For the first time this year, the Seattle International Auto Show carved out space just for electric car technology in an exhibit called the “Electric Highway.”
The exhibit, sponsored by Puget Sound Energy, gives show goers a chance to compare electric vehicles (EVs) side-by-side, instead of sifting through hundreds of gas powered cars. It also gave me an opportunity to interview Tom Voelk, host of Emmy Award-winning podcast “Driven” and car reviewer for The New York Times.
While an electric car is the obvious choice for eco-conscious drivers, I asked Tom what makes EVs attractive to auto enthusiasts and the auto un-inclined (like myself). Here’s what he had to say.
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EVs require much less maintenance
TV: I find that people don’t consider the convenience of these vehicles. They can be much, much more convenient than a regular gas-powered car. For one thing, there’s less maintenance – you don’t have to go to Jiffy Lube for an oil change or get cold, wet and stinky at a gas station.
My wife bought her Chevy Bolt simply because she didn’t want to go to the gas station. She’s not a car person, but she evangelizes about her car now.
EVs are punchy and fun to drive
TV: One of the things auto enthusiasts love about a car is low-end torque, or low-end power. Electric vehicles have that inherently. Even something like a Chevy Bolt EV is really quick off the line, it’s just tons of fun.
I love driving EV’s, I just drove the new Porsche Taycan, I couldn’t help but just giggle every couple of miles. The power is so intense, and just violent. The interesting thing about it is, after driving a few miles – was driving on the Angeles Crest Highway – I actually started noticing I was paying attention to the tire sound to find out how the car was handling. You would never do that in a gasoline car because you can’t even hear it.
The Jaguar I-Pace does zero to sixty in four and half seconds – that’s Porsche territory. That’s fast, that’s really quick. The nature of them is that it feels even faster because you jump off the line very quickly.
Electric car range is increasing and the charger grid is growing
TV: I would also say that these days, with the longer range of these cars – that one (2019 Chevy Bolt) does 230 miles, that one does 250 (pointing toward the Teslas) – you don’t really worry about that. You charge it every night when you come home. Every morning when you get up you have 250 miles of range. If you go to Portland or Vancouver, its going to get you there and you’re probably going to stay overnight, and most hotels have charging stations these days.
Plug it in overnight, and when you wake up you’re ready to go again. It’s got a full charge. People don’t want to spend 35, 40, 45 thousand dollars on a car and feel like you’ve made a huge mistake. But once you drive it for a couple days and understand the dynamic that pretty much goes away.
On top of that, the navigation systems on these things will tell you when you’re getting low and literally direct you to the nearest charging station.
More electric car tidbits from Tom:
- Volvo hopes half of its sales will come from fully electric cars by 2025.
- “For the first time ever, electric cars have outsold cars with manual transmissions. So, electric cars are growing, slowly, as people understand. Their neighbors get them, they are exposed to it. It’s an unknown and people are unsure of it, but once they experience it, they get it.”
Takeaways from the auto show
- The starting price for a 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is only $2,725 more than the same gas-powered model. That difference can be made up in fuel costs within 5 years.
- According to Manager of Clean Energy Solutions Heather Mulligan, Puget Sound Energy is adding DC fast chargers to eight Washington cities to strengthen the grid and reduce “range anxiety.” PSE is also focusing on multi-family and workplace charging stations.
And now, some pictures from the show:
Feature photo: The doors open for the 2019 Seattle International Auto Show. Photo by Sam Wigness.
Do you have something to add about electric vehicles or the Seattle Auto Show? Let us know in the comments below!