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Out of Gas and Loving It

Whit Gallman,


I’ve always been a car guy. But instead of high-performance racing cars, I’ve always been interested in how big a bite a car is to a person’s budget.

Working as a mechanical engineer at Duke Energy in North Carolina, I’ve crunched my share of numbers, too. So with gas inching toward $4 again, I started to take a hard look at the per mile costs of driving a car.

• My diesel pickup truck costs 23 cents a mile to run.

• My diesel Jeep costs 15 cents a mile.

• My neighbor’s fuel efficient new Hyundai costs 10 cents a mile.

• But my Ford Focus Electric costs only 2 cents a mile. That’s $1.60 to charge the battery for 80 miles.

My 2012 Ford Focus Electric is really spunky and handles nimbly and promptly. The car is a thrill to drive, handles well, responds promptly to steering and throttle – and rides smoothly and comfortably.  At two cents a mile, going for a ride just for the fun of it is affordable again and there is no air or noise pollution.

There is very little maintenance to be done on the electric car. No oil, fuel, air filters to change and even the brakes are longer lasting due to the regenerative braking.

The water-cooled batteries are an important feature to longer battery life and the three-hour charging adds significantly to the availability of the car. The styling is significantly better than for the other all-electric cars.

When I’m making an official sales pitch to a friend about buying a PEV, I can go two ways. One, I can talk about the low operating cost – which makes payback for an EV happen quicker than you think. Second, the quality driving experience makes you realize you’re not giving up anything – you’re actually enhancing your driving experience.

As for charging, I put some of my engineering skills to work. The other year, I studied the National Electric Code and passed the Mecklenburg Building Standards test. That allowed me to get a permit and install my own 240 volt Level 2 charging station at my own.

Why am I a member of The Electric Generation? Having fun and paying less – it’s not that complicated.

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