Thanksgiving weekend has historically been the biggest driving weekend of the year. What better time to discuss buying gasoline?
This article is intended to be a little bit of a light article, but with some food for thought included for consumption. It is not intended to be a full review of the pros and cons of buying an electric vehicle (EV) article. In short, some insights are being put forth here to contribute to the conversation about EVs. This article is a result of my own inner dialogue that has moved me in the direction of buying an EV. An EV will be my next car, but I’m still currently driving an anachronistic internal combustion engine (ICE).
Finding a Gas Station
How far out of our route do we have to drive to get to the gas station? For me, this varies from trip to trip. As an environmentalist, I do my best to get gas right on the road on which I’m already traveling, but that isn’t always possible. How many stop lights do we go through to get to a gas station while paying good money to burn gasoline, and polluting with CO2s, at those stoplights? How much gasoline do we pay for to get us to and from those gas stations? With EVs that charge at home and/or work, this issue is eliminated.
The cost savings of using electricity instead of buying gasoline is commonly quoted as between $1,000 and $1,500 per year. This will vary based on one’s electricity rates, the cost of gasoline, and the number of kilometers (miles) someone drives per year.
When we hear the price of gasoline on the news or radio, they are always quoting the price of regular gas as though that’s the only price of gasoline. Many cars such as all ICE Mercedes vehicles require premium petrol. The cost of premium gas varies, but is roughly 8% more costly currently and has cost as much as 20% more than regular in the past (in 1998). With EVs, this issue is eliminated.
While it doesn’t take very long to fill up a gas tank, it still does take a short while to do so and, compared to EVs, it’s a matter of plugging in and unplugging the charging interface. Elon Musk has announced that he has tasked his Tesla engineers to have the charging station plug in and unplug automatically. To be fair, EVs generally need to be plugged in every or every other driving night, whereas we typically don’t need to fill up gasoline every day, but, overall, the EV plug/unplug routine takes less time than driving to the gas station and pumping gasoline and, in some cases, waiting in line to get to a pumping station before one can commence pumping gasoline.
Filling Up in Weather
Sometimes just getting out of the car to pump gas can be unpleasant. First there is rain. Then there is cold and windy rain. Then there is sometimes snow and cold wind. There is the heat of summer: I live in Las Vegas, where it can reach 45° C (114° F); and the cold of winter: I used to live in Boston, where it can reach below -18° C (0° F). With EVs, this issue is eliminated.
Gas Station Pay-at-Pump System Fail
How many times has the payment system at the pump been broken such that a payment has to be made inside with a just-as-you-arrive new line forming ahead of you? It happens sometimes…. And, no, we really don’t need to buy that bag of chips or snack on the way to the line. Some of us have cultivated a knack to pick the non-working payment system pumps. With EVs, this issue is eliminated.
Filling Up before a Trip
Have you ever had to make a trip to the gas station from home just to fill up the tank before a long early trip? I have. With EVs, this issue is eliminated. The proverbial “gas tank” is at home in a wall plug.
Getting to the Gas Station is Noisy
ICE engines are noisy. Electric cars are quiet. The experience of listening to music is completely different in an EV. For those of us who like music, the EVs are far superior to ICE vehicles.
Different Prices at Different Gas Stations
Prices vary from gas station to gas station. There is a nagging question about whether or not we should drive a bit down the street for a lower rate. What if their rate was lower last week, but not this week? There are a couple of services such as Gas Buddy, but this takes time and effort and is frankly a nuisance.
Then there is the unwelcome question of whether or not it would cost us more gasoline to go farther down the road to another station? While driving to a lower-priced gas station may save a bit of money depending upon our gas tank size, this practice takes more time and it adds more CO2 into the air.
This is a question that many people labor over, it seems, due to what I’ve found on the web about it. Some smart high school students at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics have solved The Gas Station [Pricing] Problem…
While this is a good starting point, what if T = 10? We really need Figure 3 to solve that equation…
This is only part of the equation, though. We must also factor in calculations for the gas tank size…
This lower-price-but-farther-away-gas-station savings calculator might be a bit easier to use. This farther-away gas station with lower prices consideration goes away with EVs, since the utilities set the rates; in many cases, the cost of electricity is roughly the equivalent of $1.00 to propel the car roughly the distance that a gallon of gas would, which is sometimes equated to “$1.00 per gallon.”
Gasoline Runs Out
When we compare what happens when burning a gallon of gasoline, which turns into as much as 19 pounds (8.6 kilos) of CO2 according to Rocky Mountain Institute, another problem surfaces. The gasoline is gone… or more accurately, converted into greenhouse gas air pollution. In cases where folks have electricity-producing solar photovoltaics (PV) on their rooftop, the electricity that they produce from that (though the grid may be involved if on-site storage isn’t available) can generate more electricity for their EVs indefinitely. Thus, by definition, this makes it a renewable system!
Car on Empty on Way to Appointment
Has this ever happened to you? You rush off from home to a meeting only to notice that your car needs to be filled up before you get to the meeting. With an EV, under normal conditions, the car would have been “filled up” before leaving the house.
Credit Card or Cash Payment
Most people have ready cash or a credit card with available credit for a purchase at any time, but that’s not true for all people all of the time. Sometimes, a trip to an ATM must first happen. With EVs, this issue is eliminated.
Occasional Gasoline Odor
A final minor point is that on top of all this unnecessary grief, there is sometimes a gasoline odor that we are subjected to smell. It’s unpleasant and isn’t good for us from a health perspective. With EVs, this issue is eliminated.
Granted, this only looks at one side of the equation, but as we consider the everyday inconveniences caused by purchasing gasoline that we have all habituated ourselves, it becomes clear that they are simply no longer necessary. The process of filling up at the gas tank reminds me of a story told to me by a friend of mine, Gary Rickling, when his ICE-owning friends comment unfavorably about his EV. Gary tells them, “Think of me every time you are filling up your gas tank.”
Image Credits: gas station via Shutterstock; gas pump via Shutterstock; electric vehicle parking sign via Shutterstock; graphs via NCSSM; solar-powered EV charging via Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator; solar tree via Envision Solar.