CEC sat down recently with Krystalin, a Ventura resident who made the switch to a BMW i3. Below, she shares what motivated her to buy an all-electric vehicle, how it fits her daily life, why she sees herself as an EV advocate, and what challenges she hopes to see alleviated in the future as clean transportation becomes the norm.
What inspired you to become an EV owner?
- I always wanted to drive an EV, but the vehicle price and range anxiety was a limiting factor. I value sustainability, air quality, and less damage to our environment and homes. The fact that BMW i3s are designed with sustainability at their core was a huge selling point for me. They are composed of renewable, recycled, and sustainable materials, and their carbon fiber is produced at a plant run solely with water power. The production plant in Leipzig is even fueled by wind power.
How did you find the EV to meet your needs?
- While I was shopping for a used car, I sat down and really re-evaluated what I needed on a daily basis. At the time I was driving a 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, which averaged about 20-27 MPG). I knew I needed either a long range EV or a shorter range hybrid. Currently, the long range EVs are out of my price range. If I was going to go with a short range option, it needed to have some kind of backup (i.e. be a plug-in hybrid or range extended model) for longer trips, so that I wouldn’t worry about draining the battery. What made the most sense for my lifestyle was a sub-compact SUV, but those are just barely entering the EV market and were way out of my price range. It wasn’t until I stumbled on an old article about BMW i3 rebates that I remembered how much I liked the car. It was by sheer luck that I found one with all the drive assist, safety and comfort features I wanted! On another note, I wanted to purchase from a company that really valued sustainability (a company that truly supports EVs), So of course I was happy to hear about all the sustainable practices that go into BMW i3s.
How long did it take to purchase an EV after you decided to move forward?
- I’ll have to admit, I gave myself a short deadline to choose a car – two months. If I wasn’t successful in finding the right EV, I would have gotten a regular, gas-fueled car. I shopped around and checked out cars for about 3 weeks. Then, once I ordered the BMW i3, it took about 2 weeks to get it shipped from Scottsdale, AZ to Oxnard, CA. Once I test drove it, it took another week to process all the paperwork.
What is your living situation like today?
- I rent a room in a house with 3 other young, female professionals.
Are you able to charge your EV at home?
- Yes, every few days or so. I coordinate my charging times around whenever the garage is free.
How many cars do you own currently?
- Just the one.
What does the standard day of driving look like for you?
- To and from work is about 24 miles round trip. I often drive a few miles out for lunch and also run errands after work. On any given day I travel between 25 and 40 miles. I rarely utilize all 65 miles of range, and only sometimes tap into the 60 additional miles available with the gas generator (BMW calls this the Range Extender).
Have you encountered any barriers or challenges? If so, what were they and how have you surmounted them?
- Driving electric definitely took a little getting used to. But I can honestly say that now that I’m 2 months in, I’ve got my routine down and I’m very happy with my decision. The initial learning curve for me included:
- Educating myself on all the different charging station vendors and discovering my station preferences.
- Learning all the different types of chargers (Level 1, Level 2, DCFC) and connectors (Chademo, CCS).
- Getting familiarized with the different charging rate structures and where the best stations are.
- Managing my time while using public charging stations and a 120-volt wall outlet at home.
- Understanding how EV range is calculated and how using certain features depletes range (A/C is the biggest range drain!)
- Understanding and utilizing the e-pedal for energy efficiency
- Probably the biggest challenge has been with access at EV charging stations, which will hopefully change as more chargers become available. Right now, there’s sometimes a lack of available stations so you have to wait for people to finish charging. It’s frustrating when people leave their car to charge and don’t move it for long periods. There are also occasional error messages associated with a particular station, connection, or app.
What kind of benefits has driving an EV provided to you? We’re curious about any social, environmental, and financial benefits that you’ve experienced.
- Aside from tapping into that amazing fuel economy, the biggest benefit I’ve noticed is that I feel lighter. like less of an air polluter. It sounds strange, but I definitely feel a difference in my lungs. Especially when the car is idling or in traffic, I don’t feel suffocated by exhaust fumes because there aren’t any! I must say that I’ve also developed a heightened awareness of air pollution around me.
- I also notice a sense of community with EV drivers. At EV stations, we will ask each other about our cars, what we like about them, and any news about what’s coming out next in the EV world. If we are in traffic, we are still smiling – maybe because we know we are gaining range through regenerative braking instead of losing gas by pressing the brake pedal! In general, EV drivers seem happier and more relaxed. At least, that’s been my experience over the past couple months.
- Another notable experience is stepping into a role similar to an EV ambassador. Out in public, with friends and family, and at work – everyone is asking about “going EV.” I find satisfaction in dispelling any EV myths and providing practical solutions to EV challenges (i.e. utilizing charging stations at popular destinations to explore the area, feel more connected to the community, and unwind from the day.)
Where do you want to go from here as you lead the way?
- I intend to keep the EV conversation going! I want to dispel any myths or anxieties related to EV ownership, keep up with EV current events, and stay up-to-date with what’s coming out next. (So excited for the SUVs and trucks coming out!)
Some parting words…(what I pretty much tell everyone interested in EVs):
- It definitely takes a little adjusting – it’s no different than moving to a new place. You find where things are, how they work, and what makes the most sense for you.
- I would recommend at least test driving an EV. The EV drivers I’ve met have been very supportive of this.
- If you really want to dive in but aren’t ready to commit to buying just yet, I highly encourage renting an EV for the weekend. I rented my first EV, a Chevy Bolt, via TURO. I was hooked on EVs from that moment on!
Do you have an inspiring EV story to share? Contact us!
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