Earth Day Ride-n-Drive Saturday April 22, 2023 at La Plata County Fairgrounds

Earth Day Ride-n-Drive Saturday April 22, 2023 at La Plata County Fairgrounds
Owners know what their cars are good for

Popular interest in EVs seems to be reaching an inflection point; the White House is calling for a ten-fold increase in EV sales in less than a decade, and sales are taking off (now up to 6% nationally). Many traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) buyers are starting to express interest and are willing to consider at least a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), which also has a gas tank and therefore removes any range anxiety.

Therefore, it is choice timing that Drive Electric week coincides with Earth Day, and (link) is sponsoring a free EV display and ride-n-drive opportunity 10 AM to 2 PM at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, April 22, 2023. Volunteer owners (and some dealers) are bringing their rides to the fairgrounds to be admired, discussed, and driven by prospective buyers. This is a once-a-year opportunity for interested people to fondle and drive the merchandise, compare brands, and learn from real owners without sales pressure. Pass the word to anyone considering a BEV (battery electric vehicle, or pure electric) or PHEV purchase.

The offerings will depend on who shows up, but will include at least: Chevy Bolt, Ford Lightning pickup, Ford Mach-E, Lucid Air (model tbd), Rivian R1T pickup, Tesla Model S sedan, and Toyota RAV4 Prime. All except the RAV4 are BEVs.

Full details will be provided at the fairgrounds, but here are a few highlights of the promised models, in alphabetical order by manufacturer.

Chevy Bolt – A popular entry-level BEV, the Bolt offer 259 miles of range between charges, and sells (after the tax credits) for about $18,300. Compared to buying an equivalent ICE car (VW GTI S), the Volt saves the average owner more than $25,300 over ten years (figuring depreciation, electricity, gasoline, maintenance, and insurance). The Bolt is a good small family car, but is stingy with cargo space, and earlier models had some battery issues. On road trips it doesn’t charge very quickly (typically gains 44 miles of range after 15 min of fast charging).

Ford F-150 Lightning – This is the one that has grabbed all the media attention, because the ICE version is the best-selling vehicle in America. However, recent sharp price increases and long delivery delays have turned off many reservation holders. My advice is to pay strict attention to the build details. Some builds (e.g., Platinum) come with lifecycle costs considerably ($8,800) above the ICE-version cost over 10 years, whereas other builds (e.g., XLT Std. Range) have life cycle costs that save the EV buyer thousands ($16,500) in the same comparison. After tax prices vary from about $63,500 to $96,900 and single-charge ranges vary 240 to 320 miles. will be at the event handing out tables with the key specifications for each build. In general, the lower-priced models earn more cost savings from tax incentives and smaller battery costs. Ford has designed the Lightning with conservative fast-charging rates (typically only 25 miles gained per 15 min), making this model a weak choice for road trips.

Ford Mach-E – This crossover BEV has devout fans. It is available in both RWD and AWD models. After tax prices are as low as $38,700 (up to $57,600), and for many drivers with modest commutes, this car can be charged up for enough daily range using only a 110 V outlet. Full-charge ranges vary 247-312 miles. All Mach-E builds are a bargain compared to an equivalent ICE car, with savings of $7,200 to $17,600 over ten years.

Lucid Air – Lucid is an exclusive company, building only a few hundred cars a year, but is visiting Durango this year to ramp up sales. The Lucid Air is the crème de la crème of BEV technology. Lucid’s motors are lighter, smaller (fit in a carry-on suitcase), and more power dense than any others (link). They have the highest ranges of models currently in production (410-516 miles). Their fast charge rates are unprecedented (up to 288 miles of additional range in 15 min!). Their acceleration (0-60 mph in 3.0 sec) beats out even the Tesla S (not the Plaid build, however). Their top-of-the-line Grand Touring has a price to match ($142,800 after taxes), but the Air Pure is a mere $89,700, which is less than the F-150 Lightning Platinum. Nonetheless, the Grand Touring is a bargain compared to its ICE equivalent, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S. Over ten years the Grand Touring is calculated to save $73,357. Check out the Lucid, if only to salivate.

Rivian R1T pickup – Rivian EV sales in Colorado are now just behind VW. Rivian makes both an SUV and a pickup. Both are considered by many to be the most capable off-road vehicle yet made (it can turn switchbacks with only 2 wheels touching the ground); the pickup can haul 11,000 pounds and accelerate 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds. The R1T sells for around $60,500 after taxes and over 10 years saves the EV buyer $25,500 compared to an equivalent ICE truck (gas Ford F-150 Platinum Super Crew).

Tesla Model S – This is the benchmark sportscar against which all other sporty BEVs are measured. Top acceleration, great range (405 miles), fast charging (up to 223 miles of added range in 15 min), and though pricey compared to the most BEVs ($92,400 after taxes) it is less expensive that the equivalent ICE car (Audi S7), saving $16,900 over ten years.

Toyota RAV4 Prime – This PHEV gets reasonable all-electric miles (EPA rated at 42 miles, though ours consistently gets more, even in cold weather), and is highly efficient when using the gas engine (65 mpg average on a recent 1100-mile round-trip to Tucson). High clearance, AWD, and lots of cargo space make it a natural for hauling recreational toys to the Colorado mountains. The after-tax price in nominally $42,400, though excess demand has driven many dealers to jack up prices while supply is short. Supplies seem to be catching up, but demand is still torrid.