QUESTION: What would you say to people who are on the fence about getting an electric vehicle (EV)?
ANSWER: Do the math. You often look at the upfront cost, but you don't look at the amount of gas you are going to save and the amount on maintenence you are going to save because you are paying electricity instead of gasoline.
Q: Even with Hawaii's electricity rates?
A: Even with our rates -- believe it or not, because of the efficiency of electric vehicles.
"When you are at a stoplight, you aren't burning any gas because you aren't running.
EV also collects (energy) when braking. They call that regenerative braking. Some hybrids do that, also."
If you are diving over the Pali and driving up the hill, you are using the energy going up and you charge as you come back down the hill.
Q: What is a common misconception about electric vehicles?
A: I think people still have the perception that they are slow and like golf carts and not like real cars. But as soon as you take a test drive, you will see they are better than most cars out there. They have better pickup; they are quiet. They are expecting a golf cart, and it is nothing like that.
Q: What are the fuel savings?
A: The expected fuel savings from using an EV is about $450 per year given typical Hawaii driving. Let's say the choice is between a Nissan Leaf and a comparable gasoline car (Toyota Camry).
Here are some assumptions:
» 3.1 miles per kilowatt-hour (about 75 miles on a 24 kwh battery charge)
» 35 cents per kwh. So about 11 cents per mile.
» 26 miles per gallon
» $4.16 per gallon. So about 16 cents per mile. That's a difference of 5 cents per mile. If the average Hawaii vehicle travels about 25 miles per day, that's $1.25 savings per day with the EV (about $450 per year).
Q: What would you say to people who are considering buying an electric vehicle?
A: Prepare to be impressed and annoy all of your friends because you are excited about your car. People typically turn into evangelists after they get their car.
Q: What about accessible charging stations?
A: Surprisingly, a lot of people use just a regular socket and leave it overnight. That is just enough to get to work and run errands. If there are places that they frequent that have charging spots, that can make it easier for them. There are a lot of charging stations that are free provided by companies like Volta.
Q: What about biodiesel vehicles?
A: If you live in a condo and you don't have charging at home or the office, I would look at biodiesel.
Regarding biodiesel vehicles, not every vehicle can burn 100 percent biodiesel reliably, so it's worth a little research online before you buy. But it is a great choice to support 100 percent locally produced, renewable fuel.