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AutoMatters & More: Driving in a post-COVID world + EVs versus plug-in hybrids

Jan’s 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Jan’s 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Due to COVID-19, I have hardly driven since March of 2020. Two of my fellow San Diego Miata Club members died from COVID-19, as has a person who I’d interviewed a few years ago about his Ford Mustang book. I was determined not to join them.

In the past year, I’ve had to get required scheduled maintenance services done on both of my vehicles thousands of miles before they were due, because of elapsed time. While I do drive each of them at least every other week, the distances driven are so short that I’ve added fuel stabilizer to their gas tanks, as I reported here: https://drivetribe.com/p/essential-covid-protection-for-SE2HflFXRwef_TFy4snSTw?iid=TkLL0CwOQdGqE2YtppRxAw

I expect to resume much more frequent driving within the next month or two, now that I’ve been fully vaccinated and as other people get vaccinated too. Hopefully the vaccines will remain effective despite the emerging variants. To be on the safe side, I will continue to wear a face mask for the foreseeable future.

Tesla EV
Tesla EV

During the pandemic I have been on several Miata club runs, since I thought that they are relatively safe, but I stopped doing that a few months ago after one of the Miatas nearly sideswiped mine. I swerved and very narrowly avoided being hit. Nevertheless, this Saturday I plan on going on another fun run with the San Diego Miata Club. I’ll try to take photos for you.

I’ve been using some of my COVID downtime productively, to work with my web host (GoDaddy) on finishing the build of the second iteration of my “AutoMatters & More” website, which had been in limbo for several years. I’ll let you know when it is live — hopefully soon.

Recently an acquaintance noted my reluctance to fully embrace electric vehicle ownership, but I am interested in them. I belong to the EV Association of San Diego and attend some of its Zoom meetings and events, promoting EV awareness.

Chevy Bolt EV
Chevy Bolt EV

I recognize and like many benefits of EV ownership, but the EVs that are both available and somewhat affordable do not offer some of the features that I am looking for, and are not particularly well-suited for my long-distance road trips. Having to make long stops to recharge is a deal-breaker for me, and the few long-range versions of EVs that meet my needs are very expensive.

Instead, for my newest daily driver I chose a plug-in hybrid — a vehicle that I believe offers the best of both worlds (gas and EV), with an excellent combination of ample cargo capacity, creature comforts, automotive performance, style, quality of construction, driver’s assistance/safety aids and the capability to be driven up to 42 miles on electricity alone. That vehicle is my well-equipped 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Premium, complete with a long extended warranty and a maintenance contract — all for a price that is still many thousands of dollars less than the long-range version of Tesla’s Model Y that I had been considering. My $7,500 tax credit and EV vehicle rebate brought the price way down. I’ve driven up to 41 miles on electricity alone — nearly enough to cover all of my local errands.

Ford Mustang Mach-E EV
Ford Mustang Mach-E EV

This is also Toyota’s second quickest-accelerating vehicle. Its combination of instant high-torque from a combination of the electric motors, gas engine and all-wheel-drive makes for quick acceleration indeed. You can read my review of it here:

https://drivetribe.com/p/2021-toyota-rav4-prime-plug-in-Bs-dKRWcQE6aXgD_m4l-vw?iid=NF3lWtrpRQO9Mr4KZqGzYw

I’ve owned it since last August and I still love it. Thanks to its fast charging option, it recharges in just a few hours at my solar panel-equipped home, by my Clipper Creek charger — also reviewed, here:

https://drivetribe.com/p/clippercreek-electric-vehicle-charging-BZqslyOuSfuIAaIXen7J_Q?iid=Hx6_e9-dQFaaAyuUBMjSsQ

I love going shopping to Costco now because everything easily fits inside, as will everything that I typically bring back from the SEMA Show and CES, which will resume when I drive to Las Vegas late this year.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE plug-in hybrid
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE plug-in hybrid

I’ll easily be able to make those trips from San Diego on a combination of a single charge plus a tank of gas, with plenty of gas to spare. When I eventually do need to refuel, doing so at a gas station will only take a few minutes.

When battery range improves in more affordable EVs, and they can recharge quickly without that adversely affecting their battery life, I will probably get an EV, but we’re not there yet.

To see additional photos, visit www.drivetribe.com, click on the magnifying glass, select “POSTS” and enter “AutoMatters & More #682” in their search bar. Please send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #682


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