Our Electric Vehicle

Welcome to the beginning of our journal about our electric vehicle (EV).  After some deliberation, Managing Director Lawrence Heim brought home a brand new 2015 Kia Soul+ eco.  Among our reasons for doing so are to help spread the word about the reality of owning/using an EV from an environmental/sustainability professional’s point of view, generate more interest in EVs through our blog and of course, increase visibility of our own company by using the EV as a marketing tool.

To maximize visibility of the vehicle, we realized that our EV had to be eye-catching and unique (and yes, affordable), limiting the choices to only two options.  Our initial selection was the BMW i3, which sports space-age styling inside and out, and received almost universal praise from the auto industry and media.  We were excited about the i3.  Unfortunately, our experience at the dealer was not what what we expected.  Luckily, our other option was a short distance down the road and soon Lawrence signed the papers for a brand new Kia Soul eco.

Our research indicated that the Soul eco actually performed better and ranked higher than all other EVs (except the Tesla sedan) in features that are critical for day-to-day usage – range and interior space.  On a full charge, the Soul has been tested in real conditions to get in excess of 116 miles (the BMW is rated at 81 miles for the pure EV version).  The cabin is spacious enough for two 6-foot tall adults to site in the back seat with the driver’s seat adjusted for a 6-foot tall driver – not so for the i3.  After all was said and done on the deal, the Soul ended up priced almost 50% lower than the i3.  Icing on the cake – the metallic Caribbean Blue is one of the colors in the Elm logo.

In the coming weeks, we will post photos and update this journal.  We invite others with EV/hybrid experience to comment  – the more the merrier.

6 thoughts on “Our Electric Vehicle”

  1. We’re interested in possibly acquiring an EV for home use in the Milwaukee/Racine/Chicago corridor, but just starting and not sure if the range we need will be supported. When did you start running the Kia? How is the range holding up?

  2. Hi. At this time, I’ve had the Kia about 6-7 weeks. The Kia has the second longest pure-electric range in the US according to my research, the Tesla being number 1. The meter on my car registers 111 miles on a full charge, but a number of things impact that, such as whether you run the AC, if you use the Eco driving mode and which regenerative braking mode you use (the Kia has two mode from which to choose). The longest trip I have taken was about 80 miles if I recall and there was still 25 miles left.

    To my surprise, I am really enjoying this car and no longer have range anxiety, but I also only use it for short trips. It operates just like a normal vehicle which is a big plus for anyone who may be concerned that EVs are more like spaceships than cars.

  3. I am now 6 weeks and just over 1000 miles into the EV experience and am continuing to enjoy the car immensely. Having just received my first electricity bill reflecting a full month of charging, I pulled out the calculator and crunched some numbers using simple average cost and mileage calculations.

    Year-over-year June 2013 – June 2014 consumption increased 635 kWh. But last June was cooler than normal and we didn’t use our AC to a normal extent. Just for comparison, July 2013 and August 2013 reflect more normal summer AC use, and the kWh differential between those “normal” summer months and June 2014 is about 300 kWh. So the YOY differential is not solely attributable to the EV.

    In terms of cost, the 635 kWh increase equated to $73 for which I was able to drive 680 miles. In looking at normal summer electricity use, 300kWh equates to $34 for the same 680 miles ($0.11/mile and $0.05/mile respectively).

    Contrasting that to the car that the EV replaced, $73 got me 24 gallons (midgrade, although technically I was supposed to use premium grade) and 384 miles – only 64% of what I got out of the EV for the same fuel cost. For the normal summer scenario, $34 would get me 11 gallons and 176 miles – a mere 26% of the EV use for the same fuel cost. Granted, my previous vehicle had poor city mpg (about 16 mpg), but that is in large part the point. In city driving results in low mpg, yet represents 90% of my driving and this is what makes an EV attractive.

    I know there are other costs to consider – the monthly payment, insurance, reduced maintenance (no oil changes) – that I didn’t factor in. I simply wanted to look at fuel trade-off costs and efficiency.

  4. Here we are in mid-August and everything with our EV is still great. I am finding more competition for public charging stations. Nissan Leaf’s are ubiquitous around here, but interestingly are not to be seen in cities I travel to for business. Teslas are quite common – which is interesting given their price tag. I recently had an opportunity to look at and sit in a Fisker Karma, a gorgeous plug-in hybrid sedan that was only made in 2012 before the company went out of business. I recently read they are trying to relaunch after selling their assets in a bankruptcy settlement. Hopefully, the relaunched product will resolve the battery fires the originals were prone to.

    When we set out down the EV path, we wanted to capture people’s eye to draw attention to the viability of EV technology and of course to Elm. A key element of this was to have a vehicle that was unique so people would notice. Based on recent YTD EV sales figures we have seen, the Soul EV is more unique than we anticipated even though we were well aware that the Soul EV was only available in 5 states. We ourselves have only seen 4 other Soul EVs on the road. Tesla sales were 25 times that of the Soul and Leaf sales were 20 times the Soul. Astonishingly, BMW’s i8 hybrid supercar (approximately $130,000) had almost twice the sales of the Soul EV.

    Here are some examples of number of cars sold January – July 2015:
    – Tesla Model S – 13,200
    – Nissan Leaf – 10,990
    – BMW i3 – 5,391
    – Toyota Prius – 3,474
    – BMW i8 – 950
    – Kia Soul EV – 529
    – Porsche 918 Spyder – 175

  5. This is awesome to read! I’m an EV owner & advocate. Here in MN our choices are much more limited for EVs. We have been driving our Focus Electric for a couple years now & even replaced our second car with a PHEV so that we can avoid using any gas in our normal city driving. For long trips we can use the PHEV (Fusion Energi) and use as little gas as possible. We’ll never go back to driving a gas only car!

    The Soul EV is one of the options that we like to replace our Focus Electric when its lease ends in 2016. I’m hoping that Kia will bring the Soul EV to MN by then, as it is not currently available here. I’m very interested to hear more about your experience with it. Thanks!

  6. Happy New Year! 2016 is now here and in looking back at 2015, I looked at the odometer in the EV. For the period June – December 2015, we have driven just over 3500 miles. This is about half of what is considered average annual mileage for a vehicle. In my mind, this completely confirms the relevance of an EV as it is quite clear that our use on a daily basis is limited to short runs where EV range is not an issue. If more people took the time to carefully analyze their actual normal vehicle use, they would likely be surprised to learn how much is limited to short runs and hopefully alleviate their range anxiety.

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