Despite battery technology and charging infrastructure advancement in recent years, Electric Vehicles have a reputation of not being a functionally and financially reasonable transportation option. Individuals in Rhode Island are starting to see beyond this as the benefits of getting rid of a fossil fuel power vehicle become apparent. In addition, the growth of residential solar energy in RI has driven residents to produce their vehicle’s fuel at home at a lower cost.
Electric vehicles in Rhode Island now have the capacity to meet present day transportation and commuting needs. In combination with solar, the monetary and environmental benefits of Electric Vehicles over traditional gas-powered vehicles has become compelling; transportation savings and carbon dioxide production reduction are driving people to choose Electric Vehicles over gas powered cars.
Electric Vehicle Capabilities
There are numerous options for electric cars on the market today ranging in price, accessories, and driving-range capabilities. The average electric vehicle has a full-charge driving range around 150-250 miles. The average United States citizen drives 30 miles/day or around 10,000 miles/year. Even for the worst possible Rhode Island commute of 70 miles from Westerly to Little Compton, this range more than meets commuting needs. Electric vehicles also have access to public charging locations everywhere from businesses, places of work, hotels, and parks or public lands. Individuals can fuel up their vehicle while grocery shopping or working. Many electric vehicles complete a full charge in 2-10 hours with a level 2 charger depending on battery size and can fully charge in under 2 hours with a level 3 charger. In Rhode Island, most of the 50 plus public charging stations (most of which are level 2 chargers) are free to the EV owners, avoiding fuel cost all together.
Realistic Electric Vehicles Cost
Electric vehicles meet transportation range needs, but at what cost? Electric vehicles can currently receive both federal and state incentives. For a conservative perspective, lets look at a 3-year lease on an electric vehicle for the same money down and monthly payment as a gas vehicle. If you charge your EV through your home electricity 100% of the time it would cost you about 4.2 cents less per mile to drive electric than gasoline. Additionally, gas vehicles need regular oil changes at $150/year. This is a completely avoided cost with an electric vehicle, raising the per mile savings to 5.5 cents, or 56% less expensive annually in fuel and maintenance cost savings.
As you supplement your charging at free public charge stations this per mile savings would only increase.
Solar Charged Electric Vehicle
Eight to ten 290 watt solar panels will produce the necessary kWh’s needed to charge an electric car for 10,000 miles of driving per year. Solar panels generally have a usable life of at least 25 years; amortizing the cost of a solar installation using a reasonable solar loan, an average Rhode Island resident can reduce their cost of electricity by 25% per year.
These solar panels, with their Rhode Island suite of incentives, will provide this necessary electricity for the duration of their 25-year life. Looking at a sample 3-year lease period, this reduction of electricity cost would increase per mile savings over a 3-year period to 6.8 cents per mile. This represents a 67% reduction in per mile driving cost or over $2,000 over a 3-year period. Combining solar with EV charging compounds both the financial and environmental benefits.
The non-monetary benefits of EV use lay primarily in maintenance time savings, lower risk of breaking down and environmental cleanliness.
An electric vehicle has far fewer maintenance rituals associated with it as compared to the frequent oil changes, large number of moving parts/belts, and fluids needed to keep a gasoline engine healthy. Electric vehicles have no gears, no transmission, and no oil maintenance needs.
The carbon emissions associated with the complete life of an electric vehicle as compared to a gas vehicle from manufacturing, to driving, to disposal is roughly 50% less in the electric vehicle.
EV Adoption is Compelling
There are many benefits of driving an electric vehicle, especially in combination with installing solar panels. A Rhode Island driver can see immediate financial returns and environmental benefits with electric vehicle use. The installation of solar panels to charge the vehicle and/or power a residence can drastically increase savings on transportation costs and reduce cost of home electricity use when a whole home installation is completed.