by Roger Lohr
The Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Forum & Demo was held in mid-May attracting about 200 people at the Montshire Shire Museum in Norwich, VT. The attendees saw many of the electric automobiles on the market today from Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and the starring Tesla. Zoombikes was on hand with two brands of electric bikes for people to ride. The event was hosted by SERG, the Montshire Museum, and the Upper Valley Sierra Club.
The basics were covered in a presentation by Drive Electric Vermont, a statewide coalition of policy makers, industry leaders, and ordinary citizens dedicated to promoting the spread of electric transportation in the state. The website and organization is focused on infrastructure, regulation, codes and standards, policy, incentives, technology, education, and marketing. The presentation covered general info, EV technology, EV charging, and purchase considerations.
EVs come in a few categories including the hybrids, which are not plug-in (Toyota Prius); the plug-in hybrids (Chevy Volt has 10-40 mile range), and the all electric vehicles (Nissan Leaf has 75 mile range and the Tesla S85 has a 265 mile range). Many of the vehicles at the demo were owned by individuals, who spoke to attendees about their personal EV experiences. The Norwich guy who owned a Tesla claimed he reached 300 miles on a charge during a trip to Florida.
There are tables available that compare the different EV statistics such as costs or the distance one can travel on a charge (Google it). Barriers to purchasing an EV include the distance range (how far can you go before having to recharge), performance (how it handles, maintenance, or operation in inclement weather), the price, and the battery issues.
Currently there are 630 EV (either hybrids or all electric) that are registered in Vermont, which represents about .1% of the vehicles in the state. The cost ranges from leasing arrangements as low as $249 for a Ford Fusion to more than $70,000 for a Tesla available on line through a showroom. It is estimated that an EV can save up to $4,300 of gasoline over 5 years and on fire-oriented concerns, they are safer than other vehicles. There are good warranties available on EVs and Federal tax credits, too (up to $7,500).
Using the AC or heater will decrease the range on an EV (20-50%). Some of the EVs have regenerative braking, which will increase the battery output and range while braking.
Charging stations come in three categories including the Level 1, which is a 120 volt outlet (5 miles per one hour charge); Level 2 is a 240 volt outlet (20 miles per one hour charge); and DC Fast Charging, which will charge 80% of the EV in 30 minutes. The Drive Electric Vermont website has a locater map of charging stations and there are phone APPs such as PlugShare or ChargePoint to find charging locations. There are about 15 new charging stations opening in the next 6 months in Vermont and 7 of them will be Fast Charging. Most people charge their EV at home overnight.
There was great interest at the forum but are electric vehicles ready for prime time? Almost, but it’s not quite there yet.