Driving an EV and what to expect

Driving an EV and what to expect

Hey guys. I'm not yet a Tesla owner but highly interested in a full electric vehicle without using gas. However I don't understand what you should expect owning an EV, the biggest issue I see is that you can't make a trip longer than 120 mi or more (in reference to the model S) so should you bring a second battery (I assume 5 minute battery swaps you can do yourself and not have to take it to a shop etc) to extend the range?

And then maintenance costs; sure you aren't buying gas but how often do you need to replace batteries and extra electricity cost; is there any place to find information on the cost of this versus just a gas car?

jkirkebo | 20 August, 2010

You can't swap the battery yourself, it'll weigh about 1200 pounds...

You can make a longer trip if you charge before returning. With a L3 charger you can refill the battery to 80% in maybe 45 minutes.

Timo | 21 August, 2010

Maintenance is also pretty minimal, electric motor just won't wear out (only one moving part), no oil changes, no belts to change, nothing like that. Electricity is cheap compared to gasoline / mile travelled. About maybe four to ten times cheaper. You will need to replace battery maybe after 70000-100000miles depending how you use it. Future batteries are of course better so after you have driven that 100000 miles you are facing to swap to a lot better batteries with a quite cheap price. You definitely will save that much money using EV instead of ordinary ICE car before battery needs replacing.

ChadS | 21 August, 2010

@Lowpro, it's really not that different than a gas car. To venture farther than half the car's range, you have to refill it. The only significant difference is that refilling takes longer, so you want to plan it so that you are doing something else while it's charging.

I took mine on a 3,000-mile trip, and I think I only waited for the charge twice. Other times I was sleeping, visiting, shopping, exercising, eating, etc.

On a trip, L3 chargers will be best when you can find them. L2 chargers will be more numerous, but will take longer--maybe 4 hours for a 90% charge. You don't have to do it all at once though--you could stop every 80 miles for 30 minutes, or something like that. Neither type were around for my trip; I stopped at campgrounds, which have outlets kind of similar to L2's. Tesla sells a mobile connector that lets you plug in there.

Note that all this only applies when you go on a trip. When you are at home, you pretty much just charge at home at night, and drive the car during the day. Most people will very rarely have to worry about charging when out and about, but L2 charging stations should be scattered around. You don't have to wait for a full charge; you just need enough to get you home.

The batteries wear out gradually; you decide when the range is no longer enough. Supposedly you will lose about 30% after 7 years and 100k miles. Nobody knows what it will cost then, but Tesla lets you pre-buy a Roadster pack now for $12k. You pay now, and in 7 years they will give you a pack. Presumably they hope they will actually cost less than that then.

Look at your electric bill to see how much it costs for a kWh of electricity. Where I live, it's 8.5cents. Then figure that if you include charging overhead, you will get about 3 miles per kWh. So if you drive 1,000 miles per month, you need 333kWh, which at 8.5cents is $28.31 for a month. Note that some utilities offer cheaper "off-peak" pricing, which means you pay less at night, which is the best time to charge.

Roblab | 22 August, 2010

Surprisingly enough, it isn't much more than thinking about where you want to go, and if that place is within the limits of your battery. If it is borderline, you go a little slower, accelerate slower, use the light foot approach, and viola! You have more range. Maybe a lot more, depending on how much you can ease off the accelerator. You will also be surprised that most of the places you want to go are within that range. You will start to think of how far you can go, rather than how fast, and it becomes a challenge, a mental interest. You will watch your battery level and figure how much it will take to get there. Of course, the S will do a lot of that for you, but even the smallest battery pack will get you 150 miles, if you don't have to be the fastest one in the pack.
You will find you don't need to find the L3 charger. Or even the L2.

Georg | 23 August, 2010

Roblab, Quote: " You will start to think of how far you can go, rather than how fast, and it becomes a challenge, a mental interest. "



ESLE | 30 September, 2010

Does anyone know if driving a Tesla car would have any adverse effects on ones health?
Since it is generally known now that cell phone use can be the trigger for certain health issues and that electro magnetic pollution has an impact on ones health, does one have to take into consideration that driving an electric car could have an adverse impact one ones health as well?

Douglas3 | 30 September, 2010

The only health risk is if you crash the car...

ChadS | 1 October, 2010

EMF is not any higher in the Roadster than in a regular car.

ChristianG | 4 October, 2010

" You will start to think of how far you can go, rather than how fast, and it becomes a challenge, a mental interest. "

sounds like an apple ad where they make a shortcomming of their product to a lifestyle statement.

Roblab | 5 October, 2010

Sorry to come across that way, Christian. I am just saying that it happens. Like telling people they will have the "EV grin". It just happens. I used to drive like crazy (over 100 mph from Reno to Sacramento). Then I got my EV (RAV4EV) and loved it. The quiet, the cleanness, the inexpensive non political fuel, the feeling of working with rather than against nature, it just happens. I don't mean to sound like you will have to change your lifestyle, or that range is not a problem for some, but that humans *adjust*. You find you don't have to do 100 mph, or be the fastest off the line (Hey, I have testosterone, too!). But if you don't like EV's and their problems, it may be that you have adjusted to gas engine cars, and their problems. Maybe an EV is not best for you.

rscheirer | 29 October, 2010

So does anyone know if Tesla will take my Acura in trade? Or any car trade-in like conventional auto dealers would? Gonna be a real pain to sell my old car privately and try to by a Type-S.

Steve | 30 October, 2010

For Roadster sales, they do not take any trade-in. My guess is that they would not take a trade-in for Model S sales, either, so long as there is sufficient demand without accepting that liability.

But you should ask Tesla for a definite answer.

Brian H | 30 October, 2010

Solution: trade it in on a new Corolla, then a few days/weeks later return that for a refund. ;)