Opinion: Eckford goes electric

Well, it looks like you can now add my name to the list of players in great moments in electricity: Edison and Tesla in New York in the 1880s, Dylan at Newport in 1965, Eckford in Roberts Creek in 2019.

After owning seven conventional automobiles over the course of our marriage, my wife and I now have an EV.

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Like Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival, plugging in is getting mixed reviews, but a lot of the things I worried about haven’t really been problems so far.

It turns out the car charges up just fine overnight plugged in to a standard outlet on my front porch, and installing a faster charger will be a luxury not a necessity.

Our EV seems to be as peppy as its internal combustion predecessor. The model we bought does zero to 60 in about 9.6 seconds according to Motor Trend magazine, only about a second slower than the three-litre, six-cylinder engine car it replaced.

Feature-for-feature, replacing our car with a similarly appointed 2019 EV would have been about the same cost, after government incentives, as sticking with the same make and model of conventional vehicle.

Our EV is used and “base trim” as the car guys say, so the sticker price comparison is a bit apples versus oranges; however, to go electric at a lower price point we gave up all wheel drive, some luxury features, and a trailer hitch.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll miss all that. After all, our old wagon was bought for a different climate, different driving needs and a different driving style.

We don’t suffer from range anxiety. It’s only about 90 kilometres from Port Mellon to Earls Cove, putting a round-trip pretty much anywhere on the Coast within our range.

Frankly, my biggest worry was that having taken the plunge I’d become “that guy.” You know, the early-adopter turned evangelist who won’t shut up about it at cocktail parties.

But I’ve been able to avoid being too smug about the environmental benefits of the new wheels.

The internal combustion engine is still king in our household, where equipment and vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel fuel have a seven to one edge and cost-effective electric replacements with the same capabilities are still on a drawing board somewhere. While I’m saving on gas, BC Hydro says an EV like ours, charged mainly at home, will add about $14 a month to our electricity bill. 

Here in B.C. our grid is mainly hydroelectric, but if I take an out-of-province road trip I could end up charging my car with electricity that comes from coal, natural gas, nuclear, or even waste incineration. And how big a hit would my environmental street cred take if we get one of those long power outages in my neighbourhood this winter and I’ve got to fire up my portable generator to charge my EV?

So, while the EV life is working out pretty well for me so far, I’m lobbying Teresa for permission to get a “My other car is a 3/4 ton pickup” bumper sticker.

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