A Year with an Electric Car

Electric car owner George Plumb of Williamstown demonstrates the charging station at the corner of Governor Aiken Avenue and State Street in Montpelier. Photo by Bob Nuner.

Electric car owner George Plumb of Williamstown demonstrates the charging station at the corner of Governor Aiken Avenue and State Street in Montpelier. Photo by Bob Nuner.

by George Plumb

A year ago I leased a Mitsubishi MiEV. Shortly after, The Bridge published my article on driving an electric vehicle (EV) in their November 15, 2012 issue. After a year of driving it, including one winter, I can now safely say that it has worked out very well for me. It’s fun to drive and has cost me almost nothing except for the lease fee and the insurance, and it even worked out well during the cold weather. And it is such a pleasure to never stop at gas stations anymore!

I easily drive from my home in Washington to Montpelier and back, a distance of 32 miles, on half a charge. I plug it in my 110 outlet when I get home, and the next morning I am ready to go again. If I am going to be in Montpelier for a while, I sometimes plug it in at one of the two faster public charging stations at City Hall or by the State House on Governor Avenue, and in a short time, I have a full charge and at no expense. I have even driven out of “my comfort range” to some more distant places, like Connecticut River towns, but have always gotten back home with a few miles to spare because I am careful to keep the car at its most efficient speed, which is about 55 miles per hour, and use the downhills to regenerate electricity.

During the winter, I was a little anxious about driving in the snow. Because I am leasing the car, I did not want to spend the money to put winter tires on it.  Fortunately, even though I live at the top of a hill on a dirt road, there was generally no problem. However, a couple of times, when there was a heavy snowfall, I decided I didn’t want to take any chances with it and used my backup vehicle, a very old Astro Van. But I understand that those who use winter tires on EVs find that the traction is good.

There is also a concern with cold weather, because if you turn on the air heater then it drains down the battery much faster, which means the driving range is shorter. A less energy use option is to use the seat heater and cover your lap with a blanket. I made certain to always dress warmly, and there were only a couple of days when I was uncomfortable. Even though I didn’t heat the car, I still had to defrost the windshield window, and that also decreased the range. Despite these drawbacks, I rarely used my backup vehicle.

EVs are gaining in popularity, albeit slowly. There are several of us in central Vermont now driving EVs, and the technology is definitely improving for driving distance. To learn more about driving electric cars and the availability of public changing stations, go to drivelectricvt.com. If you want to try driving a Mitsubishi, which is the lowest price EV available, contact me at Plumb.george@gmail.com.