Michaela Merz's personal blog site

I want an electric car. But I don’t buy one.

I want an electric car. But I don’t buy one.

I really really want an electric car. I can easily slab a few more solar arrays on my house to charge it, so it would make sense for me. But I am not a new car buyer. Before I would even consider to pay a lot of money for a car, it would have to fit into my way of .. well .. consuming a car.

My 2001 Jeep Grant Cherokee limited I bought in 2003 runs just fine. Sure, it gets frequent oil changes and we had some repairs, but all in all .. it will probably run for another 5 years. I paid around $25,000 for my Jeep in 2003. Twenty years ago. If it lasts for another 5 years or so, I was driving the car for less than $100/month.

But I really want an electric car.

The other day, a 2011 first generation Nissan Leaf was offered for sale locally and I was thrilled. It would fit into my budget and so I went and checked it out. Nissan has a unique feature that allows you to check for the battery health by counting a number of bars in the state of charge gauge. 12 bars would be a new battery, about 80 Miles of range for a 1st generation Leaf. The car I looked at had 5 bars remaining. Pretty much a dead battery with maybe 20 Miles of good weather range remaining. Needless to say I didn’t buy it. Not for the requested price of $5,900 and not for the reduced price of $4,900 I was able to negotiate before I even knew that state of the dead battery.

When it comes to electric vehicles – has the world gone mad?

My 2001 current car runs just fine. Even after 20 years. The engine won’t magically degrade and the fuel tank will not shrink to the point were it doesn’t have any useful mileage any more. It will make it’s 300 miles on a tank of gas until the day it dies.

Electric cars? Not so much.

I have no range anxiety. I would be perfectly happy with a reliable all weather range of .. say .. 60 Miles. But if that range drops 10% each year, what is the real life expectancy of an electric car? The Nissan I was looking at is a perfectly nice car. A huge chunk of metal and plastic rendered useless because of its battery. A new battery would cost around $6,000 installed. So I would have to cash out around $10,000 for a 10+ years old electric car with 70 Miles range? And see the range drop year after year ? I don’t think so.

Even if I would buy something like a Chevy Bolt. It comes with about 250 Miles of range. Will it last 20 years? I have my doubts. It might still make my required 60 Miles. But why would I carry around 3,500lbs of dead weight if I don’t get the full range? The math just doesn’t work out. At least not for me.

Michaela Merz is an entrepreneur and first generation hacker. Her career started even before the Internet was available. She invented and developed a number of technologies now considered to be standard in modern web-environments. She is a certified New Mexico Search & Rescue volunteer, a Wilderness First Responder (medic), a FAA Part 61 (PPL , IFR) , Part 107 certified UAS pilot and a licensed ham .

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