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.

 

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!

 

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.

What Are the Benefits of Electric Cars?

For more than a century, gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles have dominated the roads. However, recent technology advancements in self-driving, battery range, and power electronics have leap-frogged electric cars ahead of their gas counterparts, making what has long felt like the future available to drive today. Now we have electric cars that are just as fast as petrol-powered cars, if not faster.

In fact, electric cars accelerate faster than gasoline vehicles since the induction motor of an EV pumps out instant power with no engine lag – instant torque! These high-performance cars can go zero to 60 in seconds, no problem. Not to mention, electric vehicles have better traction control and stability than a typical internal combustion engine vehicle, due to their low centers of gravity and weight from the battery packs, typically located underneath the vehicle. So bring on those winding roads and enjoy the drive!

It gets better; there are many benefits why you should drive an electric car. Let’s have a look.

 

Eco Benefits of Electric Cars

Think about this for a minute; the average mid-sized gasoline-powered vehicle emits about 19 pounds of carbon dioxide every time it burns a gallon of fuel. If you do the math, that is about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Keep in mind those are just the statistics for a mid-sized gasoline vehicle.

The air pollution can be so harmful that in some congested cities, gasoline and diesel vehicles are banned or restricted temporarily due to causing smog. DC, for example, has a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and transport plays a significant role in accomplishing this.

Because electric vehicles have zero carbon exhaust emissions, that means it’s possible to prevent smog and improve air quality by driving electric cars. Bonus: Say goodbye to that annoying emissions test every couple of years – more on that later.

Besides that, you can take it a notch higher and use renewable energy like electricity produced using solar, hydropower, or wind to recharge your electric vehicle. Even the lithium-ion batteries can be shipped to recycling plants to be restored or improvised for lesser demanding tasks.

In the future, we will probably see more electric cars like Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, or Ford Focus Electric that are made using recycled materials. 

Whichever way you look at it, electric cars are environmentally friendly since they reduce pollution significantly.

 

Access to Advanced Technology & Safety Features

Most electric cars today come with the latest cutting edge technology and safety features. How advanced are we talking? Imagine you’re sick, and you can’t drive yourself to the hospital, but you got a Tesla Model S in your parking lot. It’s possible to summon your car using a smartphone, get inside, put your destination in the tab, and let it self-drive you to the hospital (you do need to keep your hands on the wheel, no sleeping!).

It’s not a joke anymore; we’re probably getting to the point where if you steal an electric vehicle, it will self-drive you to the nearest police station.

However, it’s not just Tesla electric vehicles that come with autonomous driving technology since most electric cars released in the past few years have semi-autonomous features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping. It’s much easier for electric cars to adapt to self-driving technology due to their electrical controls and fewer moving parts.

Outside of autonomous driving, electric vehicles feature the latest advanced technology such as overhead camera views, voice control, night vision, weather informatics, assist navigation routing, parking assistance, smartphone key, climate control, and AI infotainment system.

What’s more, you can preheat your electric car in winter and avoid scraping the windows in the morning. If you’re plugged into a charging point, you won’t need to draw power from the battery when heating your electric car overnight. You can even turn on the A/C through an app without starting the engine, something that you can’t do on most diesel and gasoline vehicles without draining the battery.  

 

HOV Access in Certain Areas

In some places such as Colorado, California, Maryland, Florida, Ontario, and British Columbia, EV drivers enjoy the privilege of driving in the HOV lane. This benefit is so helpful, many people who live in places with insane traffic congestion such as Los Angeles buy or lease electric vehicles just to use the HOV lane and evade the traffic.

It can be exhausting sitting in traffic for hours, but a pool lane can save you at least 30 minutes or more, especially during rush hours. Besides saving you time, HOV lanes are safer to drive, and at the end of your trip, your EV will consume less energy.

 

No Emissions Testing

Remember when Volkswagen was fined $2.8 billion for cheating on emission tests in the United States? That is just how serious emission tests are regulated, and there are dire consequences if you fail. For those driving ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles, it can cost an arm and a leg if you don’t pass an emission test.

It could be worse if you fail the emission test, and the DMV doesn’t register your vehicle. Sometimes even the repairs are not enough, and it would make sense to buy a new car rather than spend thousands of dollars trying to fix the problem. It sounds expensive, right?

Of course, since electric vehicles have zero exhaust emissions, you don’t need to go for mandatory emission testing. Even if you buy an old second-hand electric car, you don’t have to worry about harmful pollutants coming out of your exhaust system. It doesn’t happen!

 

No Oil Changes

What is the oil maintenance budget for an electric car? Zero! That is because you don’t need it. Unlike internal combustion vehicles, electric vehicles are engineered with very few moving parts, so they eliminate the necessity for oil changes, transmission servicing, tune-ups, and replacing the drive belts, spark plugs, and air filters.

Except for a few little things like rotating the tires, checking the tire pressure, occasionally topping up the windshield washer fluid, coolant, blinker fluid, and brake fluid, electric vehicles don’t require a lot of maintenance. In contrast, it won’t cost you more money than what you would spend maintaining regular gasoline or diesel engine vehicles.

Later, you will need to swap the batteries in the future, but most EV manufacturers have a warranty covering between 100,000 to 200,000 miles. Most likely, you won’t need to change the batteries for the next 8 or 10 years.

 

Premium Parking Spots

In most major cities, you can access premium parking close to the entrance of a mall, restaurant, office, or store where you can charge your electric vehicle. EV drivers can use apps such as PlugShare or OpenCharge, ChargePoint, and ChargeHub to find the nearest parking lots that accommodate electric vehicles.

The best part? Most public locations in the United States and Canada with plug-in charging outlets are free to charge. Did somebody say ‘not fair’? Well, you can’t say the same about internal combustion engines getting free gasoline or diesel.

However, it’s considered bad manners to park your EV in a public charging spot without connecting it. If you’re not charging, you should allow other EV drivers to plug in their vehicles. But if your battery is low, go ahead and take your time.

 

No Stopping for Gas

Back in the days, there was a significant oil shortage in the United States that caused the price of gas to skyrocket overnight, and drivers lining up for miles at the gas station. It happened back in 1973 to 1974, but there is a chance history could repeat itself. Such an inconvenience due to gas shortage and rations wouldn’t be possible if you’re driving an electric vehicle.

Even today, the price of oil can be unpredictable, and we’ve probably seen it a hundred times before when oil prices fluctuate.

Suffice to say, it’s easier to be self-sufficient using electricity, and its price doesn’t change that much compared to oil. Also, you can utilize solar panels at your home to produce your electricity and store it in a backup battery. You know, save it for a rainy day?

Beyond that, if you have installed a level 2 charging station at your residence, you can wake up to a fully charged electric vehicle every morning. No more waiting in line at the gas station.

 

Spend Less on Fuel

The money you spend on gas per mile is twice as much as what you would spend on electricity per mile. The difference is more prominent if you’re driving a vehicle with low miles per gallon consumption rate. Still not convinced? Let’s do the calculation.

If the current price of gas per gallon is $3 and your gasoline car has a mileage rating of 20 miles per gallon, that means you will spend 15 cents per mile. On the other hand, if your Tesla Model X has a 100kWh battery that can deliver 315 miles range, it will cost you about 4 cents per mile, considering the average price per kWh in the United States is 12 cents. 

But that’s not all; you probably won’t spend a dime if you’re sourcing electricity from solar panels installed at your home. All you would need is a constant supply of sunshine, and you’re good to drive for a few miles. Don’t forget, most public charging stations are free.

 

Potential Tax Incentives

When you buy an electric vehicle in the United States, there are tax incentives available of up to $7,500 (the amount can vary by manufacturer, see below). For instance, if you buy a BMW i3 and you owe $10,000 in income taxes, you will get a tax credit of $7,500, and the taxes you owe will go down to $2,500.

On the other hand, if you owe $5,000 to the IRS, your tax liability will be reduced to zero, but Uncle Sam won’t give you a $2,500 refund. Basically, if you owe less than the tax incentive amount, you will only get a tax reduction up to that amount you owe. Also, the remaining tax credit balance can’t be deducted when filing for next year’s taxes.

However, the $7,500 tax credit doesn’t apply to every electric vehicle since it depends on how many total EVs have been sold by the manufacturer. If a manufacturer sells more than 200,000 EVs, the federal government slowly phases out the tax credit within 12 months. Tesla has hit this threshold in 2020 and no longer qualifies for federal tax incentives, for example.

Despite that, a lot of electric vehicles on the market are still eligible for $7,500 tax incentives, and you should take advantage of that before it’s too late.

 

Conclusion

There’s never been a better time to drive an electric vehicle. Most electric cars nowadays can go more than 250 miles after a charge, and there are more than 50,000 charging points in the United States.

What else? Driving is more fun and relaxing when using one pedal and semi-autonomous technology. The torque is instant, and the power is smoother with no gearshifts. The engine doesn’t stutter, shake or vibrate, and it’s as quiet as a vacuum in space.

Other significant benefits of electric cars include not paying public parking fees in most eco-friendly cities and potential tax incentives. 

Above everything else, you will be doing the planet a favor by reducing your carbon footprint.

Ready to make the switch to electric? Get started with Steer today!

 

 

 

 

 

11 Tesla Features You (Probably) Didn’t Know About

You constantly hear about the dangers of cars, but how often do you hear about a vehicle saving a life?

 

Last week a newspaper in England reported, “Laurence Sanderson said he, his wife and three children, and the occupants of a second car coming in the opposite direction, would have ‘undoubtedly’ been killed by a falling 400-year-old oak tree – but in an extraordinary coincidence, both vehicles were self-driving Tesla Model X cars, which have automatic emergency brakes.” Both cars sensed the tree falling and stopped suddenly, so it landed on their hoods and missed the occupants, saving everyone’s lives. 

 

Automatic braking is just one feature that makes Tesla cars quite unlike any other. Given that Tesla’s are among the most popular vehicles in the Steer garage, we wanted to make sure our members are taking advantage of all the features and fun that Tesla’s come equipped with.

 

Let’s have a blast exploring 11 Tesla features that make driving them a different world from almost any other vehicle on the market. 

 

1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Tesla Model S a rating of 5.4 out of 5. 

 

The passenger cabins of Teslas are so safe that the story in the newspaper above may well have reported that the passengers would have been saved from the tree even it had landed on the cars’ roofs. Why? In the NHTSA test, their machine for testing objects falling on the Model S roof broke before it was able to crush the cabin! 

 

What this means for you is that these cars are incredibly safe, even when their electronics aren’t keeping an eye on you while you’re driving down the road. 

 

2. Ludicrous and Insane Mode

 

For some reason, Ludicrous Mode on the Model S P110D is even more insane than Insane Mode on the Model S P85D. 

 

Ludicrous Mode has the bipolar outcome of accelerating like a cat off a hot tin roof (2.5 seconds to 60 anyone?) yet can also extend the range of the car to over 300 miles on a charge – the first-ever electric car to manage this range. 

 

When it comes to acceleration, a Tesla in this Mode can line up next to a Ferrari or Lamborghini and put their foot down, leaving the gas guzzler struggling to even be on the same road, let alone keeping up!

 

Insane Mode on the Model S P85D takes advantage of the dual motors to get the car up to 60 in an impressive 3.5 seconds, blowing most other cars off the road when you put your foot down. Who says that electric cars are boring old trolleys when they can embarrass drivers in cars that cost ten times the price?

 

 

3. Full Self Driving (FSD)

 

The first thing to say about this is that you should always have your hands on the wheel and foot ready to jam on the brakes – while one of the most advanced self-driving systems on the road today, you can’t have a doze while it drives you everywhere! The car can sense whether your hands are on the driving wheel and will take measures to make you take control if you don’t, even slowing it down and putting on the hazard lights. 

 

However, it can get you over busy interchanges and put you in exactly the right lane on bigger roads, and can do things like slow and stop the car on streets of speed limits up to 60mph. If the lights change on you, you’ll have to respond, but if they do for the car in front, the car will react to it. 

 

It’s this cool front-end sensing, that’s even on Teslas without FSD, that may have saved the two families’ lives when the tree fell on their cars. This Tesla feature is available on all models built after 2016. 

 

4. Standard Autopilot – Lane Departure and Emergency Lane Departure

 

Emergency lane departure avoidance is a feature where if you haven’t seen another vehicle and are about to change lanes into its way, or you’re about to come off the road, the Tesla car will steer out of harm’s way. 

 

This feature is linked to the lane departure warning system where the car will sound an alarm if you change lanes without putting on your indicator to show other drivers your plans. 

 

In both cases, if these events take place too often, the car will ultimately slow down and flash its hazard lights to warn other drivers you could be in trouble (perhaps in a medical emergency). In these cases, authorities can slow you down and stop you without touching the car. How? They can surround your car and stop, and the car’s collision avoidance system will stop it – now that’s pretty cool!

 

 

5. Navigate on Autopilot

 

Did you know that the car will drive you from A-to-B using its navigation system on Autopilot too? This means on most roads, and in safe conditions, you could tell the car where to go and rest your hands on the wheel while it takes you where you’re going. 

 

This feature puts Tesla cars head and shoulders above its rivals. As always, you need to be sober, alert, and have your hands on the wheel throughout as the car won’t drive you without you doing it.

 

6. The Easter Eggs!

 

We can’t talk about Tesla features without a word on their Easter eggs, can we? These are little apps that you can find all over the autopilot and infotainment systems that can make life a little lighter while driving them. Let’s have a look at a few of the best. 

 

  • Your kids (and not so young ones) will love the ‘Emissions Testing’ Easter egg, where the car can make a range of different fart noises almost anywhere in the cabin thanks to its excellent sound system. Your children/menfolk can make it seem that anyone has farted in a range of different ways. Don’t worry, though, the car can’t make real smells…yet.

 

 

  • If you are closing out the evening with a date that’s gone well, perhaps you could switch on Romance Mode to inspire the right mood – this is a log fire that appears on the main screen. A little warmth from the climate control system and appropriate music, and you could set the mood perfectly as you go home for your after-dinner entertainment. 

 

 

  • With the car parked and stationary, you can play Beach Buggy Racing on the main screen, using the actual steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator to race the car on the screen around the course! This makes for a game control console that you just won’t find anywhere else. You can even play a two-player game with the passenger using the controls on the screen to race you. Perfect for passing the time while charging or put a twist on game night!

 

 

Dozens of other Easter eggs will keep everyone happy, including fun the driver can have while driving it on Autopilot as well as the passengers old and young. Though most of them can be found on a dedicated screen, some can only be found by hitting the Tesla button in certain circumstances. Have a play and see what you can find!

 

7. No Need for a Child Lock

 

As with all cars on the road today, there is a standard child lock on the rear doors of Teslas to stop your little ones from falling out while playing in back as they do. But did you know that at speeds of over 5mph, no doors will be operable from the inside anyway? You can only open the doors from the inside when the car has come to a complete stop. That means everyone is safe all the time. 

 

There is one time you could regret this feature – in a carjacking, there will be no escape until and unless the vehicle is at a standstill. Given that we’re not the first to point this out, we’re sure that there will be an Over The Air update in good time that fixes this issue – perhaps you could say a code word and press the screen to unlock the doors and get away with your life? Who knows what the Tesla engineers will come up with?!

 

8. Reverse Can be Engaged While Moving Forward

 

Unlike other cars where you have to put your foot on the brake and come to a standstill, you can tell your Tesla to go into reverse while it is rolling forward. The car will come to a stop safely and then reverse. 

 

Though it is only available while you’re traveling at a maximum speed of 5mph, this is a feature that can allow you to maneuver more quickly and effectively. 

 

9. Explicit Lyrics Bar on the Infotainment System

 

If you have kids in your car, you won’t want them to hear the language that adults use. That’s why Teslas have an ‘explicit lyrics bar’ on their infotainment system – all you need to do is check a box, and you won’t hear songs that may teach them the language that you’d prefer they won’t. 

 

This is just one of a large number of family-friendly Tesla features on the range that makes their cars so good for families to use. How many other automakers have thought so deeply about things like these?

 

10. Over The Air (OTA) Updates

 

The car you lease from Steer today will be far better at the end of the lease term than it was when you drove it away. Sound strange? That’s because Tesla releases regular OTA updates to the car’s software, where Tesla HQ can upgrade your car while it is in your garage or parking lot. 

 

Improvements so far have included updating the Autopilot software so it can get you in precisely the right lane on the road in cities and highways where you need to be in a particular lane to change roads, turn right or left. Other regular refinements make every Tesla made after 2016 almost as good as one another. 

 

Where there is a problem with an OTA, you can send a report back to Tesla HQ (again without leaving the car), and they can come up with a software patch to fix it. That means that unlike certain operating software companies, the company will keep you on the road even if there is a bug in the code!

 

11. Model X – Bioweapon Defense Mode

 

Quite apart from being tailpipe-emissions free and saving others from breathing gunk from your driving, the Model X keeps the air inside just as clean inside as it does the air outside!

 

On the crossover Model X, there is a High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter that cleans the air coming into your car to the same standards as a hospital operating room. On Bioweapon Defense Mode, that could mean you could theoretically drive away after a terrorist ‘dirty bomb’ attack on your city and be perfectly safe inside. 

 

Basically, the dirty air of a city is cleaned by the car as it flows inside the cabin. If you or a friend have a lung condition such as asthma or COPD, this means that you or they can breathe the air without risks of unwanted pollutants, causing a reaction. 

 

The Takeaway

 

From exceptional safety ratings to gadgets to keep the kids happy, Tesla cars are totally different from those made by other automakers. Hopefully, we’ve given you a flavor of some of the unique Tesla features out there. 

 

Subscribe to your next Tesla with Steer to go on your own journey of discovery to find out what else there is on these machines too!

 

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