Dear Carsplaining,

I’m going to retire in a few years, but I need a new car now. I live in Portland, Oregon, which has lots of charging stations and lots of electric cars for sale. And I like the idea of not buying gas and having zero emissions.

My job, which I’ll have for another two or three years, requires me to occasionally drive pretty far distances. Oregon is a big state. Which EV would work for me now and after I retire? Will an EV work for me at all?

Signed, Green Guy

Hi, Green Guy!

Right now, in 2017, there really aren’t any EVs that will work. If you worked in your office every day and needed a commuter car, then an EV would be great now and after you retire. But if you sometimes have to drive to the far, rural corners of Oregon, even a Tesla Model S or Chevy Bolt, which both have ranges over 200 miles, aren’t going to work.

But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to polluting. There are a whole bunch of new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that would work great for you. The BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq, Honda Clarity, Toyota Prius, even the Chrysler Town & Country minivan all have PHEV versions available. These vehicles have both electric motors that are charged by plugging in or regenerative braking and small gasoline engines that you fill up at the station like usual. Typically, you can drive 20-40 miles on a charge, which would get you to work and back most days with zero emissions. When you need to drive a couple hundred miles, the engine kicks in and you can drive as far as you need to, just like the gasoline-powered car you probably drive right now.

After you retire, the PHEV will still get you around town on all-electric power, but if you want to take off for the coast or go camping in the Wallowa Mountains, the gasoline engine will get you there without having to worry about plugging in away from home.

Hope this helps, Green Guy! – KHG

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