In July 2020, when my electric vehicle column was published in the Trib, 27 EV models were available in the United States. Since that date, electric car production has exploded, with 72 models now for sale. It is time to answer some additional EV questions.
Why drive an electric vehicle? The advantages are many: with no tailpipe, EVs (battery-electrics) yield cleaner air locally, saving many lives and improving cardiopulmonary health; in traffic accidents, the risk of injury is less in EVs; maintenance and repair costs are about half that of gasoline cars; charging with electricity costs about half that of fueling with gasoline in Texas; much quieter operation; instant torque with excellent acceleration; and few moving parts with expected longer drivetrain life. And critically, the absence of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will help preserve a livable climate for our children and for the millions of species with whom we share planet Earth.
Which EVs are available in Texas now for less than $50,000? The EV manufacturers in this price range have increased from 6 in 2020 to 11 in 2021, as follows:
Audi, Q4 40 e-tron, SUV, $37,495, range 250 miles.
BMW, i3, hatchback, $37,945, 153 miles.
Chevrolet, Bolt EV, subcompact hatchback, $31,995, 259 miles.
Ford, Mustang Mach-E Select SR, rear-wheel drive SUV, $36,495, 230 miles.
Kia, Niro EV, crossover SUV, $33,665, 239 miles.
Mini, Cooper SE, compact, $23,250, 114 miles.
Nissan, Leaf S, compact hatchback, $20,875, 149 miles.
Polestar 2, Single Motor, 19” wheels, sedan hatchback, $39,700, 265 miles.
Tesla, Model 3 Standard Range Plus, sedan, $41,190, 262 miles.
Volvo, XC40 Recharge, crossover SUV, $48,895, 223 miles.
Volkswagen, ID 4 Pro, SUV, $33,690, 260 miles.
Note: The EV prices above include application of the $7,500 federal tax credit, except for the Bolt and Model 3, which are no longer eligible. If the pending Clean Energy for America Act is signed into law, the EV incentive may increase to $12,500. This legislation should be considered when timing an EV purchase.
Are pickups available now? For our pickup-loving state, the good news is the Rivian R1T pickup truck is currently being delivered: the large battery pack version is $60,000, including tax credit, with range 314 miles. The Ford F-150 Lightning is expected in 2022: $32,474, 230 miles. The Tesla Cybertruck is projected for late 2022 or 2023: $32,400, 250 miles. Releases of additional pickups are predicted for the next several years: Bollinger B2, Lordstown Endurance, Chevrolet Silverado EV and Atlis XT.
But isn’t EV charging difficult? This is one of the most common EV misconceptions. The vast majority of charging happens conveniently overnight in the EV owner’s garage. Public commercial chargers are usually needed only for out-of-town trips. The exception is for those citizens who live in apartments that don’t provide garages or electric outlets. In the Waco area, the primary solutions for these individuals are the Level 3 multi-plug chargers at Walmart in Bellmead (12 plugs) and the Tesla Supercharger at Collin Street Bakery (22 plugs). Additional options are the Level 2 public chargers (20 miles for each hour) now available during business hours at Bird-Kultgen Ford (1 plug), Greg May Honda (2 plugs), Waco Nissan (2 plugs), University Kia (under repair) and Jim Turner Chevrolet (1 plug, broken).
But there is excellent news. The city of Waco is currently seeking installers to provide multiple public Level 2 chargers in the city. Hopefully, within months we will see these chargers at strategic sites, including shopping centers, parks, restaurants, convention centers and large apartment complexes.
But can I test drive an EV in Waco? In prior years, local car dealerships showed little interest in EVs, with a test drive only available for the Chevy Bolt at AutoNation Chevrolet. In 2021, dealers are beginning to recognize our electric future, with the following test drives accessible: Mustang Mach E at Bird-Kultgen Ford, Leaf at Douglas Nissan of Waco, ID 4 at Volkswagen of Waco and EQS at Mercedes-Benz of Waco (projected for November). However, in light of the computer microchip shortage, test drives may be delayed at this time.
Will EVs really replace gasoline cars? At this moment, with 72 EV models for sale in the U.S., essentially every car maker is producing EVs or preparing to do so, from Audi to Lamborghini to Lexus to Volvo. China alone has approximately 300 companies making EVs. Further, multiple car manufacturers, including Volvo, Volkswagen, GM and Jaguar, have announced timelines for the end of gasoline car production. Beyond the manufacturers, California, Colorado, New Jersey and some 37 cities and countries throughout the world have announced dates for the ban of fossil fuel vehicle sales. Even Bloomberg New Energy Finance has projected that by 2035, EV sales will outnumber gas car sales in the U.S.
So, the transition appears to be in motion and the gasoline vehicle is already in the rearview mirror — or rearview camera. And this is fortuitous, because to preserve a climate suitable for mankind, we must rapidly end the era of fossil fuel transportation.
Alan Northcutt is a retired Waco physician and director of a grassroots climate action and education group, Waco Friends of the Climate. He declares no financial conflict of interest.
The vast majority of charging happens conveniently overnight in the EV owner’s garage. Public commercial chargers are usually needed only for out-of-town trips.