Electric Geek Transportation Systems

I've never thought of myself as a "car person". The last new car I bought (and in fact, now that I think about it, the first new car I ever bought) was the quirky 1998 Ford Contour SVT. Since then we bought a VW station wagon in 2011 and a Honda minivan in 2012 for family transportation duties. That's it. Not exactly the stuff The Stig's dreams are made of.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://blog.codinghorror.com/electric-geek-transportation-systems/
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They are super great cars… Welcome to the EV owner club!

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I look forward to my “awakening” in the near future!

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You might want to include a link to the following video as well. It’s about the environment.


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I like the idea of electric vehicles, it’s the execution that continues to prevent me from buying one. To me a vehicle is more than a way to get from point A to point B. I enjoy the aesthetics, power, and handling. No one is making an affordable electric car that replaces the sports car. The original Tesla Roadster was too expensive, the new one is going to be even more expensive. The Model S comes close, but fully optioned out it’s well over $100k.

Range is another issue. A couple of times a year I do a road trip. If I’m going 600 - 700 miles in a day that’s at least three stops of 20 - 30 minutes each, adding somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes to my travel day.

Once those two issues are resolved I’ll definitely be taking a close look. Until then I’m going to have to stick with my “barely controlled liquid fuel detonations” vehicle.

Jeff, basically all of your reasons for loving your EV are the reasons I anticipate when I too will own one. I have friends and coworkers that have taken the plunge and they all have similar reactions.

I’m a digital guy, not a “car” guy. I’m more of a “point A to B” guy, craving that smart phone like car experience too.

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Right there with you! But the charging speed (or should I say slowness) is what’s holding me back. For one thing, I live in an apartment, I don’t have my own garage. For another thing, if you really want to charge your car quickly (like 30min from 0 to 100%) the power requirements get staggering. You need a separate power line for the charger alone, and finger-thickness wires. And this will never change because of basic laws of physics. There still needs to be a significant innovation in this area before the electric car really makes the gasoline burner obsolete.


I love the idea of electric vehicles but most people seems to forget where their electricity comes from. Giant diesel turbines connected to the grid. Unless your electric car is getting its juice from solar, wind, tidal etc you’re just kicking the can down the road and still hurting the environment. Maybe not as mush as a gas vehicle, but it’s not like you’re 100% eliminating the vehicle’s footprint.

You’re lucky if it’s diesel turbine. There you may say “at least it’s centralized, better filtered, and the turbine is always running at most efficient conditions”.
I live in a country (Poland) where electricity comes out of burning coal. That’s even worse than burning gasoline in your own car. If you add up all the environmental damage gets done when assembling the electric car, they’re not green at all.
But it’s improving, solar panel prices are going down as well. This is the step in the right direction. Electric cars create demand for better and cleaner electricity, which will change supply.

The challenge I keep hitting is the price new. The most expensive car I ever bought cost $23k and that was in 1999. My current car, which I bought four years used, cost 10k. Cash. Because if I can’t write a check for it, I won’t afford it.

I look forward to the price tipping point happening, and cars like these to start to hit the used market. Because the Niro is the first all-electric car that isn’t a luxury car, a science project, or just weird. It looks like a normal car.

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Hehe, about that e-minivan, looks like one was unveiled just today. Not sure when it hits production though…

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Honestly I’m just so surprised that you are surprised. :smile:

I’m not a car guy and I haven’t even driven a fully electrical vehicle yet and I’m already onboard with all of your points. Just by having a interest in technology in general and caring about the environment it’s been all over the place it seems, these positive experiences exactly like the one you describe. The quite, the less moving parts, the home refill etc. It’s been the stuff that Tesla owners been talking about for years wether you like them or not… :grin:

I’m longing for the day I can afford an EV, they are so good already and they will be amazing in just a couple of years, we’re just in the early stages yet.

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For daily commute, I would definitely consider EV. But for long distance trips, I truly appreciate the quick ‘charging’ of a conventional car. A short 5-minute break and I can drive another 700 km. And if it is cold outside, your radius will drop due to heating. But technology will definitely improve.

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Actually, you can put the range value for combustion-engine car: it is how far you can get with the full tank.

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I don’t know how the batteries in electric cars are attached, but I have always thought that they would really take off if the batteries were easily replaceable. Then the current gas stations could just stock them in the store and you could buy new ones as you travel.

There should be a way to make the batteries more cheaply even if the recharge value went down more quickly.

Then you could just store your personal high quality one in the trunk and replace it with cheap ones from the convenience stores as you travel.

Yes, but it also goes 0 to 60mph in 1.9 seconds! Cheap isn’t the point: both Roadsters are performance sports cars. If you want value, get a Model 3.

Does it make sense to buy a car based on something you do “a couple times a year” versus what you do every day?

In these long trip cases, if you are not spending the night anywhere, you do need to plan the trip around level 3 chargers a bit:

I would argue that you’re already doing so much planning on rare few-times-a-year long trips, that adding “make sure we stop to get food near a level 3 charger” to the mix isn’t that big a deal.

Also remember you don’t need to “fuel up” to 100%, getting to 80% usually suffices and is faster due to the charging ramps. Beyond that, I expect to see electric cars get to 300 mile range pretty soon, and Tesla has been there for years already.

Yes @thw0rted also brought this up. It is more challenging if you don’t have access to a parking spot at home with some kind of charging. So you have a few options:

  • Lobby your apartment building to add a few level 2 chargers to some parking spots. Remember, these are basically washer/dryer hookups, so they don’t take exotic power connections. This will easily charge any EV 100% overnight, no problem. And you probably won’t need to charge more than 1-2 times a week if you drive a typical amount.

  • Lobby your apartment building to run extension cords / outside power outlets near the parking spots. This is more of a trickle charge, but you should be able to get 3-5 miles of range per charging hour from a Plain Old Power Outlet, assuming people are home from 7pm to 7am, that’s 12 × 4 = 48 miles of added range per night. Depends how long your commute is, though…

  • Lobby your workplace to add level 2 chargers. Businesses and work environments should have ample budget for this sort of thing and it will increase the overall value of their real estate, so I’d think this would not take more than a gentle push to happen over the next few years. Assuming an 8 hour work day, again, any level 2 charger will get your EV to 100% in a day.

So it’s either charge at work, or charge at home. I expect level 2 chargers to become extremely commonplace over the next 10 years! :fuelpump::zap:

Oh yeah no question that level 3 chargers are much more exotic. I see these as more equivalent to current “gas stations”, where you’d pay a fee for charging there (versus the home and work ones being free… ish) but it’s worth it to get the charging done extra fast when you need it to. Most EV batteries warn you not to constantly charge them with L3 chargers, by the way, as it’s unhealthy for the battery to charge it that fast, that often.

I expect to see larger and larger networks of paid L3 chargers as time goes on. There are smartphone apps that will map you to the nearest one, as well as companies like Chargepoint which make this their entire business model, building out paid L3 charger networks nationwide.

Yeah this is covered in the video that @Hans_Polak posted earlier. It depends what US state you live in and how the electrical power is generated there, and the battery size, as to the “break even” point for the EV on environmental output. But every EV does better than a similarly sized gasoline car even today, and there’s no way electrical grids are going to get worse or go backwards, so…

The great thing is that the used market keeps expanding for better EVs as time marches on and more people buy them, trade them in, sell them, etc. And the good news is that everything I’ve read shows that large EV batteries are doing much better in terms of retaining charge over 8-10 years than people predicted. Battery tech will also get better and better as time goes on, so buying used will be more viable in the years and decades to come. :slight_smile:

These car batteries are so large and heavy that I can’t see any way to make them hot-swappable that isn’t crazy. Maybe one day when battery tech has advanced a few generations from lithium-ion, but maybe by then we’ll have so much range and charge that we won’t need to?

Your response would be like someone saying, “I’d like a Lamborghini but can’t afford it.” and you responding with, “Then you should get a Camry.” They aren’t even in the same category.

For me the answer is “yes.” That’s true of a lot of people. How many people do you see driving around in a huge pick-up because once or twice a year they take a big load to the dump?

When I plan a long road trip I’m spending 80% (or more) of my time off the freeway system (remember, I don’t treat the car as just a way to get from A to B). That makes finding those chargers a bit more of a challenge.

You’re assuming on a 700 mile day I stop to get food three times. I don’t. I stop when I need gas for the time it takes me to fill up the tank. Assuming an average speed over the course of the day of 50 mph (based on historical data), my 700 mile day is already 14 hours. Adding another 1.5 hours to that is not something I want to do.

As I said in my initial response, I think EVs have a lot going for them. They just aren’t for me at this point in time. I’m not trying to convince anyone not to get one. If you can afford it and it suits the way you use your vehicle, then go for it. I just don’t understand why people keep trying to convince me that the way I use my vehicle is “wrong.”

So… no family, no significant other, no grandparents, no friends… nobody else who might want to stop and take a 30 minute level 3 charger break from this eleven :exclamation: hour marathon of constant ~60 miles per hour driving in a single day … just you by yourself? :thinking:

It’s not wrong, you’re just being kind of artificially inflexible in the way that you approach the problem.

I can only do it this one way! In fact I must do it this specific way, or else!

… isn’t a particularly compelling argument to read, at least to me :wink: At best this sounds like “I have a really unusual use case”. I dunno, perhaps you do, but pretending this is typical or even mainstream is also kinda weird.

But good news! Gas hybrids will get you maxtreme range, at the price of overall higher cost of ownership and maintenance.

That’s the road I’m going down for my next vehicle. The range and charging infrastructure just aren’t there for my driving profile yet:

  • Only short journeys around town during the week (and not many of those, I go to work by public transport or bike) Hybrid on electricity perfect for this.

  • but my weekends typically involve travelling a couple of hundred miles to places with no charging facilities - campsites, mountain huts - and then a couple of hundred miles back in Sunday evening, wanting to get home and back into bed without an enforced long stop en route

  • (and like most urban dwellers I have no charging at home possibilities)

A diesel hybrid, which is what I have on order, looks like a perfect fit for the interim until EV range and charging infrastructure move on a bit.

As a total aside: I wasn’t that interested in all the carping about Tesla build quality until I glanced at a parked Model S as I was walking by, and saw that the rear door was really obviously out of alignment by a good quarter of an inch. But I understand that kickstarting the technology is higher on Elon’s list of priorities than matching real carmakers’ quality of fit & finish, and I assume issues like that will go away now that companies that actually do have decades of build quality experience are getting into the game.

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@codinghorror How long did you have to wait for your E-Niro?

I was interested in a Kia E-Niro here in Austria (Europe) but the dealer told me they have roughly 12 months of lead time, i.e. if I order now, I can expect my car in the second half of 2020.
With EV technology improving as rapidly as it does, it seems counterproductive to commit myself now and wait so long for a car with (then) two-year-old technology.

I could have a Model 3 within a month, but its a bit tight for a family of 4 (and maybe 5 in the future).

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