Tag Archives: Car

Wisconsin is presumably getting more charging?

One of my largest pandemic purchases was a 2016 VW e-Golf and it is a great car but the relatively limited transportation in the great state of Wisconsin means that longer trips aren’t really doable.  Since I am neither a traveling salesman nor a political candidate, that doesn’t tend to be an issue but if I was still commuting daily to Kohler, it might be.

The other day, I was reading an article that said that the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin had created something called the Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Coalition.  The plan promises to make it easier to find charging stations, which could boost adoption of electric vehicles if it eases drivers’ concerns about the range of their batteries.  You can read the full Memorandum of Understanding for more details.

I do hope that this spurs modernization of the regional transportation infrastructure but I’m not holding my breath.

Nine electric cars that you can buy in 2021 for under $20,000

Back in May 2020, I bought my first electric car.  I spent a little over $11k for the thing (including shipping).  That was a good deal at the time but I got to wondering what you can currently buy for under $20k.  After all, it has been over a year since then and the used market has grown.  Used car prices have been a little crazy lately, though.

For this experiment, I looked on Autotrader and limited the search radius to within 300 miles of Milwaukee.  I also limited the search to models that are no older than five years. Continue reading Nine electric cars that you can buy in 2021 for under $20,000

I bought a cheap pick-up truck … again

You might have remembered that a few months ago, I bought a cheap 2007 Chevy Colorado and then two months later, it was totalled by a tree branch.  Since then, I also found what remains of it for sale on a copart lot.  Well, I managed to finally buy a replacement truck.  I got a 2000 Ford Ranger for $4,400.  It is smaller and not as well equipped but I think that it is going to work well for what I need it to do.

It does need a little work to keep the rust at bay, though.  This past weekend, I stopped by the junkyard and picked up a cheap replacement fender.  I also bought new seat covers for it, moved the spare into the bed (a lesson that I learned with my 1992 Explorer), and bought some cans of undercoat and rust reformer for the frame.  Everything else seems fine but I also want to replace the head unit just because it would be a nice touch.

Back in March, I made the goal of visiting all of the state parks in Wisconsin.  The Colorado dieing kind of wrecked that plan, since the e-Golf has a fairly limited range.  This should help, now.

Have any suggestion, tips, questions, etc?  Feel free to drop a comment, below.

My truck got a little smashed

Almost exactly two months after buying a cheap pick-up truck, it catastrophically broke.  It was parked in my driveway (with me actively working on it) when a branch from one of the trees along the street broke, fell through the windshield, and smashed the dashboard.  This was exactly one week after I paid Best Buy to install a new stereo and a backup camera.  It was five minutes after I had finally gotten the mass air flow sensor replaced (something that I was damn proud of doing myself).  It was weeks after buying $1400 worth of engine work and tires.  Most importantly, it was after I started to feel like I had truly bonded with the thing.

This past friday, the insurance company totalled the truck and no matter what I tried, I wasn’t going to end up able to keep it.  Trust me on that.

I had planned on spending the first week in June, driving around the state, discovering new state parks.  I even visited an inaugural park, 6 days prior.  Now, that is all on hold.

I miss that truck.

I bought a cheap pick-up truck

Back in May 2020, I bought a VW e-Golf and got rid of my trusty Subaru Impreza.  Since then, I had been living without an ICE car in my life.  For the most part, it has worked out well but the extreme cold and deep snow over the past month had gotten me thinking.  More than once, I thoughtlessly crossed the border from Glendale into Milwaukee and gotten the car grounded on foot-deep snow.  When the temperatures got extra fridged, the car freaked out and went into limp mode.  I briefly thought about trading in the e-Golf for a Chevy Bolt but I figured that it would only solve half of my problem.  In the end, I just bought a second vehicle.  I paid $3000 for a 2007 Chevy Colorado with a mess of miles on it but a reasonable decent body. Continue reading I bought a cheap pick-up truck

Living with an electric car in Wisconsin: Winter 2020 Update

As I mentioned back in May, I bought a new electric car this year.  As the weather began to turn cold, I noticed the effective range go down.  It is generally ok, though because everything that I would really need to drive to is within 20 miles of my house.  I did find myself needing to be strategic while driving up to Port Washington, though.  I ran the heater while still plugged in and then shut it off before unplugging and driving off.  That seemed to work.

The winter months were my biggest worry when I bought this thing.  I’m glad that it seems to be working out, so far.


[Cover photo by Jeffrey Grospe on Unsplash ]

Living with an electric car in Wisconsin: Repairs

One of the really nice things about buying an electric car is that you don’t need to repair it as often.  When fewer things move, there are fewer things that can break.  Thanks to regenerative braking, even the brake pads are expected to last a freakishly long time.  The big question is what to do when something does break.

Recently, I went out to my car and realized that the “engine start/stop” button was no longer reliably registering button presses.  That’s something that is fairly important when you need to start and stop your car.  I genuinely thought that it was just a bad button module.  It felt like a broken solder point or something.

I contacted the half-dozen VW dealers in the area to inquire about getting it repaired and the ones that actually responded to my messages replied that they are unwilling to work on any electric car.  One even went as far as to try to sell me a replacement car (which is pretty shitty).  I posted something on Reddit, asking if anybody had a suggestion and I was directed to a shop in Bay View that is more than willing to work on it.

I made an appointment to bring the car in and they said that it indeed needed a new button module.  A week and $200 later, I brought it in to get the button replaced and ever since then, it’s been working great.

I really wish VW dealers were willing to work on their cars.  Until then, independent shops like the one I used are a solid option.

Living with an electric car in Wisconsin: The Range

Back in May, I drove my new 2016 e-golf out to Madison and it left me thinking that it’s not a great option for that drive.  With the 24.2-kWh battery pack, my car has an EPA estimated range of 83 miles (which should be plenty of range to get there).  In practice, the range is insufficient for the task, though.  On that drive, I charged at a series of level 2 stations to keep the battery topped up.  This ate up a lot of my day.

In July, I drove it out to Madison again and it worked out a lot better.  The big difference was that I stopped at the level 3 EVgo charger in Oconomowoc (roughly halfway between the two points).  This meant that three 30 minute stops to charge (one in Madison and two in Oconomowoc) were enough to get the job done.

I’m not going to pretend that this car is good for road trips but I can make it comfortably to Madison and Port Washington.  I can also drive it around the greater Milwaukee area without really thinking about the range.  It might be nice to have the 200+ mile range of a Kia Niro or a Hyundai Kona but if I need to drive somewhere distant (a rare occurrence), $50/day will get you a nice gas rental car.  That’s cheaper than upgrading or keeping a spare ICE car.

I randomly came across an interesting video on the topic on EV range, recently.  It might be worth a watch, if you want to are unsure about how big of a battery you need for your EV.


[ Cover photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash ]

Living with an electric car in Wisconsin: The Battery

One of my big concerns when I bought my 2016 VW e-Golf was how long the battery pack would last.  As we established in the previous e-Golf post, if it lasts as my daily driver for 5 years, it should effectively pay for itself.  I’m not terribly worried about the battery degrading that fast.

Fully Charged had a video about the host’s 2011 Nissan Leaf, recently.  Since battery technology has changed a lot in the past 10 years and the Leaf has an air-cooled battery, I don’t see it as a direct analogue but it is worth checking out the video anyways.


[ Cover photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash ]

Living with an electric car in Wisconsin: The Price

As I mentioned in a previous post, I bought my 2016 VW e-Golf for $10,640 but it wasn’t the first electric car that I looked at.  Before that, I tried to lease a 2019 Hyundai Ioniq EV but no dealer anywhere near me was willing to provide one.  At the time, they were offering them for $79/mo with $999 down.  Before that, I put $100 down on a 2019 Sondors EV (that is yet to be anywhere near shipping).  The 3-wheel Sondors promised 75-100 miles of range for a base price of $10,000.

If you check Autotrader for used, low mileage electric cars, you can find a ton of Smart ForTwo ED, Fiat 500e, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, and Mitsubishi i ES models available for under $11,000.  These tend to be lower-range (under 100 miles) “compliance” cars.  If you want to get above 150 miles of range, you can get into a Leaf for around $17,500 and if you want to get into a 238 mile range Bolt EV, you can do so for just under $20,000.

Personally, I just cared about having something that looked cool, had a big enough cargo area for a 50lb black lab, and could get me to work and the grocery store reliably.  I was considering the BMW i3 for a while but you pay more money for the badge.  I rejected the concept of the first generation leaf because of the looks (the new leaf looks much better) and the air-cooled battery.  The e-golf seemed to be the perfect option, for now.

Since I predominantly charge my car at home or at work, I pay next to nothing (or just nothing) for the juice.  I averaged $30/week for gas for the Subaru.  That averages out to $1560/yr in gas.  Over five years, that is $7800.  I averaged around $80 for a synthetic oil change with the Subaru.  If you get your oil changes once every three months, that is $1600 over five years and if you get it changed every six months, that is $800.  According to my bank statements, I paid the local oil change place $1,504.55 over the past five years, so that sounds about right.  So, if we add the cost of gas and oil over five years, we are up to $9304.55.

Electric cars (having nothing internally combusting and few moving parts) are supposed to require very little maintenance.  Over the past five years, I have apparently (I checked my bank statements) paid the the shop at the dealership $2,658.57.  This won’t be a comprehensive cost because I tend to get things like tires and brake pads elsewhere.  It is generally cheaper that way.  If we add that to the number above, we are up to $11,963.12.

This means that if I keep the e-golf for five years (a number that makes sense to me) and nothing catastrophic happens, the running costs should completely offset the initial cost of buying the car.  I guess time will tell in the end, though.


[ Cover photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash ]