Name: Scott Shepard
Location: Davis, CA
Year/make/model: 2014 Smart Fortwo Passion
Range: 68 miles
Time owned: 3 months
*When new, at time of model release.
What made you decide to go electric and how did you decide what car to get?
I wanted something that was affordable and available right away.
The small size of this car is a bonus. I used to ride a motorcycle,
so it seems huge compared to that.
How has the cost of purchasing and owning your EV compared to the cost of purchasing and owning a conventional car?
The purchase price was less than I paid for a small, used, gasoline car
over 15 years ago. Operating costs are about the same for both cars.
I am paying a couple of thousand dollars to replace equipment that
was apparently looted from the car while it was between owners.
What have been the biggest challenges of going electric?
Different types of chargers charge at different speeds. Some chargers are twice as fast as others. Finding where charging stations are takes time to search online, though the app Plugshare is very helpful. And even once you know where chargers are, planning a route around them takes time. Gas stations do not have chargers for electric cars, so you often have to go to less-convenient locations to charge. If you’re taking a round trip that can be made without recharging, then driving an electric car is just like driving a gasoline powered car. But if even a small amount of recharging is needed, it can add an hour or two—or more—to the the middle of the trip.
What are the biggest misconceptions of going electric?
I don’t really know what other people think. If you are only going to have one car, then I think it should be gas-powered or a hybrid. Fully electric cars just can’t do everything that you expect a car to do right now.
Describe one of the farthest/coolest/most ambitious trips you’ve ever taken in your EV.
I bought my fully electric car from a dealer that was almost 80 miles from my home, while the range of the car is about 60 miles. I did not realize that driving at 80 mph reduces the range by almost half, so I ran into trouble. I used the Plugshare app on my phone to find charging stations along the way. (At one place where I charged, there was a restroom, but it was locked, making the waiting time seem much longer!)
As a result, the trip that should have taken an hour and a half ended up taking about 12 hours. I tried to call AAA a couple of times to have them come and tow me the rest of the way home, but the wait time was so long that I gave up on them. Turned out that was a good thing, though, because you have to have a special towing hook (that’s usually stowed under the floor mat on the passenger side) to tow a Smart Car. I found out later that the hook that should have come with my car had been removed before I bought the car used
I’ve since purchased a new towing hook.
Do you have any good stories about your experience as an EV owner?
When you floor it, there is no extra sound or drama, you just go fast. That’s fun. When you drive it, there is no pollution from the exhaust. You realize that the noise and vibration of a gasoline engine is annoying. You don’t have to deal with gasoline fill ups, or oil changes. Not really stories, but good experiences!
What is the number-one thing you think could be done to encourage more people to go electric?
There need to be more charging stations, and amenities that would make waiting at charging stations a more pleasant experience. Engineers also need to design new batteries that can charge faster.