Category Archives: EV related Blog Post

Did You Know? You Can Buy A Used EV

If you are like me, you would consider buying an electric vehicle (EV), but the price of a new one is just not in the cards.  You like the low cost of operation, but not the price of a new vehicle.

So we share the desire to save money and own an EV.  So let me share how we purchased a 2014 Nissan Leaf S with 35K for $6750 in November 2017, a 2012 Chevrolet Volt Premium with 112K for $6,200 in March 2018, and then sold our last gas car in May 2018.

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Why The Leaf?

Research, Research, Research.  We did a lot of research. You can study on the web, or reach out to any EV club and begin discussing your thoughts and needs.  EV club members can share their stories, and give you insight and questions to help determine which car is for you. I do not think a dealer is a good place to go for accurate information — yet.

We wanted an all electric commuter car with enough range to get us to and from work for the next 3-5 years. By then more cars and battery options will be available to get another car or extend this one. We wanted 35 miles a day.  The Nissan Leaf fit the bill nicely. We learned the models prior to 2013 had battery issues in hot climates like Florida. The 2013 was the oldest car with a reasonable battery. The older the car, the lower the price — something we needed.  We searched cars.com and craigslist daily to get a sense for the condition and pricing of our target cars until we settled in on a target of about 7K for a Leaf S with about 35-45K miles with 11 of 12 battery strength bars.

The Leaf did not get a battery heating/cooling system until 2018 (for a power price), but in Florida this causes battery degradation. It was not likely to lose 50% capacity over the 3-5 years we wanted the car. The 2013 has 83 miles on the full 12 bars of battery capacity, so even at one half we are still good. By then, technology and pricing should allow for other options to fix or get another car. This is a commuter car, so we would use our gas car if we wanted to go on a long trip. In October 2017, the 2013 used Leaf S provided the lowest priced used EV which became our target car.

How We Bought The Leaf

We search cars.com and craiglist to record and visit any potentially good cars.  Owners of a private sale are good because you can get a feel for how they took care of the car and what maintenance was done. If you and the seller agree on a target price, run a carfax.com on the VIN# and/or take the care into a dealership for a complete checkup. You can agree in advance to lower the price of the car by the dollar amount of repairs needed. If you like the car after all this, buy it.

Private sales are fairly easy. Cash or cashiers checks work well for fast transactions. We did cash. Have them sign over the paper title and both of you fill out a bill of sale (Google it for your state).  Call your insurance to get the car covered, then go to the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to do the tax, title, and registration. You can even do the entire transaction at the DMV to be sure it is all good before literally handing over the cash.

A dealer sale is even easier, but you will pay about $850 more in dealer fees (in Florida). We prefer the private sales, but the dealers are easier.

We were about to buy a 2013 Leaf from a dealer, when we saw a 2014 on craigslist with 35K for $7,500. We targeted 7K for the car, got the cash, and visited the owner to see the car. It was well cared for, but it was their last car and their family of 3 kids was moving out of the country in 2 weeks.  He had an electronic title and it was the weekend. The electronic title requires both parties to go to the DMV to complete the transaction. We agreed on 7K, put money down on it, and wrote up an agreement to buy the car at a DMV a few days before they were to leave the US. The owner later discounted the car to $6,750 to pay for the rental car he did not have to rent.  The DMV transaction was smooth and efficient. If you always treat the seller and the DMV with respect and understanding, you will get the best results. Be honest, share with the buyer your situation and needs. Listen and empathize with their situation and needs. Try to meet between both of your needs and theirs. Help each other to achieve both your goals.

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Why The Volt?

About 4 months after buying the Leaf, we were completely hooked on driving electric. Owning a gas car seemed to be more and more silly over time. All the additional costs of maintaining a late model gas car compared to an EV was becoming very obvious.  In fact, just to be absurd, try to sell a gas car to an EV owner. They would say, why would I buy something with so many moving parts that is so expensive to operate and maintain? Are you nuts?

In talking with members of our local EV club, it appeared that a first generation Chevy Volt was a good fit for our long distance needs. It drives like a pure EV for the first 35 to 40 miles (depending on how you drive), and then a gas generator kicks in for the next 350 miles (Range Extended EV). It has less moving parts than a gas car, but more than a pure EV (like our Leaf). The Volt will need oil changes and transmission fluid, but not as often when you run in pure EV mode as we do. At the time we looked, the only other option was the BMW I3, but it was still too expensive for us. We decided the Volt was our next car.

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How We Bought The Volt

We began researching cars.com and craigslist for pricing and condition. We decided that a 2012 with just over 100K miles (warranty expires) would have the lowest price and still have quality.  The Volt has examples of going over 400K miles on original brakes and no battery degradation (unlike the Leaf). If distance beyond the EV miles is an issue for you, consider the Volt over the pure EV Leaf.  If distance is not an issue, the added maintenance of Volt (or similar range extended EV) may not be worth it. For us, the 2012 was the first year with one touch door unlock. Great for when your hands are full.  We discovered that about 7K to 8K for a good car was possible, but in short supply. We wanted a 6K car, and that was difficult to impossible. It was clear we were going to be looking for a while.

We planned a trip for spring break that was over 800 miles and hoped to find a Volt before the trip. We settled on seeing a car in south Florida, and the night before that visit, I received an email responding to my craigslist (Wanted 2012 Volt) ad that I posted throughout the state.  The young Navy man was about to be deployed for 6 months and wanted to sell the car before that. His target date and ours were the same. I called him, and the car was in better overall condition than the one in south Florida. I cancelled the south Florida visit and the dealership checkout.

The Navy man’s Volt was an immaculate 2012 Volt Premium with every amenity and 112K miles for 7,000. He knew my target was 6K and said we would likely be able to work something out. The test drive was excellent, and we negitated to $6,500 minus anything the vehicle checkup found. It turned out it needed about $300 of maintenance, so the price was agreed at $6,200.

He had a loan on the car with a bank, and as it turned out we both had deposit accounts with that bank, so we completed the transaction at the bank as follows. We filled out a bill of sale, I paid the bank officer the purchase price of the car. They paid off the loan and deposit the rest into his account. The bank gave me a letter showing I was the next owner of the car that I could used at the DMV to get a temp tag to drive it home. I called my insurance to get the car insured and get a proof of insurance for the DMV. The bank mailed the title to his wife (who could legally sign the title) and overnight it to us. Once it arrived, we went to the DMV to handle the taxes, title, and registration.

Summary

If you are looking to buy an EV (new or used), I recommend you find your local EV club and begin talking with them to help determine what car or cars are best for you. Many clubs let you join (often for free) even if you do not have an EV. This is a great way to immerse yourself in EVs without the pressure or inaccuracies often found at dealerships.  At the end of the EV club meetings, almost every EV car may be in the parking lot. Sadly, as of the writing of this article, our local dealers have virtually no one who understands EVs.

We bought the Leaf as a commuter car, not a long distance car.  We already had a second car that could be used for long trips. Since we do long distance trips 3 to 5 times a year, having a distance car was important. If you only go on one trip a year, consider renting a car just for that trip. We could not afford a newer EV with a 250 or 350 mile range. If you can, explore a long range EV. If you can’t afford a pure EV with the range you need, consider a range extended EV (like the Volt). Again, use your local EV club members to guide you, and use cars.com or craigslist to help you. They are not there to sell you anything, just share their experiences and let that inform you. Knowledge will help you.

steps

Tips

  • Research to find which car is best for you, then determine the year and features desired.
  • Scan craigslist and cars.com daily.
  • Contact the seller and ask questions (including the VIN)
  • If reasonable, get the carfax using the VIN
  • Do more research if carfax shows something.
  • Get a KBB value for this car to bring to the seller
  • Print your state’s bill-of-sale form to bring with you
  • Bring cash (if reasonable and possible). They are more willing to negotiate when they see you have cash.
  • Visit the car and seller
  • Agree to a price to buy the car and the deductions if issue are found by the dealer
  • Have it checked by a dealer
  • Discuss the findings with the seller and agree to the deducted price.
  • Fill out the bill of sale
  • On paper title, have them sign over the title
  • On electronic title, visit the DMV together to finish the sale.
  • Get insurance before you drive it home or visit the DMV.

Solar Panels and EVs – a Money Saving Combination

Solar-Savings 2016I had solar panels installed on my house early last year. My solar panels generated 73% of my power usage and saved me over $1000. We’re now about halfway through this year and so far I’m 84% solar. Last week I had a few more panels installed, which should bring me close to generating 100% of my power usage. The price of the solar panels should break even with the amount I save in electricity in about 7 years. 

Solar-Savings 2017-07Another benefit of this is my Tesla now runs primarily on free solar power. I don’t have to worry about gas prices anymore. Even if I didn’t have solar panels, the electricity to power my car costs a fraction of what it costs to fill up a gas tank. It would cost me less than $10 in electricity from FPL to fill up my ‘tank.’ To put another way, the cost of a single fill-up on a 20-gallon gas tank right now would pay for a month of driving on my electric car.

The Sierra Club is working to get cities around the world pledge to switch city operations to 100% renewable energy by 2035. It’s called the Ready for 100 pledge and there is a petition to get the City of Melbourne to join in. As part of the pledge, a board would be formed to formulate a plan for how to achieve the 100% goal. This would likely include a mix of installing solar panels and switching to electric vehicles. Switching to renewables would save the city money and save taxpayers money. It just makes financial sense.

There’s also a related petition to the mayors of all Brevard County cities. Cities contribute about 70% of all energy-related emissions. By getting cities to pledge to convert city operations to 100% renewable energy by 2035 and all city activities by 2050, that would make a big dent in lowering emissions that pollute our air & water.

Formula E Miami Race Recap

If you thought electric cars couldn’t be race cars you’d be mistaken. These single seater, formula 1-like race cars have a top speed of 140 mph and sound like some kind of space ship or fighter jet! Several of us in the group made it down for this race and it was so much fun! We were even able to plug our cars in at the free charging stations at the hotel we stayed in. They had the whole part of Biscayne Blvd in front of the American Airlines Arena fenced off into a giant race area. The track was made up of the streets themselves that went around the arena and up and back down the boulevard. A portion of the track even went under the interstate I-95. Some people even tweeted that as they were driving over the track some one said, “oh look honey I think there’s a race going on down there.” There was a whole “e Village” part of the race area in the grassy park next to the bay with food trucks, bounce houses for the kids, and a nice set up by Florida Power & Light featuring a solar powered cell phone charging station and a green screen to get your picture taken next to a formula E race car. Later in the day an hour before the race the drivers were there to give out autographs. A few of us stood in line but they left to get ready for the race before we could get to them. The line was hundreds of people long in front of us and several hundred behind us! We think the total number of people that came to see the race was in the 25,000 range. Thanks, Formula E, for bringing racing back to Miami! We look forward to next season and will be watching all the races for the rest of this season with great interest. Next year they say instead of every team using the same car with the same motor and the same batteries, etc. they will be able to build their own. That should be VERY interesting to watch. Check out the official Formula E website for more information. You can watch the whole Miami race here on YouTube. Take a look at a few of the awesome photos and a video from the race day below.

-Josh Pritt

Here’s a video I took while watching them practice right next to the track. Listen to the noise they make!

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New Charging Station Info Page

Thanks to some information provided by one of our members we have added an extra page to our website.  This page is meant to be a reference for business and property owners who are looking to increase revenue by becoming a leader in the electric transportation future by installing an electric vehicle charging station.  There’s a lot of information on the page that breaks down all the options for business owners and lays out the pros and cons for each.  We know for a fact just from our daily EV driving experience that businesses with EV charging stations gain more of our business that those without chargers.  When we make plans to go to a restaurant to eat we will first look for ones that have a charging station or at least one within walking distance.  A great example is the river-side bar / restaurant Squid Lips in Eau Gallie.  This business is frequented many more times in one month than other establishments in the area simply because of its proximity to the next door charging station at the Eau Gallie Library.  We also make it one of our monthly “First Sunday of the month” meet ups we have as a group.  We also visit the Panera Bread as a group (usually 12 or more of us at a time!) in Palm Bay because it is within walking distance of the charging station at the Kohl’s.  So if you want to get more business than you possibly could with the same money normally invested in a billboard or other advertisement consider spending some of your marketing money in a charging station.  It is a guaranteed way to attract more business and increase revenue compared to normal ads or other marketing.  Your charging station would almost immediately show up on mobile charging station finding / mapping apps that all EV drivers use – such as www.plugshare.com – and would bring in extra patrons almost overnight!  Take a look at our new charging station info page and make sure to email us if you have any questions to ask from real, daily EV drivers that live, work and shop in and around Brevard County.

 

 

EV Charging at Epcot

After hearing that Epcot installed two dual Level 2 EV charging stations the SCEV Drivers, being a short hour and twenty minute drive away, decided we needed to head over and check them out.

Epcot EV parking signage
Epcot EV parking signage

So last Sunday afternoon we loaded up and took the Chevy Volt over to Orlando, FL to Disney’s Epcot center to test the brand new chargers. Over the past few months there has been a growing number of people contacting WDW pushing for the installation of chargers. Josh and Brenna had tweeted and e-mailed on a few occasions letting them know that they needed to catch up with their California counterpart and get some charging stations installed. We mentioned we were not going to visit the happiest place on earth until they installed some charging stations. Being people of our word as soon as we plugged up we headed over to the guest services counter and purchased two seasonal passes.  We let them know that the reason we purchased them was a direct result of the installation of these chargers. This serves as a very good example on how installing charging stations can attract new business.

The Volt Charging at Epcot
The Volt Charging at Epcot

Details about the charging stations:
They are installed at the very front of the Epcot center parking lot near the monorail station located near the handicapped rows. Unfortunately you still have to pay the $17 to park like normal (unless you have annual passes) in addition to the cost to charge. When headed in they will try to direct you down a row before you get to the spaces. You will have to tell the parking attendant that you drive an EV and need to use the charging station and they will let you pass them. You have to turn down the row before the station and take it all the way up and around to get to the stations due to the one way set up. Once you arrive you will see two, dual J1772 level 2 stations from ChargePoint serving the first four parking spaces with 4 total J1772 plugs.

Charge Point price details on Epcot 1
Price Details on Epcot 1

They charge 35 cents per kWh with a minimum of $1.50 but there’s no limit to how long you can park there. We parked, plugged in, and swiped the ChargePoint card and were on our way. We arrived at 5:30 pm and left after the park closed. It is nice to be able to park there, take a bus or monorail to all the other parks and come back to a fully charged EV.

Volt trip charge results
Volt trip charge results

A full charge on the Volt will cost about $4.50 making it a  bit expensive but worth it for the up front parking and not having to use as much gasoline as it would without the charge. Disney World is about 80 miles from home so we were able to go 40 miles there on electric power from home, then use about a gallon of gas to get there. We left with a full battery so we got 40 miles back on electric power from Disney then another gallon of gas to get home. So we spent about $5.75 on electricity and only 2 gallons of gas for the whole trip.

Thanks for the charge, Disney!

 

At Home Electric Vehicle Charging

For many drivers of Electric Vehicles charging at home is simple, they plug right into a 110V outlet and let it charge in their garage. That’s right the same outlet you plug your blow dryer, vacuum, and power tools into will charge your car. Did we just blow your mind? Boom!

For most drivers charging overnight on a 110V is sufficient for their driving needs. On the Chevy Volt’s 40 (give or take) mile battery we can drive across town, grab food, and still not use gas but on days where we do that trip in the morning and want to head out some where that afternoon and maybe again that evening the slow charging time leaves us wishing we had a faster charge at home.

For drivers of cars with a larger battery installing a Level 2 (L2) charger at home makes sense with increased charging time but for those of us with smaller batteries that get 50 miles and under we wondered if we really needed it. The truth is, once the majority of your driving is done on electricity you never want to use gas if you don’t have to.  It’s not just about the environment or moving away from foreign oil it’s about convenience.  Never stopping at a gas station, never spilling gas on your shoe or getting it on your hands or clothes, it’s amazing.

At home electric vehicle charging is clean, convenient, and cheap.  Not to mention the rate you pay for electricity almost never fluctuates from day to day like gas, meaning there is no shock when you drive by the sign.  Actually you won’t even look at those gas price signs for long once you make the switch to an EV. Skipping that weekly fill up and replacing it by charging your electric vehicle at home saves time and money.  It’s just that simple.

Josh Pritt and his new Level 2 at home charger
Josh Pritt SCEV Drivers Co-founder with his new L2 Charger

In the end we decided that even though we have a range extended electric vehicle and we don’t really need to worry about running out of battery we prefer to not use gas. We bit the bullet and bought the Square D EVlink by Schneider Electric, an indoor at home  L2 charging station or Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) to cut our charge time in half from the 110V. There are plenty of resources online that break down what is currently on the market as far as EVSE but PluginCars has a Guide to Buying Your First Home EV Charger which we think gives a nice overview of what is out there.  All that is left for us is waiting for our appointment with the electrician. So much for that old myth that the adoption of EVs will cut jobs! We can’t wait to post our personal review, but with all the five star ratings we are pretty sure we made the right choice.

Have you bought any EVSE for your home yet? Let us know which one you picked and how you like it.

Looking forward to seeing you at our next meet up Sunday, July 13th at the Panera in Palm Bay’s Hammock Landing. We will be parking at the L2 charger at Kohl’s! RSVP via Facebook or comment on the July Meet Up post on our website. 

 

Road Tripping in an Extended Range Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

Road Tripping in a extended range electric vehicle for Father’s Day 2014

Here’s the report on how the 2012 Chevy Volt fared on a long road trip from Indialantic, FL to Huntsville, AL and back – with a stop in Oxford, AL both on the way up and on the way back for Father’s Day.

We left Indialantic on Sunday June 8 at 9:45 am Eastern time. We got 33.2 miles and 9.7 kWh from the battery before it switched over to the gasoline generator. Not too bad for mixed city and highway driving.

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We arrived in Oxford by 6:30 pm Central time. It was a total of 604.5 miles from home to the hotel. 20140608_180306.jpg

We spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oxford Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night.  We picked this hotel as we know they are plug in friendly. Every night they allowed us to plug into their outside 110v outlets so we’d have a full charge to drive on each day. Their only restriction is that you can not obstruct a walk way and there are only about 10 spots that do not have a walkway in front of them.

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Monday at lunch time the Volt departed on a trip to Birmingham, AL so a mix of city and highway with the first bit on electricity then the range extended gas generator.  With some pre-trip research we plugged up at the McWayne Science Center’s free L2 charger in their garage after the $5 parking fee that applies to anyone parked in the garage.  It had a good two hours to charge over lunch but didn’t fill up completely.  Still it was able to drive a good part of the way back to Oxford on battery power before switching over to the gas generator.

Next we drove from Oxford to Huntsville to stay with a friend in their third floor apartment Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. This is where we found the trouble with apartment charging when there are no actual charging stations and limited or no garages. We searched the outside of the building near all the parking spots and couldn’t find an outlet anywhere.  We asked the building manager if it was OK to plug in and if they knew of any outside outlets.  They didn’t know of any.  So we came up with a plan combining an extension cord, a tree, and some  masking tape. We are committed to our cause no? We managed to use our “just in case” 50 ft. heavy duty contractor’s extension cord and plugged it up in the outlet near the balcony sliding doors. Then we ran it outside and down the side of the building so it didn’t dangle in front of the downstairs balconies.  Then we  wrapped it around a tree and through the bushes where we plugged the car up and let it charge. We sealed the sliding door with the masking tape so bugs would not seek the comfort of the pull out couch in the living room with us.  We decided to wake up at 5 am so we could unplug it all before the sun came up in the event of lawn care or any anti EV people. To our knowledge no one knew we even did it.  Since our friend pays her own power bills we offered to pay her the $1 it used in power but she wouldn’t let us pay her.  We did get her an Amazon gift card for letting us stay anyway.

We went to a Pig Roast BBQ fundraiser event held at the Makers Local 256 makerspace and plugged in there twice.  We were able to charge up almost 100% each time so we gave them an extra $2 donation to cover the power we used.  After everyone had eaten and had started cleaning up and getting ready for the LAN party / video game party that night, someone brought a Tesla Model S to show off!  They gave several test rides and let’s just say each and every one of the riders left with the Tesla grin.  I had forgotten how fast it is and how it pushes your face and guts back like a roller coaster you can steer!

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After two weeks of calling every hotel in Huntsville to see who would let us plug in with no luck we stayed in the brand new Homewood Suites in Downtown Huntsville.  Their parking garage is shared by the nearby Publix grocery store and has several 110v outlets directly in front of a few parking spaces.  They would be perfect for an overnight charge for guests that stay in the hotel with ZERO cost for installing actual charging stations.  We asked the hotel if we could plug in but they said the garage is owned by the city so they can’t give us permission.  We would be glad to pay for the power to plug in there but we still need to figure out who owns the parking garage.

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We left for Oxford for Father’s Day first thing in the morning at 9 am and with no charge we packed up and headed out on gasoline.  We arrived right around lunch time and took Dad out for some good food at his favorite place to eat: The Broiler Room in Lincoln, AL.  After a fun fathers day we were back to the same Hilton Garden Inn in Oxford that lets us charge the car in the 110v outlet outside.  We charged it up over night and headed back to Florida first thing in the morning on Monday June 16.  We were able to get a good ways past the Georgia border and back into the Eastern time zone before it switched over to the gasoline generator.  We only had to stop for gas twice on the way back and there’s still plenty left in the tank that should last another two or three months.  We arrived home around 8:30 pm eastern time and the Volt is plugged up in its favorite 110v outlet in the garage.  It will have 100% charge before we wake up in the morning ready for another few months of gas free driving around town here in FL.

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Gasoline Costs

city

gallons

price

total

date

Macon, GA

5.041

3.999

20.16

6/8/2014

White Springs, FL

5.756

4.009

23.08

6/8/2014

Cocoa, FL

7.517

3.998

30.06

6/8/2014

Owens CR, AL

7.443

3.859

28.72

6/11/2014

Macclenny, FL

5.72

4.059

23.22

6/16/2014

Douglasville, GA

7.073

3.869

27.37

6/16/2014

Byron, GA

2.352

3.799

8.94

6/16/2014

Total

25.757

$3.97

$102.02

Total electricity costs: $3.13.  Total gasoline costs: $102.02.