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Carman: Take it from Enrique, high gas prices don’t have to ruin your life

Sure, electric cars are good for the environment. But they're also fun to drive and save you money you would have spent at the pump.

We were riding with Enrique, a full-time Uber driver, in his new Tesla. It was so new, in fact, he was still learning the ropes of being an EV driver. 

Do you know where the charging stations are along I-70? he wondered. And can you really plug into a 120-volt outlet at night at home? 

Diane Carman

He still didn’t even know about the Tesla’s whoopie cushion feature, for Pete’s sake.

Enrique’s Nissan Rogue with a couple hundred thousand miles on it had been stolen a few months ago and he was sick of spending $75 a day or more on overpriced gasoline anyway, so he joined the electric car revolution.

This decision was not made merely to burnish his image as an extravagant bon vivant. He’s a practical man, after all, not a poseur. 

With gas prices nearly twice what they were before the pandemic, Enrique’s bottom line was eroding more with each fill at the pump. He was working 10- to 12-hour days and still couldn’t cut it with the increased fuel costs. 

Furthermore, as a victim of car theft, he may have known that Teslas are a thief’s worst nightmare. 

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Studies have shown they are 90% less likely to be stolen than other vehicles and, even if a hacker finds a way to breach its gnarly security, its owner’s tracking device can lead police right to it.

So, Enrique is no fool.

But while sales of EVs are increasing across Colorado and some 49,000 were on the roads by the end of 2021, our love affair with gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs is still going strong. 

More than 90% of sales here last year were gas-powered vehicles whose owners now are griping about paying $4.50 a gallon for gas, while enabling oil companies to rake in record profits and fan the flames of scorching inflation.

So, even if you are oblivious to the state’s efforts to reduce air pollution and mitigate the production of greenhouse gases (which would be stupid, right?), maybe it’s time to confront all those irrational fears and range anxieties and start thinking like an enlightened Uber driver.

First, EVs are fun to drive. 

Repeat after me: this is not a golf cart. 

Even my modest Nissan Leaf could leave a gas-powered car at the curb in a traditional acceleration contest at a stoplight.

Electric vehicles produce more torque than gas vehicles and because they don’t have transmissions, the power goes straight to the wheels. Look it up

While they’re still not cheap, EVs are not all luxury cars. With tax credits and incentives, the ultimate price for a new one is often the same or even slightly less than a comparable gas-powered vehicle.

And over 10 years, the cost of operating them is much less.

Fuel costs for EVs are estimated to be around 60% less and, with no need for such things as oil changes or tune-ups, maintenance costs are a fraction of those for internal combustion engines. 

But, you say, what about running out of juice? 

It’s a fair question.

Colorado has only around 1,400 public EV charging stations compared to more than 4,000 gas stations

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program is poised to accelerate the growth of the charging network with $5 billion in federal funds, which should jumpstart the expansion in Colorado and across the country immediately. So that is at most a short-term problem. 

And remember, unlike old-fashioned gas-powered cars, you can fuel up an EV at home while you sleep. 

Finally, it’s true that your 600-mile car trip might take longer in an EV, especially if you’re the type of driver who never stops for a meal or a bathroom break. If you’re a normal human, however, you’ll probably want to stretch your legs every 200-300 miles (the range for most new EV models), which allows for a quick charge while you grab lunch, a cup of coffee or maybe even a nap.

And let’s get real. How many 600-mile trips do you really take a year? Is it worth the personal and environmental costs of driving a gas-powered car to save an hour at a charging station? 

I mean, we’re talking an average of 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide produced per year by a gas-powered car. And the dangerous ozone levels along the Front Range are directly attributable to gas-powered vehicles.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

That’s why the state has set a goal of having nearly 1 million EVs on the road by 2030. Auto manufacturers are making that achievable by producing more electric models each year and marketing the pants off of them.

Still, for now, most Coloradans are a stubborn lot and resist the change to EVs no matter how many times they hear that they are vastly superior to last century’s technology.  

Savvy Enrique, the Uber driver, is clearly an outlier.

And, oh my, he’s laughing all the way to the bank.


Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.


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