Letter: Electric vehicles offer opportunity for WNC

Graphic by Lori Deaton

There have been several high-profile recent announcements of new industrial, commercial and multifamily housing developments in WNC. Similarly, it’s hard not to notice that EVs (electric vehicles) are rapidly gaining ground. Taken together, these two trends present a significant opportunity for our region.

EVs offer many benefits to their drivers. Electricity to charge an EV costs about 3 cents per mile, versus 10 cents or more to fuel a typical ICV (internal combustion vehicle). EV maintenance requires a fraction of the cost and time demanded by ICVs.

EVs also benefit the community. EVs emit far fewer smog-forming pollutants and greenhouse gases than ICVs. Most money spent for gas and diesel fuel leaves the state. Electric bill payments recirculate through local economies, rather than flowing to Vladimir Putin’s cronies or to Mohammed bin Salman’s torture squads.

With EVs saving 7 cents or more per mile, rural drivers (who travel longer distances than city dwellers) can enjoy substantial reductions in their “fuel” costs.  Contrary to much of what you’ve heard, EVs aren’t any pricier to buy than ICVs.  Plenty of new EVs sell for less than the average new ICV.

Used EVs cost significantly less than comparable ICVs. Short-range models are particularly affordable. Workplace charging can make short-range EVs viable for owners with long commutes. Charging at businesses can draw new customers and encourage loyalty among existing ones. Home charging makes all EVs easier to use. All developers of industrial, commercial and multifamily housing projects should consider providing EV charging.

EVs can be charged at three speeds: Level 1 (L1, slow); Level 2 (L2, medium); and DC fast charging (DCFC, fast), also known colloquially as Level 3.

L1 requires only a standard 120-volt, three-prong, grounded outlet. L1 chargers, included as standard equipment with every EV, replenish roughly 5 miles of range per hour of charging.

L2 uses a 240-volt electric supply, like a clothes dryer or oven, and replenishes between 15 and 40 miles of range per hour of charging. Kudos to Ingles Markets for providing free L2 charging for its employees and customers.

Newer EVs travel over 200 miles on a charge, three hours at highway speeds.  Most charging happens at home or work. On road trips, DCFC can replenish 200 miles range in the time it takes to eat a fast-food meal. DCFC stations are common enough to allow convenient travel virtually everywhere in the country. You can find chargers on plugshare.com.

Like your first smartphone, switching from ICVs to EVs requires a few mental adjustments. But the results are worth it, and help is available. Property developers wishing to install chargers need to be aware of some important, counterintuitive nuances. The Land-of-Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition can provide guidance.

The Blue Ridge EV Club is an excellent resource for prospective EV owners. On Saturday, April 30, the club will hold its annual Drive Electric Earth Day event at the Asheville Outlets on Brevard Road. The show offers an opportunity to see a wide variety of EVs, talk to owners and dispel some of the mis- and disinformation that swirl around the topic. For details, see [avl.mx/bhs].

It’s a whole new world out there.  Let’s explore it.

— Dave Erb


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