Opinion

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Guest Column

The Future is So Bright

If you have an EV currently and want to share your experiences, we want to hear from you!

The future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades. Flathead Electric’s newest fleet vehicle may not be so bright you need to put on your shades, but it is incredibly fun! It is an all-electric Chevy Bolt and will stand out in a crowd. I’ve been tasked with driving it and learning all I can in order to ensure that the Co-op is providing accurate reliable information to our members. With this in mind I’ll address a few of the concerns I’ve heard in my short history driving an electric vehicle (EV).

“I’ll never be able to afford one; electric vehicles are too expensive!”

In order to make sure we were being good stewards of our members’ monies we put together an analysis on the lifetime costs of owning an EV (both for the Co-op and for a member). For the Co-op we will definitely save costs over the life of the Bolt compared to purchasing another gas vehicle. How much will depend on how much we use it but the more miles the more we save. In a 20-year scenario we would save over $15,000. The picture for you would be even rosier since you are eligible for the $7,500 tax credit. All of our research points to one conclusion: an EV is a good investment compared to the equivalent gas vehicle.

“There is no place to charge an electric vehicle!”

It is correct that there currently are no fast charge “gas” stations for EVs in our territory, but there are many thousands of places to fill them up. These are the places we call home. If you have a home with electricity you have your own “gas” station. Would a “gas station” type fast electric charging station be useful? Rarely for daily driving; these are mostly for cross country travel. Filling the Bolt is simple, I plug in when I get home and the next morning it is full and off I go. No hassle, no gas smell, no extra stops; simple, clean, easy.

“Electric vehicles can’t go very far.”

As with any vehicle you buy, you buy one that meets your needs. Electric vehicles are available as pure electric or hybrid with ranges that match any gas car. The question is where do you need the car to go in a day? I have a two-vehicle family; a Dodge Durango and a Toyota Matrix. I use the Durango to haul a horse trailer, camper, and seven people on big outings. I use the Matrix to commute and for day trips in and around the valley. Would I buy an EV to replace my Durango? Not currently (there aren’t EV options yet that meet my requirements). Would I replace my Matrix with an EV? Absolutely! Why would I keep a vehicle that costs me money when I can replace it and save? Will I be thoughtful and make sure I get an EV with the range to meet my needs? Of course, but that is no reason not save myself thousands of dollars.

“Electric vehicles are just a fad.”

The market changes that are occurring; investments in batteries by premier vehicle manufacturers, investments in charging stations, and global societal trends all point to one conclusion: electric vehicles are here to stay. Electricity is the future of transport and we are just starting to understand what is possible. I am sure there will be ups and downs as with all vehicle manufacturing but electric vehicles are changing the world.

“I wouldn’t buy one, I like my … (pick any high-performance car).”

The Bolt is incredible to drive. It drastically outperforms any other passenger car I’ve ever driven that wasn’t a high-end luxury car. If I was in the market for a high-end luxury car I wouldn’t buy a Bolt, I’d buy a Tesla since it outperforms all the other high-end luxury and high performance cars out there. Not sure you would like an electric vehicle? Keep your eyes and ears open. In the future, Flathead Electric will start loaning the Bolt out to members. Currently we are focusing on allowing employees a chance to drive and learn but once this is done we want you to take it.

If you have an EV currently and want to share your experiences, we want to hear from you! If you are interested in getting one and have questions, we want to hear from you! If you are skeptical and have questions, we want to hear from you! Or maybe you just want to be part of the conversation. No matter where you stand on EVs, come and join our new EV group under our Flathead Electric Facebook page. You can also follow our new EV blog at www.flatheadelectric.com/evblog to get more in depth thoughts on driving an EV. In the meantime keep an eye out for our Bolt. It will be cruising our service territory using hydropower to run clean and quiet!

David Bopp is energy services representative at Flathead Electric Cooperative.

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