Buying an EV as a commuter vehicle - does it make sense?

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,745
Philadelphia
... his only problem is he has to drive with his seat up a bit to give leg room to his kid in the back booster seat. That's my definition of an econobox. He doesn't have to do that in his wife's Accord.
I had to do the same with my wife’s last Audi, and you wouldn’t catch me dead in an Accord. However, I wouldn’t be holding the lowly A4 up as any standard of luxury to be met, begreen. That aforementioned A8L is a serious car, though.

500 hp cars on 8 mile commutes? We must live in the same neighborhood, Paul!

I feel the barrier to entry for EV’s is no longer battery life, for many buyers, but cost and charging capability. The Tesla 3’s are fantastic, but average maybe $15k over an equivalently appointed ICE. And then there’s always going to be that issue of running a dedicated charging circuit to the garage, in older homes.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
9,875
Nova Scotia
Hey, what's wrong with Accords? >>

This thread is kind of veering - but as far as the original question, isn't commuting where EVs should do what they do the best?
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,581
SW Virginia
isn't commuting where EVs should do what they do the best?
Yes, but my original question focuses on whether it's worth buying a 3rd vehicle, a dedicated commuter, for a household with two drivers.
As usual, I've now complicated matters more with my realization that I may want this car also to serve as a "dinghy" behind an RV.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,605
Northern NH
If its third vehicle instead of replacing a vehicle, there can be some hefty holding costs. In my state I have to pay yearly excise tax (AKA property tax) on my car based on value, for the first five years it can be steep and then drops to some low value. Then there is registration on top of excise and insurance which is usually based on the worse driver driving the best car.

EVs tend to weigh a lot compared to an econobox although they all are getting porky due to all the safety standards (which are great if you are in an accident but not so great if you are dragging it). My guess is with a tow vehicle int he picture the balance swings to a gas econobox as I expect few campgrounds are going to have a hookup sized for charging a car.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,581
SW Virginia
My guess is with a tow vehicle int he picture the balance swings to a gas econobox as I expect few campgrounds are going to have a hookup sized for charging a car.
Which is why I'm now eaning more towards a PHEV and charging via connection to the RV.
I'm also planning PV power for the RV roof so there's an opportunity to charge the dinghy from solar and/or the grid and for tapping the dingy's battery for storage and engine/generator for RV power - though I realize that that sort of interconnectivity can be very challenging.
I had hoped to avoid the infernal combustion engine in the commuter/dinghy for simplicity but its advantages may ultimately win out.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,605
Northern NH
Too bad there are no cheap diesels these days so you can share fuel with the camper.

My standard Fiesta gets 41 MPH and was cheap to buy and reliable to date. The automatic Fiestas are crap and that keeps the values low. Still if you don't mind a stick, hard to beat for the price.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,581
SW Virginia
Too bad there are no cheap diesels these days so you can share fuel with the camper.

My standard Fiesta gets 41 MPH and was cheap to buy and reliable to date. The automatic Fiestas are crap and that keeps the values low. Still if you don't mind a stick, hard to beat for the price.
I like a stick and a manual transmission would allow flat towing behine an RV.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,037
South Puget Sound, WA
Electric cars are not flat towable because they have no real 'neutral' that disengages the motor(s). You would need a tow-dolly. Also, they are not 12v chargeable and one would need a whopping inverter to boost to 120 or 240v to do so.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,581
SW Virginia
Electric cars are not flat towable because they have no real 'neutral' that disengages the motor(s). You would need a tow-dolly. Also, they are not 12v chargeable and one would need a whopping inverter to boost to 120 or 240v to do so.
Some EVs are reportedly flat towable - the Ford Fusion Energi for one. You do have to run the engine and engage the transmission every 6 hr. or so to maintain driveline lubrication.
The towed EV would be charged via the RV's onboard 120/240 VAC solar PV system (with battery storage) rather than via 12 VDC.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,037
South Puget Sound, WA
Ah, I thought we were talking EVs. The Fusion Energi is a hybrid (PHEV) with an actual neutral. There is no need to charge this hybrid, it has the ICE for backup.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,745
Philadelphia
Yes, but my original question focuses on whether it's worth buying a 3rd vehicle, a dedicated commuter, for a household with two drivers.
Financially, never. You need to consider the intangible benefits, if you want to make any case for a 3rd vehicle in a two-driver household.

Trust me, I have looked at this from all angles, even including some pretty insanely bad MPG's for the vehicle theoretically removed from commuter duty.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,322
Eastern Central PA
Financially, never. You need to consider the intangible benefits, if you want to make any case for a 3rd vehicle in a two-driver household.

Trust me, I have looked at this from all angles, even including some pretty insanely bad MPG's for the vehicle theoretically removed from commuter duty.
No one vehicle can do all things well. Were now up to 4 vehicles again,with 2 drivers in the household. You only live once!:cool:
 
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Where2

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2013
343
South Florida
As usual, I've now complicated matters more with my realization that I may want this car also to serve as a "dinghy" behind an RV.
Too bad there are no cheap diesels these days so you can share fuel with the camper.
I rigged our 2004 VW Jetta Wagon_TDI for flat towing behind our 29' Workhorse chassis Winnebago... I can't share fuel between the two, but that doesn't stop me from dragging the 1.9L diesel powered station wagon along for the trip... The V8 in the Workhorse barely notices it's even back there. 7mpg to 8mpg is consistently what I get bringing the kitchen, the bath, a sofa, a dinette and two slides along. When we replaced my wife's 06 TDI with a 2013 earlier this year, we specifically chose the 6 speed manual, so we can rig it to tow behind the RV if anything ever happens to the 2004.

After the wife got a newer car, I really had the urge to pickup a 2015 E-Golf to replace the 2004, but when I looked at what I'd be giving up, I couldn't justify it. Can't flat tow it, can't jump in it and drive 600+ miles without refueling, can't fit a filing cabinet in it, and my daily commute is a mere 1.5 miles... I really just need to get out my bicycle and bike to work!! (after I plug the 5W solar panel in to keep the 04 TDI battery charged while it sits home). Adding another car to the insurance bill is out of the question. I'm already paying enough for the motorhome to sit parked!!
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,745
Philadelphia
No one vehicle can do all things well. Were now up to 4 vehicles again,with 2 drivers in the household. You only live once!:cool:
Of course. Those are the “intangible benefits” to which I was referring. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest anyone have only one vehicle, I have pretty much always owned multiple, but I’m under no false impression that buying another vehicle is going to somehow save me money.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,322
Eastern Central PA
Of course. Those are the “intangible benefits” to which I was referring. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest anyone have only one vehicle, I have pretty much always owned multiple, but I’m under no false impression that buying another vehicle is going to somehow save me money.
I did those same calculations, your right ,its not even close.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,581
SW Virginia
Ah, I thought we were talking EVs.
We were. I drifted towards PHEVs once I started thinking about towing it behind an RV.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,145
SE PA
Welp, I have had a gen 1 LEAF, a 2017 Bolt EV and now a 2015 Volt. :cool:

They are all cars whose fit and finish feel cheap, but whose driving dynamics feel really nice/fun, not cheap at all. The Bolt was the best of the three, and the most expensive.

I suspect Jim's Model 3 blows it away. :(
 
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jebatty

Minister of Fire
Jan 1, 2008
5,692
Northern MN
Two drivers, three cars, living in a rural area in north central Minnesota: Tesla Model 3 purchased new in March 2019, Chevy Bolt purchased new in February 2018, and a 2007 Toyota Camry with a trailer hitch purchased used in 2018 with 161,733 miles on it.

The Bolt (our rural commuter car) covers 100% of my local driving, summer and winter, which is anything within 150 mile round trip, and an occasional 150 mile one-way trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul which requires battery charging for the return trip. After 18,000 miles, only maintenance so far on the Bolt is filling the windshield washer tank, checking/adjusting tire pressure occasionally. Charging is overnight from a Level 2 charger in the garage. DC fast charge on the trips to the Cities. Hatchback design has been good enough to transport a new dishwasher a few months ago and yesterday an over-stuffed easy chair. No complaints about the Bolt.

The Tesla, with nearly 5,000 miles now, is a dream car, and it is my wife's dream to drive. My wife drives the Tesla for her local rural transportation needs, and I drive most of our trips to see family in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and trips beyond. Every compliment I could give would be an understatement. The Tesla is an absolute joy to drive. With abundant Superchargers almost everywhere, we can and do drive the Tesla almost anywhere. Basic charging at home from a Level 2 charger in the garage and Supercharge when on the road. Spacious trunk in the rear and a frunk in the front. Wife, me and two dogs travel with ease, comfort, exceptional safety, and outrageous performance.

The Toyota is our camping vehicle, and also functions as our emergency backup vehicle (for an emergency that has never happened yet). With a trailer hitch that carries a bicycle rack or pulls our small tear-drop trailer (with the bikes on the trailer), we can travel the back country without a second thought.

This is the vehicle perfect mix for us. And the icing on the cake is that the Bolt and the Tesla get their electrons from our 12.3kW solar PV system. No stops at gas stations, no smelly gas fumes, and our small contribution to keeping planet Earth healthy.
 

Seasoned Oak

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
6,322
Eastern Central PA
This is the vehicle perfect mix for us. And the icing on the cake is that the Bolt and the Tesla get their electrons from our 12.3kW solar PV system. No stops at gas stations, no smelly gas fumes, and our small contribution to keeping planet Earth healthy.
As the owner of both the bolt and a volt and tesla which one is more roomy inside. Leg room, elbow room ect. Im 6-3, 235lbs and even in my 2015 full size GMC truck the driver seat area is surprisingly cramped.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,145
SE PA
As the owner of both the bolt and a volt and tesla which one is more roomy inside. Leg room, elbow room ect. Im 6-3, 235lbs and even in my 2015 full size GMC truck the driver seat area is surprisingly cramped.
The Bolt would not be a problem for you in height or legroom, but it might feel a little narrow sideways. The volt would be a tad cramped IMO.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,579
Downeast Maine
Welp, I have had a gen 1 LEAF, a 2017 Bolt EV and now a 2015 Volt. :cool:

They are all cars whose fit and finish feel cheap, but whose driving dynamics feel really nice/fun, not cheap at all. The Bolt was the best of the three, and the most expensive.

I suspect Jim's Model 3 blows it away. :(
You get what I was saying, it's the materials and fit and finish that makes these cars "econoboxes". I think small EV hatchbacks naturally lend themselves to enjoyable driving due to their size and weight (specifically lots of it down low). Narrow hard tires make for a lively experience as well if the traction nannies can be disengaged
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,145
SE PA
Indeed Spacebus. But having driven small ICE cars, I am saying something different. EV drivetrains just feel more luxe, more fun, more man-machine fusion, and are more pleasant (quieter, less smelly, less motion sickness inducing) across the board.

So I have never really cared about finish, but I now am an EVangelist... I can never go back to an ICE drivetrain. The Volt is not really compromising that....the drivetrain is still 100% electric when I am in 'gas mode' and the driving dynamics are unchanged (the traction battery is used as a buffer for max power/acceleration, even when 'depleted'). There is just this slightly annoying thrum under the hood on long roadtrips.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,579
Downeast Maine
Indeed Spacebus. But having driven small ICE cars, I am saying something different. EV drivetrains just feel more luxe, more fun, more man-machine fusion, and are more pleasant (quieter, less smelly, less motion sickness inducing) across the board.

So I have never really cared about finish, but I now am an EVangelist... I can never go back to an ICE drivetrain. The Volt is not really compromising that....the drivetrain is still 100% electric when I am in 'gas mode' and the driving dynamics are unchanged (the traction battery is used as a buffer for max power/acceleration, even when 'depleted'). There is just this slightly annoying thrum under the hood on long roadtrips.
Every Volt owner I've met loves them. By all accounts the driving dynamics for all the GM electrified vehicles are quite good. I'd love a spark EV with that monster torque!
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,745
Philadelphia
I now am an EVangelist... I can never go back to an ICE drivetrain.
Since we are almost in the same neighborhood, I’m tempted to put you behind the wheel of a 500 hp ICE, and see if I can make you eat those words. You’re within 100 miles of me, so I think I can just make it there on one tank of gas.

After driving two Tesla’s, both out of the price range I’m really willing to spend right now, I am also an EV convert. I will never give up my illogical love for the guttural roar of big-displacement ICEs, but the performance of some of the high-dollar EVs is just... ludicrous. There is no way to argue against them, other than the current cost and lack of models, both of which I suspect will be improved vastly over the next ten years.