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Monday, January 17, 2011

Will electric vehicles work as dinghys?

As we move into 2011 more fuel efficient vehicles are making it to the marketplace. Already three of the new wave of electric vehicles (EV) have been released. The Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf (photo), and Ford Focus, have made their debut and more are on the way.

The decision for RVers on whether to purchase one of these break-through vehicles as a dinghy, is based in large part on what the industry calls "range anxiety," whether your battery will go dead before you reach a charging station, since the battery alone will propel the vehicle for much fewer miles than a traditional gasoline or diesel vehicle.

If you boondock and use your toad to explore the area, would you be able to make it back to your RV to connect to a charger before the battery expires? Where else would you be able to charge the vehicle during your exploratory trips?

The state of Washington is hoping to reduce range anxiety and spur EV sales by installing charging stations along Interstate 5, the main north-south artery in the most populated western part of the state, creating the nation's first virtual "electric highway." This electric highway will also be extended to include an east-west route, Highway 2, which crosses over the Cascade Range and connects the cities of Monroe, Leavenworth, and Wenatchee, creating a network of public access EV charging stations.

On Thursday, the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, in the Cascade Mountains just outside Leavenworth, announced that it will also install its own charging station on site to help support the use of electric vehicles along nearby Highway 2. Sleeping Lady is currently the first resort in Eastern Washington to purchase an EV charging station. The EV chargers will be free to over-night customers and for a nominal fee to all visitors to the Leavenworth area.

Washington’s network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure is part of the development of a regional EV network spreading across 1,350 miles of I-5, connecting British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and Baja, Mexico, preparing to serve the 2 million electric vehicles anticipated on the west coast.

Check out Bob Difley's Boondocking and Snowbird Guide eBooks at RVbookstore.com

11 comments:

  1. FYI - The Volt has a small gasoline motor that makes it an 'Extended Range Electric' vehicle, so it doesn't have the same restrictions as the Leaf, Tesla or Focus.

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  2. I have read that the volt requires a hour charge for each 5 miles driven when utilizing normal household current. A $4,000 or so charging system can be installed to cut this in half. If you were going to go 40 miles, then you would need an 8 hour charge. I suspect that campground owners would get onto the extra electricity usage pretty quick. At this stage of the technology I sure don't see these as a viable option but as the technology increases, maybe so. Now they are in the novelty stage for most of us. I can't afford a $41,000 toy then again my motor home toy is a lots more than that.

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  3. Gas.2 says a home charging station will cost $1,000 to $2,000 depending on how much work it requires at an individual residence. Where did you get the $4,000 price for a system?

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  4. range anxiety would be the least of the problems. I have a 2006 Prius and have been told more than once there is no way to tow that vehicle four down. In fact not even a dolly but need a trailer. Very impractical for my situation.

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  5. You would think that a Volt would be ideal since it has a gas engine to charge the batteries. I would love to see GM test it as a towed to confirm this. Otherwise, thanks GM for all your other auto trans options for towing. Toyota has zero. I am going to buy one of GMs offerings this time.

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  6. As I said the $4,000 charging station cuts the time in half (1 hour of charge equals 10 miles), but in most houses requires additional service from the power company. Two towns close to me are in the process of installing several at at cot of about $8,000 each. A charging station is not something you can buy and plug into the same plug you use for your washer. All of these EV's also have a large (around $8,000 government taxpayer subsidy too) as well as much of the R and D paid for by government. Solar and wind supply less than 2% of our power, so there is a huge chance your new electric vehicle will be actually run off traditional methods of power generation.

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  7. If we can hook the generator to the wheels, maybe we could charge the battery while dragging it behind our coach??

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  8. Haven't they given an "nice" name to an extremely limiting factor to make everyone feel bad because of their "anxiety". The cost of a vehicle that only goes 100 miles or less and then REQUIRES an 8hr rest to recharge is unacceptable. While I think horses are cool its one of the reasons they are used as toads - range and rest. No, no anxiety here, common sense.

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  9. Tom, I agree- and why isn't there a way to have the car charge itself as you drive? (The same way regenerative braking works on many hybrids). I also agree that these vehicles are still in the "novelty" stage and not yet ready for "prime time".

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  10. Have yet to find a reasonably priced hybrid that can be towed 4 wheels down.

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  11. Bottom Line for me is .....can it be towed. I'll worry about the rest later.

    Bill

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