As a (now former) owner of one of the VW cheater diesels, I finally got the paperwork together to go through with the buy-back process. This means it was car shopping time! When I got the Jetta, environmental friendliness was high on my list of priorities (little did I know). That remains true, and if anything, has strengthened! So I began my normal car buying process (spreadsheets for the win!). I focused on hybrids and electrics, though Maricruz preferred a larger car as it would also be serving time as a munchkin carrier. Not many large hybrids/electrics are available, and those either only get good gas mileage for an SUV (Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – 34/30mpg), are expensive (Tesla Model X – $77k base), or both (Toyota Highlander Hybrid – 30/28mpg and $47k base).
Given this, I mostly focused on the larger hybrids and settled on the Ford Fusion. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go with the cheaper regular hybrid, or go ahead for the Energi (the plug-in version). I decided to go with the Energi SE because not only is the battery larger (ability to drive electric-only and longer range), but being a plug-in could give me a bit of a preview if I decided to make the leap into full electric next time we are in the market. It has been an interesting ride so far!
It took a few days of getting used to, but I have pretty well gotten into the habit of plugging it in when I get home and unplugging and putting away when I head out. Unfortunately, you aren’t supposed to use extension cords (most sites say you can if you get a very heavy gauge one), and our garage doesn’t have many accessible plugs. Luckily, I discovered that the garage door opener uses a normal plug and only uses one of the two available. It feels a little janky having the cable hanging down from the middle of the garage ceiling, but it gets the job done.
One of the things I really appreciate about the car is the amount of information at your fingertips. There are a wide variety of choices for information display (from “leaves” that grow when you drive more efficiently, to breakdowns of how you are doing with regard to different categories of driving and the resulting effects on efficiency), and I always love information! You can do some customization as well. In addition to dash readouts, there are also displays on the main media console you can pull up, like one that gives a diagram of your car and the current direction of energy flow (e.g. the battery is running the electric engine and cabin components, or the gas engine is running and also charging the battery). I knew pretty soon I was going to have to make a post, because it just felt too geeky not to share! I had initially figured I would write up a post summing up my first tank of gas, but it turns out that was taking too long and I got impatient. So first 1000 miles it is!
I found that having all these readouts about how I was driving had a great effect on my driving style. I tend to like to go fast and drive semi-aggressively, but having so much information in my face indicating how negative an effect that was having has reduced me to grandpa-ness, lol. I definitely am much more aware of my accelerations and braking early, and I have realized some benefits for sure. As you can see in the photo, I averaged a whopping 229.6 mpg for the first 1000 miles, and used about 3/8 of my 14 gallon gas tank. I’d call that pretty impressive! Unfortunately, I don’t have a good method to determine exactly how much electricity it consumed for charging, but all I have read indicates that electric miles are notably cheaper than gas miles.
With my conservative driving, I am getting pretty close to 28 miles in electric-only mode (which well exceeds the advertised 21 mile electric range). Only downside is that, when I have munchkin pickup duties, my daily commute is closer to 29 miles. So I can almost squeeze it out, but pretty consistently revert to regular hybrid mode near the end of the drive. I’ve explored some options to get that last little bit covered, but so far I haven’t seen a viable one.
One option I have found is to drive to the nearest free charger (~2.5 miles), but that means I have to use close to a full hour for lunch, plus it seems silly to add 25 miles a week to my driving just to charge. Alternatively, I’ve been exploring the solar panel option. While it doesn’t generate much, I think a solar panel in a Florida parking lot could definitely get me that extra mile on most days. It is just a matter of actually getting the electricity generated into that pesky battery! That or see if I can convince my job to put in some EV chargers 😉
Overall, I’ve been very pleased. The trunk is tiny, but I don’t really utilize it much, and the cabin is more spacious than the Jetta was. Plus, knowing that I am pretty confident that I made an environmentally friendly choice this time makes me very happy too!