Posted by: The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

37 responses to “Poll: How likely are you to buy an all-electric car in the next 5 years?”

  1. Christian Wathne

    My spouse and I each have a car (crossover and small SUV); we’ve talked about the fact that it will likely make sense that when we do replace one of our existing cars we should get an electric as the 2nd car; this likely wont be for another few years though since both of our current cars are less than 3 years old

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  2. mmmarvel

    In the middle of replacing a 2000 Camry that had 246,000 miles on it. Electric cars don’t cut it in Houston where it’s almost 60 miles to go from the north edge of the city to the south edge; ditto going from west to east. Thought for about a nano-second about a hybrid. We’re getting a new Camry, completely gas, although a 4 cylinder like the one it’s replacing.

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  3. Greg Glockner

    Electric vehicles are exempt from Washington state sales tax through June 30, 2015. That’s one reason why they are very popular right now – you can see many on the Eastside.

    If you have your own parking, an EV is a great vehicle. I wouldn’t want to deal with charging if I lived in an apartment or a condo where the HOA would make it difficult to install a high power charger.

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  4. Kary L. Krismer

    My hope is for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). They have better range than electric, use more traditional technology (e.g. normal powertrains) can still be filled up at home, and won’t require expensive battery replacements. I would guess they are probably more ecologically sound too.

    You can convert almost any car, but for some reason the manufacturers only sell factory new CNG cars in a couple of states.

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  5. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Greg Glockner @ 4 – I wonder how long it will be before the state makes tab renewals $500 a year on electrics (and CNG) to make up for lost gas taxes?

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  6. Greg Glockner

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 6 – Electric Vehicles are already subject to a $100 Electric Vehicle Fee, intended to offset the loss in gasoline taxes – see http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019981088_elecriccars25.html. I have heard nothing about further fees, but it’s always possible.

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  7. softwarengineer

    Anyone Blogging Support of Electric Cars and Doesn’t Currently Own One

    Is a complete phoney in my book….buy one or keep your mouth closed supporting it.

    On new car purchases…..I noticed the last 5 years all low milage [like 3 year old] cars, irrespective of brand name, sell at close to new car purchse prices [MSRP-rebates, especially those $3-4K owner loyalty discounts at many dealers]….so why buy a low milage newer pre-owned or keep ‘em forever? There’s still a shortage of inventory.

    I just traded my 2011 Dodge Charger with 36K on its odometer for about what I paid new too. I got a 2014 Dodge Charger SE….I got tempted and added some extra cash this time for leather seats and the rally SE package. They must be having trouble selling more expensive upgrades, they came down $6K since 2011…..that’s what got me in my new upgraded flashy red sports car :-)

    Change your paradigm folks, its not how long it lasts; its all about rip off used car prices lately….buy new ones every three years for Seattle house “flipper” type profits….LOL

    P.S. Never follow the idiot crowd. BTW, if ya want a Dodge Charger too [ya better hurry], don’t buy the 2015 in my book, its new front end mimics the Dodge Dart [the IMO, ugly black Lexus look radiator inlet with no muscle car chrome look anymore].

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  8. softwarengineer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 8

    American Engineered Transmissions

    I see Dodge apparently dropped that newer 8 speed automatic German designed from the Charger line….the American engineered 5 speed is faster and now I can say apparently more dependable too. BTW, when I traded my old 2011 3.6 V-6 5 speed auto in I demanded the American engineered tranny.

    Change your paradigm folks, the whole world apparently lacks enough auto sales and hence engineers to adequately design complex 8 speed auto trannies that are any good.

    God bless American engineers :-)

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  9. softwarengineer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 9

    Ohhhhhh….Another Post Script

    After someone bashed into my 2011 in the parking lot last week, which thankfully woke me up to my new paradigm on keeping cars….the minute I got it out of Hinshaws Auto body shop, with the passenger side’s factory paint replaced with subpar Hinshaw paint…I took the clean looking baby into the dealers. I set my mpg computer on the hwy and guess what….my 300 hp 4000+ lb car got 40 mpg to show the dealer on trade.

    They admitted my trade was a good car :-)

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  10. Ira Sacharoff

    By The Tim @ 1:

    Get it? My “current” car? Wocka Wocka Wocka!

    Hang on to that day job:)

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  11. wreckingbull

    RE: softwarengineer @ 9 – The main reason I own an ’04 Ram 3500 SRW is that this is the last full-size truck to offer a manual transmission, in my case the NV5600. A bit notchy but bulletproof.

    You may laugh, but a manual is becoming one of the best theft-deterrent devices out there.

    http://jalopnik.com/5940410/once-again-car-thieves-thwarted-by-manual-transmission

    If you can’t fix stupid, at least make sure stupid can’t steal your car.

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  12. softwarengineer

    RE: wreckingbull @ 12

    Yes Wrecking Bull

    One of the top cars thieves go for is the Dodge Charger; but what the heck…..stealing a car sucessfully now-a-days is almost impossible with computers installed that track your vehicle’s location [speed and driving characteristics too BTW]. At the very least it will slow a thief down, knowing they gotta rip that computer out of the car before they steal it…LOL.
    Your 04 has that kind of protection now too, I believe.

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  13. Greg Glockner

    By softwarengineer @ 8:

    Anyone Blogging Support of Electric Cars and Doesn’t Currently Own One is a complete phoney in my book….buy one or keep your mouth closed supporting it.

    The problem is that the only no-compromises electric vehicle today is the Tesla Model S, and it is simply too expensive for most buyers. The alternatives have a short range, small size, or they aren’t pure electric vehicles. We’ll see if prices get cheaper over time, as they did with hybrids.

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  14. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: softwarengineer @ 9 – Either German engineering or German manufacturing went all to hell about 15 years ago. So not surprising at all to me.

    Also, I’d never buy another car where the entire powertrain isn’t made by the same company. I made that mistake with a Dodge Stratus that had a Mitsubishi drivetrain. I thought that would be better than Chrysler, but it wasn’t.

    RE: wreckingbull @ 12 – I had no idea they were phasing out manual transmissions on trucks. What about off-roaders?

    My 89 Ranger was one of the last with manual locking hubs. It also has a manual transmission, but the disadvantage to that with that particular truck is a greatly reduced towing capacity.

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  15. Blake

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 15:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 9 – Either German engineering or German manufacturing went all to hell about 15 years ago. So not surprising at all to me.

    I’ve been following Consumer Reports’ surveys on car reliability for 30+ years now… it is amazing how low the German cars have fallen as far as reliability and repairs… especially Mercedes!? I do recall the German companies (VW and others) bringing in new managers in the 90s that outsourced a great deal of production (“Global outsourcing!!”)… hmmm, sound familiar? Ironically, the V6 engine in my 2000 Mazda B4000 was made in the old Ford factory in Cologne, Germany… first built in 1929 by Henry Ford. It’s a manual and will run longer than I will…

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  16. wreckingbull

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 15 – Those who are serious about off-roading usually build up an older Toyota or Jeep. Manuals still available there, even on new ones.

    As for the other 99.9%, the only off-roading they do are the speedbumps at their local Costco.

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  17. wreckingbull

    RE: Blake @ 16 – I recently asked a tow-truck driver which models break down the most. His answer? BMW, and Mercedes a close second. He said usually electrical problems, and that means $$$ for those cars.

    On a related subject, I read somewhere that new BMWs do not come with a crankcase dipstick. That tells you everything you need to know.

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  18. ChrisM

    RE: wreckingbull @ 12 – I’m halfway looking for a van or truck – I need 1+ ton, and strongly prefer both 4WD & manual transmission. I’m not seeing anything – did such a thing exist? I’m also on the fence regarding gas vs. diesel. Thoughts?

    I prefer used vehicles I can work on myself.

    On the poll, I’d consider getting an electric car, but I’m a cheapskate and the numbers would have to pencil out (including maintenance & battery replacement). My newest vehicle is 15 years old…

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  19. Erik

    When it makes more economical sense to buy a electric vehicle, i’ll buy one. Right now I have 300k miles on my 2000 Nissan Frontier and she still purrs like a kitten. I think at this mileage, my vehicle is more reliable than most newer vehicles. I put full synthetic oil into her after 70k miles or so. The guys at jiffy lube tell me that after seeing my vehicle, they also decided to switch to full synthetic. I plan to drive her to 1 million miles and then maybe I will get an all electric vehicle. Hopefully they are cheap by then.

    I was considering getting my air conditioner fixed, but the cost of getting it fixed may exceed the value of my vehicle. After my next remodel, I may treat myself to some cool air.

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  20. wreckingbull

    RE: ChrisM @ 19 – It will take a while, but you can find them. I’d start my search with a 7.3 Ford from 1999-2003, or a 3rd-gen Dodge from 2003-2007.5. Stay away from anything newer, as they have emissions systems that rob MPG and are complicated. Diesel is going to hold it value better and likely get better fuel economy. It will also last longer. I get 20 mpg in a 7500 pound truck. Plenty of online resources to learn about the good and bad, but once you get an oil burner, you will never go back.

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  21. Kary L. Krismer

    By wreckingbull @ 18:

    RE: Blake @ 16 – On a related subject, I read somewhere that new BMWs do not come with a crankcase dipstick. That tells you everything you need to know.

    I remember one manufacturer was even considering building a car without a hood that opened. You’d have to drop the engine out to do any kind of servicing. Presumably they made that easier, but it would prevent DIY oil changes.

    By Erik @ 20:

    I was considering getting my air conditioner fixed, but the cost of getting it fixed may exceed the value of my vehicle.

    That is an irrelevant comparison. People think that way all the time and avoid a $900 repair and then end up with $300 a month payments. The question isn’t what the car is worth, the question is what are the costs of your alternatives? Technically though in this particular case the question is what is cooler air worth to you, because no A/C doesn’t prevent you from using the car.

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  22. Blake

    RE: ChrisM @ 19
    Chris… do you absolutely have to have a 4WD? That adds a lot to the cost, reduces options, and mpg. I had a ’96 Ford Ranger 2WD, but sold it when I lived in Seattle… wish I’d kept it because it gave me no trouble and got 23 mpg. Now I live at the end of a dirt road and needed the 4WD just in case (hardly ever use it), but my Mazda B4000 only gets 15-16 mpg (I needed the V6 for towing…) The 4WD adds a lot to the purchase price and the cost of ownership.

    btw: My partner recently picked up a 2011 Subaru Outback and it is the most amazing vehicle. It is a small SUV, but drives like a sports car with the sweetest auto-transmission and an amazing suspension. It is a shame that American managers had contempt for Edwards Deming (it was mutual…) and Deming had to go to Japan to see his ideas put into action. It was not until the mid-80s that Ford started to listen to him. (I got my Industrial Engineering degree in 1984 and even though it was one of the top programs in the US at the time, Deming was not taught at all!)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

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  23. Erik

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 22
    True. Are you still driving that ranger?

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  24. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Erik @ 24 – Technically, yes, I just drove it yesterday. But it’s no longer my daily driver or the vehicle I mainly use for business. After 24 years of service and almost 200,000 miles I decided I was pushing my luck, and since I didn’t want to replace it with another truck but wanted to still have a truck, I’m now mainly using it for personal trips.

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  25. Greg Glockner

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 5 – Chevy just announced a CNG Impala for 2015: http://green.autoblog.com/2014/05/06/2015-chevy-impala-bi-fuel-burns-cng-starts-37385/

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  26. herrbrahms

    Seems a bad move to buy an electric car these days, when our mismanaged Seattle City Light utility forecasts double digit rate increases as far as the eye can see.

    We live in an area with cool weather. Consequently, the waste heat from internal combustion engines is often put to use heating the car’s cabin. If you go full electric, you lose the benefit of engine heat and have to heat electrically. That’s a poor use of grid power, especially after considering losses incurred through charging and discharging the batteries.

    There is zero chance that I’m trading internal combustion for an electric motor, until I have a roof full of solar panels and can buy winter power at the same rate at which I sell the utility power in the summer.

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  27. wreckingbull

    RE: herrbrahms @ 27 – The thing is, even with conductive heating on a frigid day, an electric car is still ahead of a gasoline car efficiency and cost-wise. An ICE engine loses about 70% of its fuel’s energy on heat that is never reclaimed.

    One could turn your argument around and ask if that 70% loss is a good use of our petroleum drilling, refining, and distribution networks. I’d say no. I’d also say I won’t buy one until range reaches 300 miles and cost drops below 25,000, unsubsidized.

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  28. mike

    I don’t foresee getting much use out of an electric car. Of the current 3 vehicles, each of which is driven about 3K miles/yr, no current electrics duplicate the utility or compensate in a way that makes up for the lack of utility.

    If I had a regular commute or needed a dedicated city car for running around, it would makes sense. As is, I don’t drive a whole lot so getting low gas mileage for the few miles I do drive isn’t a major consideration.

    LOL at the Subaru Outback as a sporty car. That’s why bought have a third car. The Outback is closer to a truck.

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  29. Macro Investor

    Electrics won’t take off until batteries are a lot better and cheaper. That won’t happen in 5 years. Probably not in 20. That won’t stop fools from wasting their money though.

    Much sooner we will see gas compression engines. Similar to a diesel — no spark plugs, and about 50% better mileage than today’s gasoline engines. Far fewer problems to work out than batteries. When this happens, everyone will quickly forget about electrics and hybrids.

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  30. herrbrahms

    The electric car is doomed to remain a novelty in our lifetimes, owing to the glacial advance of battery technology. Batteries have evolved maybe 25% of the distance over the past 100 years that would be required in order to impart a suitable range and cost efficiency to electric cars. Scientists keep playing around with lithium chemistry, but the energy density just isn’t there.

    I think that cars are going to continue to burn carbon-based fuels for as long as they exist, because they provide fantastic energy density in a mobile package. But there’s no reason that this fuel has to be a petrochemical. It is possible to synthesize methanol from water, clean energy input, and atmospheric carbon dioxide. Essentially, we could mimic the plants and turn clean hydropower from the Sun into an energy-dense hydrocarbon.

    The only limitations are cost and energy input. Imagine vast solar arrays covering (and cooling) the desert southwest. This energy would be simultaneously used to electrolyze seawater for the hydrogen and fractionally distill the air for carbon dioxide. From these raw ingredients, you synthesize methanol with an octane rating of 104. It is not economic now, but in a future without fossil fuels it may well pencil out.

    The only losers in my scenario are vast sagebrush plains turned into sunfields, and the megatons of copper/silver that would be required to carry all that electricity.

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  31. ChrisM

    RE: Blake @ 23 – “do you absolutely have to have a 4WD?” Unfortunately, yes. I got my 2WD truck stuck in muddy pasture and don’t want to repeat the experience.

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  32. KyleK

    Electric cars are currently seeing exponential growth (doubling worldwide YOY 2 years in a row), though they do still only hold a small part of the world car market.

    I had read before that they are being adopted at a faster pace than hybrids were, but havent been able to find a supporting data.

    Also — apparently all of the Tesla Model X vehicles (coming out early next year) will be 4 motor 4x4s. My guess is that they will be insanely cool, if the Model S is any indication.

    I will definitely buy an electric as my next car. Re: Range Anxiety. I have driven further in a day than a Nissan Leaf’s range once in the past two years. Range anxiety is about people refusing to come up with alternative solutions to how they do things now. If you ask yourself a question like “what will I do if I have to drive to Portland and back in a day?” and can’t come up with an answer in two seconds… well… you just arent trying very hard.

    http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/analysis/2343321/report-global-electric-vehicle-sales-double-in-2013

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  33. KyleK
  34. herrbrahms

    RE: KyleK @ 33

    “Range anxiety is about people refusing to come up with alternative solutions to how they do things now.”

    Kyle, don’t you think it’s reasonable for someone to expect a car to make it to Portland and back in one day? If you have to rent a dino burner in order to supplement a vehicle that lacks the full utility of your previous vehicle, that seems a pretty big hurdle.

    No car will be adopted by the masses until it can be run continuously for days with 10 minute fuel stops. Battery technology does not allow this. Only chemical combustion provides this utility — but as I said earlier, the nature of the fuel may very well change as resources run dry, or as we try to develop environmentally friendly synthetic fuels.

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  35. Tim

    I missed this because I was driving my electric car to Santa Monica and back at the time. The trip included the Oregon and north CA coast, and a side-trek to Reno. I’m 100% sold – I love it.

    That said, they aren’t quite ready for prime-time yet. Off of the supercharger network requires more planning, and shorter driving days (I spent 3 days going down the coast to SF.) On the supercharger network is really not all that different than driving a gas powered car – at least for me. Drive for a couple of hours or so; stop for 20-30 minutes (have coffee, a break; lunch, etc.) Repeat until you are where you want to end up.

    As the network of fast chargers grows, they will be more and more viable for folks to consider. Of course I bought a Tesla which can go a lot farther than any of the other electrics out there, and charges really fast at superchargers (most stops 20-30 minutes.)

    Assuming the charging infrastructure continues to improve, I will likely never buy a gas powered vehicle again. If I really need one, I will rent one, and I expect that this need will be very rare.

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