Electric Vehicle Owners Part 2 – Estes Park Trail-Gazette
Another follow up a few weeks after owning our Volkswagen ID4 EV. We drove to and from the airport once without charging and recently took a road trip to Keystone for an AIA conference. We charged the EV to 90% before leaving for the conference. It is recommended not to charge the device to 100% during normal use. This would cause the battery to hold less charge over time. As we have pointed out in previous discussions of electric vehicles, batteries remain a weak link in the transition from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles. We knew we had enough juice to get there. But we had a late start and left at 6pm and arrived at 8:30am. The car has a display that shows us the charge level and how many miles we calculate with that charge, which is very handy.
It was cold and dark. Driving with the lights on Thomas wondered how that affected mileage? Driving I-70 towards the tunnel was awesome! We whiz past cars struggling with the hill, but at the same time you realize that this is also draining the battery. When we got to the tunnel we were at 40%, less than our initial 90% charge. So we knew we had to charge somewhere to get home. Laura checked out our charging apps and there are four fast charging stations that we have free at the Walmart in Frisco as part of our VW 3 year plan. Thomas figured we would need to spend a few hours there on Friday afternoon or early evening before heading home.
Due to the EV’s regenerative braking we gained 3% on the descent from the tunnel, then drove through Dillion and up to Keystone where we arrived at the Lodge with 40% left. Probably enough to get you home, but we didn’t want to risk it. It was very cool and snow was forecast for the two days we spent at the conference.
When we checked in we asked if they had charging stations. They didn’t, but suggested that valet parking attendants might be able to provide a standard outlet. The electric vehicle was supplied with a 110-120V charging cable (level 1). However, we knew it was really slow, about 12 miles for every hour of charging. We were allowed to plug it in with the help of the valets at the hotel and 24 hours later it was charged from 40% to 59%. In comparison, a Level 2 fast charger would “charge a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) from empty in 4-10 hours”. (https://www.transportation.gov/rural/ev/toolkit/ev-basics/charging-speeds)
On Friday, after our second night, after 12 hours of extra charging, when we checked out it was at 75%, which we knew was enough to get us home. All it cost us was two tips for the valets. Mostly downhill on the way home was more efficient than uphill to Keystone, so we came home with 30% power reserves.
It’s a fun four-wheel drive SUV to drive, and we’re still learning some of the things it can do. The network of charging stations is being expanded rapidly. If we drove it to Grand Junction, our online maps say it’s a 5 hour, 290 mile drive. Our ID4 has an estimated range of up to 275 miles on a full charge. Of course, the weather, driving at night with lights on and other factors affect this. According to the Electrify America app, we have 4 ways to charge our EV on the go with “DC Fast Charge” using the 3 years of free charging included with our VW purchase. (https://www.electrifyamerica.com/locate-charger/). That means we should be able to travel across the state and have somewhere to eat while waiting for our EV to fast charge for 20 minutes to an hour. And should we decide that we would have to use the range of other chargers not included in our plan, which greatly expands our options.
As mentioned in our first article after purchasing the electric vehicle (https://www.eptrail.com/2022/10/19/we-build-together-electric-vehicles-2-property/) we are a family of two vehicles, and one is a traditional fossil fuel Honda CRV for longer trips where we don’t want to stop every 250 miles or so. We are happy with our decision and have now reduced our fuel consumption by two thirds as Thomas does most of the local driving for work and errands. It’s cool not to have to buy gas or electricity and not have to travel to Fort Collins or Denver or the airport and back home!
Thomas Beck, AIA, NCARB, is an Estes Park, Colorado-based architect who has been deeply involved in sustainable building practices since he was a student at CU Boulder in the 1970s. www.twbeckarchitects.com.