Lyme Electric Vehicle Buying Resource
compiled by Lyme neighbor Harry Higgs
The purpose of this page is to provide information on experiences of those who own or lease electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrids (PIHs) in Lyme. Some of us have found that the single biggest impediment to purchasing an EV is the question “Will it really work, especially around here in the winter?” As you will see below, the answer is a somewhat resounding “YES!” Within both vehicle classes, though, there are several makes from which to choose. At the end of the document, I have tables of which cars are owned by Lyme residents. If you want more details on owner experiences, e-mail me and I can supply them.
On this blog page, in the category “Electric Vehicle Buying Resource”, I’ll be sharing periodic updates, linking back to this post with consolidated information.
Please let me know if you have bought an EV or a plug-in hybrid, and feel free to keep letting me know how I can make this more useful. Email Henry Higgs.
First of all, let’s define an “Electric Vehicle” and a “Plug-In Hybrid”:
- An EV is all electric. No internal combustion engine at all.
The EVs that are owned by Lyme residents are:
- Tesla, who make several models.
- Nissan, who make the Leaf.
- Chevrolet, who make the Bolt.
- A PIH has both an internal combustion engine and an electric engine. The electric engine has a limited range (20-50 miles). When the battery runs down, the gas engine takes over.
The following makes of PIH are owned by Lyme residents:
- Toyota, who make the Prius Prime and the RAV4 Prime.
- Subaru, who make the Crosstrek.
- Mitsubishi, who make the Outlander.
- Lincoln, who makes the Navigator.
- Mini Cooper, who make the Countryman.
- Chevrolet, who make the Volt. I put this last on the list because Chevy no longer makes it.
To be clear, a PIH is different from a hybrid vehicle, albeit an extension. In a hybrid, you charge the battery through the car’s performance (breaking, and such). In a PIH, you can also charge the battery by plugging the car in, which means that you really don’t need the gas engine at all if you only travel short distances.
I will just mention two other EVs that are owned by Upper Valley residents but as yet not by Lyme residents:
- The Kia Niro.
- The Hyundai Kona.
Both owners I know love these cars. The Niro can come with a ‘winter package’ that maintains battery performance better during the winter.
Reasons to buy an EV
- They’re fun!!!!! This might be a surprise to many. It certainly was to me. I expected incredibly poor performance, whereas the reality is completely the opposite. This may be an exaggeration, but I would say pretty much any EV can beat pretty much any gas-powered car in a drag race: BMW, Audi, Camaro, or what-have-you. A couple of people comment on this specifically. The reason is that there’s no “reving up” of the engine to be done. As soon as you hit the accelerator (we can’t call it the ‘gas’ on these), you have full power – instant torque! Go to the local Nissan or Chevy dealer and test-drive a Leaf or a Bolt and see for yourself.
- They’re cheaper over time. At the moment, charging these EVs will cost you less per mile than running a gas-powered car, given the prices of electricity and gas, and the efficiencies of the respective vehicles. Also, there’s a lot less maintenance expense (see below). In the October 2020 issue of Consumer Reports, there is an article estimating that EV owners save at least $6000 over the lifetime of the car, versus comparable gas-powered cars (I have a PDF if you are interested). There was also a recent NY Times piece about the overall cost effectiveness of EVs.
- They’re low-maintenance. There are no oil changes, no filter changes, and very few moving part changes. About the only things that wear are the things connected to the wheels (brakes, tires). One concern is the battery, which will be discussed later.
- They’re lower greenhouse gas emitters. In fact, of course, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from actual driving is zero. However, one should consider that charging an EV is using fossil fuels indirectly, through the electric company. Based on the latest numbers, Eversource and NHEC are at 25 and 59% non-GHG sources (based on my breakdown*). Of course, if you have solar panels you can push these numbers still further to the good. Another thing is that most EVs are more efficient per mile in terms of amount of energy needed than are gas-powered vehicles. Finally, it is highly likely that the energy mix for electric companies will use less and less fossil fuels over the next few years, so that the positive impact of EVs on our carbon footprint will be increasing over time.
- Two things that are nicer for others around us:
- They don’t emit emissions from the tailpipe, making it a lot nicer to sit at a stop light, or for joggers/cyclers/walkers in the vicinity.
- They’re quiet, reducing the noise that sometimes gets in the way of enjoying our incredible environment in Lyme.
*I include solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, landfill gas, geothermal, fuel cells and energy storage as non-GHG sources. We include municipal trash, wood, biomass and liquid biofuels as other renewables (in addition to the non-GHG sources).
Concerns people might have with EVs
- People are concerned about the range of these vehicles, and about getting stuck “running out of gas”. All of the new EV models you will see on the list get above 200 miles per full charge, many of them pushing or going over 300 miles. I am finding that “running out of gas” is actually far less of an issue day-to-day, because I can plug in each night and be “full” the next morning if necessary. In practice, I go close to a week between plug-ins. Ranges for EVs seem to increase yearly, so this potential problem is fast becoming obsolete. You will see on the list that three of the EVs are listed at under 100 mile ranges. Take a look at the model years for these: 2013 and 2015. The same model now (the Leaf) is over 200.
- Related to the first concern, people are worried that they will not be able to take long trips with their EV. Several people on the list do this routinely (I am defining ‘long trips’ as over 200 miles in a day). It does require a different mind-set, in which you will stop longer to “fill up”. However, with most super-chargers, fill-ups take about 20 min and then you’re back on the road. Considering that 200 miles is about 3 hrs of highway driving, it’s generally a nice break anyway! I have now taken five trips of about 400 miles in my Tesla Model Y, and have stopped twice for about 20 min each on all of these trips. I could have gotten away with one stop, but didn’t want to be close to empty upon arrival. (BTW – Hadley MA is an excellent place to charge, because you can take a very nice walk along a pedestrian/bike path and cross the Connecticut River down there on a foot bridge while charging. Very pleasant!). More about EV charging stations and the differences between EV makes in this regard is given below.
- People are concerned that the EVs won’t be rugged enough for our New England winters. You will see from the list that this is not a problem, at all. EVs are certainly no less rugged than comparable models of gas-powered vehicles. Many have all-wheel drive now, and even the ones that don’t do not receive complaints on this from their owners. Many EV owners use snow tires, but I myself am choosing not to for my first winter, with the reasoning that the Tesla without snows will handle much better than my Prius with snows, because a) it is AWD, and b) it is heavier. My prediction is turning out to be true, because I have had absolutely no issues in snow/ice, despite being in quite a bit on occasion (including up to the Greens’ on days when the road is really bad). A Prius PIH owner finds that Michelin Ice tires are really great. Another issue is interior heating. In older EVs, one made a choice between turning on the heater, which eats up battery charge, or being cold. Some more modern EVs have improved greatly by using energy-efficient heat pumps. I’ve actually been blown away by how fast the heater, seat heater and front window de-froster are.
- People are concerned that the winter performance of the battery will be very poor. It is definitely true that battery performance goes down in the winter, but most people says that this is perhaps a 20% drop in range. Because most people charge overnight, and the battery is full in the morning summer or winter, they don’t notice a change in this respect.
- People worry that, even if the car performs great at first, the battery will degrade over time and they will be stuck either replacing it or getting a new car in a few years. Reports I have gotten from those with 4-year old EVs say that battery performance remains close to 100%. The re-sale values of Teslas are quite high currently. Time will tell on this, it’s all new, but it’s clear that this is not an issue over the first several years, and batteries are very rapidly evolving in EVs. One issue with battery life is how you charge it (frequent rapid super-charging purported to reduce battery life, and only filling to 80% or less for routine use helps to preserve life).
- Other concerns relate to how EVs are charged. At home, EVs can either be charged through a 110 V “Level 1” outlet (in other words, a standard outlet), or a 220 V “Level 2”outlet (in other words, the type of outlet used for your dryer). The difference in charging speed is large. I just went out to check this on my Tesla, and found out that “filling up” from its current state (44% charged) to 80% would take 5 hrs with my 220 V and over 24 hrs with the 110 V outlet. So, most people get a 220 V installed for an EV, which will add $500-1000 to your total cost, depending on how far away from your electricity mains you want the outlet. For plug-in hybrids, many people get away with the 110 V outlet, because the battery is a lot smaller. Most people garage-house their EVs, but this is not necessary for charging purposes.
Why do people buy the EVs they buy?
At this point, I’m really kicking myself for not asking owners their major reason for buying the EV they did. Here, I will give you my own synopsis from the list, supplemented by my own experience (I have a Tesla Model Y). Basically, I will divide this into two questions.
- Why do people buy Teslas? Teslas are more expensive, although the Model 3 (their base model) is not hugely more expensive than the others. Here are the reasons people give. Direct information about Teslas can be directed to the UV Tesla google group.
- Teslas are more convenient on long trips. This is due to:
- The ranges for Teslas are generally higher than for other makes, maybe 40-80 miles depending on what numbers and models you are comparing.
- Tesla has more charging stations. This is because Tesla has installed its own super-chargers over quite a bit of the US, and only Teslas are able to charge there. Teslas can also use non-Tesla chargers. Having said that, charging stations are increasing in general around the US at a reasonable pace.
- Tesla does a really excellent job with their on-board navigation system, showing you where super-chargers are and planning routes that take into consideration when you will need to stop to charge.
- The range of Tesla models means that you can probably find a model that will fit your needs. For example, you will see a veritable explosion of Tesla Model Ys bought in Lyme in 2020 (six), the first year for this model. The reason is that the Model Y is a big hatchback, similar in size to a Prius (in fact, a little bigger). Basically, the major competitors only offer one model, which is a compact. Many of us chose the Model Y because we wanted to be able to haul stuff around inside.
- Teslas are more convenient on long trips. This is due to:
- Why do people buy something other than Tesla? The two other major makes owned in the Upper Valley are the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Bolt. Also, one person I know (not a Lyme resident) owns a Hyundai Kona, and another non-Lymey has a Kia Niro SUV. Almost without exception, these cars are dearly loved by their owners. Here are some reasons for going in this direction:
- Price. These cars are definitely cheaper than Teslas. At the moment, any electric car is more expensive initially than a gas-powered car. These cars typically run in the low 30s, compared to a Tesla Model 3 which, for the most basic model, will cost you 40 or over. In addition, some of these cars are eligible for a tax write-off of $7,500, which the Tesla isn’t. The reason is that this is an incentive to the auto makers to produce electric vehicles, and once an auto maker has sold a certain number their models are no longer eligible. Tesla has passed that long ago. I believe that Chevy has passed this mark too. To date, the Leaf has not.
- The availability of a local dealer. Tesla does not have local dealers. They either bring your new car to you, or you drive down to Peabody MA or elsewhere to pick it up. If you want to test drive, you have to go to Peabody. If you need repairs, Tesla comes to you (two things on that: there are very few needed repairs reported, and people have generally been happy with the ‘coming to you’ thing). The availability of a local dealer and local service is comforting. Both Nissan and Chevy have local dealers. Hyundai also makes an EV that a one person outside Lyme (but in the UV) owns, but Hyndai does not have a local dealer.
- In terms of range, several owners of these cars do long trips with no problems.
Finally, why do people buy PIHs?
This is largely because they are worried about the EV concerns I list above. To reiterate, PIHs use electric power only until the battery is drained, and then shift to the gas engine. When the electric engine is being used, you seem to have similar acceleration as an EV (this is based on a rough poll I just took of the PIH owners). A feature of this is that, for most local travel, you would not be using the gas engine at all (for instance, for a trip to the CO-OP and back, or for most commutes around here). Many PIH owners report not filling up for over 1000 miles of driving. Prius Prime owners report getting something like 150-200 miles/gallon in their normal driving mode. Many also just feel more secure for the long trips.
Other EVs for sale, and EVs on the horizon
If you want to look farther afield than the EVs commonly bought around here, take a look at the article in Car and Driver from February. I won’t list them all, because there are many. It looks like the tide is really turning, and a wide variety of new EVs will be available in the next few years. In terms of electric vehicles in general, companies like Chevy and Volkswagen have made bold claims of turning all EV by certain dates. I wanted to have more on this here, but will have to wait for next month.
Excitingly, this includes pick-up trucks! Similar to the performance advantages of EV cars over gas-powered cars (acceleration), EV pick-ups are going to be far superior to gas-powered trucks in terms of towing. Based on a January 20 article in Car and Driver, EV pick-ups on the horizon include:
- Rivian R1T. This should be on the market this year. Rivian is startup company based in Michigan.
- Lordstown Endurance. Should also be on the market late this year. Lordstown is a startup based in Ohio.
- Bollinger B1 and B2. These are some crazy-looking contraptions that should be on the market this year (perhaps even now, I can’t tell). Bollinger is a startup based in Michigan.
- Ford F150. Claimed production in mid-2022.
- Chevy should be releasing an EV pick-up in 2023.
- Hummer should be releasing an EV pick-up in 2023 (Hummer is owned by GM).
Incentives to buy an EV
I will be building on this section as I learn more.
One incentive is available to New Hampshire Energy Cooperative customers in Lyme (click for link), rebates for purchase of either an EV ($1000) or PIH ($600).
I do not see any comparable programs from Eversource. If I am missing that, please let me know!
EVs currently in Lyme
The list only includes Lyme residents. If others would like to add their information to the list, they can email Henry Higgs with the heading “To add to EV/PIH list” (indicate whether you would be OK with your name and e-mail address appearing on the list. It’s perfectly OK if you do not). Many of the people listed below have given permission to me to give their contact information to people interested in buying EVs, and realize that they might be contacted with questions. If you would like contact info for these people, please email me. To those people who agreed to be contacted, have no fear, I will ask again before actually giving your email to a specific person.
|Model||Year||Range per charge (miles)|
|Tesla Model Y||2020||300|
|Tesla Model Y||2020||250-300|
|Tesla Model S||2018||280|
|Tesla Model Y||2020||250-300|
|Tesla Model Y||2020||250-300|
|Tesla Model Y||2020||250|
|Tesla Model 3||2020||300|
|Tesla Model Y||2020||290|
|Tesla Model 3||2018||250|
|Volkswagen ID.4 Pro||2021||260|
|Make/Model||Year||Range for battery(miles)|
|Mini Cooper Countryman||2018||20|
This website gives a more national/international survey of EV owners. You can pay $10 for the full report if you want. I did, but I didn’t find it more useful than this site, actually. I have it as a PDF.
Vermont Law School conducted a webinar on EVs in the Upper Valley (click for the video), on March 21.
The Thetford Energy Committee has gotten a web page up on the town website, with a number of handy resources, including an “Ambassador Team” who can answer specific questions.
Finally, there’s a very good Vermont-based website for more info.
The challenge of converting to electric-powered vehicles
For many of us who have bought an EV, one impetus is to lower our carbon footprint. Since automobiles amount to about a third of greenhouse gas emissions, this is an important conversion. The New York Times had a somewhat sobering article in this respect, on the speed at which the US is likely to convert, given how long cars last
This is, frankly, part of the reason I started this resource, because cars bought today will last 10 or more years. To me, the choice to buy an EV came down to the saying “If not me, who? If not now, when?” I sort of feel I want to do all I can to facilitate the conversion to electric vehicles, as well as the other things needed for truly low environmental impact cars (such as increasing renewable electricity generation).
On a slightly more optimistic note, below is a link to a Wall Street Journal article about how the world’s oil demand has probably peaked. The glass is half full!