2,000 and growing: Navigating the rise of electric vehicles in the Spokane area
Wed., Dec. 15, 2021
The new Ford 2022 F-150 Lightning is expected to launch this spring with the largest frunk in the truck industry, according to a November news release from the manufacturer.
No, that’s not a typo. That’s frunk – as in “front trunk.”
Such is life for modern all-electric vehicles unencumbered by a traditional engine and all that entails under the hood. In the Lightning’s case, the truck has a reportedly 1,800-plus-pound battery pack installed within the vehicle frame and an electric motor between each set of wheels, allowing for 14.1 cubic feet of frunk space.
When the Lightning was revealed in May, Ford allowed prospective customers to reserve their trucks with refundable $100 deposits.
Just last week, Ford closed reservations with nearly 200,000 spoken for, said CEO Jim Farley – a backlog that could take years to fill if all are realized, according to Automotive News.
Locally, Wendle Ford in Spokane has received upward of 200 deposits on the Lightning, said Andy Keys, general sales manager at Wendle Motors.
“The Lightning was as popular or more than the Bronco was in our area,” Keys said, “so that was incredible.”
The Lightning – among the latest additions to the Ford F-Series, the most popular line of trucks in America – represents another milestone in the growing popularity and developing future of electric vehicles, with more all-electric options expected to hit the market over the next decade.
In an effort to put more electric vehicles on the road, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled proposals Monday give rebates of up to $7,500 for new car purchases.
And President Joe Biden announced a new plan to build 500,000 charging stations across the country with incentives to support charging stations in rural areas and poor neighborhoods.
Tesla Motors has led the way in making electric vehicles more mainstream and “cool,” Keys said, amid perceptions that EVs are somehow weaker or worse than their traditional counterparts.
“Tesla really was the one to put that to bed,” said Matthew Swenson, a professor with the University of Idaho’s mechanical engineering department, “because they developed their vehicles to have tremendous performance. If you have ever ridden in a Tesla, then you know that if you punch the ‘gas,’ it will plant you in the seat like you’ve never experienced before.”
Then there’s the ongoing push for cleaner emissions amid climate change concerns. Volvo and General Motors have pledged to go all-electric within the next 20 years; the manufacturers were among the handful to sign a pledge at the recent COP26 climate summit in Scotland earlier this year that promises a transition to 100% zero-emission new car and van sales by 2040, according to NPR.
Technological advances with electric batteries and the adoption of charging stations nationwide have also helped reduce range anxiety, which is the fear that a vehicle doesn’t have enough charge to reach its destination.
The Nissan Leaf, regarded as one of the first mass-market affordable electric vehicles, was released in 2010 with a capability of traveling up to 73 miles on a single charge using a 24-kWh battery.
Nowadays, the 2021 Nissan Leaf boasts an estimated range of up to 226 miles through a 62-kWh battery, according to Nissan sales materials. More expensive alternatives have longer range estimates depending on specs, such as Tesla’s Model 3 (358 with the “Long Range” model) and the Ford Lightning (300 miles with an extended-range battery), according to industry reports.
Meanwhile, many manufacturers have apps that allow drivers to plan their route to coincide with available charging stations along the way.
“For the early electric cars, that was an issue, but not so much anymore,” Keys said. “They’ve got the range thing figured out to where it makes it more practical for people, and now there’s a charging network that’s been going in across the country, which is aimed at trying to reduce the range anxiety a bit.”
As a result, nearly 1.8 million battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles were registered in the U.S. as of 2020, more than three times as many as in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
Today, there are more than 84,000 electric vehicles registered in Washington state. More than 44,000 are registered in King County, while there are just over 2,000 in Spokane County, according to Washington State Department of Licensing data.
The website Plugshare, recommended by Avista Utilities as a charging station resource, shows the network of available charging stations as they exist throughout Spokane, with notable locations including River Park Square and the Parkade Plaza parking garages in downtown.
“I think there’s a lot of things that are holding (electric vehicles) back,” Swenson said. “Some of it is cultural stuff. People know what they know. They’re comfortable with gas vehicles. They like the raw power of gas or whatever they associate it with it, they have an emotional attachment to it.”
Electric powered vehicles — either fully electric or a hybrid electric/gas mixes — aren’t just coming your way: They’re already here and are selling in greater numbers every year. Three states — California, Massachusetts and New York — plan to phase out sales of gas-powered vehicles entirely within 15 years.
Here’s what you need to know about electric cars.
Electric powered vehicles — either fully electric or a hybrid electric/gas mixes — aren’t just coming your way: They’re already here and are selling in greater numbers every year. Three states — California, Massachusetts and New York — plan to phase out sales of gas-powered vehicles entirely within 15 years. Here’s what you need to know about electric cars.
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