From Pumps to Outlets: An Overview of Electric Vehicles in the Bay of the Great Lakes Region

A number of EVs from different brands lined up for juice at Wilder Rd. Meijer Supercharger in Bay City (Photo- Ric Antonio; WSGW)

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Electric vehicles have been touted as the next wave of transportation, but with gasoline prices rising in 2021, what needs to be done to move away from the combustion engine and into something that many people don’t? are still not sure? We spoke with owners who have already made the switch, to learn their experiences so far as part of WSGW’s series of electric vehicles, “From Pumps to Takes”.

With President Joe Biden’s decree of August 5, aimed at reducing 50% of all passenger vehicles sold to electric by 2030; distrustful businesses and consumers are wondering what changes they will need to make to make better use of future subsidies and infrastructure put in place by the US Department of Transportation and the US Department of Energy.

Chris Smith, a Bay City resident who owns a Nissan Leaf, said his recent decision to buy an electric vehicle was based on the recent rise in gasoline prices and his daily grind.

Chris from Bay City loads his Nissan Leaf (Photo- Ric Antonio; WSGW)

Smith adds that because he lives nearby, he can use the Supercharger station at Wilder Rd. Meijer store. An average load session for Chris is just over $ 3.00, with a total of $ 75.25 from May 10 to August 24.

Despite the comparatively lower cost of ownership at the pump, electric vehicle owners of the Supercharger say there is a general shortage of fast-charging stations as EVs become more prevalent. Dr Rashad Farha is a Tesla owner and doctor working at Sault Sainte Marie who drives regularly from Ann Arbor:

As business owners adjust to an increase in electric vehicles, more charging stations have been added, but many say it’s still not enough.

Hotel H in Midland offers a charging station inside its parking lot, but like many other sites without overcharging, it is limited to one user at a time (Photo- Ric Antonio; WSGW)

Sean Oppermann owns a Chevy Volt and a Midland Cork ‘n Ale on East Patrick rd. – one of the few independent companies in the region to offer a station for recharging vehicles. Oppermann says Cork ‘n Ale made the addition using the Consumers Energy PowerMI Drive program to help with installation costs, but adds that other retail facilities will need to start adding stations as new ones become available. electric vehicles are becoming more common.

A glimpse of the charging station offered by Opperman’s Cork ‘n Ale at 1607 E. Patrick rd. in Midland (Photo- Ric Antonio; WSGW)

The PlugShare app, used by many EV owners looking for a place to charge, shows that in the town of Midland (not counting car dealerships) there are only four registered locations available for public use. That’s a quarter of the 16 gas stations within the city limits, six of which are on N. Saginaw Rd., Less than a mile and a half and less than a half a mile of each other.

A wider view of the Great Lakes Bay area shows approximately 60 registered charging stations from the north to Standish to the south to Flint. Many of them are either registered with car dealerships, hotels or campsites; or offer only one outlet of 50 amps / 240 volts or less.

PlugShare shows that only 4 public sites in Midland are not car dealers: The H Hotel, Oppermann’s Cork ‘n Ale, Mid Michigan Medical Center and Fairfield Inn. Garber Chevrolet is listed as the only public fast charger. (Screenshot of PlugShare for iOS, 9-6-2021, by Ric Antonio; WSGW)

With dealerships having such a widespread footprint on the map of electric vehicle charging stations, car dealerships are beginning to recognize both the popularity of electric vehicles as well as an impending loss of revenue due to a drop in service visits. Many electric vehicle drivers, like Opperman or Tesla owner Kevin Rooker, say they chose their cars because of the need for less repairs and maintenance.

Officials from Garber Chevrolet in Midland and Thelen Audi-Volkswagen in Bay City have confirmed the claims. CEO Joe Thelen and his EV specialist Lonzo Simmons say that as electric charging infrastructure grows and cars become more ubiquitous, they expect the need for maintenance to decrease. slowly, as vehicles do not require a lot of oil changes. , transmission checks or other tune-ups.

Thelen and Simmons say potential customers often have questions about the vehicle lineup. While an early model of the Nissan Leaf may have driven less than 100 miles on a full battery, many recent productions have more than tripled that. Thelen calls today’s concerns about driving distance “distance anxiety”. Some interviewees said they wouldn’t want an electric vehicle before it can travel 1,000 miles on a full charge. The term “range anxiety,” while applicable to any car, has primarily been used to refer to one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles on a large scale. Thelen says the mileage offered by new electric vehicles shouldn’t deter buyers, especially compared to producing gasoline-powered cars.

Kevin Rooker’s Tesla Model X with the Falcon-Wing doors open (Photo- Ric Antonio; WSGW)

Over the past 5 years, cars like Tesla’s long-range Model S have driven over 400 miles on a full battery, and Ford’s upcoming F-150 Lighting is expected to have an extended range of 300 miles, but that number increases dramatically without the 1000 lbs. filler used in the EPA examples.

Thelen adds that in addition to these cars close to the lineup of their gasoline competitors and offering services like Home-Power Backup (in Ford’s case), they are expected to last nearly twice as long.

The cost of driving a vehicle is also cheaper when you compare 3.16 gallons of gasoline in a 30-mile-per-gallon tank to the cost of $ 3.00 to refill 90 miles in a 2015 Nissan Leaf.

Considering the costs and repairs, is it any different from driving an electric vehicle? The start of an ignition, the speed of an engine, and the smell of gasoline are things that are missing from the driving experience when choosing an EV. My experiences of driving electric vehicles were very different depending on the make and model.

While talking with Chris Smith (a close friend of mine from Bay City who let me drive his Nissan Leaf), the Meijer Supercharger’s trip to the Bay City Mall was like driving any other gasoline car – apart from the regenerative braking, that is. Chris said I didn’t need to fully press the brakes, and it felt like the regeneration brakes were slowly gripping the wheels until they came to a stop, using that resistance to load. slightly the vehicle.

Lonzo Simmons of Thelen Audi-Volkswagen took me for a test drive of the 2021 Audi e-tron, which had a very different feel to the Leaf.

A look inside the 2021 Audi e-tron and its large touchscreens at Garber Thelen (Photo- Ric Antonio; WSGW)

The acceleration kick from the Audi e-tron, as well as the Tesla Kevin Rooker was kind enough to let me take off, was enough to make me think I should consider wearing a helmet to drive. The biggest difference between the two was the Tesla’s self-driving ability.

Taking off like a rocket and driving yourself can be very appealing, but when the battery lights come on to indicate ‘it’s time to charge’, you should always find one of those currently rare charging stations.

The Town of Saginaw recently announced the addition of several new charging stations, but when will there be enough to satisfy the growing EV market? Two sites opened earlier this week in the Ippel “Sign Park” parking lot (110 S. Hamilton Ave) and offer DC-Fast charging. Six additional 240-volt “level 2” charger outlets were split between the area surrounding the SVRC market and the fast charger street on Hamilton. These eight stations are a welcome addition, but they are located in the heart of the town of Saginaw, not a freeway exit like many gas stations are.

Although they may seem like a boon for Kevin Rooker, who lives nearby with his Tesla; even he says others need to be installed to meet future demand, otherwise they won’t make sense.

Castor Road. The mobile station charger at Kawkawlin and the Bay City Supercharger are right at their freeway exits, but they are a short drive from each other and a long commute for EV owners everywhere else. in the Bay of the Great Lakes region. For this reason, Rooker says he mainly charges his Tesla at home.

One of the many outlets used with a Tesla charging kit allowing us to afford almost any public charging station (Photo- Ric Antonio; WSGW)

There is still a lot to learn about electric vehicles before many are convinced to make the investment.

A big question is when will the majority of electric vehicles be more affordable? In addition, are there disparities between those who own electric vehicles and those who do not? Many of the owners interviewed were (unintentionally) either Caucasian or someone in a higher paying job like Dr Farha or Lonzo Simmons.

Another question: What are the quality or safety issues with these vehicles given the recent Chevy Bolt battery recall?

Only time will tell, as the impact of these mechanical wonders spans the entire socio-economic spectrum.

You can also listen to each segment of From Pumps to Plugs as it originally aired on 100.5FM and 790AM:

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About Melanie Tweed

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