Sustainable Putnam

Leading the Way with Electric Vehicles

Congratulations to the three Putnam County residents — Marsha Waldman, Judy Allen, and Carolyn Everett — who’ve recently swapped out internal combustion engines for the smooth quiet of EVs. Judy and Carolyn have purchased Chevy Bolts and Marsha bought a Honda Clarity. All three answered questions about their choices.

From Judy: I bought a Chevy Bolt because I wanted a hatchback and a profile that was smaller and beetle-er than the Tesla and also because the Bolt had been recommended by someone who loves theirs. Also, with the incentives it was under $30,000. I had been hoping to get a used one, but there’s a battery issue and recall with the 2017-2019 models and Chevy won’t sell them till that’s fixed. When it is, I believe those years will be available for less than $20,000 and will be a really good deal.

Judy Allen is loving her new Chevy Bolt EV, with a EPA estimated range of 259 miles on a full charge.

Also I wanted buy-in from my husband, and he was most impressed with the range, which is 250+ miles. Better, I think, than several others, though that will probably change soon as there is likely to be great interest in EVs since the President is determined to upgrade the Federal fleet to all EVs.

We are very happy with the Bolt so far. It’s really quiet! And I do love driving by the gas stations, especially now that prices are going up.

From Carolyn: I chose the Chevy Bolt because of the range (EPA-estimated 259 miles of range on a full charge) and it’s a 5-door hatchback (always seem to be schlepping something). I got a great deal on a 2020 at the Mount Kisco dealership; the MSRP was $38,800 and my price including everything was $23,883. There was a $16,750 rebate, Costco membership discount, conquest discount (because I didn’t own a Chevy at that time) and an educator discount as well.

What would you advise other SPers to consider as they shop for an EV? 

Primarily, be mindful of the range that meets your driving habits. Also keep in mind that there are 3 levels of charging: 120V (~4 miles of range/hr) 240V (~24 miles of range/hr) and publicly accessible Level 3 fast chargers (~100 miles/30 min). Level 3 Fast Chargers are a pricy way to charge at ~30 cents/min. When paying/min at a Fast Charger, I’ve heard that it’s best to stop the car from charging beyond 67% because after that percentage the charging slows continuously until it gets to 80% so the price/Kw ratio becomes less and less attractive. I’m getting a level 2 charger set up soon at my home. $400 for the Blink brand charger and $400 for the electrician.

Further thoughts you’d like to share?

There is definitely a learning curve in charging away from home. I was disappointed to discover that the site/app plugshare frequently sites “free” charging stations that either do not exist or have been replaced by fee/charge. There are two free level 2 chargers that I’m aware of, both at Mrs Greens, one in Mt Kisco and one in Somers.

Here’s what Marsha had to say: After doing some research, we focused on three models: the Bolt, Prius Plug-in, and Honda Clarity. Although we liked the Bolt, we decided we wanted the greater flexibility that the hybrid offers. For example, if we were traveling away from home, we could be sure gas would be readily available, but were not sure about electric charging.

When we test-drove the Prius, we found that rear-view visibility was poor and immediately eliminated that option. The Honda Clarity is a plug-in hybrid, a very comfortable sedan with lots of leg room, a comfortable back seat, and a good-sized trunk (essential for me because I need space for my Mom’s wheel chair). It has plenty of pickup for highway driving, but is not as peppy as the Bolt. It holds the road well, although the salesman who worked with us suggested snows for the winter. We liked the fact that it can plug in to a standard outlet, even using an outdoor extension cord, and it will fully charge overnight.  It’s not necessary to install a charging station, although we are now planning to do that because it can charge faster and would be tidier once there’s snow on the ground. 

Marsha Waldman’s Honda Clarity, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that has a gas and electric motor.

The battery has a potential range of approximately 50 miles, although that is apparently variable depending on driving style and conditions. We have discovered that charging stations are popping up around us, and we signed up for a couple of networks, but it is still more cost-effective to charge at home when practical. We calculate it costs about half as much as gasoline at current prices. To further the environmental benefits, we signed up for community solar.

One of the things to keep in mind when shopping an EV is that tax incentives vary by car maker. The Honda Clarity came with a NYS rebate applied directly to the sales price and a potential $7,500 federal tax rebate. The latter assumes that you pay that much in federal taxes. Some brands, such as the Bolt, are no longer eligible for the federal rebate.

Once we had decided on the model we wanted, I shopped online and saved thousands of dollars! We actually purchased from Lia Honda of Brewster, who provided excellent service. Leases are available but we bought outright. They offered various guarantees, service packages, and financing without being pushy about it. We bought an extended guarantee because we tend to keep our cars a long time and given that the technology keeps changing, it seemed like a safer bet.

Thanks to Carolyn, Judy, and Marsha for their great input — and for helping us move towards a greener, cleaner planet.