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Comparing an EV to a Gas Buggy

Kia Niro EV
Stock Kia Niro Image

Lately, I drive an EV as my daily driver, and I love it. I previously wrote that I believe battery-powered cars have largely won the primary daily-driver market. For most people, an EV is perfect for most driving, much less expensive to fuel, and has much lower maintenance costs. Moreover, the more modest EVs have arrived at a reasonable price point. For example, my Nissan Rogue and Kia Niro are both under $30K, but the Kia is a smaller and lighter vehicle with less cargo capacity.

Nissan Rogue
Stock Nissan Rogue image

The major problem with this is that many will need to be able to afford two cars, an EV for daily driving duty and a gasoline-fueled vehicle for the outlier cases.

Comparison: My Nissan Rogue gets 37 MPG with a 14.5-gallon tank. If I fill it up from the cheapest station within 50 miles (per Gas Buddy), it costs me $14.32 to drive 100 miles. My Kia EV gets 4.5 miles per kWh with a 60 kWh battery. While PG&E rates vary wildly depending on many variables, the worst-case value places the cost for 100 miles between $8 and $9. Further, the Kia does not need much routine maintenance. No oil changes, etc. Regular maintenance means rotating the tires. So, you save several bucks on maintenance.

The weak point of an EV is the battery. With 260 miles range, the Kia meets my daily need. It is always fully charged when I drive it out of the garage, unlike the Nissan, which often requires a stop at a gas station on the way. But, when I go to LA or Texas (which I need to do from time to time), 260 miles is but a start, and on-the-road charging is challenging. It takes too long and happens too frequently. The Nissan goes over 500 miles on a tank and refills in 5 minutes. The Kia goes about 200 miles at highway speed and takes an hour to charge 80%. So, I can drive 160 miles between hour-long stops on the road vs. 5-minute stops every 450 miles in the Nissan.

The major challenges with batteries are (a) They are costly, driving up the cost of the cars, and (b) The raw materials are limited in supply.

Today's IEEE Spectrum has an interesting article on the latest battery technology.

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