Driver Profile

Tonja Bonfiglio-Speer


Hyundai Ioniq PHEV & BMW i3 REX

Favorite EV Benefit

Not having to stop at gas stations.

Taking an EV test drive was so much fun to drive that we couldn't resist buying one.

For Tonja Bonfiglio-Speer, an electric vehicle (EV) was “love at first drive.” She and her partner Gina share two EVs for both their home-based business and fun outings — a BMW i3 REX and a Hyundai Ioniq PHEV. They are also an all-electric household, heating their home with a heat pump. 

Tonja and Gina chose plug-in cars that offered "range comfort" via two different approaches. The 2015 BMW i3, which they chose for its spunky acceleration, goes up to 80 miles on a full charge, but also has a gas Range Extender that can kick in if the battery runs low. The newer 2018 Hyundai Ioniq is a Plug-In Hybrid that can drive 29 miles on electric-only, but also has a hybrid fuel economy of 52mpg for longer road trips, impressive cargo space, and a body style the pair describes as a “traditional look with a modern edge."

What sparked your interest in EVs?

We have a deep appreciation for the need for all of us to take whatever actions we can to protect the environment. The economy was also a significant consideration as electric vehicles cost much less to operate. When I learned how many fewer moving parts they have as compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, I was even more interested. Taking an EV test drive was the clincher — it was so much fun to drive that we couldn't resist buying one.

Tell us the story of how you bought the Hyundai Ioniq.

We traveled to Colorado to buy the Ioniq because Hyundai has not yet designated Kansas or Missouri as a distribution state for their PHEVs or EVs. We were able to arrange the whole process online, flew to Denver on JetBlue for 37 bucks, and the dealer even picked us up at the airport! Then, we drove all the way back to KC without filling up. It ended up being a fun story to tell our friends.  

Where do you charge up?

We use Clean Charge Network stations across the Kansas City metro area and along the I-70 turnpike. Charging stations are everywhere, we have always found one when we needed it. We also installed a level two charger in our garage. We often choose venues to hold our business workshops based on charging station availability, such as the Kauffman Foundation. We also choose our personal outings based on charger location, like the Nelson-Atkins Museum or the River Market. Once, we got rockstar parking at the Folly Theater when other cars were being turned away – the garage was full, except for one EV spot. 

Moreover, we had a hand in getting charging stations installed at our local park in North Kansas City – one email to the mayor , as well as an appeal to our city council, and we now charge at Macken Park while walking the trails or playing pickleball. Honestly, we charge even when we don’t need to, just to support the infrastructure.

What was the most surprising benefit of driving an EV?

The most surprising benefit has been not having to fuel up at gas stations! It has made getting around easier and more fun, and with the reduced cost of fuel and maintenance, we have saved hundreds of dollars per year. Maximizing the fuel economy on the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV is somewhat addictive. I am connected with a group on Facebook, where Ioniq drivers from all over the world share tips and hold friendly competitions for best range on a tank of gas!

What are the most common misconceptions you run into about EVs?

One of the things we like most about driving electric is that it gives us the opportunity to educate people about EVs. We love to dispel EV myths when people engage us in discussion about our cars. We hear things like "there are not many charging stations in KC", "doesn't it raise your electric bill more than it would if you just drove a gas vehicle?", "You can't buy one for under 60k.” Many people think that EVs are not available in an affordable price range and few (other than EV drivers) seem to have awareness of the extensive charging network in the metropolitan area. Regardless, we have found that many people express an interest in learning about Electric Vehicles. 

What do you like about the EV community?

We love the excitement, enthusiasm, and friendliness of the community — don't we all just love talking about our EVs? 

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