If there’s any two things I love, its being cheap and being green – two things that rarely go hand in hand. But I must say in the case of cars, the Soul EV does both well.
In Seattle Lee Johnson Kia is the local place with the best deals on the Soul EV (I visited six dealers). Right now a Soul EV is $119/mo with $2636 up front ($192/mo) while a gas base model Soul is $136/mo and $1999 up front ($192/mo). But the EV delivers more value with the traffic nav, 8” touchscreen, heated seats and steering wheel, etc. Score one for the Soul EV – delivering more value for the same price as an equivalent gas car.
Now in fairness you need a place to charge to make an EV practical – home, work, etc. The GE Durastation was my choice for a home charger – retail $399, 3 year warranty and faster charging than anything else I found in the price range – given batteries will only get bigger in time, its worth getting the most power output for the buck you can. Lowes.com sells the Durastation so Google around for 10% off coupons, check for credit card rebates, etc.
Install costs I found around $500 if your breaker is in the garage and close to the EV charger install location. If your dryer is in the garage you could just plug in there too.
Don’t forget to check with your power company for rebates too. PSE offers a $500 rebate for purchasing and installing an EV charger with your new EV. Also don’t forget to claim the Federal “Alternative Refueling Tax Credit” which gives you up to 30% tax credit for EV charging equipment and installation.
Bottom line my EV charger made me money after the PSE rebate and Federal Tax Credit.
The Soul EV has a usable 27kWh battery and in PSE territory power costs about 10 cents per kWh, add in a bit of margin for inefficiency (heat, etc) and figure a full charge costs about $3. But with that $3 you’ll likely go about 100 miles (I know the EV is rated for 93, but we often get 100-120 driving normally using AC), which starts suddenly sounding really cheap.
Lets compare to the gas Soul, which gets an average 27mpg. For the same 100 miles you’ll use 3.7 gallons of gas – that’s $9.25 with today’s “cheap” gas at $2.50 per gallon. If gas goes back to $4/gallon you’re looking at nearly $15 to go 100 miles. Assuming you drive 10k miles per year, you’re looking at about $300 of electricity or $925-1481 of gas at $2.5-4/gallon. So there’s another $625-1181/year in your pocket having an EV.
But there’s something even better than spending $3 to go 100 miles – getting that for charge free. Free chargers abound in the Seattle Metro area – commonly located at City Hall, PUDs, casinos, schools, businesses, etc.
You might say all that cost savings is nice but fat load of good that does me with the range. While the press has published many articles about “range anxiety” nothing could be farther from the truth. I’ve never run into an “around town” day of driving that could empty the battery. You can drive from Renton to Everett up 405, then back down on i5 to Renton and still have miles to spare.
Want to take a long weekend in Birch Bay up on the Canadian border? While it is just out of range without a stop, thankfully there are a number of L3 chargers along the way. Take a stop at Everett Kia, Seattle Premium Outlets, or the Burlington Outlet mall for an L3 charge – in about 20-30 minutes you’ll have 85% charge for $5-10 and be back on the road. I find after about 1.5-2 hours in the car I want a stop anyway – so get some coffee, hit the restroom, maybe have a taco. Once you’re at the destination, plug into 110v household power and you’ll be fully recharged by the next day.
Certainly if you’re trying to hit the Oregon coast all that recharging might get tiresome, but for trips around Western Washington you’ll be fine.
Heating and Cooling
While I’m dealing with the range myth, the other common myth is heating and AC will drain the battery. While heating and cooling will take extra load, Western Washington is a great market for EVs because of the temperate climate. The Soul EV features solar glass to reduce cooling load plus a super efficient heat pump, so heating and cooling generally has a trivial effect on range even on our hottest summer days.
On the Road
Of course being cheap and green is one thing but road manners count. The Soul EV is a great city car as well as a great highway car. Around town the compact size makes it easy to parallel park and u-turn plus regenerative breaking makes Seattle hills easy to one pedal drive. Yet on the highway it’s a smooth, quiet cruiser with plenty of power for day to day driving.
Isn’t Keeping Your Old Car Cheaper and Greener?
While making a new car is far from green, the reality is new cars are still a necessity – old cars break and are cost prohibitive to repair, they get totaled in accidents, etc. From a cost perspective I was spending about $1000/year on maintenance and repairs of my old car, so between skipping those costs and lower fuel costs, a new car wasn’t much of an expenditure. And hopefully every EV bought helps expedite a cleaner future of transportation.
An EV can have the same lease cost as a less well equipped gas car, charger purchase and install is free or cheap with rebates and tax credits, and driving on electricity is a fraction of the cost of gas. Bottom line for the typical Seattle driver a 100 mile range electric car is a good solution.