Living with an EV
Lots of people like the idea of having an electric vehicle as their daily driver -- at least in theory. Many still have qualms about range anxiety and how owning an EV will affect their daily routines. We’ve been talking to EV owners about these issues and have found plenty of compelling reasons to flip the EV switch!
When asked why they considered buying an electric vehicle, most EV owners point to the environmental benefits - that driving electric means emitting zero tailpipe emissions.
But once people dive into the EV lifestyle, they quickly point out other reasons for not missing their internal combustion cars.
RICHARD HARTNETT: The biggest benefit I think is the extremely low cost of ownership, and of course, the side benefit that it’s extremely healthy to the environment. Because it’s not a gasoline powered vehicle, it’s not spewing any carbon emissions out into the air, which is good for all of us.
JOYCE BREINER: Part of it was, reducing our emissions. We were on a track trying to reduce our household, our family emissions, and the other part was actually a little bit of a surprise, was they are so much fun.
ALEXANDER YANEY: So, what I love about this car, is the acceleration. Zero to sixty in 4.2 seconds, which is better than any car I’ve had…
We’ve got to give some credit to Tesla and their Ludicrous Mode for popularizing the notion that electric vehicles can be kick-ass performance cars, and other EV makers are following suit, but even the most basic EV can be fun to drive thanks to their electric motor’s instant-on torque curve.
Sergeant Richard Hartnett of the Hyattsville Maryland Police liked his own Chevy Bolt so much, he lobbied to drive one at work too.
RICHARD HARTNETT: One of the big advantages of the Bolt as a Police car, is that because there’s no transmission per se in an electric vehicle, when you step on the accelerator, the car just sorta takes right off..and that’s a little different than the gasoline-powered police cars, which have a little bit of sluggishness when they first take off. So, it’s very quick off the line, it’s had no problem keeping up with local chases, the few that we’ve had with it, and it’s very very quiet, so if i have to sorta sneak up on something that’s going on, the bad guys don’t know that I’m there.
Currently, plug-in vehicle sales in the U.S. account for a very small percentage of all vehicles sold, but we’re starting to see a new generation of drivers for whom nothing else will do!
I started driving on electric vehicles about 8 years ago. I took my driving test in a Nissan Leaf.
And don’t forget, EV’s are not limited to four wheelers..
VANESSA THOMAS: I rode motorcycles for a very long time, I grew up on motorcycles because my parents both ride. When I heard there was electric motorcycles out there, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more.. So I actually rode up to the closest place that had an electric motorcycle for sale, which was in New Jersey, which was a couple hundred miles from where I live, and rode one, and had a grin on my face from ear to ear all day long after that, and just knew i wanted one, so I’ve been riding electric ever since.
Of course, the other big benefit of electric vehicles is lower cost of ownership and maintenance.
VANESSA THOMAS: I really haven’t had much to fix on it so its been very low cost, very low maintenance.
JOYCE BREINER: In a nutshell, EVs are so much less expensive to own or operate.
It’s about 4 cents a mile to run an EV, and the maintenance is like non-existent you’re not worrying about going to, going to the shop for oil changes or anything like that. And they’ve pretty been maintenance free for us for the most part.
The number of publicly accessible charging stations reached about 26,000 in 2020, offering over 83,500 outlets.
But most owners we talked to say that bypassing the gas station and “fueling” at home is the greatest benefit of owning an EV. Plug in to a 110-volt outlet and virtually any electric vehicle can be fully charged overnight for a fraction of what a tank of gasoline or diesel would cost.
VANESSA THOMAS: It costs a little over a dollar to charge up from zero to full, so I can get you know 150 miles on a dollar.
For those who’ve made the electric switch, it seems there’s no going back!
JOYCE BREINER: EVs are fun, fun, fun to drive, and they’re easy, they’re safe, too. And I wouldn’t really want to be in anything else.
Tire Tracks: 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750
In the 137-year history of the automobile, there have been many that both captured our attention, and progressed to legendary status. But then there are others that, while coveted when new, are less well known to collectors of today. Now, one such car recently caught the eye of our own Roger Mecca, who decided this particular Italian coupe deserved a return to the spotlight.
ROGER MECCA: For many devoted gearheads, there’s that one car classic car they yearn for, endlessly scouring websites, auction catalogues and local car shows looking to find that pristine example or restorable project– that Holy Grail to make their car dreams a reality.
For these fanatics, just mentioning that particular make and model can induce regret-filled stories of missed opportunities or a longwinded discussion on why it’s the ultimate in driving excellence.
Once such example is the Alfa Romeo GTV, produced between 1965 and 1974. It was a designed to be the great balance between a family car and something you could rip down any tight Italian road. And while it’s flown under the radar for many car fans, most Alfa enthusiasts will tell you this is what made the brand so iconic.
Richard Garre owns this 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750, a car he’s loved for 50 years. In 1973, a college roommate who owned a GTV tossed Richard the keys and they went for a drive. Within moments, he had an epiphany.
RICHARD GARRE: I was in the car for about 10 minutes and I go, ‘I need to own this car!’
It had everything. It had the looks, it had the sound, it just– it, it had just such a great visceral experience. I go, ‘this is it- I gotta own this car!’”
The GTV, after driving it and owning it, it really did kind of change my life, especially towards being in the car business. I realized after working on cars for a while, that, uh, I think this is a good business I’m gonna be in. So, the start of my senior year, I was looking for employment either, you know, twisting wrenches or working for a car company or a dealership.
ROGER MECCA: Which he did from then on, including once having his own shop that specialized in, you guessed it, Alfa Romeos, and other high-end European brands.
There were four main variations of the GTV, based on the displacement of the 4-cylinder twin cam aluminum engine. The 1300, the 1600, the 1750, and the 2000. Now, while each has their own followers, most Alfa fans, including Richard, will tell you the 1750 is the sweet spot. It gives you the best balance of power and finesse.
Delivering 130 horsepower and 125 pounds of torque, the 1750 redlines at 7000 RPM. And when you get there, the little 1.8 liter starts to sing. Downshifting and throttling into a corner, it sounds and feels like you must be going 80, though you’re barely doing 30. In fact, it takes almost 10 seconds to reach 60. But trust me, when everything feels and sounds this good, you don’t care.
The five-speed doesn’t like to be rushed, but it’s velvety smooth. The feather-light steering provides intuitive feedback and the cornering grip and stability encourage you to go harder and faster.
The GTV is so much fun to drive, you almost forget just how great it looks- even 45 years later. It was the first model designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro, created when he was just 22 years old. Known for such icons as the Lotus Esprit and BMW M1, he never liked the GTV. Though it’s hard to understand why. Simultaneously masculine and elegant, one look and there is no mistake what the GTV was designed for: driving fast and having fun, but still being refined and exotic.
Now, if you’d like to own a GTV, you are in luck because they made more than 40,000 of these over the years. The challenge, however, is finding one that’s in really good shape.
These were notorious rust buckets, and a lot of people didn’t treat them very well, so finding one that’s in excellent condition- that can be a hassle. Finding one that’s in perfect condition? That can cost you $100,000.
But if you do find one to make your own, please do yourself and every GTV lover like Richard a favor: don’t keep it safely tucked away like a museum showpiece. Drive it as often as you can, just like Alfa Romeo intended. But I have a feeling that once you get behind the wheel, that won’t be a problem.