Do you drive electric?

National Drive Electric Week

This week is National Drive Electric Week, a week-long celebration of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles, sponsored by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association.

In Hawaii, there are over 2,300 registered electric vehicles and over 300 charging stations. I’m one of them; I have a Nissan Leaf, and I love driving it. It is quiet and easy to drive, and I don’t have to pump gas or worry about oil changes. I charge my car at night. I admit to having “range anxiety” (can I make it home?); but this means that I plan my trips more carefully, and often wait until I have multiple errands to run before driving further away from home.

If you drive an electric vehicle, here’s how you can celebrate National Drive Electric Week:
* On September 14, there was an event at the Kahala Triangle Park in Honolulu, Oahu.
* On September 20, attend an event in the Kukui Grove Parking Lot in Lihue, Kauai.
* Print out an “Oil-Free Miles” sign, write your current mileage at the top, and display it proudly.
* Sign the Sierra Club’s “letter to the governor” encouraging more support for electric vehicle infrastructure.

If you’re deciding whether an electric vehicle is right for you, here are two things to consider:

1. Can you afford it? Your upfront costs will be higher – an electric vehicle is more expensive than a gas vehicle. It requires charging, so your electricity bill may be higher (unless you have a photovoltaic system). But you’ll save money on gas and oil changes, get free public and airport parking, and get to use the high-occupancy vehicle (car pool) lane in Hawaii.

2. What are your driving habits? Think about how far you drive every day, whether you drive on level streets or mountain roads, and how much patience you have to recharge your car. Older electric vehicles have a driving range of 60-100 miles; some newer electric vehicles have a range of up to 250 miles. And while filling up a gas tank takes only minutes, charging an electric vehicle could take from 30 minutes (480-volt fast charger), 4-8 hours (240-volt outlet), or 10-20 hours (120-volt ordinary household outlet).

Check out these helpful resources:
* Visit the Hawaii State Energy Office for a list of Hawaii charging stations, links to resources, and information about state and federal laws.
* Read the “Plug-in Electric Vehicle Handbook for Consumers” (2011) from the US Department of Energy, a good introduction to plug-in electric vehicles.
* Read the “Hawaii EV Ready Guidebook for Commercial Electric Vehicle Charging Station Installations” (2012), that helps businesses install successful charging stations.

Do you drive electric? If you have an electric vehicle, what do you like about it? If you don’t have an electric vehicle, what stops you from choosing electric?

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