Name: Diana K.I. Lucas
Location: Davis, CA
Year/make/model: 2014 Ford CMax Energi
Type: Plug-in hybrid
Range: 20 miles (battery only); 550 (battery + gas)
Time owned: 3.5 years
*When new, at time of model release.
What made you decide to go electric and how did you decide what car to get?
I have always been interested in energy conservation. We had had solar panels installed on our roof and it was clear that at the end of the year, we would come out significantly ahead. PG&E does not reimburse you for the extra energy you send to the grid, so we had extra electricity to support electric vehicle (EV) charging at home. As it was time for me to get a new car, we decided to investigate plug in hybrids.
How has the cost of purchasing and owning your EV compared to the cost of purchasing and owning a conventional car?
We were pleasantly surprised at the purchase price. In addition, at the time of our purchase there were sizable federal and state tax rebates. With the solar panels, driving around town is virtually free.
What have been the biggest challenges of going electric?
Trying to keep the smug look off my face. I love my car!
What are the biggest misconceptions of electric?
People do not understand how an electric hybrid works. It’s easy to confuse a plug-in hybrid like my car with a hybrid like a Prius. Both are powered by a combination of an electric battery and a gas-powered engine. But a plug-in hybrid can be connected directly to an external power source to charge the battery (so you can take short trips without using gas at all) while the battery of a non-plug-in hybrid only charges through regenerative breaking or while running off of the gas engine.
Describe one of the farthest/coolest/most ambitious trips you’ve ever taken in your EV.
My dog and I regularly drive to Salt Lake City and back (approximately every 2–3 months). I love to drive and I like that drive in particular. It is a distance of 660 miles and I only need to fill my car up once en route.
Do you have any good stories about your experience as an EV owner?
I have green stickers on my car. The green stickers enable you to drive in the carpool lane no matter how many people are in the car. One day I was happily tootling along in the carpool lane when a huge SUV passed me, with the SUV driver leaning on his horn aggressively. The driver was clearly telling me that I had no business in the carpool lane (he hadn’t seen my green stickers or didn’t know what they meant). He passed me and pulled into the car pool lane just ahead of me. I figure that my electric hybrid probably had two to three times the fuel economy of his behemoth.
What is the number-one thing you think could be done to encourage more people to go electric?
There should definitely be sizable tax rebates from both the federal and state governments for not only vehicles with an electric component but also for solar panels that can support them.