Home Energy Solutions: Driving an Electric Car in New England

CLF’ers Elena Mihaly and Tom Irwin show that you don’t have to live in a major city, or even on a paved road, to benefit from driving an electric car.

Bethany Kwoka | @bkwoka

Although Elena Mihaly, a staff attorney at CLF, lives on a dirt road in Norwich, Vermont, her plug-in electric hybrid is the perfect car to commute to her office 40 miles away.

“Some people think that a hybrid-electric or electric vehicle can’t handle dirt roads and has no power,” she says “But I haven’t found that to be the case at all. We live on a fourth-class dirt road, and I drive for 20 minutes a day on a potholed, snowy, icy dirt road without any problems.”   

On the other hand, Tom Irwin, New Hampshire State Director for CLF, lives only a few minutes from the Concord office. However, he also finds his electric car to be ideal for his daily commute.

“Driving around town, going to the grocery store or to work and back, basically anything I do in and around Concord I can do entirely on electricity,” says Tom.

For both of them – one in somewhat rural Vermont and the other in a more downtown area of New Hampshire – a plug-in electric hybrid or an electric car is a great solution for getting off gasoline.

Why an Electric Car?

“It was very important to me to not rely as much on fossil fuels and, frankly, to not have such an expensive gas bill every week driving to work,” says Elena. Her long commute used to mean burning a lot of polluting gasoline and spending a lot of money on gas. But with a plug-in electric hybrid, she’s able to spend less at the pump. She’s also able to lower her own climate-damaging emissions. Because while her hybrid does use some gas on her long commute, it’s far less than if she wasn’t able to also use electricity.

For Tom, he’s able to go most places he needs using only electricity. This means he spends almost nothing on gas. Not only does this keep his gas costs next to nothing, it means he’s not contributing any carbon pollution through driving a gas guzzler.

Transportation, from the cars and trucks we drive every day to busses, freight hauling, and air transport, currently makes up the largest source of climate-damaging emissions in the U.S. If we’re going to tackle climate change, we’re all going to need to think about how to get around more efficiently.

But How Well Does an Electric Car or Hybrid Handle?

“In my experience, this electric car drives better than any vehicle I’ve owned in the past,” says Tom. “When it’s in all-electric mode, which it is most of the time, it’s extremely responsive, has a lot of power and kick to it, and it’s great to be driving along almost in total silence when the battery is propelling the car.”

Not only are electric cars fun to drive, they also handle like champs. For Elena, she hasn’t found any difference in performance trading in her gas-guzzler for a plug-in electric hybrid. It handles her wintry Vermont roads just fine, icy potholes, and all.

Considering an Electric Car or Hybrid?

While CLF does not endorse any specific make or model of electric vehicle, we do encourage everyone test driving a few to find the one that’s right for them. When you’re in the market for a new car, or a new-for-you used vehicle, ask your local dealership if they have any electric models. You might as well give one a test drive! Your wallet, and the environment, will thank you.  

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