Electric car ownership provides big savings


"These things are really cheap to operate," said Mark Vaughn, a veteran editor at Autoweek.

Vaughn owns a Mitsubishi EV, which he can fully recharge at home for less than $2. He says many people could use electric vehicles for everyday travel.

"Just sit in your car everyday and write down how much you actually do drive," Vaughn said. "You might find out that that number is well within the range of an electric car."

The Ford Focus EV will go about 60 to 80 miles on a charge, and is one of a growing number of electric cars now on the market. The Focus EV gets 20 to 30 miles worth of juice for each hour it's plugged in.

A growing number of public charging stations are also being installed at places like Caltech in Pasadena.

"The stalls are used at all times, not just with our staff, faculty and employees, but the public use them as well," said Caltech Employee Transportation Coordinator Kristina Valenzuela.

The ones at Caltech are supplemented by solar panels installed on the garages.

These and others are part of the ChargePoint Network, independently owned charging stations slowly popping up around the Southland. A prepaid card is needed to plug in at typically $2 per hour of charging. Some locations are free.

Once customers have a ChargePoint account, they can download an app for their iPhone or Android. The app is great because it helps you find charging stations, lets you know if they're being used and even lets you make a reservation for one.

But Vaughn says you might not even need to use the high-voltage chargers as long as your EV is parked overnight.

"All you need is electricity and that's already coming out of every outlet in your house," Vaughn said. "Just plug in and charge and save some money."

The cars are still a bit pricey. The Ford Focus electric comes in at around $30,000 after federal and state incentives. But they can be money-savers in the long run.

"You don't have to change the oil. You don't have to do hardly any maintenance to the car. It lasts forever and costs almost nothing to operate. What's not to like?" Vaughn said.

Electric vehicles aren't for everyone. But as more and more drivers wince as they look at gas prices, they could end up looking at EV's with new interest.

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