a button, a

live operator picks up, I ask for directions, they download to my car, and display on a screen. There are

other ways to do the same thing, for example using Android Auto (basically a hands-free version of

Google Maps) on my phone and connecting it to my car, but generally I prefer On-Star unless I have a

co-pilot along for the trip. If you change plans, you can tell On-Star to redirect you without having to

take your hands off the wheel.

Chapter 4- Knowing your car

You may have heard about tapering, which refers to the way in which, the closer your battery is to full,

the slower it charges. All EVs are affected by this. In a Bolt, up until the battery is 50% full it’s charging

at full speed (about 55 kW, if the charging station is capable), and after that it slows down in a stair-step

profile. The implications are you can save time and money by not filling up all the way every time, even

though you might stop more often. On a long road trip I’ll intentionally add only enough electrons to

get to the next place I want to charge, plus a small margin for error.

Chapter 5- Defining “small margin for error”

When I left Leavenworth I had a full battery. The official range in a Bolt is 238 miles. It’s about 200

miles to Hermiston, OR, so I skipped several places I could have charged on the way. I knew from

experience that in mild weather 200 miles at moderate speed is no problem, and when I arrived 4 hours

later I had 15% battery left. There was another fast charger about 80 miles away near La Grande, and I

would climb nearly 4000’ to get there. Plus the speed limit would be higher, meaning more energy

needed. Using my car’s range display while I was plugged in to keep track of how far I could go, plus

some common sense, I ate lunch, used the bathroom, cleaned the windshield, and in that half hour I

added what I needed for the next leg, plus a little bit more. I repeated this exercise in Huntington, OR,

Mtn Home, ID, and Burely, ID where I spent the night, getting the last bit of charge at the hotel on a

120v outlet to reach 100% before day 2.

Chapter 6- It’s a good idea to pay attention to the laws of physics

I almost always set the cruise control for 1 mph higher than the posted limit. The Bolt kept track of my

energy consumption, specifically the miles traveled per kilowatt hour (kWh) and average speed, which I

would reset with each charge. Tracking my energy consumption helped inform how long I would need

for my next charge, saving me time by not charging too far into my taper profile where charging slows

down, while still giving me reasonable confidence that I would make it to my next stop. For example, on

the first leg of the trip I averaged 4 miles per kWh (Bolt’s full battery holds 60s kWh) and averaged 52

mph. In contrast, the next day in Utah where the I-15 speed limit was 80 mph with lots of elevation gain

and a stiff headwind, on my worst leg I averaged 2.7 miles per kWh at an average speed of 79 mph.

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Just before my final leg before the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and the fifth fast charger of the day, I

wondered about the 5000’ elevation gain and 140 miles ahead of me on unfamiliar 2-lane roads. I knew

the speed limit would be less than 80 mph, but how much less I couldn’t be sure. I’d need headlights in

the dark. Would I need defrost too? All these require more power. I ate a leisurely dinner across the

parking lot from the charger and filled to 90%. Turns out, despite the serious climb to the Kaibab

Plateau, I averaged 3.9 miles per kWh and 47 mph, arriving with 30% battery remaining, more than I was

shooting for, but better safe than sorry. Overall, getting to the Canyon I averaged 3.4 mi/ kWh.

Chapter 7- How long does it take to charge?

That depends. In a Bolt, fast chargers add up to 170 miles of range per hour of charge, provided the

battery is very low when you begin, and you are using a high-powered fast charger. (Teslas, using their

own Superchargers, can add 300 miles per hour, and other expensive brands including Porsche are even

faster.) I only used one 240v charger on this trip, which is the most common type, and it was free, as is

often the case. I probably bypassed hundreds of these except for one near my hotel on the way home,

and like the one I have in my garage, it added 30 miles of range per hour, filling the battery while I slept.

At the Canyon I plugged into a regular 120v outlet at my friends’ cabin, which added 5 miles per hour of

range, slow, but plenty to get me to the trailheads during my visit, and still have a full battery before

heading home several days later.


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Chapter 8- Did I make it home too?

It still took two days, just like if I had an internal combustion engine (ICE). I partly retraced my steps

through AZ, UT, ID, OR and WA, with a few scenic detours, but this time I had to deal with a huge storm,

which snowed on me like crazy in higher elevations, then pelted me with heavy rain on and off the

whole way home. My first day mostly in Utah was even more beautiful due to the kinds of clouds you

cannot adequately describe or photograph. Despite the weather I only needed 3 charging stops for 500

miles, largely thanks to a big elevation drop. The last day was 720 blustery miles which took about 15

hours intermittently slowed by torrential rain, plus seven charging stops (lots of headwind at high

speed), half of which were necessary meal breaks.

Chapter 9- How much longer did it take than an ICE?

Google said the direct route I took southbound would be just over 600 miles per day, about 10 hours

each, which assumes perfect driving conditions, and does not account for pee breaks, gas stops, meals,

etc. It took me 13 to 14 hours door to door each day. The way I see it, because I did those things

whenever I charged, some of the extra time really does not count in terms of answering the question.

Also, because I stopped every 1 to 3 hours and had time to walk a bit each time, I can’t recall a long road

trip where I felt better at the end of the day. My longest stop which did not include a meal was at a

Walmart (which appears to be on the way to having the most fast chargers in the USA) where I spent the

entire “wasted time” stocking up on supplies for my hikes at the Canyon. My shortest stop was about

20 minutes; the longest was about 90.

Chapter 10- What did it cost?

Fast chargers like the ones I used almost exclusively on this trip are by far the most expensive kind of

chargers, which means the per mile cost for this journey was much higher than 99% of the EV miles

we’ve driven. Many “normal speed” 240v public chargers are free, and electricity is cheap when you

charge at home (less than $2 in Leavenworth to fill my 238 mile battery). Prior to this trip we estimated

we’ve driven 100,000 EV miles for about $1000, meaning one penny per mile (not a typo). This trip cost

about $280, or about 9 cents per mile, which was still cheaper than most ICEs. A king of ICE efficiency

Toyota Prius, at 45 mpg (my educated guess given my average speed of 64 mph with lots of hills, wind,

and snow) and gas at $3.50 per gallon (is that right because I don’t pay attention anymore?), would’ve

burned 59 gallons and $206. The driving experience in a Bolt is way more fun and comfy than a Prius,

with zero emissions to boot. Substitute almost any other ICE and it would’ve cost a lot more, polluted

the air, reduced the long-distance views, and warmed the planet.

Chapter 11- Is there anything he’s not telling us?

Funny thing: while at my friends’ cabin at the North Rim, we lost power several times. Luckily, I already

charged my car to 100%. Which reminds me, did you know you can’t pump gas without electricity

either? Ask me how I know. But for me, those days are over….

Not funny thing: The hotel I booked in Burley was next to a gas station with several fast chargers visible

from my room. Which turned out not to be my room, because they gave it away, thinking guests who

call two days ahead will arrive before 930pm. I found another place to stay, but it was a few miles away,

which complicated my charging plans, made for a late night, and involved a taxi. Half a day later and

250 miles away, I realized I left my credit card in that charger. My first thought was to blame the

inconsiderate hotel for my mistake. My next thought was to call the gas station, where my guardian

angel answered the phone, retrieved my card, put it in the safe, and handed it to me on my way home.

Patience: On my way home, I got so carried away eating and watching a nearby fire that I failed to notice

that a power interruption terminated my so-called fast charge after about 15 minutes. If I’d paid

attention to my phone, which is linked to the charger and the car, I would have seen the text. When I

returned to the car, instead of immediately driving off with enough battery to reach my next stop, I had

to wait another 30 minutes. And then later, in La Grande, it took nearly 20 minutes of phone help to get

a brand-new charger to work, but at least they gave me a free charge.

Chapter 12: Best things about this EV road trip

I felt fresh at the end of each day, despite the long hours, in part because I needed to stop frequently,

and on at least half of my stops I ate, walked, shopped, etc which helped pass the time faster than I

expected. I liked supporting those businesses who facilitated my EV travel and I thanked them for doing

so. It was interesting to see how many “gas” stations are adding chargers.

It was impressive how many fast chargers I used which did not exist even a few months ago. And

“Coming Soon” icons are all over the map, an indication that EV driving will just keep getting easier. I

visited several new gas stations with EV chargers in the middle of nowhere, which made me feel better

about using the squeegee and bathroom. I saw that Walmart is going all in for EV chargers at many

locations, which is sure to help normalize EVs. It appears the charging network needed to replace gas

stations is arriving, and sooner than I thought.

It was inspiring to walk the conservation talk on such a long trip. I may never buy gas again. Ever.

Although climate change is dire, it was heartening to confirm that some of the solutions are not. I

already knew that the biggest thing I could do to address my personal contribution to climate change

was to quit using gasoline, but I did not know how easy it would be, even on a long trip through

unknown country in rural areas.

Confirmation that there is no reason to wait for improvements or think the transition to widespread EV

adoption must be far away. The Bolt is described as the first affordable, long-range EV, and even without

the benefit of improvements each new version and its competitors are sure to include, this trip proved

to me we’re already most of the way there, at least for ordinary passenger vehicles. I’m already plotting

my next trip farther from the interstates, confident that by next year even many lonely 2-lane highways,

the kinds or routes I prefer, will be ready for an even longer EV adventure.

  • David Morgan lives in Leavenworth, Wash.

  • Thanks from Plug-In NCW for contributing this article.

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Shake and Charge at the 59er Diner

Plug-In NCW is hosting an EVent at the 59er Diner at Coles Corner on Hwy 2 west of Leavenworth, Saturday, May 11th, 11 am - 1 pm.  

The 59er Diner was one of the first sites to host a Plug-In NCW haL2 (high amperage Level 2) charger back in early 2014.  When the diner burned several years ago, the charger was kept in service.
The diner is now back in operation, better than ever!  Come with your EV to show our appreciation for the 59er Diner’s continued support of EV travel!

Every EV will get one free 59er Diner awesome milkshake, courtesy of Plug-In NCW!  Other activities and fun are also being planned.

In addition to the Plug-In NCW haL2 charger, several Juice Box L2 chargers will be available.  And, there’s also a Tesla Supercharger and Aerovironment L3 in Leavenworth, 15 miles east of Coles Corner.

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The Great Fill Up Comparison

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The Great Fill Up Comparison

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Sometimes I just fall for the wrong argument. A friend of mine was saying that the only time he would consider buying an electric car is when he could charge it up in the same amount of time it takes to fill a legacy car gas tank. Sure, I just fell right into his logic by trying to talk about improvements in batteries and high-power Level 3 chargers. But in stepping away from the heat of that discussion; OK, argument, I see the wisdom of staying away from non sequitur comparisons.

In this case the “time to fill up” comparison is really an expression of hope that electric cars will not become the dominate road machines of the future. The speaker of this conspiracy believes that it is an unattainable goal, therefore they will never be forced to admit that EVs are better.

A big guy driving a big pickup truck pulled up beside me a few weeks ago and as he rolled down the passenger side window, he asked with a kind of knowing look, “How long you have to wait here to charge?” I told him, “I’m going to lunch and it’ll be ready to go when I get back.” I didn’t stay to engage further. See, I can learn from my experiences.

The real issue to consider is how inconvenient is it to charge my car. Legacy vehicle drivers seem to believe it takes them about three or four minutes to “gas up.” Of course, they may have driven a little out of their way to get to the gas station, they might have had to wait in line and they had to smell the gasoline. But I digress. Me? I just drive home and in about one minute, plug the charger handle into my car and retire for the evening. Nearly 98% of my charge time is spent inside my home enjoying myself and I never have to “smell that smell.”

In conclusion, the 30-40 minutes I sometimes have to use “exploring the neighborhood” while charging away from home are more than offset by the overwhelming number of “one minute” plug ins I perform at home.

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Washington State EV Registrations top 40,000

Washington State released information on EV registrations recently; for the first time ever, there are 41,091 electric cars registered. Also worth noting 2018 is the first year where every county in the state has an EV registered.

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Home Built e-Motorcycle Travels England

We usually talk about electric happenings that are local; but this story was just too encouraging. You will be enchanted as you read this unfolding story of inventiveness, determination and reward. Plug-In NCW has been saying that there are unintended advantages to EV travel, this story exposes some of them.

http://charging-bullet.co.uk/

Enjoy the trip…..

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Pybus University Class

Plug-In NCW partnered with the Pybus University program at Pybus Public Market to present an opportunity to learn some of the basics of Electric Vehicle ownership and to experience a selection of available vehicles. Some of the topics covered:

  • Why it’s more economical to drive an EV than a fossil fuel vehicle.

  • EV charging and how to find public EV charging stations.

  • Buying or leasing an EV.

  • What vehicles are currently available

After the classroom discussion there were EVs from Chevrolet, Nissan, Smart and Tesla and owners available to continue the learning experience.

This class was video recorded by NCWLIFE and can be viewed on their website at: https://www.ncwlife.com/pybus-university-plug-in-ncw/. You can also view it below.

Jack Anderson and Randy Brooks presented the information and answered the many questions generated. This presentation was also part of the national Drive Electric Week events coordinated by Plug In America. www.pluginncw.com

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New Bolt Owner Takes Family On West Coast Road Trip

By David Morgan, resident Chelan County, Wash.

Love our Chevy Bolt!

A few months ago we decided to buy a new EV just before the WA sales tax exemption expired. We sold our 2013 Volt, which we bought used in late '14, with some reluctance, as it was a great car that introduced us to a better way, convincing us almost overnight we’d never consider any car without a plug. 

We drove it 30,000 miles averaging 140 miles per gallon, which hinted at the possibility of forsaking gasoline forever. It was so good we later bought a lightly used ’13 Leaf for cheap and zealously convinced a few friends to buy EVs of their own. We came to see gas stations as places with squeegees and restrooms, while trying not to think about how many hours of our lives we’d wasted pumping gas and inhaling fumes.

How much better is the Bolt?  So much better that it’s hard to say what could be improved. I’m not going to detail the solid feel, comfy seats, serene quiet, and rocket acceleration. I guess it’s a little small but we’re used to that (the only gas car we ever owned was a ‘95 Neon), which goes hand in hand with conservation. And the idea of buying a new car was intimidating. But not as much as climate change. We wanted to be liberated from petroleum forever and the Bolt was the only realistic way to do it.

In four months we’ve gone 8,000 miles. We’ve never been tempted to drive so much, all without asking ourselves: Is this trip really necessary? I seriously doubt we’ve spent $100 charging. We’ve been to Spokane a few times and the west side of the Cascades several times. We even drove from Leavenworth to downtown Seattle and back without charging, but with all the places to plug in over there it wasn’t necessary other than to prove it could be done (once was enough).

But the best road trip took us nearly to California, visiting National Parks along US 97 in Eastern Oregon along the way, covering 1,200 miles for about $37 in charging fees. 

You might be surprised how easy it is to charge. Here in the Northwest there are new charging stations being added to the network every week or so. I hope the following illustrates how affordable and simple it is around here for anyone to ditch gas once and for all. 

1.       We unplugged from our garage with a full battery, which GM says is good for 238 miles (we can easily do better in mild weather). In case you’re wondering, that charge added about $1.80 to our Chelan County PUD bill.

2.       We used a free fast charger in Yakima at a Chevy dealer. About 20 minutes added more than enough extra juice to reach Mauphin, OR, which I’m not even sure was necessary but why not when it was convenient, and we needed a stretch break anyway? We found this charger, and all others, using the Plugshare website/app, which lists fees and other details such as nearby things to do, places to eat, etc.

3.       We camped in the Mauphin city park overnight and plugged into an RV outlet using our JuiceBox charger.

4.       We left the next day with another full battery. Although we didn’t need to charge, while we ate breakfast in Madras we plugged in at a regular charger at City Hall two blocks away, gaining about 30 miles for free.

5.       After a long day including three great hikes in different parts of Newberry National Volcanic Monument, that night we camped at Big Pines RV campground (very nice!) in Crescent, OR and used an RV outlet to fill up while we slept.

6.       We spent the next three days driving and hiking all over Crater Lake National Park, charging several times for free at Mazama Village, our home base in the park, whenever it was convenient. Occasionally we saw other EVs at this charging station, but sharing was no problem.

7.       It was sad to leave Crater Lake but the consolation was even though the battery was full when we departed, while descending about 4,000 feet back to civilization the car kept charging itself passively and kept us from speeding down the hill, which is a neat trick! Using the electric brakes, the Bolt crammed in more electrons until the display said we added about 150 miles of range. All I had to do was steer and admire the scenery. Who wants to use primitive, energy-wasting mechanical brakes anyway?

8.       We drove a few hours to Oregon Caves National Monument near California, hiked underground, and later drove to Wolf Creek, OR. That night, for the first time on this trip, we had to pay to charge (flat fee $4) while plugged in overnight at a regular charger next to our hotel.

9.       The next day the girls had donuts on their mind, not to mention their own beds. So we headed home via I-5 stopping briefly in Salem for Voodoo Donuts in a big pink box for the road. Later while eating lunch near Eugene we used a fast charger for about 90 minutes, which nearly filled the battery (flat fee $10). Later we ate dinner while charging at another fast charger at Tacoma Mall (pay by the minute $22.85 total) which easily got us all the way home, even though we didn’t wait for a full charge.

We’re already planning next summer’s EV adventure into Northern California. Meanwhile I hope you find some EV inspiration. And consider this an invitation to contact me if you’re EV curious.

 

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Plug-In NCW Committee Member Nick Chambers Departs

When I say, "departs" I mean in a really big way.  Nick Chambers was a founding member of what is today Plug-In North Central Washington. His insight and knowledge of the automotive industry was a primary factor in this organization's success in helping foster EV adoption in our part of Washington State.  For several years Nick's employer has asked that he and his family move to  Germany to work at Home Office.  This year the offer was too good to pass up.   We will miss his uncommonly good sense and slightly rye humor.

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To recognize his contributions Nick (center) was presented with a Lithium vehicle starter system by Jack Anderson (left) and Randy and Anne Brooks (left).  We expect him to assist stranded German ICE drivers and have the opportunity to demonstrate the value of EVs.  In truth, we may have been attempting to "bribe" Nick to return to Plug-In NCW upon his return. 

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Plug-In NCW Participates In Chelan, Leavenworth 2018 Earth Day Fairs

Once again Plug-In NCW had a great exhibit of EVs at both the Chelan and Leavenworth Earth Day Fairs.

On Saturday, April 21, the exhibit at Chelan was possibly the best we’ve ever had, with 11 EVs
displayed! They included:
- Tesla Model 3! Yes, if you weren’t there you missed seeing this beautiful new Tesla.
- Chevy Bolt
- Smart Car EV
- Tesla Model X, which did the Christmas “Easter Egg” dance several times for all to enjoy.
- Tesla Model S
- Re-designed 2018 Nissan Leaf
- VW e-Golf
- Kia Soul EV
- Zero electric motorcycle
- Link Transit full sized BYD electric bus, with 200 kW inductive charging!
- Polaris Ranger EV with lithium battery pack
- An assortment of battery powered landscaping tools

Although the weather was windy and cool at the 9 a.m. opening, the wind died about 10 and we had great weather and full crowds until about 3 p.m. when the wind picked up again.

On Sunday, April 22, we had a smaller, but busy exhibit at Leavenworth. Once again we had:
- Tesla Model S
- Kia Soul EV
- 2018 Nissan Leaf
- Smart Car EV
- Polaris Ranger EV
- Assorted battery powered landscaping tools

Thanks for celebrating Mother Earth with Plug-In NCW, your community and the planet. Already looking forward to next year. 

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Washington State Alternative fuel vehicle sales tax exemption ENDS May 31

The Department of Revenue has notified the Washington State Auto Dealers Association that the alternative fuel vehicle sales tax exemption will end on May 31. To receive this tax exemption, your vehicle must be delivered on or before May 31, 2018.

The list of qualifying vehicles is available athttp://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/altfuelexemptions.html.

The exemption

  • Only applies to new vehicles.
  • Only applies to the first $32,000 of the selling price or total lease payments if the customer leased the vehicle prior to the exemption’s expiration.
  • Expires on the last day of the calendar month after the Department of Licensing determines that 7,500 vehicles have qualified for the exemption.

To qualify, a vehicle must:

  1. Have a base model MSRP under $42,500 and be on the list linked above; and
  2. Be a passenger car, light duty truck or medium duty passenger vehicles that:
  • Is exclusively powered by a clean alternative fuel; OR
  • Uses at least one method of propulsion that is capable of being re-energized by an external source of electricity and is capable of traveling at least thirty miles using only battery power.

If you are receiving your vehicle after May 31, 2018, you will be required to pay all applicable sales taxes.

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Local Community Developer Goes Electric With Smart Car

By Steve King

When I was asked to write up a short article for Plug-In NCW, I felt grateful to have the opportunity to share my story. For anyone who has been thinking of buying an electric vehicle (EV) and has questions, that is a good thing. After contemplating and evaluating this endeavor for six months, I am now leasing a new 2018 Smart Fortwo EV and couldn’t be happier! I hope by sharing this story, it will help you make the leap as well and more importantly choose the option that fits you.

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First, I want to share my typical driving situation. I own a 2007 Honda Ridgeline with 125,000 miles on it. It is a great SUV! I drive it to and from work in the city of Wenatchee about 10-20 miles per day. On weekends, I often take it on a day trip up the Icicle Valley, to Chelan, or around Wenatchee to take advantage of our beautiful outdoor wonderland. About six times a year, I drive about 600 miles round trip to visit friends on the Washington coast. Finally, once every other year, I take a week or two road trip vacation somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 miles. All total, the Honda has been racking up 15,000 miles per year on average. At this rate, it won’t be long before it will be time to replace the Honda at a price pushing $40,000 with sales tax. Ouch.

What is worse, is at least 10,000 miles per year is in town driving where gas mileage runs around 13 mpg. The in-town driving is tough on the Honda and its tires, and is a bit clumsy in the city. This is the primary motivation for buying an in-town car. I used to own a Geo Tracker and it was perfect for bouncing around the city and thus I admit a small car is really all that is needed to carry myself and groceries.

In evaluating which car to purchase, I wanted to keep my costs low and essentially pay for the car with gas bill savings. My options included purchasing a used Nissan Leaf, a new Chevy Bolt, or another small electric vehicle. After test driving a Bolt, a very nice EV for the price, I decided to eliminate that option due to the purchase price. It would be more expensive than my gas bill savings even with the Federal Tax Credit of $7,500 and trading in the Honda
Ridgeline. The second option, a used Nissan Leaf, is very affordable at roughly $6,000 to $8,000. After nearly purchasing a used Leaf, I decided to investigate the lease of a new EV Smart car which required going to the Mercedes dealer in Portland, OR. There is so much demand for these little cars, that they sold three of them while I was test driving one. I see why!

With the $7,500 tax credit that Mercedes applies to the lease, I walked out of the show room with a 36 month, 30,000 mile lease for only $143 per month. This is pretty hard to beat! Now, the Honda gets parked except for road trips and in the mountains where it excels. I also get to keep $8,000 in the bank and end up with a new car instead of a used Leaf. If you can tell that I’m happy with the choice, you are right!

So far, everyone asks… “How is the performance of the Smart car?” Here are my two cents. First you need to drive one to fully understand. I think you will be shocked at how well they drive for such a short wheel base (even in the snow). It is not a luxury car, it is an in-town car that can park anywhere, turns on a dime, and is simply fun. It is spunky with the torque of the electric motor and has enough creature features to make it very comfortable.

The first week of leasing the car the temperatures in Wenatchee were below 30 degrees and bottomed out in the teens. I will tell you that the EPA rated range of 58 miles was cut to about 40 miles with the heater going full blast. So, the first week, I chose to charge it at a level 2 charger twice for about three hours each time. Now that the weather has warmed up to the 30s and 40’s, the range is now 70 to 80 miles in town. Since there is not an 110v outlet at my apartment, I am charging it once a week and once on the weekend at one of the many L2 chargers located in town.

Check out the PlugShare app and you will find all the chargers. It is a piece of cake. Planned charging is easy to do as part of your regular activities. For example, it is easy to charge while taking a walk at the park or at Saddlerock where there is an L2 charger, or at noon when having lunch.

The Smart car has an impressively fast L2 charging system. It is not a hassle at all. In fact, it is even a little easier than realizing unexpectedly… oh I need to go get gas.
At the end of the day, the life of the Ridgeline is prolonged, I have a new run around town car, save a lot of gas, and enjoy sharing with our community the opportunities to contribute to the advancement of technology, conservation of energy, and the betterment of our city.

- Steve King lives in Wenatchee and contributed this article at the request of the Plug-In NCW committee board. King is the Community Development Director for the City of Wenatchee. 

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Federal Government Extends Charging Station Tax Credit for TY 2017

Congress extend EV-related tax credits for charging stations, and electric motorcycles that had expired on December 31, 2016. The new date is December 31, 2017. So, in other words, if you made a qualifying purchase in 2017 you can claim it .

The tax credit for charging stations (EVSE) is 30% (up to $1,000), while for electric motorcycles its 10% (up to $2,500).

Note that the extension is only retroactive. For right now it does not include the year 2018.

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Recycle things Electronic

Plug-In NCW has highlighted Pacific Power Batteries previously but their joining the E-Waste program means that they now handle more than just batteries.  You may want to plan your E-Waste drop offs for Wednesdays because they offer free watch battery replacement Wednesday of every week.

They now recycle televisions, computer monitors, towers, laptops, and cellphones. They also recycle anything battery-related: alkaline batteries, NiCad batteries, lithium batteries, and automotive batteries. Everything that is rechargeable (lithium) is free to recycle. Alkaline batteries are charged $1.10 per pound.  In regards to computer parts, towers, monitors and chords are recycled. Keyboards and printers are not recycled.  If you have a question call before you make the trip.

Pacific Power Batteries has been recycling batteries for a long time, but the E-Waste part has recently started. They are open Monday-Friday from 8-6 and Saturday and Sunday from 9-5.  Phone: 509-663-6100. Email: sales@pacificpowerbatteries.com

 

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Chevy Bolt – First 5 Impressions After 3 Weeks Of Ownership

By Steve Firman

Like most people yearning for an alternative to gas and diesel-powered cars, I wanted a Tesla, but didn’t have the means for a $100,000 car. In 2014, we purchased a used Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and we really like the car. However, it's basically a gas-powered car that is made more efficient with the use of a battery and electric motors to re-capture braking energy. It works great and I’m not knocking it, yet I still wanted a car that did not require fossil fuels. So, in 2017 Chevy announced the Bolt and we wound up buying one in November.

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Our First 5 Impressions:  

  1. The car is easy to get in and out of, an important factor for us. It's smaller than the VW Jetta TDI that I drove for 11 years, but it stands a bit taller.  
  2. The car is stunningly smooth. I’m used to the “turbo lag” of a VW turbo-diesel and while I hardly noticed it after a while, the Bolt is a revelation with its instant power, smooth acceleration and no shifting. 
  3. The range. It's rated at 238 miles and it will probably do that in the summer. The car “learns” your driving habits and predicts the remaining range. With a fully-charged battery, our predicted range is about 185 miles. This is in the winter with the heater on and with snow tires. This turns out to be plenty for multiple trips around the Chelan Valley and a trip to Wenatchee and back, and that makes it more than adequate for us.  It will probably be back up to 230+ miles in the summer with the low-rolling-resistance tires.
  4. It is comfortable for a small car. It's easy to get in and out of, and it’s also easy for older people to get in and out of it, as it stands a bit taller than a sedan and nowhere near as tall as an SUV.   
  5. Charging the car: It comes with a level-one “portable” charging cord. This cord is like a laptop charger but about 5 times larger with a heavy cord. It will charge the car from a 120-Volt standard outlet at either 8 Amps or 12 Amps from the outlet. It takes about 2 full 24-hour days to charge it with the portable cord if the car is fully discharged. This has not been an issue for us, because we tend to use maybe a quarter of the battery capacity in a day, and it charges overnight just fine. Nevertheless, I have ordered a Clipper Creek 40-Amp 240-Volt Level 2 charger that will charge it from empty overnight. I just need to get it wired in to my house.  
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If anyone wants to use a Chevy Bolt for cross-country travel, make sure the car is equipped with the Level-3 charging option. I was told by the dealer that this cannot be added as an after-market option. A Level-3 charger will add about 90 miles of range on the car in about 30 minutes. And shoot, my car doesn’t have this option. Once I get my Level-2 charger hooked up, it will add about 25 miles of range in an hour of charging.

So those are my 5 first impressions. I can now pass by gas stations and not care what the price is! That, and we are blessed with inexpensive hydro power in Chelan - there is no coal or oil being burned to produce our electricity. The car has a 60-kilowatt-hour battery. A full charge from empty costs about $1.80. Someday I may get to installing solar panels at our home, and then we can charge the car for free! That said, I actually didn’t buy the car to save money on fuel. I bought it so that I can have one car that burns no fossil fuel. The side benefit is that it is super fun to drive!

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EV Sales continue to Increase

We have passed the "tipping Point" and it seems quite certain that electric powered vehicles will continue to replace the pollution producing ICE.  During December of 2017 EV sales were 1.6% of all new cars sold in America.  A record number of 199,826 EVs were purchased in this country during last year.  Plug-In North Central Washington looks forward to the challenge of ensuring charging opportunities for all the new electric vehicles.

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Major Turnout for Autonomous Driving Forum in Wenatchee

On Wednesday, November 1, Plug-In NCW participated in an exciting EVent at the Confluence Technology Center (CTC) in Wenatchee. Hosted by the Chelan County PUD, Dr. Michael Kintner-Meyer of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. gave a presentation on “Smart Transportation: What is smart about it and how might it impact you?”

Our current level of “autonomous” (self driving) cars, the future of fully autonomous cars and their impact on the economics and environment of Washington state was the focus of the presentation, with a panel discussion afterward. Plug-In NCW Charger Network Coordinator volunteer Randy Brooks participated in the panel discussion.

To compliment the presentation, Plug-In NCW agreed to have some AutoPilot equipped Tesla vehicles at the CTC before the presentation for attendees to get a demonstration ride of “semi-autonomous” vehicle operation.

That turned out to be more challenging than we thought! After several weeks of unsuccessfully getting any autopilot-equipped vehicles to attend, the day before we finally got a commitment for one vehicle! Then, through the extraordinary efforts of Jim White at Chelan PUD, another vehicle from west of the mountains agreed to be there.

Although the demo rides were not scheduled to begin until 5 p.m., people started showing up at 4:30. Fortunately one vehicle was already there, so demo rides began. By 5 o'clock we had two vehicles going and a full sign up sheet!

Then, out of the blue, two brand new Tesla Model Xs arrived! The owners, from the Wenatchee area, had heard about the event and showed up to see what was going on. They readily agreed to give demo rides! It was a good thing, because by 6:30, when we closed demo rides to attend the presentation, 77 people had been given rides! Wow!

Folks from Cascade Auto also brought a brand new Chevy Bolt for people to see.

About 90 people attended the presentation and panel discussion. Interest was high and questions and discussion continued until 8:30 pm, when the PUD event coordinator had to end the EVent!

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Soap Lake Charger Latest Added to NCW Network

The Soap Lake EV charger is complete, verified, and posted on PlugShare! The enthusiastic support of the City of Soap Lake and prompt work by Segalini Electric in Ephrata brought this unit on-line in record time. The charger is located at Smokiam Park, at the north end of town, just off Hwy 17.  The Mayor is working on getting “EV charger” signs posted on Hwy 17.  The pin on PlugShare is accurate. The statue/sundial there is pretty awesome!  

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Stehekin Valley Ranch adds E-Bikes

For more information check Stehekinvalleyranch.com

The Wenatchee Business Journal reported that the popular resort at the end of Lake Chelan is now offering the rental of Rad Power Bikes which are available from the Seattle company by direct purchase.  E-Bikes or "Pedal Assist" are a growing segment of the bicycling market.  These are not electric motorcycles but are bicycles that require varying levels of human effort to climb hills or gain speed.  Twolocal central Washington sources of other brands of e-Bikes are Full Circle Cycle, and Cycle Central.  Plug-In NCW will have the Polaris e-Bike at our National Drive Electric Week EVent on Saturday the 9th, 12 - 6PM, parking lot of Commercial Printing/Dusty's Drive In, Wenatchee.  

 

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Oroville Charger Now Live at Camaray Motel

The Camaray Motel is now hosting an EV Charger supplied by a grant to Plug-In NCW from the U.S. Department of Agricutlure. It's a high amperage Level 2 (haL2) 240v, 80 amp, charger.

The Camaray Motel was evaluated, along with several other sites, for the best location based on access to services like restaurants and restrooms. The charger was supplied by Plug-In NCW, with the Camaray paying for installation. For the first three years, EV owners can charge their cars for free.

Randy Brooks, Charging Network Coordinator with Plug-in NCW, charging his Tesla using the new EV Charger in Oroville.

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