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Living with an Electric Car

At Turtle Garage, we recently discovered the site Medium publishes some worthwhile articles that can be thought provoking and insightful. Medium covers broad topics such as self help, book recommendations, personal development, and how to create wealth —among many other topics.  A recent article caught my eye and thought it would be something worthwhile to share with TG readers. See the below article about living with an EV by Enrique Dans. Enrique is a Professor of Innovation at IE Business School, blogger, and Senior Contributor at Forbes. His positive insights are worth a skim as electrification of the automobile becomes a broader-based inevitable reality. Besides running some nerdy math on the benefits of an EV, Enrique talks about how battery performance has been better than expected. He also talks about how much fun it is to drive an EV given the power, experience, and acceleration. My recent test drive of the incredible Porsche Taycon 4S would corroborate his statements. The direct link to the article on Medium is here.

Here’s my experience of driving an electric car for two years


An article in The Next Web, “Here’s how to calculate the cost of driving an EV per km (or mile)”, got me thinking that it might be interesting, almost two years after I purchased my electric vehicle, to perform a few ‘napkin calculations’ to gauge the impact of my decision. I’m not trying to convince anyone to follow my lead (although I’m pretty sure the world would be a better place if more people thought about it).

The first thing I’ve noticed is that, compared to the numbers in the article, my vehicle is significantly more efficient than the average it quotes. In the image, a graphs of its consumption, an average of 184 Wh/km. When I bought the car, I changed my electricity tariff to an hourly rate. The vehicle is always charged at night, and the rate I pay per kWh is 0.099387 euros. This means that my cost per hundred kilometers is 1.83 euros, that is, less than two cents (0.018) per kilometer. But of the 21,372 km the vehicle has now traveled, a certain amount corresponds to trips where the recharges used the brand’s free superchargers, so the real cost would have been somewhat lower (specifically, I have consumed 2,544km in superchargers). If I ignore this factor, which was part of a promotion the brand was making at the time of purchase, the cost of all the kilometers traveled with my vehicle in its almost two years of life is about 391€. If I include in the calculation the savings for the superchargers, it would be 344€.

How much would I have spent if my vehicle were a gasoline-powered vehicle? Assuming an average fuel price in Spain of about 1.364€/l and a reasonable consumption of about seven liters per hundred kilometers (mixed urban cycle for a vehicle of these characteristics), the cost per hundred kilometers would have been around 9.55€, that is, almost ten cents per kilometer. The 21,372km that I have covered with my car would have cost me about 2,041€. In fuel, so far, I have saved about €1,696, as well as the annoyance of having to spend time in gas stations approximately once a week.

Other factors: in two years, I would have had my vehicle serviced at least once with an oil change, brake fluid, etc. I don’t know whether my experience was typical, but services for a vehicle of the range of my current one were expensive. In addition, I would have paid about €130 in road tax, which my city has reduced by 75% (link in Spanish) for being an electric vehicle.

In more than 20,000, with a few 500 km trips each way to northern Spain and some conferences in other parts of the country (far less than usual due to the pandemic), not only have I never had any problem when it comes to planning the route, but my recharges have often taken less than half an hour, many of them while I was taking a break. Range anxiety? I’ve never experienced it. You tell the vehicle where you’re going, and it calculates the stops and times for you, with no further need for planning. In all honesty, I have had more of a feeling of being stranded when I had a gasoline vehicle (either because I wanted a particular brand of gasoline, or because I didn’t want to stray too far from the motorway) than with my EV. When I’m not going on a trip, I simply leave my house every morning with the vehicle fully charged with a range of several hundred kilometers. No worries. I looked more at the tank needle when I had a gasoline vehicle than the kilometers I have left on this one. What’s more, in most cities in Spain I can park anywhere for free, as well as use the high-occupancy vehicle lane.

Was it worth buying an EV? Definitely. Not just for the satisfaction of not emitting smoke, but also for the acceleration, the performance, the fun of driving such a vehicle (which is unlike any I’ve driven before, better even than my experience trying out the car of my dreams as a child, the Porsche 911), and which is also a very relaxed drive: it’s possible to make a trip almost entirely in autopilot taking control for less than 15 or 20 minutes in total so that I arrive at my destination rested. For a professor who teaches innovation and wants to understand how we will live in the future, the experience has been worth its weight in gold.

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5 Responses to Living with an Electric Car

  1. Larry K June 27, 2021 at 2:30 pm #

    A professor should know that looking strictly at marginal costs is a fatally flawed approach that incorrectly favors electrics. I suggest that he expand his scope to address full life cycle costs (all what’s required to build, operate, maintain and retire a vehicle), which he will find does not currently favor electrics like his flawed thinking. Add in the capacity and location of critical mines for lithium, and you have a much different conclusion. While advances in battery technology, charging, etc. the situation can clearly change, but at present that is not yet the case.

    • Philip Richter June 27, 2021 at 6:46 pm #

      Larry, point well taken. Clearly there is no free lunch here! The full life cycle all in costs for an EV are not clear and many EV advocates prefer not to discuss this or quantify it. The laws of thermodynamics cannot be ignored! I wonder if this 100% push towards all manufacturer R&D going towards electric drive is a massive mis-allocation of capital. Thanks for your astute comments.

  2. Erle Lantz June 27, 2021 at 12:42 pm #

    While electric vehicles are significantly less expensive to make and some form of power supply resulting in electricity is no doubt the long term way to go, there are several things to keep in mind when reading this article, and possibly applying it to the USA.

    First, every model of car is different, we don’t know what this one is, so details can differ a lot in evaluating your situation.. As Spain has about 6/10 of 1% of the world population, it may be pointing the way, but it’s not exactly “wagging the dog”. While on the subject of costs, please remember that gasoline is taxed, electricity is subsidized and the IRS and at least some states greatly subsidize the purchase of electric cars. I’m not saying that’s bad, or that you should not take advantage of it, but be aware of it when calculating the results.

    As it’s likely that cleaner, better batteries will be developed, the truly horrible environmental impact of making and disposing of current electric car batteries will likely pass by the time in years ahead that electric cars become the world standard.

  3. Bob Kahrl June 27, 2021 at 11:01 am #

    Phil, if you want to enjoy thinking about the future with electric cars, read Dan Neil’s column in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal about the Tesla Plaid. He was stunned by its performance, and I was smitten with the idea of owning one of these. Neil’s article says that the car’s 0-60 time and its quarter-mile time are both records for a production automobile, and so is its low coefficient of drag. He says it generates 1020 HP with three motors and can charge at the rate of 1000 miles of charge in one hour. He says that cornering is phenomenal, I suppose because of the low center of gravity. I own two plug-in hybrids but have feared going to full electric power because of the range issue. But the performance of the Plaid is so stellar (according to Mr. Neil), that I can really savor having a fully electric Plaid.

    • Philip Richter June 27, 2021 at 6:29 pm #

      I will read Dan’s piece, thanks for the heads up. My question is when is Tesla going to re-design the Model S and update it—its been in production almost ten years and looks long in the tooth…..the design has aged.