We were riding with Enrique, a full-time Uber driver, in his new Tesla. It was so new, in fact, that he was still learning the ropes of being an EV driver.
Do you know where the charging stations are along I-70? he wondered. And can you really plug into a 120 volt outlet at night at home?
He didn’t even know about Tesla’s whoopie cushion feature, for Pete’s sake.
Enrique’s Nissan Rogue with a few hundred thousand miles had been stolen a few months ago and he was tired of spending $75 a day or more on overpriced gas, so he joined the electric car revolution .
This decision was not taken simply to restore his image as an extravagant bon vivant. He is a practical man, after all, not a poser.
With gas prices nearly double what they were before the pandemic, Enrique’s bottom line was eroding further with each fill-up at the pump. He was working 10 to 12 hour days and still couldn’t cope with rising fuel costs.
Plus, as a victim of car theft, he may have known that Teslas were a thief’s worst nightmare.
Studies have shown that they are 90% less likely to be stolen than other vehicles, and even if a hacker finds a way to breach its security, its owner’s tracking device can lead the police straight to them.
So Enrique is not fooled.
But as electric vehicle sales surge across Colorado and some 49,000 were on the roads by the end of 2021, our love affair with gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs is still going strong.
More than 90% of sales here last year were gas-powered vehicles whose owners are now complaining about paying $4.50 a gallon for gas, while allowing oil companies to rake in record profits and stoke the flames of torrid inflation.
So even if you’re oblivious to the state’s efforts to reduce air pollution and mitigate greenhouse gas production (which would be silly, wouldn’t it?), it may be be time to face all those irrational fears and range anxieties and start thinking like an enlightened Uber driver.
First, electric vehicles are fun to drive.
Repeat after me: this is not a golf cart.
Even my modest Nissan Leaf could leave a gasoline-powered car on the sidewalk in a traditional drag contest at a red light.
Electric vehicles produce more torque than gas-powered vehicles and since they have no transmission, the power goes directly to the wheels. Look for it.
Although not yet cheap, electric vehicles are not all luxury cars. With tax credits and incentives, the ultimate price of a new vehicle is often the same or even slightly lower than that of a comparable gas-powered vehicle.
And over 10 years, the cost of their operation is much lower.
Electric vehicle fuel costs are estimated to be around 60% lower and, with no oil changes or tune-ups required, maintenance costs are a fraction of those internal combustion engines.
But, you say, what about lack of juice?
It’s a good question.
Colorado has only about 1,400 public electric vehicle charging stations, compared to more than 4,000 gas stations.
The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program is poised to accelerate the growth of the charging network with $5 billion in federal funds, which should immediately jump-start expansion in Colorado and across the country. It is therefore at most a short-term problem.
And remember, unlike old-fashioned gas-powered cars, you can refuel an electric vehicle at home while you sleep.
Finally, it’s true that your 600-mile car journey can take longer in an electric vehicle, especially if you’re the type of driver who never stops for a meal or a bathroom break. If you’re a normal human, however, you’ll probably want to stretch your legs every 200 to 300 miles (the range for most newer EV models), which allows for quick charging while you’re having lunch, a cup of coffee or maybe even a nap.
And let’s be realistic. How many 600 mile trips do you really do per year? Is it worth the personal and environmental costs of driving a gas-powered car to save an hour at a charging station?
I mean, we’re talking about an average of 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide produced per year by a gasoline-powered car. And the dangerous levels of ozone along the Front Range are directly attributable to gasoline-powered vehicles.
READ: Colorado Sun Opinion Columnists.
That’s why the state has set a goal of having nearly one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. Automakers are making that goal achievable by producing more electric models each year and marketing trousers.
Yet for now, most Coloradans are stubborn and resist the switch to electric vehicles, no matter how many times they hear they are vastly superior to the technology of the last century.
Savvy Enrique, the Uber driver, is clearly an outlier.
And, oh my god, he laughs all the way to the bank.
Diane Carman is a communications consultant in Denver.
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