Saturday, February 22, 2014

Indoor Plumbing

“Celebrate now, knowing that one day EVs will be as common as indoor plumbing, and there will be no reason to celebrate.”

That’s how I wrapped up a post last September on supporting National Plug-in Day, titled “It’s Just a Car.”

It’s now February 2014, and as one might expect, EVs still have a long, long way to go to achieve the popularity of that very essential porcelain throne found  in every first-world home, thankfully invented by Sir John Harington in the 16th century, then improved by Thomas Crapper in the 1800s. But on this little patch of real estate that my family and I call home, that far-fetched day has come to pass. Three plug-in electrics are now parked in the driveway of our four-bedroom, three-bath home. An EV to match every toilet in the house, that was my goal, and that’s why they’re all white.

Of course I’m joking. It really happened because I’m a cheapskate, plain and simple. Just ask my wife, she will nod in affirmation while laughing hysterically.  A little over a year ago, we were shelling out over $500 every month for gas. When the Focus Electric joined the herd, our gasoline consumption was cut by over a third. This year, after replacing the Focus Electric’s aging ICE backup with a new Volt in January, then trading in my wife’s 2013 Honda Pilot for a fresh RAV4 EV last Sunday, our gas bill should be less than $20/month.  Twenty bucks should cover four gallons of regular to be consumed by an ’07 Dodge Ram Hemi driven maybe once a week at the most, and about three quarts of premium since the Volt, which will serve as a commuter twice a week, needs somewhere between a cup and a pint of gas after its battery is depleted to complete the 38-mile daily trek back home that takes me from sea level to all the way up to a 1200ft elevation.

Commuting daily in the Focus Electric consumed about $60 of electricity per month last year. I expect that to increase slightly with using Volt for two out of the five commuting days since the Volt has a slow 3.3kW L2 charger that costs me about 40% more than the Focus to fully replenish when hooked up to the $1/hour L2 EVSEs at work. The RAV4 EV, serving as our new Mother Ship that’s used to chauffeur the boys around town and run errands to the big box stores, shouldn’t cost more than $30/month to charge nightly, so in total I’m guessing that we’ll be spending about $100-$120/month on electricity and gas, much less than the $500+ per month that we were spending at the pump back in 2012.

I knew that as a household we would eventually end up transitioning to mostly electric, but not this soon. Maybe in several years, when choices should be even more diverse and battery costs should have fallen even more. What drove the urgency is that the 40,000 California HOV green stickers for plug-in hybrids and EREVs are running out by this summer, and so far there has been no indication that CARB will increase that. Another thing that’s expected to deplete in a matter of months is the RAV4 EV; expectation is that Toyota is building only 2600 … so when Carson Toyota advertised killer lease deals with zero drive off and payments that were nearly equal to our lease payment on the 2013 Pilot, I signed on the dotted line.

So that’s really the  reason why we have three EVs in the driveway. It all comes down to saving pennies. Forty thousand pennies every single month, in my case. And as a bonus, I’m helping to save the planet, which is cool. Nothing to do with indoor plumbing, except for the fact that I hated flushing so much hard-earned cash down the Crapper.

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