Planning Your Thanksgiving Trip By EV

By Bill Moore

Posted: 15 Nov 2011

The American Automobile Association estimates that some 42.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of them will be traveling by automobile and since weather is always a concern, motorists are urged to take extra precautions such as keeping the car's fuel tank at least half full. They urge drivers to understand how anti-lock braking system works in the event of dangerous ice and snow conditions. Travelers should make sure their tires are properly inflated and in good condition. Antifreeze should be checked and the car's starter battery fully charged.

All good points of advice, especially if you're traveling in the average ICE-age vehicle, but what if you're the proud new owner of an electric car, say the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV? What should you be doing to prepare for the trip?

Obviously, you're probably not going to drive beyond the range of the car, which is anywhere from 80-100 miles as you "drive over the river and through the woods" to feast with your family.

Here are some of the things you may wish to consider.

• Contact your host in advance and see if they will allow you recharge the car while you're enjoying the holiday with them. Explain that you'll bring along an extension cord and that you'll be happy to pay for any electricity you use. They'll probably let you do it for free, but it's good to offer. Maybe give them a token gift in the form of a bottle of wine or pumpkin pie; either of which will be many times more expensive than the few kilowatt hours of electric power you'll be using. In fact, you might cut out a slice of the pie that represents the cost of what it took you to drive to their home. Assume you drove 40 miles one way and the trip consumed 10 kWh of electricity. At 10¢ per kilowatt hour, that's $1 worth of power. If the pie cost you $8, then your portion of the pie would be 1/8th. If you'd driven in an ICE-age car and got even 40 mpg, nearly half the pie would have gone to buy fuel.

• While a lot of families will settle down around the TV to watch football, you should be prepared to take as many of your relatives for a ride as time and battery state of charge permits. Here's your chance to show off the technology and give your relations a special treat they'll brag about for days to come.

• Finally, be ready to address a wide range of questions, misconceptions and concerns that will range from technical to political. Be prepared to discuss the financial and environmental aspects of owning an EV. Resist the temptation to sugar-coat the issues of ownership, as well as being drug into fruitless, divisive political debates. Just take them for a ride, or better yet, let them drive. The technology will speak for itself.

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