Do you want a car that you can drive for free, that is part of our electrical grid and is 100% renewable? You may not think this is possible, but it is closer than you think. A couple of months ago, an affordable option came to the market: the electric car with a $200/month lease. You can make it fully renewable by using GreenChoice windpower from Austin Energy, or by installing 8 solar panels to be able to drive on the sun. It is more affordable than you think. In fact, you may even get paid.
Fun! It is quiet. Very quiet. And in the eco-mode, your ride turns into a glide. When you do not use the eco-mode, your ride unleashes all the torque it has to get you going really fast. You can speed up quickly if need be (try sitting next to a charger or mustang at a stop light and see if you can beat them!). It is also really comfortable. The battery is at the bottom of the car which makes it very steady to drive. It is a new world of driving and I am sure that you will never want to go back to a car that uses gas once you have tried it and made the switch.
There are several electric cars on the market. Most fully electric vehicles (EVs) come with a battery that will give you 70-80 miles range, so it is the perfect car for commutes and trips all over town, just not to go to Dallas or Houston from here. We did an analysis and it would work almost everyday of last year, except for about 5 days in town, and a couple weekends up to family further away. We use our Prius for those trips, but could easily rent a car as well.
Electric cars do not need gas so you can happily forgo on stopping at the gas station and leave $20-$120 dollars in your pocket each time you don’t stop. But they do need electricity. The average electric car is much more efficient. the MPG is 100+. So you need less energy to drive it. It takes about 3000 kWh to drive a Nissan Leaf for 12,000 miles. If you charge at home this will add less than 30% to your electricity bill (per average Austin household consumption of 11,000 kWh). I use my solar panels to make the electricity and I will earn back my investment within one year. Yes, you read that right, within one year fueling/charging a Nissan Leaf will be free. If you buy a fast charger (level 2) for your home, it will take 1.5 years to never have to pay for charging anymore. That is a deal! Talk about energy independence that is renewable and clean. Another option is to use the PlugInEverywhere card from Austin Energy and charge you car on the go for a flat fee of 5$ per month.
Bottom line: if you generate your own electricity, your electric car will drive for free after about 1.5 years. Yes, really.
Of course you also need the car. Are they not very expensive Some new electric cars can be expensive, but the Nissan Leaf is affordable. It is even cheaper than a Prius since they lowered the price to ~$22,000. The lease can be as low as $200 per month. When you compare that to the gas savings from using your old car, you will not get the car for free for about 8 months. Let me do the numbers for you: the gas savings depend on your MPG and miles, but if you drive a 25 MGP car for 12,000 miles per year, your savings in gas will be $1,600 per year. So the gas savings pay for most of the lease. Your net lease payments would be less than $800 per year. That should be within range of just about anybody that drives a car. One hiccup, if you plan to lease it, there may be a downpayment, and you always have to pay tax and title.
The Electric car holds the promise of needing fewer investments in our infrastructure, we will use more electricity for cars, but the beauty is that it will give us lower prices. When you look at the image to the right, if we charge our cars at night when we park it in our garage, the existing infrastructure can be used more efficiently as it does not have to scale up and down so much. We will cut off the peak, which is most expensive. We can also use more wind energy here in Texas that is generated at night in the Panhandle. The wind electricity can use a hungry car. It will increase demand during the off peak night hours when the wind is blowing. There is already one utility in the northeast (the University of Delaware, the regional grid operator and an electric company) that is piloting a program where your car battery becomes a two-way system: during the afternoon it can take some of your electricity from your battery and pay you for it, and at night it can charge it. Estimates are that the value of this system can be over $1800 per year. That is how much it is worth to your utility not to have to build and use peak capacity. Read more about this project in the New York Times.
So car batteries have the potential to become part of the storage when we make excess renewable energy and use it when the system is peaking. Now that is a big promise that can soon become a reality here in Austin as well.
Talk about impact: a car that you can drive for free, that is part of our electrical grid and that is 100% renewable! I can’t believe you do not have one yet We love it!