Best Drive EVer: Driving Electric in San Antonio
As San Antonio recovers from short-term panic over a gas storage in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, one long-term problem has become clear – we’re addicted to gasoline. While most of the community and councilmembers agree that San Antonio needs a more multimodal transportation system, they haven’t readily considered another transportation option – electric cars.
By 2025, Electric Vehicles (EVs) in the U.S. are expected to grow from 2 million on the roads in 2017 to 37 million. While EVs will not solve our transportation woes, they will improve energy security and air quality. Transportation-related pollutants, produced by motor vehicle exhaust from thousands of cars on area roads, are one of the largest contributors to poor air quality in greater San Antonio.
Texas is #6 in the nation for the nation for the total number of EVs, which is not surprising given our size. However, San Antonio lags significantly behind other Lone Star metropolises. Austin, half our size geographically and with half a million less people, has more than quadruple the number of electric vehicles and double the charging stations. Austin has approximately 3,000 electric cars; all of Bexar County has only 624.
Despite the rapid ubiquity of electric vehicles, more than half of car buyers still know nothing about EVs. So, to clear up a few myths:
- Tesla is not the only manufacturer of electric vehicles.
- Electric vehicles are not expensive.
- It is not hard to charge an electric vehicle.
- EVs can run on one charge for longer than you think.
- EVs are cool.
Ben Bishop, owner of a 2014 Tesla Model X notes: “My previous car was an Audi A6. I thought, at the time, it was the best car ever and I would always be an Audi owner. Then Tesla came along.” With Tesla’s extended range, Ben says travel to Austin and San Antonio from his home in New Braunfels is a no-brainer. Ben’s Tesla has even made the long trek to Connecticut, Michigan, and back to Texas. According to Ben, although it was a long trip, finding an available EV charger was “uneventful”.
Travis Nedrich, who owns a 2017 Nissan LEAF, gives his top five reasons for going electric.
- You get a federal tax credit for purchasing EV.
- You never have to stop for gas.
- The ride is smooth and the car is zippy. Since each wheel has its own motor, the car is very responsive.
- There is no scheduled maintenance. You only replace tires and wiper blades as needed.
- The car is ninja quiet. It actually beeps when traveling below 20 mph to alert pedestrians.
In 2015, the San Antonio Comprehensive Plan called upon the community and city officials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2040; the plan recommended providing incentives for electric and hybrid vehicles. CPS Energy has taken great steps to support electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Along with privately-owned stations, San Antonio has over 70 public access EV charging stations from Mission San Jose to UTSA, and from Leon Valley to Live Oak.
San Antonio has so many opportunities to become a thriving, sophisticated “city of the future”. Electric vehicles are just one of them. If you would like to learn more about electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure, or if you would just like to take a test drive in a cool new EV, join the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) at Drive Electric Day – San Antonio on Saturday, September 16 from 9:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. at the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market! Speak with staff from CPS Energy and the City of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability about their EV initiatives, meet other EV enthusiasts, and learn from real EV owners about why driving electric is the best drive EVer.