Electric vehicle was a good choice, says Alaskan

Richard Sewell came to Alaska in 1981 for a job at the Municipality of Anchorage as Regional Economist. He owned a couple of seafood businesses, and subsequently went to work in 2004 for the Dept. of Transportation Division of Statewide Aviation. Recently, he was hired as the Merrill Field Airport Manager in Anchorage.

Interested in buying an electric vehicle, like many Alaskans, Richard had questions about how it would work in our cold, remote location. Quite nicely, it turns out. Here are some of his experiences, as told to Senior Voice contributor Lawrence D. Weiss.

This interview was conducted Oct. 9, 2022, and has been edited for length and clarity.

Lawrence: Richard Sewell, what led you to purchase an electric vehicle last June?

Richard: Two things. You [the interviewer] had done an article about electric vehicles in the Senior Voice [Aug. 2021], and that kind of piqued my interest. And then, last April, we were visiting my brother-in-law who has a Tesla. We were going to the store and he said, "You want to drive?" And I was like, sure! We got out on the highway and he said, "Punch it," so I did. It really took off like a shot. So those were the initial seeds of interest.

The next thing was I started to peruse online, just idly interested. And then my wife, Ellen, jumped into action and looked at Consumer Reports. She said, "Have you checked out the Kia EV6?" I said, "No, what's that?" And she said, "Well, Consumer Reports says that it's now best in class." Oh, OK.

So, I called the dealership here in Anchorage and I said, "I've heard good things about the EV6." The guy said, "Well, I have one on the lot here and I can make you a really good deal." The thing that I liked about it was that it's about the size of a Honda CR-V, and also I like the seat. Getting in and out of it was much easier for an old guy like me. Plus, this one has a seat that raises and lowers. You can punch a button and it goes up. I really liked that. And it handled very similar to a CR-V which Ellen currently has. The cabin is pretty spacious.

Kia gives it 100,000-mile warranty or 10 years, bumper to bumper. So, say the engine dies or the battery dies, or whatever, mechanical parts. 10 years. Yeah. And the dealer can work on them here.

The sales guy was like, "What can I do to put you in this car today?"After a little bit of dickering, we came to a price. I went over, called the credit union, presto changeo, I bought it. And I love it.

Lawrence: Approximately what did you pay for your electric vehicle?

Richard: Let's see, I paid out of pocket, I think it was $42,000 minus the $7,500 [federal tax] credit. It was like $35,000 net.

Lawrence: Tell us a bit about options for charging the battery.

Richard: Level 1 is a 110-volt charger. Plug it into your regular outlet? Yeah. And I have one of those, and that gives you the equivalent of about four miles per hour of charge. That's pretty slow. In 10 hours you get 40 miles. But just driving around town back and forth to work, that's more than enough for a day.

One of the things that Kia/Hyundai has done is they have it set up so that it can do a direct battery-to- battery charge of 800 volts [level 3], which is really competitive with Tesla. You can get a full charge from a supercharger in 20 or 30 minutes or so.

The Kia has about a 250-mile range. Earlier this summer we went to Homer. I got to Homer on one charge, which cost me all of $9.50 from Anchorage to Homer. In Homer they have a supercharger which you have to pay for, and they also have Homer Electric that has a level 2 charger for free. You can plug in and leave your car there and get a free charge if you're going to leave it overnight. My experience was really good with that.

The Alaska Department of Transportation has a collaborative effort with the Alaska Energy Authority and DOT Public Facilities. They are developing an electric infrastructure plan right now to deploy along the Alaska Highway System, strategic locations for superchargers. Hopefully soon you could go anyplace on the Alaska Highway System.

Lawrence: I understand you have a 240 volt Level 2 charger built right into your garage. How much did it cost to have that done?

Richard: The parts were about $500, the electrician cost about $1,000, and then the charger itself was I think $650.

Lawrence: Thanks, Richard. I am sorry that we have to stop here because I know you have so much more to say, but this was a great introduction.

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.

Author Bio

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.

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