Which Cars Belong in Ideal Plug-in Car Garage?
Once you drive an EV, you don’t want to go back to internal combustion. There’s something addictive about the combination of torque, quiet ride, zero emissions and home refueling. So, it doesn’t take owners of a first electric car—those who have two cars in the family—much time to start thinking about a garage with two cars powered mostly, or entirely, by electrons.
But it’s still early days in the plug-in market, so finding the right one-two punch can be tricky. It means pairing up two vehicles that offer the best combination of vehicle segment, style and range.
The pricey Tesla Model S is the only EV that currently offers enough driving range (and opportunities for quick refueling) for road trips. For buyers who can afford a Tesla, it can serve as the anchor vehicle—providing the lion’s share of daily driving as well as service for longer trips. The low-production California-only Toyota RAV4 EV, a small utility with about 120 miles of range, similarly allows for regional driving, but is not suited for road trips. Meanwhile, there are a host of plug-in hybrid vehicles that mostly use electricity, but extend range with some degree of gas usage for going as far as you like.
That leaves the rest of the field of pure electric cars—commonly with a range of 80 miles or less—as daily drivers, but not well-suited for long-distance commutes or vacations.
Still, with nearly 20 plug-in models available now (or soon), there are quite a few ways to mix and match two battery-powered cars. I will outline just three broad strategies, and let readers respond with ideas for specific vehicle combos for the ultimate electric garage.
Big EV, Small EV: Assuming that one of your cars is a Model S (or some future model with similar range), your household can combine that big-battery car with an electric car with more limited range. The small efficient electric car—like a LEAF, Focus Electric or Fiat 500e—can take care of all daily commuting and errands, and the big bold Model S can stand ready for use with the national network of Superchargers. Something like the upcoming Tesla Model X SUV, with more seating capability, is even a stronger anchor car.
EV Plus Plug-in Hybrid: In 2011 and 2012, the logical combo was LEAF and Volt. The Volt offers nearly 40 miles of electric range, so nearly every day of the year can be petroleum-free. But any combination of pure electric car and plug-in hybrid can achieve a similar level of miniscule emissions and maximum convenience. Ideally, the bigger car is the plug-in hybrid (so you can stretch out and haul gear on road trips), although we have yet to see a truly spacious plug-in hybrid.
Two Small EVs Plus Occasional Car Rental (Or Car Sharing): How many times a year do you really need to haul a lot of people or stuff? On those days, go out and rent (or borrow) a minivan or pickup truck. Sure, it’s less convenient, but think about how you would be freed up to go all-electric nearly all the time. You would have the choice among about 10 capable, stylish and affordable small electrics. Choose any two.
The scenarios get even more interesting when you introduce liberal use of public transportation, carpooling and walking. And for non-purists willing to accept some degree of tailpipe emissions in your second car, the market is now filled with conventional hybrid, efficient diesel, and high-mpg gas cars that can get 40 miles per gallon or higher—a smidgen of internal combustion held in reserve strictly on an as-needed basis.
What two car combination creates the ideal electric garage for you?
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