Tips and Techniques for Electric Cars in Hot Weather

As with electric cars in the winter, many factors can reduce the overall range of an EV when Summer brings the heat–the response, in many ways, is quite different from gasoline-powered vehicles. Today we’re looking at some tips that will enable you to maximize your range even when it’s blazing hot outside.

 

Maximizing Battery Life Before You Depart

 

Between journeys, there are several ways to get your battery into the best possible condition to increase your range.

 

Leave Your Car Plugged In

 

The sophisticated technology found in electric vehicles requires power to operate. Even while stationary and technically switched off, processes are going on in the car. One of the key processes is battery management – if the battery gets too hot, a mechanical cooling system will kick in to keep the battery in its safe operating limits. This can result in battery drain, even overnight. 

 

The best answer to this is to keep your car plugged in between journeys. It won’t overcharge beyond the limit you set it, but it will use electricity to power the cooling system should this be required. 

 

Remember to be considerate of other EV drivers while you’re at public charging stations, and always follow the charging conventions we cover in this blog. It’s best to leave battery maintenance activities for your own garage whenever possible.  

 

Limit Your Overnight Charge

 

If you charge your battery too fast or too high a capacity, it will get too hot, and the battery management system will drain it again. 

 

The first thing to consider is just how far you will need to go the next day? The optimum charge for an electric car battery sits at around 80% – at 100%, it can get too hot. The best practice is to only charge to 100% if you have a big drive ahead. In particular, Tesla allows a maximum 80% charge in most circumstances, with you having to go into a specific setting to get the full 100%. 

 

Charging speed is another factor that you need to consider. If you are doing 50 miles tomorrow, a Level 1 trickle charge overnight will usually give you enough juice for the day. If that’s from 60% capacity, you can deal with a family emergency or severe traffic with the rest of the battery capacity you’re not using. 

 

Preconditioning

 

Most new EVs have a ‘preconditioning’ setting. The car will ready itself for you and optimize battery temperature for a set time of departure. From air conditioning to battery temperature, these parameters are prepared by the car for you to step in and drive away without putting your air conditioning on max or leaving the windows open to make it feel more comfortable inside. 

 

Preconditioning systems typically pulls power directly from the outlet by default, so your car will be in peak driving condition before you go, all without draining the battery. This maximizes your range and comfort while driving. 

 

Where Possible, Leave the Car in the Shade

 

We’ve all experienced the not-so-great feeling of getting into a hot car after it has been in the sun all day. That feeling of oven-like heat is a real one, and can, in turn, overheat the car battery. If you can leave it in a shady place or in the garage while plugged in, then you will reduce the need for the battery management system to kick in, while also reducing the need to use air conditioning and other active cooling systems while driving. 

 

Having tinted windows and investing in a sunshade for the windshield are additional types of passive cooling systems that will minimize the need to cool the car for comfort. 

 

During Driving

 

Driving an electric car is often very different from driving a combustion engine car due to the way it is powered. In taking on board this advice, you can keep your battery at a high level of charge by adapting to the way it works. 

 

Air Conditioning

 

If you have taken active and passive preconditioning measures as described above, you will not need to cool your car so fiercely when you pull away. Always remember your air conditioning sucks power out of your battery. 

 

Combustion engine cars use engine power to cool the cabin but are more efficient at this than leaving your windows open and cooling passively thanks to the drag that open windows induce. Drag is also a factor in electric car efficiency, so air conditioning is still a better option. However, EVs only have one source of power – the battery – that both drives the car and cools the cabin. Ultimately that same energy can be used in either driving you or cooling you!

 

When you rent or buy an electric car, do see about in-seat cooling options. These are more efficient at keeping you cool than air conditioning. The same systems can heat you in winter – both operate by conducting the heat or coolness directly to your body and require less energy over time than conventional cooling systems.

 

Entertainment

 

Driving around in the heat of summer with the music on loud can be lots of fun. As with air conditioning, the battery power can either be funneled into driving the motor or into your comfort – but not both at the same time! If you are on a music streaming service, download playlists and albums where possible as cellular network data use also drains the battery. 

 

Eco-Mode

 

Hybrids and EVs both have an ‘Eco Mode’ setting. This setting reduces the amount of power available for acceleration and other electronic processes. If used all the time, you will considerably minimize the amount of energy you use as you go about your business.  

 

Acceleration

 

One of the similarities to driving combustion engine cars is that battery efficiency significantly falls when you accelerate hard. 

 

There is no denying that driving an electric car is exhilarating thanks to the unmatched torque that flows from the accelerator pedal to the wheels. The driver of that “suped-up” sports car thinks they have the upper hand on your quiet EV until the light turns green, and you leave them in the dust. We get it. 

 

But, hey, getting a bit tipsy on some cocktails (maybe too tipsy) can be fun also, but you don’t hit the bottle every night (or shouldn’t anyway!). For the same reason you don’t relive your college drinking days seven times a week, you shouldn’t go “pedal to the metal” every chance you get. Moderation will keep your EV in the best condition and will keep the flashing blue lights out of your rearview mirror (you can thank us later).

 

High-Speed Driving

 

A significant difference in driving an electric car to that of a combustion engine car is that the faster you go, the more energy is used. 

 

While traditional gasoline cars typically use less fuel on the highway than they do in stop-and-go traffic, electric vehicles are the opposite–the higher the speed, the more energy it consumes. 

 

EVs are on a different energy curve, and as long as you are not stopped too long or accelerate too hard, you will have more battery available at the end of 100 miles at 30mph than you would the equivalent gas in a combustion engine car. This is because the faster you go, the more revolutions your motor needs to turn, and the more battery power it needs to make those revolutions. 

 

Regenerative Braking

 

Regenerative braking charges electric car batteries significantly. By siphoning and redirecting a portion of the naturally occurring kinetic energy flowing from your brakes while slowing your vehicle, you can extend the range per charge by as much as 100 miles.  

 

How do you do this? You take your foot off the accelerator and let the car slow itself – simple as that! Many different models of electric vehicles allow you to adjust the regenerative braking parameters from braking very hard every time you take your foot off the accelerator to a more gentle experience. 

 

One of the long-term benefits of this is that you will hardly ever have to replace your brake pads on the car, saving on annual safety maintenance costs. 

 

Recharging

 

When driving your electric car in hot weather, consider your charging needs carefully. On longer trips, it can pay to do smaller, more frequent fast charges, because fast charging heats the battery and the battery management system must work harder to keep it at optimum efficiency. 

 

As discussed at the beginning of this article, a 100% charge can be less efficient per mile than an 80% charge due to the battery requiring cooling and using its own energy to manage that. 

 

If you regularly take the battery to 100% and then drain it almost to empty, you will shorten the overall life of the EV battery. Research has shown you get an increased lifespan from an electric car battery when it is neither discharged too much nor excessively charged to full capacity. 

 

On a longer drive, could you keep the car between 10% and 80% on your legs between charges? An electric vehicle with a 250-mile range would allow you 175 miles between charges, or close to three straight hours of driving at average 60mph. Most people would need to stretch their legs, have a coffee, and so on after three hours behind the wheel anyway! What’s healthy for you is also fit for the battery. 

 

Could you do the drive in the early morning or late evening? Choosing to drive the car on long legs in the cooler parts of the day is always an excellent tactic for squeezing the most miles per charge out of your EV.

 

Journey’s End

 

By taking advantage of these simple techniques–from leaving your vehicle plugged in the evening, to lifting your foot off the accelerator a few seconds earlier–we’re confident that you’ll notice a consistently extended range, all while reducing your lifetime maintenance costs.

 

Day Trips in the DMV Where You Can Charge your EV

At Steer, the safety and well-being of our team and members is the number one priority. The impact of the ongoing pandemic has resulted in changes to many of our service offerings to strictly adhere to all CDC and local municipality guidelines. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to our concierge team at (202) 556-3132.

 

However, on a lighter note, while we’re all hunkered down inside our homes, it doesn’t hurt to think about where we’ll go and what we’ll do just as soon as we’re able to hop in the drivers’ seat again. Instead of going stir-crazy, may we suggest planning your future trip as something to look forward to?

 

While planning trips, one issue for many EV drivers is range anxiety – you want to know how far you can go and how you’ll keep the car powered up along the way, since it’s not the same as stopping at the pump like they’re used to. DC, Virginia, and Maryland have quite a vast network of electric car charging stations in place. Here are some day trips you can start to plan, without the worry of knowing where to find the next charger.

 

Theme Parks, Natural Parks, & Other Local Attractions

Big theme parks often have dedicated charging stations, so if you live near a major park like Six Flags or some other similar attraction, you’ll probably be able to add this to your network. But there are also different types of park and rec areas that offer charging without fighting all of that theme park traffic. Take the iconic Rock Creek Park that bisects D.C.- there may not be any chargers directly in the natural areas around the parkway. Still, there are ample SemaConnect and Chargepoint stations and others nearby, clustered less than a mile away in neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and American University Park. If you want to hit some trendy spots down there, you should be able to plug-in with no problem. Or you can hike up to Rock Creek Park or enjoy a drive with the windows down on Rock Creek Parkway, enjoying some of the best scenery in the area.

 

Take a look at your local park network and see where municipalities may have put in charging stations. In many of these places, you can drive right up to a charging station from the road, as parks have added the electric vehicle facilities in easily accessible parking lots. Because of the way that small public parks are built, there is often an opportunity to optimize access.

 

Municipal Offices

 

Many municipalities and organizations want to be seen as thought leaders on the environment, so they have put in free electric vehicle charging stations for motorists.

 

These government and business groups see the electric charging station as something like a library donation. This public convenience benefits everyone and increases civic participation in ways that also promote energy sustainability.

 

This can work out to your benefit if you’re trying to get further around the northern Virginia area and beyond. For example, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, you can see that part of the county’s comprehensive “greening” of operations involved putting in electric car charging stations at public offices. PG County is also going solar in many exciting ways, which may make green energy more sustainable when you do power up.

 

Stadiums & Arenas

Lots of communities invest in electric car chargers around stadiums and arenas because these are economic hubs for visitors, and D.C. is no exception. While we’re still waiting to see how sports will resume this summer and fall, charging stations are open for use and available.

 

For example, if you go to the website of FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, you’ll see that they’ve installed no less than ten electric vehicle charging stations in various parking lots. Some of the stations are right outside the stadium itself and offer easy access for tailgaters. Check for stations in the stadium’s south purple permit lot and A-one platinum lot – you’ll see the attractive design and easy access of charging your car at the home of the Washington Redskins.

 

FedEx Field has recently installed massive solar arrays over the parking lot that provide the bulk of the stadium’s power needs. That’s impressive, and it’s another way that planners are integrating more support for electric vehicles into their building plans. That’s important for FedEx Field in particular, because of all of the daily traffic that the site sees regularly. The metro system helps – but traffic is a fact of life here and elsewhere in the area. EV design can help, if drivers combine their green ride with public transit.

 

Mall-Adjacent Charging Stations

Another way to make use of electric car chargers in Washington D.C. is to utilize some of the convenient stations near major landmarks down by the National Mall. There’s a ChargePoint charging station off of 12th St. and Independence Avenue, just a block from the Smithsonian Museum, and another one a couple of blocks south – that’s walking distance from the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, and other iconic landmarks. Up nearer to the Capitol, there is a ChargePoint station adjacent to L’Enfant Plaza and three more stations beneath the Museum of the Bible toward the Beltway. It’s worth noting that any of these stations are basically within walking distance of each other, so drivers hardly need to worry that they “missed a station” or that they’ll need to backtrack to get powered up.

 

You only have to go a little bit further into either Navy Yard or the neighborhood west of it to find additional charging stations if you happen to be a little further afield.

 

Having a half-dozen stations within a few blocks of the United States Capitol and the Library of Congress means that there’s quite a bit of access for electric car drivers. There is also a selection of stations scattered above the mall near Lower Senate Park and Judiciary Square, with adjacent charging networks is Union Station just to the north, offering walking access to so many famous landmarks.

 

Further north, you can get charging access near stations like Shaw-Howard University and Georgia Ave.-Petworth. This is handy for travelers who may be coming from further away and using the Metro system for the last leg of their journey. In fact, “pegging” EV car stations to the metro system is a very deliberate move. It allows for that interconnectedness that makes the D.C. area such a stalwart supporter of EV driving. When you have electric vehicle charging stations situated all along the METRO line, it can increase ridership on those routes, while also helping with the trend toward using a battery to power your car instead of a gasoline engine. This is something urban planners are looking at everywhere, with the idea of the “smart city” so much in vogue. Still, D.C. is “smarter” than a lot of cities – which is perhaps proper since it is home to the centers of the national government. Although it’s been a long time coming, new renewable energy efforts are underway in significant ways near our capital.

 

Airports

 

While air travel is currently on pause for most people, it’s helpful to know that when you’re ready to fly again, charging is easy and accessible in the Washington D.C. area where the local airports are major travel hubs. Airports are often a convenient source of electric car charging stations, and one good example is Baltimore-Washington International. Coming off of 295 to 195 south, you see a cluster of charging stations both to the east and west, and even more as you go down into the BWI parking areas. SemaConnect and other charging stations are located to the west of long-term parking and near BWI employee parking areas. With these charging stations integrated into the airport’s layout, electric car drivers have an advantage when it comes to powering up there.

 

Northern Virginia Charging Stations

 

Another way to get your electric vehicle powered up in the D.C. area is to utilize stations further out in Northern Virginia. Veterans of the highway 50 commute will know that Fairfax is a critical way station to the west, and the suburb has two central stations, a Tesla Destination station, and an EvGo station, as well as other auxiliary stations. There’s another station nearby in Centerville and a Blink charging station near Fair Oaks Mall. That’s quite a lot of coverage, and your GPS will most certainly have plenty of options for finding your next charge.

 

Having these charging stations available means drivers can plan their trips into the district in a way that allows them to power up to have enough range to get around where they need to go, and then come back to a suburb like Fairfax.

 

Suppose you’re coming in from Fairfax traveling east, and you want to visit the Hirshhorn and the Air and Space Museum with the kids. You can charge up as needed in Fairfax, and then again below the Capitol Mall as you explore. Having dual charging opportunities means that you can manage how you get power to your vehicle, ensuring that you never run out of energy. That’s a valuable accommodation in an area where you can’t always plan your trip to a T. 

 

Even if you decide to take extra time to drive around looking at presidential memorials, you’ll know there’s a collection of stations, both at the Capitol Mall and out on the fringes toward the beginning or end of your trip. That helps drivers to rest easy about any last-resort options.

 

Maryland Charging Stations

 

Up in Maryland, you have charging stations in Silver Spring as well as further out in Beltsville, Laurel, and beyond. On the west side, there are stations in areas like Rockville and Gaithersburg. For example, Rockville has several stations available, and we’ve already covered the way that PG County is moving to add stations, too.

 

The way that this network of electric vehicle charging stations is situated is essential. What it means is that electric car drivers who are motoring around this area will not have to worry about being stranded somewhere that doesn’t have accessible charging available. Prestigious suburbs have their fair share of chargers, so in extended travel, you need to plan ahead to be out near a particular spot and get more energy there.

 

Waterfront Electric Vehicle Stations

  

With the unique location of the nation’s capital in a sort of landlocked area, there are not a lot of beachfront electric charging stations around northern Virginia or D.C. However, as you go down near the Potomac River, you’ll see a collection of stations that keep this option available for EV drivers. Then, also, if you are likely to visit beaches relatively nearby, like Virginia Beach, you’ll see stations there, too.

 

Looking at a greater map of the mid-Atlantic area, you’ll see that Washington D.C. and its surrounding countryside represent one of the biggest electric vehicle hubs in the country. It’s a very reasonable place to drive an electric vehicle for this reason. Different states and areas are experiencing the electric car revolution in their own ways. The District of Columbia, as well as Virginia and Maryland, has some leadership that has invested in early efforts to accommodate renewable power and electric vehicle setups.

 

Steer is a great way to take advantage of this effective charging system, with EVs that get you everywhere you need to go in style and with the latest cutting-edge technology. Steer’s Concierge team will help you find charging stations in your area and answer any questions you have about charging, so you have complete peace of mind. Take a look to see how you can get behind the wheel of a high-performance electric car and experience the clean revolution yourself, without worrying about range anxiety.

 

9 Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs For Drivers Tired of Paying for Gas

There are plenty of reasons why some people prefer SUVs over sedans. Maybe you like a higher seating position, or you just want an SUV because it’s easier to navigate through rough terrains or winter roads. Perhaps you’re just too tall for a standard sedan or maybe you need something big enough for the whole family (that’s also cooler than your Mom’s mini-van).

Whatever your reasons, you’re probably familiar with the notion that SUVs are fuel guzzlers, and if you want to save some money, you’re better off with sedans. Well, not anymore since the introduction of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Thanks to the electrical/hybrid vehicle technology, you can enjoy driving SUVs without spending too much money on fuel. Let’s have a look at the nine most fuel-efficient SUVs currently available. 

 

Tesla Model X

Starting Price: $84,990

MPG equiv: 103

C02 Emission: Zero 

Max Cargo Space: 88 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 325 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 10 hours 

 

The Tesla Model X is an exceptional SUV; it entered the Guinness book of records after towing a 287,000 pounds Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner back in 2018. Not impressed yet? It received a 5-star safety rating from NHTSA and became the first SUV to achieve that feat.

 

The Tesla Model X can travel up to 325 miles after a full charge on a 75kWh battery capacity. How much does that help you save? Suppose the electricity cost is 10 cents per Kwh in Washington DC and you charge to a full battery, it would probably cost you about $9 for the entire mile’s range – give or take a few cents. Compare that with the average gasoline SUV getting around 24 MPG, if the current price per gallon in Washington D.C is $2.30, it would cost an additional $20+ to travel that same 325 miles. 

 

If space is your problem, the Tesla Model X can accommodate up to 7 passengers – two more people than the Tesla Model S. Additionally, you don’t have to wait for the power to build when you want to accelerate; just step on it, and it will jump from 0 to 60 miles per hour in only 2.7 seconds.

 

BMW X5

Starting Price: $58,900

MPG equiv: 83 

C02 Emission: 77g/km 

Max Cargo Space: 72.5 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 54 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

 

The 2020 BMW X5 has a plug-in hybrid model that is powered by a 6 cylinder gasoline engine with twin-turbo and a 9.2 kWh battery to improve fuel economy. On a full charge, the battery can give you at least 54 miles range. Sure, that range isn’t much if you compare it to full electric SUVs, but if you combine both gasoline and electric motor, the BMW X5 can deliver a fuel economy of 83 miles per gallon; that’s if the battery is fully charged.

 

The 8-speed automatic transmission and the all-wheel-drive system works even when the gasoline engine is off, and it can achieve a full speed of 87 miles per hour on electric power alone. The acceleration speed from 0 to 62 miles per hour can be done in 5.6 seconds, and the overall top speed is 146 miles per hour. Of course, all credits go to its two drive units with a total output of 394 horsepower.

 

Even though it can only fit five passengers, it is a luxurious SUV with the latest driver assistance technology and integral active steering. Not to mention, it features a 360-degree camera view that lets you see your car from a 3rd person perspective.

Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

Starting Price: $161,900

MPG equiv: 46 

C02 Emission: 79g/km 

Max Cargo Space: 56.8 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 20 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 2 hours 

 

With a fully charged battery, the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid has a fuel economy equivalent to 46 miles per gallon. That’s not too bad for a hybrid vehicle with a 14.1 kWh battery and a 3-liter turbocharged V6 engine. Beyond that, it’s one of the fastest fuel-efficient SUVs with a top speed of 157 miles per hour. C’mon, what did you expect from Porsche? If you think that’s impressive, its Turbo version is an overkill with 670 horsepower that can accelerate 60 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds.

 

Like most hybrid vehicles, it recovers energy after braking, but you can still plug it in and recharge the battery directly. For short trips like going out to the mall or the office, you can use the electric motor independently for up to 20 miles. Alternatively, instead of wasting gas while stuck in traffic, you can switch to an electric motor for efficiency.

 

For the safety features, it comes with backup cameras, park assist, blind-spot monitoring, night vision, and automatic emergency braking.

 

Jaguar I-PACE

Starting Price: $70,000

MPG equiv: 80 

C02 Emission: Zero

Max Cargo Space: 51 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 234 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 12 hours 

 

The Jaguar I-PACE is Jaguar’s first electric vehicle and widely considered to be a direct competitor of the Tesla Model X. It’s designed with an 80 kWh lithium-ion battery that can provide a range of 234 miles. Besides that, it can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 5 seconds.

 

As for the charging time, it can cover up to 162 miles if you plug it for an hour using a 50Kw DC rapid charger. If you want it done faster, you can use a 100KW DC supply and supercharge it to 80 percent in 45 minutes.

 

From the outside, it looks like a sporty SUV with a short nose and a long wheelbase. To be precise, it is about 15 feet, 6 inches long from the front to rear and 6 feet, 6 inches wide from side to side. It can accommodate five passengers and tow up to 1,600 pounds.

 

Since it is a fully electric SUV, it has a better fuel economy than any hybrid or gasoline/diesel-powered SUV.

 

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL

Starting Price: $37,025

MPG equiv: 74 

C02 Emission: 46g/km

Max Cargo Space: 66.6 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 234 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 2 hours 

 

If you didn’t know, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the top-selling hybrid vehicles in the world. The high demand can be attributed to its hybrid technology that makes it cheap to fuel. For instance, if you charge the battery every night and travel short trips, it’s possible to have a fuel efficiency equivalent to 74 MPG. However, if you just use the petrol engine alone, the fuel economy will reduce significantly.

 

Speaking of the electric motor, it’s powered by a 13.8kWh with a range of 22 miles. Most fast charge outlets can charge the battery to about 80 percent in about 25 minutes; that’s enough time to eat your lunch. But if you’re too busy, the petrol engine can be used as a generator to produce electricity for the electric motor. Also, you can activate regenerative braking to conserve energy. How cool is that?

 

On the inside, the 7-inch display is standard, just like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. What’s more, it features smart key, reverse camera and sensors, hill start assist, adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and blind-spot warning. 

 

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE

Starting Price: $29,395

MPG equiv: 40 

C02 Emission: 30g/km

Max Cargo Space: 69.8 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 39 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes 

 

It’s not surprising that Toyota decided to offer a hybrid model based on its most successful SUV. But is it worth the hype? The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine plus two electric motors; one electric motor is located at the front, and the other motor is at the rear, making it an all-wheel-drive SUV.

 

The batteries are located under the rear seats, making the interior space no different from the gasoline version. You still get the same five-passenger capacity and a cargo area that easily fit at least ten suitcases. Moreover, it increases the towing capacity to 1750 pounds, which is better than the gasoline model. 

 

To improve fuel efficiency, it uses a technology known as ‘predictive efficient drive.’ Basically, it studies the maps and predicts your driving patterns to help the engine generator to switch between a gasoline engine and electric motor when necessary to optimize efficiency. In other words, it’s a self-charging SUV that utilizes a petrol engine generator and regenerative braking system to power the electric motors.

 

Audi e-tron SUV

Starting Price: $56,121

MPG equiv: 74 

C02 Emission: Zero 

Max Cargo Space: 57 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 204 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 9 hours 

 

Finally, Audi released its first mass-produced full electric vehicle, and it’s an SUV. The e-tron is fitted with an 86 kWh battery that can drive 204 miles after a charge. If you connect it to a 240-volt outlet, you will wake up to a fully charged battery every morning. However, if you’re in a hurry, you can get a 54 miles range out of a 10 minutes fast charge. Extend it a little bit to 30 minutes, and you will get 160 miles range. 

 

The performance is exceptional, considering it can produce 402 horsepower. The torque is instant, and it can accelerate up to 60 miles per hour in less than 6 seconds. The towing capacity? Well, it’s Hercules, and it can drag 4,000 pounds of weight.

 

Sure, the buying price is higher than a typical gasoline SUV, but you will get a $7500 tax incentive. But that’s not all; Audi offers free charging up to 1,000 KWh for the first four years at any Electrify America station. Not to forget, you won’t be paying parking taxes in most cities. Either way, even if you spend on fuel, it would be half as much as what you would spend on gasoline engines.

 

Hyundai Kona Electric

Starting Price: $37,000

MPG equiv: 120 

C02 Emission: Zero 

Max Cargo Space: 45.8 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 258 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 9 hours and 35 minutes 

 

The Hyundai Kona Electric came into the scene with a bang winning an award for the best North America Utility Vehicle in 2019. Did it deserve it? Go figure; it’s one the cheapest fully electric SUVs on the market, yet it delivers high miles range that can be compared to premium EV models. In short, it’s a $37,000 EV that can achieve a 258 miles range. If you deduct the $7,500 tax credit when filing returns, it would be like you bought it for $29,500.

 

Even the 64kWh battery exceeds expectations, and the best part is that you can recharge it to 80 percent in about 54 minutes. However, any other type of charger below 100kW, and it would take longer, but the fuel efficiency would still be equivalent to about 120 MPG on a full battery. Also, it features regenerative braking, so it will recharge itself every time you slow down.

 

Besides its lower than average price tag, buyers get a full warranty on the battery covering eight years or 100,000 miles.

 

Kia e-Niro EV

Starting Price: $38,500

MPG equiv: 112 

C02 Emission: Zero 

Max Cargo Space: 53 cubic feet 

Electric Range: 239 miles 

Level 2 Charging Time: 9 hours and 35 minutes 

 

The Kia e-Niro EV isn’t so different from the Hyundai Kona Electric; both brands are native to South Korea. First, you can get it for less than half the price you would pay for a Tesla Model X. Secondly, it’s powered by a 64kWh battery. Even so, the Kia e-Niro EV can deliver 239 miles range.

 

As for the charging, a 7kw charger installed at your home takes 9 hours and 50 minutes to fully charge the Kia e-Niro EV. For a faster charge, you can plug in a 50Kw cable and fill the battery to 80 percent in just 75 minutes. But if you unplug it after 30 minutes, you can still do at least 100 miles range.

 

Since it’s an SUV, it offers plenty of rear legroom that stretches up to 36 inches and cargo space that can fit five carrier suitcases. The cool thing is that it doesn’t have noise or vibrations, and neither does it lose composure when it hits a pothole. Of course, it comes with standard safety features such as advanced driver assistance, automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, and seven airbags.

 

Conclusion

While there may be fewer electric and hybrid SUV options available in the market today, the few electric/hybrid SUVs that we’ve reviewed will save you a lot of money in the long run. Plus, as technology improves and the demand for fuel-efficient SUVs increases, we’ll continue to see more and more automakers invest in making newer and better models. 

No more spending twice as much on fuel just because you drive an SUV. In fact, you would probably spend half as less on fuel than what you would pay any other day driving a diesel or gasoline vehicle. What have you got to lose? 

Ready to make the switch? Steer’s garage has 8 out of the 9 models on this list, and you can swap into multiple models until you find the right one for you. Sign up today!

 

Steer Member Feature – Noah

Curious about becoming a Steer member and want to know what it’s like?

Already a Steer member, and want to make sure you’re taking full advantage of all the perks and benefits?

 

Here is the next in what will be a continuing series of interviews with Steer members. We’ll feature real people in the DMV area that use Steer, to illustrate first hand what it’s like to have a membership and how it affects their everyday lives. We hope this series will help give readers a better sense of what it’s like to transition from a gas to an electric car, as well as how to get the most out of your membership.

 

Name: Noah Mchugh

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Current Residence: Washington DC

Favorite Steer Car: Tesla Model 3

One Word Description of Steer: “Personable”

 

Noah, tell us about yourself.

 

I’m a government contractor involved with National Security. I’m originally from Virginia Beach. Right now, I live and work in DC in an apartment that’s too small, but you know, it’s DC. 

 

I’m into cars and have been for a very long time. Photography is also a big hobby of mine and I try to do as much as I can. I’m trying to start doing it more now that work is freeing up a bit.

 

How did you first hear about Steer?

 

I was looking around at car subscriptions in the DC area and thought it would be an interesting thing to try. There are a couple others in this area but Steer interested me because it’s all-electric and I was getting tired of paying for gas. It seemed like it was definitely worth a try, so I sold my car and switched fully over to it.

 

What made you interested in exploring car subscriptions in the first place, as opposed to buying or leasing another car?

 

My entire life I’ve never outright owned a car. I’ve always had a car payment or lease payment or something like that. So to me, the fact that it’s essentially like a lease where you don’t own the car doesn’t really matter to me because once again, I’ve always had a car payment, so why not?

 

Then the fact that includes the insurance and just the ease of not having to deal with maintenance and not having to deal with all sorts of things. Even leasing cars, all that stuff still ends up being your problem, even though they say it’s not going to be. 

 

I don’t have to deal with the bank, and I don’t have to pay interest and all that stuff. It just made it so much more convenient to me than having to go get another car and put it down payment and deal with finance and all that all the stuff that I hate dealing with. Steer kind of just took all of that away, which I loved.

 

What were you driving before?

 

I had an Audi SQ5, a sport SUV, so it was quite the change from what I knew from owning so many Audis but definitely have been enjoying it.

 

What made Steer seem like a better alternative?

 

It took so much headache away. Even when you lease a car, you’re still paying interest. It’s only 3 or 4%, but still, you’re paying extra money on top of the money, and you don’t own the car, so it’s kind of money going nowhere. 

 

How long have you been with Steer?

 

I signed up in July, so a little over six months.

 

(Fun Fact: Noah was actually our first member on the Preferred 3 Plan)

 

Now that you have Steer, what are some things that you’re able to do now that you weren’t able to do before?

 

I have a support team when I have an issue with a car, which is awesome.  

 

If I have a question on how something works or there’s an issue with the car or anything like that, I can just literally text or call the number and someone gets back to me extremely quickly, which I love. When you own a car, Volkswagen or Audi don’t give you a local number you can call or text. I have to bring it in to the dealership and all of that just for a super simple thing.

 

So I really like that, and if there is an issue with a car, the team is really fast to help figure out what to do or swap me to something else while it gets fixed or anything like that.

 

Tell us about your experience charging the car as opposed to a gas vehicle.

 

It’s the first EV I’ve ever had myself. It’s definitely a little bit of an adjustment, you have to plan a little bit better. 

 

Luckily the Tesla does most of that for you when you’re traveling. It maps out where you need to stop and based on battery and distance and speed and all that stuff, but it’s something you need to take into account.  

 

At my apartment building, we can charge for free with level two chargers, which is awesome.

 

But if I need to go drive 60 miles somewhere and there’s not a supercharger in between here and there, I need to make sure that I leave my car charged, as opposed to having a gas car I can just leave my apartment and go to fill up the tank real quick and be on my way. So it’s just a little additional planning, but I think it’s still worth it. It’s definitely not gotten in the way.

 

Plus, when you’re doing a long-distance drive, that 30 minute stop at a supercharger is a nice little break every couple hours. I definitely don’t mind a forced leg stretch.

 

I also like not having to stop for gas, especially when it’s really cold or raining because there’s no standing outside. I just have to hop out of the car real quick, plug it in, and hop back in. Plus the money aspect. There’s no paying $40 or $50 to fill up my tank. It’s only about $10 on the Model 3. It’s great.

 

Would you say your membership has had any effect on your career?

 

Not too much because a car doesn’t factor too much into my job, but it is impressive to co-workers every once in a while when I drive up in a Tesla. Even though they’re becoming a lot more common, a lot of people haven’t seen them in person or sat in one, so people always enjoy it. 

 

But at least for me with my career, it hasn’t had too much of an effect, but it’s definitely saved me money, so it’s helpful in other aspects of life.

 

What about your hobbies?

 

Now that I have time to get back into photography, from now on, it’s going to be a much larger aspect. I’m getting back into the whole social media thing where I’m going to start building up that back up. I used to be really into it for a while and did a lot of promotions and partnerships, and I kind of let it relax for almost a year. But I started this past week building all that back up so it should definitely have a play in that soon.

 

Driving to new places or utilizing the car in photos?

 

Both. I’m going to start doing a lot more since a lot of my following social media is centered on automotive. I normally go to a lot of car shows and private care events around the country, so having it is going to play a much larger role.

 

What do you think we could do to improve Steer?

 

To Steer as a company, I can’t think of anything. 

 

The only issues I’ve had are some issues with a car, but nothing as a company. The people are awesome. Every time anyone’s had to bring me a car, I always feel like I’m being needy and apologize profusely, but everyone’s super nice about it and says it’s not a big deal, even though I still feel like I need to apologize. 

 

But everybody’s super responsive and helpful and friendly – just a way better experience than any dealership or anything I’ve ever had, so I can’t really think of a huge amount of things to change. So far, I haven’t had any negative experiences.

 

What’s your favorite car in the Steer fleet?

 

For long-range driving, the Model 3, because it has an actual center console and side door pockets. The Model S is definitely more fun to drive, but the Model 3 is more utilitarian. 

 

So for everyday driving around town or hanging out, I’ll take the Model S, but if I need to go somewhere and have things I need to transport, the Model 3 definitely makes more sense.

 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Electric Cars?

Deciding on a vehicle is a big decision – it’s one of the most expensive things that the average family will spend on over several years. Next to real estate, vehicles are among our most significant assets.

 

That’s just one reason why the debate around electric cars is so prominent right now. People are talking about whether it’s a good idea to jump on the bandwagon and go green and get an all-electric vehicle, stick with a traditional gasoline engine, or go with a hybrid car that combines both of these systems.

 

When it comes to all-electric plug-in vehicles, there are some great reasons to take advantage of the modern engineering that automakers have put into this type of ride. There are also some potential drawbacks to these vehicles, depending on your particular situation. Let’s take a clear-eyed look at the pros and cons of electric cars, and how these play out over time – because many of these factors are continually changing.

 

All-Electric Vehicles: The Pros

 

Lower Cost of Ownership

 

For people who tend to vote with their wallets, there’s been a powerful incentive to get an electric vehicle. It has to do with what happens when our cars break down.

 

Unless you have an excellent mechanic, you probably go to a chain shop, or some other ASE certified auto repair office that charges you pretty much by the book – labor and parts – and doesn’t give you any kind of special breaks. If so, you may have noticed that maintaining a conventional vehicle can raise your total cost of ownership by several thousand dollars a year, easily. There’s so much that can and will go wrong on vehicles – and then the parts are expensive, too. When you assess the average cost of vehicle repair, you see that there’s often quite a bit of mark-up involved.

 

If you make a laundry list of the most common things that cost you a lot of money at the mechanic shop, you’ll see that a good number of these items don’t even apply to an electric vehicle.

 

The catalytic converter on an electric vehicle is never going to get clogged or need an expensive replacement. There will be no buying new oxygen sensors to make sure the fuel mix is correct. You won’t even need an oil change, which is the most common maintenance cost for a conventional vehicle. You may have spent a year driving a pretty reliable gasoline vehicle, and nothing went wrong pretty much that whole year – but you still had to do those two required oil changes, and because you were busy, you took it to a shop that you didn’t know. Those two oil changes, along with inspection stickers, could have cost you $200 or more! If this seems simplistic, CNBC offers a detailed guide to TCO savings, but in many cases, this is conservative – because if you used to get fleeced by your mechanic, you’re going to save a lot more with an EV than the 15-20% margin shown in the article.

 

With an EV, you’ll still have maintenance on brakes, tires, and windshield wipers, but the expensive and laborious engine maintenance will be a thing of the past. You won’t have to worry about the valve cover gasket, or the head gasket, or the fuel injection line, or any of those complex and expensive systems that require so much hard work to fix.

 

In fact, that’s another kind of corollary benefit of the EV – its simplicity. Basically, without the engine, you have a very straightforward picture of what’s going on under the hood. This eliminates a problem that has plagued the less car-savvy but still mechanically curious for the hundred years that the gas car has dominated. What the heck is a camshaft sensor? Now it magically doesn’t matter.

 

If you’re the type who has always worked on your own vehicles, this makes your job a lot easier too. No more looking up YouTube videos to figure out the role of a mass airflow sensor or how the manifold fits the undercarriage, or how to maintain your muffler. It’s all gone, and there’s just an electric motor. Sweet.

 

Working Toward Sustainable Energy Practices

 

Now, for the ecologically minded, there’s also a big incentive here. It’s the idea that EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions. That’s right – zero.

 

However, this big mark on the “pros” column comes with an important disclaimer – most of our electrical grid isn’t that clean yet.

 

If you’re getting your electric vehicle juice from dirty energy grid power, you may not be saving the environment all that much in the near-term, although there are benefits at a local level where you and your family live and play. On a global level, it’s sometimes argued as a case of out of sight, out of mind, which EV critics love to point out. In some ways, they’re correct, but in other ways, they just don’t see the big picture. EVs can and will be part of our eco-salvation – soon.

 

With that in mind, this is the other disclaimer that applies – if you look at the quick and broad-ranging installation of windmills and solar panels across the country, you’ll see that we are in the process of cleaning up our electrical grid. Plus, many electric utilities offer green electricity options, called Renewable Energy Certificates (or, RECs), that source renewable power from elsewhere in the US to offset the “brown” power that you consume at your home. With both of these solutions in mind, the EV will be the clear winner and will help us to avoid poisoning our planet beyond a certain critical mass point. 

 

When the EV does utilize renewable power, it is abundantly cleaner than a conventional vehicle that spews out carbon gases from its tailpipe. You can also say that the EV helps you to avoid local-point pollution, which is great if you are, for instance, idling in a garage (no need to worry about you or your children breathing in harmful fumes). But for many EV owners, it’s not just out of sight, out of mind – they invested in a green vehicle, and they’ll do the work to find and promote that green electricity that’s always here to be harvested from the sun and the wind. 

 

There’s a big debate right now, not on whether to use solar panels, but on where to put them. Elon Musk feels that putting them directly on the car is impractical – others want to see this direct-feed-loop happen. Either way, you’re still using natural, renewable energy. That’s going to happen. Innovations are underway – just look at what VW is coming up with, for example, to revolutionize EV charging.

 

A Quiet Ride

 

Here’s another significant advantage that people tend to put in the “plus” column when it comes to EV cars. When you turn the ignition key, or more likely, push the ignition button, you really don’t hear much.

 

Yes, these cars are whisper-quiet, which has traditionally been a big selling point in the vehicle market. Quiet is good, right?

 

Quiet is good – for the driver, for the passengers, and for the general community itself. Less noise translates into a more relaxing ride and is better for conversations and enjoying music. There’s only one disclaimer to this benefit, though, and that’s safety. Those transitioning to driving an EV car must be very mindful that pedestrians and others cannot hear the vehicle approaching because there’s no rumbling engine!

 

With the right safety precautions, though, the whisper-quiet ride is a high selling point for the EV car. If you’ve ever seen Edmunds talk about how “quiet” a conventional gasoline vehicle is, you’ll understand the advantage of a vehicle that doesn’t belch fuel when you turn it on.

 

 

All-Electric Vehicles: The Cons

 

Charging Time

 

Let’s talk about charging.

 

One of the first disadvantages pointed out by electric car critics is that they do need time to charge and that without battery power, they won’t take you anywhere.

 

If you charge your vehicle en route to a location, you will be sitting there waiting for the vehicle to charge, and it will take longer than fueling up at a conventional gas pump.

 

However, this is the big caveat that makes people erase the charging problem from their list of negative points – if you charge at home overnight, you don’t have to wait at all. It takes a few seconds to plug your car in, and in the morning, you’re good to go.  

 

Additionally, more and more public fast chargers are being built that will reduce charging time to 15-30 minutes, like the Tesla Supercharger, ChargePoint, EVgo and Electrify America networks, which can be found along highway stops, at popular shopping destinations

 

Range Anxiety

 

Range anxiety is an undeniable disadvantage of an electric vehicle. But people view this limitation with different philosophies.

 

Here’s the first mentality: “I’ll never be able to really feel secure about going as far as I need to go without a recharge. I’ll never be able to enjoy the spontaneity of the road and drive down to the Outer Banks. I’ll have to stop every once in a while and charge up.”

 

The second mentality goes a little bit like this – sure, you’ll have some limitations in terms of charging. You have to make plans. You’ll have to keep track of the power that your vehicle has in a different way than you have before.

 

But limitations aren’t all bad. It’s really more like taking a little time to pre-plan your trip so you are prepared.  And the bit of extra prep is worth it; your trip will be smoother, you’re benefiting the environment and also saving money. So while some may pine for the freewheeling experience of the old days, others will see it as a very acceptable trade-off.

 

Lack of Choice

 

No, you can’t buy an EV that looks like a particular muscle car or a specific type of sports car model – but the old idea that there’s not enough choice in EV cars is rapidly getting blown out of the water. 

 

It used to be that the Toyota Prius was kind of the gold standard in renewable and sustainable driving. Now you have not only the Nissan and Toyota EVs (both of which are out on the road in droves), but a range of very cool designs from Tesla, as well as more EVs from your favorite automakers like Chevy, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Porsche, just to name a few.  This includes small city cars, comfortable sedans, as well as mid-sized and large SUV options.

 

The variety of EVs available is starting to look more like the variety of conventional cars – automakers are jumping on board. For example, after years of dipping their toes in the water with a variety of hybrid models, Ford is slated to release their first all-electric vehicle – the Mustang Mach E. The emergence of choice is changing the game for the EV pretty quickly.

 

High Sticker Prices of EV Cars

 

This last disadvantage of an EV car is also disappearing pretty quickly.

 

It’s undeniable that Tesla prices are high. It’s also tough to get a ‘beater car’ that plugs in, the way that you can with a conventional gasoline car. But with all that aside, the tremendous evolution of choice in all-electric vehicles means that the prices are coming down too. Look at the price for a used Nissan Leaf, and you’ll see that the emergence of this vehicle on American roadways means it’s a lot cheaper than it used to be. These are not out of reach for many American families.

 

Additionally, the price goes down because of all of that engineering that’s no longer necessary – which we covered up there in the “pros” column.

 

The Takeaway

 

When you really look at all of these factors with a focus on what’s best for yourself and the planet, the EV stands tall. It’s a change that’s happening somewhat rapidly on the American road – you’re seeing newly engineered all-electric vehicles replacing the old gasoline engine, and as we’ve mentioned here above, there are pros and cons – but the reasons to upgrade are big ones, and very important.

 

Thinking of making the switch to an electric car, but a little hesitant to make a commitment? Not a problem. Steer’s month-to-month subscription model can get you into your first EV tomorrow, with no long term contracts or hidden fees! Click here to get started.

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