Car Thoughts: Part 1 – I Dumped My EV for a 13 Year Old Gas Guzzler

And I don’t regret dumping my EV one bit.

Friends, readers, worldlyfolk: Lend me your eyes so that you may gaze upon Bertram Cholmondeley (pronounced “Chumley” if you did not know), a 2006 Range Rover Sport, and  from here on out, an ongoing project about which I shall write on adventures, maintenance, repairs, and thoughts pertaining to all of the above.

Bertram Cholmondeley

Let’s start with some back story, which will cover Part 1.

I consider myself to be progressive-but-politically-independent (ie no party affiliation), and one thing I do care about is the environment and saving money, so in 2016 when my Prius reached the 150,000 mile mark and was having several little bits and bobbles starting to go, I decided it made more sense to purchase a new car, rather than put the $5k or more that would be necessary to bring the Prius back up to being ship-shape and Bristol fashion.

This would prove to be a mistake…a big mistake.

See the thing is, basically everything is wrong with electric cars that aren’t Teslas right now, and I shall elaborate.

Let’s start with range:

The reality is that the current crop of EV’s (Chevy Bolt excluded) have a realistic range of fifty miles, no matter what their marketing tells you, because you need the other twenty five miles to find an available public EV charging station that isn’t in use, out of order, or has a Tesla parked there…unplugged…because they think they’re special.

The above problem, ie a lack of EV charging infrastructure, is one that’s easily solved and could make EV’s, even with pathetic ranges like the current crop, ubiquitous, but good luck getting anyone off their butts to make charging stations in every public parking space the norm. If I were able to drive anywhere and simply plug no matter where I parked, this would not have been an issue. But no, vying for one of the two charging spots in a parking lot of thousand spaces is just ridiculous and isn’t moving us forward in any demonstrable way.

Now that we’ve covered range and public parking, let’s talk about the other problem, or rather, MY other problem: reliability.

The EV I chose to purchase was a 2016 Ford Focus Electric. I did this because I liked the fact that it looked like a normal car, was American-made (global supply chain arguments notwithstanding) and did not appear to be particularly off the mark in terms of average range of economy EV’s being put out by any manufacturer. Lastly, it was better than the Mitsubishi Mi-EV which is really where rock-bottom is these days.

I also chose it because my parents had a 2015 and seemed happy with theirs. Well, just my mom really. My dad didn’t like it.

I rather quickly fell out of love with it though when I realized just what a drain the HVAC system was on effective range with the A/C cutting my effective range by around 20% and heating cutting it by a staggering 40%+. That’s ridiculous. Reviews of the Focus Electric glossed over this fact by simply stating that in cold weather, you could “just use the seat heaters” but that’s nothing at all like having a working heater. My guess is Ford delivered cars to reviewers on gorgeous spring days when there was zero need for HVAC and/or flew the reviewers to prime locations to perform their road tests.

Given that the word “reliability” is based on the word “rely,” I consider the inability to rely on this car to keep me warm in cold winter months (because seat heaters don’t affect actual air temperature) to fall into the category of unreliable for this car. But that’s not the worst of it. Oh no.

For all the talk of EV’s been super reliable because they have fewer parts (and fewer moving parts at that), my EV “blew” its engine and transmission at fewer than 18,000 miles. What followed was a trip to the dealer for a replacement of the engine and transmission that lasted over two months, effectively rendering the car a lemon in the eyes of California law.

To be continued…