Everyone has their gradients in environmental awareness and action. My recent test drive with Kim and a lovely Ford salesperson brought this home to me even more than before: We generally make our way into actions to protect clean air (and water) one step at a time. EV choices are part of that, and there are degrees of passion about going electric.
Visibility became a primary topic again for Kim as we went delving into another test drive. Like Kim, I prefer a full spacious window in a car. Kim loved the way she sat high up off the road in the BMW i3, along with the expansive windows. Still, she needs to switch to a more affordable electric car. Before looking at used EVs, she test drove another model at a Ford dealership that may be more affordable.
Speaking of gradients, though…. Just before our recent test drive, I mingled with a group of enthusiasts at the EcoFriendlyFloridaFest — a passionate group of EV enthusiasts. Chris Sharek, Larry Chanin, and every EV owner there was a wealth of knowledge. Each EV owner came from different a vantage point, but shared a passion for EVs. Taste and style are individual, but clearly beneficial choices span personalities.
One of the Tesla Model S owners at the EcoFest, David Marsh, owns that wonderful, dark, somewhat metallic green Tesla color that is no longer available. Why? We wondered.
Back to an EV newbie, I noticed on our test drives that Kim’s willingness to become more educated is deeply instilled, as are her aesthetic needs. Kim came to the EV fold by riding with me in my Nissan Leaf, and she remains changed from the electric experience.
She drove the LEAF herself, and then a Chevy Volt, a BMW i3, and then a conventional Ford C-Max hybrid — because the Ford dealerships in Florida are having a difficult time getting or keeping C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids. The BMW i3 owner and salesperson said similar things about BMW i3s.
Our insightful EV enthusiast and Ford salesperson explained: “They are all going to California, where the policies, payback, and deductions are so much more buyer friendly.” The salesperson added that Oregon also gets them, for the same reasons. Kim’s recent attempt to test drive Ford EVs was blocked by the shortage. The Ford dealership did not have a C-Max Energi in stock to test drive, but assured us the Hybrid C-Max drove and felt the same.
The test drive afternoon and experience was thoroughly enjoyable due to the saleswoman being an authentic EV enthusiast and owning or driving three C-Max Energis to date. She was very generous, spending time with us in the Ford lot in spite of 100° mid-day temperatures in St. Petersburg — informing us of all the positives of Ford’s EVs for Kim’s further steps into EV assimilation and shopping.
I have to reiterate: Kim and I want visibility. We both like the wide, long, tall, expansive openness of good windows, with good visibility in all directions. It seems this is the most important attraction/need that never goes away for us. Core priorities for Kim are visibility, style, elimination of range anxiety, and affordability.
For this reason, Kim enjoyed the C-Max Hybrid even more than the technologically advanced Chevy Volt that so many of its owners rave about. The C-Max Energi is said to have the same view and spacious backseat as the conventional hybrid has, riding high up off the ground. As a used hybrid, it is also more affordable. Kim would not have to deal with range anxiety. She loved the style. The genuine experience with the Ford Salesperson added to the attraction.
Kim mentions the spaciousness of the C-Max, “I think you could put basketball players in the back.” Compared to the regular ICE car, the C-Max Energi (plug-in hybrid) is more advanced, and one can add automatic features such as self-parking.
A first need for me is that I never, ever want to go to a gas station again. Ever. LEAF or TESLA.
Kim starts thinking of the 19 miles electric range of the C-Max the next day and is unsure again what the best tradeoff is — greater affordability but less electric range and visibility, or the opposite.
Chris Sharek’s advice about the transition: get a Volt. He does not feel it lacks visibility and he likes the Volt’s style more. “The Volt has over twice the range of the C-Max … and looks way better.”
My next post is about Chris’s transition from a Chevy Volt to a Tesla Model S. He has extensive experience, and he responds to some of Kim’s worries with these thoughts:
“To me, the range anxiety thing is completely GONE with a Volt (similar to other PHEVs that are now finally on the market — Ford Fusion Energi, Ford C-Max Energi, Audi A3, or others). The idea or concept to get people to start thinking of gas as your BACKUP plan is key to me. Electricity should be your primary means, and then you have the gas if you need it. Again, this is what makes the Chevy Volt such a brilliant solution. 80% of us drive less than 40 miles per day (the Volt’s electric range). But, the gas is there if you need it.”
My advice to Kim:
Test drive a Tesla next time. (Even if you are a teacher and it is too expensive, it is a useful experience because you are an educator, and the experience offers more context. Plus, the Model 3 is around the corner.) Keep looking around at deals on used BMW i3s. Work with your range anxiety or consider more investigation before investing in a non-plugin hybrid.
So, here’s a synopsis of Kim’s experiences with EVs so far:
Test Drive 1: Kim loves the feel, the drive, and the visibility of the Nissan LEAF. But she does not want to be worried about range.
Test Drive 2: She is taken in by both the 2017 Chevy Volt and 2015 Chevy Volt. She breaks through and feels her horizons are expanded. She realizes she can drive electric without range anxiety.
Test Drive 3; She is smitten with the BMW i3, over the top in love with the visibility, the playfulness, the spunk, the modern look, the torque, and the immediate braking after taking her foot off the acceleration pedal. Pricing is a big opposition factor, though. She is going to look at used BMW i3 prices. She wants unlimited range as with the Volt, but the style of the i3 or LEAF.
Test Drive 4. Kim loves the style and look and feel of the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi. She wants one. No range anxiety. The C-Max Hybrid is affordable. Days later, she is back to the BMW i3. She feels it is beyond her budget — but cannot quite put it to rest thanks to Michael, our test drive companion (BMW i3 salesman and BMW i3 driver himself), and the cutting-edge i3.
At the Moment: 19 miles electric range is not enough. Let’s look more while considering more EVs. Tesla Model S next stop. Meanwhile, Michael at BMW and Kim keep in touch as he tries to find something electric she can afford.
Thanks to Chris Sharek once again for his words of EV wisdom.
Images: Cynthia Shahan
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