Tuesday, January 14, 2014

6 week impression of the Fiat 500e

It has been about 6 or so weeks since I've had my Fiat 500e electric car. This is a follow-up report.
Since that time, a few other people I know have jumped on the cheap California "Electric" car lease deals. By now, I have to say this has been the best purchase (lease) of 2013.

First and foremost, the fuel economy and cash savings is incredible. I've learned quite a bit about electricity, cost, and stuff like that since I jumped into EV ownership. 

My car cost me roughly $1.50 to commute 50 miles every day. That is a buck $1.50. I average about 4 miles per  kWh. With a 24.4 kW battery, my average range is 92 miles. Just look below. On a cold California day, I traveled close to 47 miles and have 46 left over. That is roughly 92 miles of range. This is my average daily commute, a little less than 50 miles. 

At 4 miles per kWh, I need about 12.5 kW of energy charge everyday. I switched over to PG&E's EV-A EV car plan and get charged 0.9 cents (Winter)/10 cents (Summer) per kW. So at 10 cents per kWH X 12.5, my cost is $1.25 each night. However, if you account for Utility taxes and the fact that there is a slight loss of energy being converted through the EVSE charger, I will round it up to $1.50 per day.

Don't believe me? Well here is an average daily summary from PG&E. I have my two plugin cars charging at 11PM. My car takes 2 hours to charge while my wife's car takes 5 hours on 110. From 11PM to 1AM, I am well under $1.50 for charging two cars and consuming electricity for the entire house.

So let me stress that again. $1.50 for roughly 50 miles of commuting each and every day.
My Range Rover is a 15 MPG hog. I would need (3.3 gallons of California Premium @ $4.25). In other words, $14.03 each day to drive my SUV. Then add another $6 I have to pay for bridge toll, that comes to $20 a day to drive a SUV. My $1.50 electric car adds another $2.50 for discounted bridge toll and my day-to-day commute cost is less than $4. This is cheaper than public transportation. I'm currently saving $16 a day in commute or $346 a month.

OK, a Fiat 500e vs Range Rover is an unfair comparison. My last commuter, a 30 MPG Mini Cooper would have cost $12 per day (with Bridge Toll) versus $4. That is still a $8 a day savings or $173 a month.  No matter what 'gas' car you want to compare this to, the cost to drive an Electric vehicle is inherently very low in California.

Besides the obvious financial rewards, driving the car has been interesting. I haven't encountered any range issues. My daily commute now consist of extra entertainment; watching people cheat the carpool lanes. Since DMV issued me a solo driver carpool sticker, I've been saving 20-45 minutes each way. Driving in the carpool lane, I'm seeing lots of cheats and people who try to evade the system. The abuse is pretty rampant in the early morning when it is still dark. In the veil of darkness, people will risk those $500 fines by driving illegally in the carpool lane. These cheats will weave in-and-out of traffic. They will also bow out of the lane where there are known police waiting spots. However, eventually, those habitual cheaters eventually get caught.

For reference, I've been watching Stanley Roberts, a local TV reporter who chronicle traffic cheats on his TV news segment, "People Behaving Badly." If you  have a few minutes, these videos are pretty entertaining. I get to see this stuff everyday in real life.

There you have it. My 6 week experiences so far with the new California only Fiat 500e electric car.

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