Electric cars charged cross-state to prove a point

Tuesday, June 13, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

​A Chelan couple proved last week that electric cars now can cruise across most of Washington without their drivers worrying about how far they can go, or if they'll find a recharging station before their batteries die.

A June 7 "Charge Across Washington" event started in Everett and followed U.S. Highway 2 all the way to Spokane, with stops in between to publicize key charging stations, just a handful of the 693 now said to exist statewide.

The event aimed to rub out perceptions that electric cars are too slow and lack the stamina needed for lengthy road trips. It also served as a reminder that EVs (electric vehicles) leave small carbon footprints.

Participants included motorists aboard Nissan Leafs, Kia Souls, and Teslas, all fully electric vehicles. They stopped in Sultan, Skykomish, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Waterville, Coulee City, and Davenport, even though that many stops were unnecessary.

Electric-car drivers can charge an empty battery in about a half-hour.

My work colleague Steve owns a 2014 Chevy Volt that goes 38 miles on a charge. After that a gas-powered generator kicks in that charges the batteries for another 300+ miles. So while Steve's Volt is not strictly electric, he suffers no anxiety about limited driving range.

For the record, he's driven 86% of his 41,000 total miles in electric mode. Monday through Friday he commutes 16 miles to PEMCO's Seattle office, where he plugs in to recharge while he works.

Steve says the new-generation Volt can go 53 miles on a charge. And even after the generator kicks in, it gets better than 40 miles per gallon of gas.

"Most people aren't aware that electric cars usually have a ton of torque," Steve said. "Climbing over Steven's Pass is a non-issue. There's a misconception about electric cars, that maybe they're flimsy or weak. It's usually the opposite."

A Renton man who drove in "Charge Across Washington" has traveled several electric routes, including Interstate 5 from Canada to California, nicknamed the West Coast Electric Highway. Learn more in this Everett Herald feature.


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