Mark wanted a vehicle that would allow him to drive around town only while only using electricity, but also be able to go switch to a hybrid gas mode for long road trips with his entire family.
Seating up to seven passengers, the plug-in minivan is a perfect option for family outings. Mark comfortably fits his two now-grown kids, his mother-in-law, his wife and himself in the vehicle. Optionally, they remove the back seats, which opens up enough rough to haul around their tandem bicycle. They have traversed the country in it by switching to hybrid mode. For daily commutes and errands, he exclusively uses the 34-mile all-electric range — in fact, Mark had never had to pump gas for in-town use. His favorite part of driving an electric vehicle is watching the power regenerate on his battery as he coasts downhill.
Within the last two years, Mark has tripled his electric vehicle family. On the day that Tesla announced the Model 3, he put his deposit down and took ownership in the Fall of 2019. Later, when his wife needed a new car, they shopped around for another plug-in hybrid to meet her needs. They found the perfect fit to replace her old Ford Fusion — a new Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid. It turned out to be as familiar as the previous car she knew and loved, only she could plug it in. These days, filling up at a gas station is a rarity for her as well.
Where do you charge up your cars?
"I primarily charge overnight in our home garage — we use the scheduling feature to begin charging after 10:00 PM, so we wake up to a full charge in the morning. I also charge at various locations in the community when I am running errands. Hy-Vee has generously provided free charging for customers, so I always plug-in when I shop there. The Kansas City area has over 1,000 EV charging stations, so it’s easy to find a place to plug-in if you need to charge during the day.”
What has the Clean Charge Network meant to EV drivers?
"The Clean Charge Network has virtually eliminated range anxiety for drivers of cars with limited range. The Clean Charge Network website also provides valuable information about various EVs that are available and makes it easy to compare features to make the best buying decision. I personally used the Model Comparison tool when shopping the pros and cons of different cars. I also enjoy the driver profiles, because prospective EV drivers can get a first-hand view of what it might be like to own and drive an electric vehicle."
Does driving electric make good financial sense for your family?
"I think electric vehicles make great financial sense for us. Although the initial cost of the plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles is sometimes higher, some of that cost can be immediately offset by a federal tax credit. After that, you save money every day by not buying gas. Most of the maintenance costs of a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle are eliminated as well. Some people have the misconception that they are prohibitively expensive, but when you consider the gas and maintenance savings, electric cars are a better value in the long term.”
Tell us about your family road trips.
"Our primary road trip vehicle is the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid. We have been from coast to coast in that minivan and I can’t imagine a more pleasurable driving experience. To the East, we’ve taken the family to Niagara Falls. To the West, we went to Washington State and then drove the Pacific Coast Highway in California. The Pacifica’s Hybrid Limited trim line has every imaginable creature comfort, such as ventilated seats and infotainment touchscreens in the back. It is an absolute joy to drive and to ride in. It also gets great gas mileage once the all-electric battery is depleted."
Was is it hard to get used to driving an EV?
"Not really, it’s almost identical to a regular car experience. The one thing you will notice right away is the regenerative braking. When you release the accelerator, you can feel the car slow down much more quickly than you would expect. You can also see the power meter indicating that the batteries are charging at that time. I immediately loved that feature, and now I always try to efficiently use regenerative braking to recover as much energy as I can. You will find that you rarely need to use your brakes when you come to traffic lights or stop signs if you plan ahead. Also, it’s amazing to drive the Pacifica or Tesla in the mountains, because while others have to ride their brakes, you almost never have to use yours. You can watch the power increase on your battery as you coast downhill. It’s a free charge while you coast! Once, I noted a 25% recharge on my battery when heading down a mountain.”
What would surprise someone else about driving an EV?
"If someone drove our Chrysler Pacifica or Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, they probably wouldn’t be that surprised, because they look and drive just like their all-gas equivalents. However, if the windows are rolled down, they would be surprised at how quiet they are, though. The cars are virtually silent when running on the battery. However, when someone drives a Tesla, they are usually amazed at the interior, which is very futuristic. It looks more like a spaceship than a car on the inside. If someone likes muscle cars, the Tesla is a real treat. Electric cars have instant torque and are capable of tremendous acceleration.”
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