The Electric Revolution

Are electric vehicles (and electric options of all kinds) the future?

The year is 2008. The best-selling vehicle in the United States for the 27th year in a row is the Ford F-Series truck with more than 500,000 sold.

Fast forward to 2020. We are entering a new phase in the automotive industry. As of February, Tesla passed a significant milestone, selling 1 million electric vehicles (EV). Plus, the Tesla Model 3 became the all-time best selling EV globally. This happened in just 2.5 years of production, which had taken the previous leader almost 10 years to accomplish.

Clearly, this is a very exciting time for EV enthusiasts as options become more stylish, have longer ranges, and achieve faster 0-60 MPH times, all while becoming more affordable for the average American. In fact, this is an exciting time for electric options of all kinds…

Is Everything Going Electric?

You may not realize it, but electric operation has been utilized for many years. No matter what your indoor or outdoor “go-to” is for fun or home improvement, chances are that an electric powered vehicle or tool has helped you get the job done.  

Have you ever been golfing and paid for “18 and a cart”?  If it has been in the last 15 years, it was probably an electric golf cart. More into walking the golf course? They make “smart cart” bag carriers that can now follow you based off of remote control or a “follow me” clip attached to your belt.

If golf is not your sport, how about skateboarding? Hop on one of a myriad of manufacturers’ longboard, traditional, or one-wheel style boards to rip the streets or trails with speeds of 60+ MPH, or a range of almost 60 miles.

Maybe being outdoors isn’t your thing, but you like having a tidy, well-groomed yard… Look no further than Husqvarna or Worx for their cordless, robotic lawn mowers, controlled by an app and GPS.

Worx Electric Lawnmower


Electric History
All these EVs, toys and tools sound great, but what happens when they run out of charge?  Well, the history of the battery — the backbone of electric powered tools and toys — is longer than you may think. The first recorded battery to provide continuous electrical current to a circuit was created by an Italian physicist, Alessandro Volta, in 1799. This was very crude, using zinc and copper for the electrodes and a piece of brine-soaked paper for the electrolyte. We have since gone through Daniell Cell (1836), Lead-Acid (1859), Nickel Cadmium (1899), Alkaline (1950s), Nickel-Metal Hydride (1989), and finally Lithium-Ion (1991) batteries. (Read more about “The Evolution of Battery Technology.”)  

Or maybe you work in a warehouse and are sick of the noise and smell of gas-powered fork trucks. Well, you guessed it — there is an electric battery powered alternative. 

And kids from 5 to 15 years are getting more and more into hoverboards; electric scooters; electric RC cars, planes and boats; Power Wheels, and even dirt bikes. In fact, I see this trend in my own home. My kids have hoverboards and love them, but they are already looking to the next electric transportation method of their dreams: the one-wheel, a scooter, a dirt bike, etc.  I can no longer tell them that such “toys” will disturb the neighbors because the days of the iconic sound of a two-stroke or four-stroke dirt bike may soon be over with how quiet electric motors have become.

Benefits of Electric Vehicles

Now, this movement toward electric transportation (and more!) does not have to be all about fun.  Some people choose electric it for the savings or the impact on climate change.

Let’s just focus strictly on EVs… Most consumers can expect to save $600-1,300 a year in fuel costs alone when switching from a conventional vehicle. Now, factor in less required maintenance like oil changes and brake service, and the savings just keep stacking up. It can take as little as $0.12/kWh to charge your car, meaning a full “tank” can cost as little as $5 or $6. How does that compare to your last fill up?

Other consumers may switch for the wellbeing of our environment and our children by aiding in the removal of toxic emissions. In 2008, the U.S. averaged 55,108,100 gallons of gasoline sold per day. That is an annual total sale of 20,114,456,500 gallons. This led the U.S. to 5,817 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

However, since the introduction of EVs, this consumption trend has declined. In 2019, the U.S. averaged just 24,239,300 gallons of gasoline sold per day. This makes for a 30,868,800 gallon per day difference, for an annual consumption difference of 11,267,112,000 gallons! That is an average reduction of 1,024,282,909 gallons per year.

If the EV trend sticks and its popularity continues to rise, the U.S. will consume 12,291,394,909 fewer gallons of gasoline in 2020 than just 12 years prior.  At a current national average of $2.186, that means that as a nation, we will save an estimated $26,868,989,271.07 on gasoline purchases this year. That is enough money to purchase any of the following:

  • 2 U.S. Navy Nimitz Class Aircraft Carriers
  • 15 Buckingham Palaces
  • 16 Burj Khalifa towers
  • 50,000 Teachers hired for 10 years
  • 597,088 Tesla Model 3 cars
  • 700,000 Homes powered with solar energy
  • 3,400,000 People fed three meals a day for a year

Our Electric Future

So, whether you are into electric power vehicles and tools for personal enjoyment or trying to do your part for a cleaner Earth, there is an electric, battery powered solution out there for you.  So, get out there and form your own opinions on all things electric.

I challenge you to go electric and just see how you like it! Get behind the wheel of an EV, or climb onto an electric dirt bike and try not to have fun! The torque, the acceleration, and the handling — all of it is intoxicating. It pulls you in and makes you want to find reasons to drive the car or ride the dirt bike at every opportunity.

So drive a Tesla, do a handyman job using a 20v Li-Ion powered tool, rip the local trails on a Onewheel, film a YouTube video using a drone, go golfing and ride along in an electric cart, or start a new hobby with your kids with brushless electric motor RC vehicles. There are so many emerging trends within the battery powered world, and electric vehicles are just one of them.

Will the world ever regress, ever think about going back to its fossil fuel roots? Perhaps so, perhaps not.  As for this new EV owner, I’m never looking back.


Gasoline Consumption Resources:

U.S. Energy Information Administration
EIA: Total Gasoline Retail Sales
EIA: Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update

Melink 2025 Pledge

Happy Earth Day 2020!  Though we are living through a pandemic that is killing thousands, sickening millions, and affecting billions of jobs, we need to have a vision and purpose beyond this time that gives us hope for a better world.

Earth Day gives us the permission to think big again and to imagine the bold goals we have long supported finally being implemented and realized.  However, since government often lags rather than leads when it comes to the environment, we need individual action more than ever.

Sure, the clean energy movement is well underway.  Countless government, business, and education leaders are investing in solar and wind farms across the United States and around the world. Electric cars and batteries are slowly but surely going mainstream.

But certain headwinds are preventing this clean energy movement from becoming a revolution.  Yes, the current administration is one of them.  And the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers are another. And, to some extent, so are you and me.

How many of us complain about someone else not doing their part to lead on climate action, and then fail to do so ourselves?  For example, is every one of us buying clean energy from our utility? And is every one of us at least planning to upgrade to an electric car in the future?      

It is in this spirit that I make the Melink 2025 Pledge. Though our company has long been a pioneer and leader in clean energy solutions and Zero-Energy buildings, we have typically allowed our employees to make personal choices that run counter to our mission.

Now that we are an ESOP and every employee is an owner, it is more incumbent than ever for us to walk the talk on our vision and mission. The world already has enough headwinds. But Melink shall continue to lead and live up to its calling even during the hardest times.

Melink 2025 Pledge

  • Every Melink employee-owner shall select the clean power option from his/her utility. (The average monthly cost of doing this is a Starbucks cup of coffee).

  • Every Melink employee-owner shall drive an electric car using clean energy. (Our EV incentive, leasing program, and lower market prices should make this possible).

  • Melink Corporation shall give everyone five years to transition to this commitment. If there are personal financial reasons preventing this, we will support him/her.

To further leverage this pledge, we ask that other local, regional, and national partners or stakeholders join us.  It’s a small premium to do the right thing, and it’s getting smaller every day.  Let’s create more demand so that in five years it’s cheaper than doing the wrong thing. Like the pandemic and any war, we can only win if we all do our small part. Let’s create a better world for our children and grandchildren — all of us, together.      

Sincerely,

Steve Melink signature

Steve Melink
Chairman & CEO
Melink Corporation

 

Tips for Purchasing an Electric Vehicle (EV)

Buying an electric vehicle (EV) can be challenging, especially if you haven’t done so before. Here are four tips to help you get the most bang for your buck.

EV Purchasing Tip #1

Double Check Your Incentives

EV incentives are always subject to change at the federal and state level. As of December 2019, the reduced federal tax credit of $7,000 is no longer available to automakers that have reached cumulative sales of 200,000 vehicles. This places Tesla and GM vehicles at a higher price point, as the federal tax credit no longer applies to these automakers. All other automakers have available tax credits in the United States, with Nissan seemingly next in line to hit the 200,000-vehicle mark. Plus, certain states (such as California and Colorado) offer EV incentives. Check energy.gov for current credits.

EV Purchasing Tip #2

Define Your EV’s Intended Use

Vehicles can serve many purposes such as daily drivers, road tripping, and towing/hauling. It’s best to define early on what the use of your EV will be. Are you taking road trips in this vehicle? How long is your daily commute? How many miles do you typically drive in a day, a week, a month? This will help you to narrow down vehicles that are best suited for you, as EVs come in various projected ranges.

Typically, older, used EVs have lesser ranges per charge. A few examples:

  • 2015 Nissan Leaf with 84 miles of range
  • 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf with 83 miles of range
  • 2015 BMW i3 with 81 miles of range

Newer EVs tend to have longer ranges:

  • 2020 Tesla Model 3 with a minimum of 240 miles
  • 2020 Nissan Leaf with a minimum of 150 miles
  • 2020 Chevrolet Bolt with a minimum of 240 miles

With the capacity of a longer range, there of course comes a higher cost. That said, used EVs tend to be much less expensive than new ones, when compared to their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. EVs not only depreciate as they go from “new” to “used” vehicle, but they depreciate even further as the federal tax credit is not available to used vehicles.

For example, if a new EV sells for $30,000 in 2020, why would a prospective buyer purchase the same vehicle a year later for $26,000 when he/she can buy the same new vehicle for $31,000 (anticipating a price increase) and potentially apply a tax credit? Therefore, new EVs tend to depreciate more quickly than ICE vehicles, so take this into your equation.

Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle (EV)
Source: Colton Sturgeon, Unsplash

EV Purchasing Tip #3

Consider Your Climate

An EV’s expected mileage range is greatly affected by the temperature. When an EV is parked where temperatures are at or below freezing, the projected mileage range can be decreased by 30% or more. This is due to both the efficiency of the batteries decreasing in cold temperatures, as well as the additional electric load to heat the car, seats, steering wheel, etc.

For those who park indoors, this may not be as much of a factor because your car is kept at a higher ambient temperature (60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) when not in use, so your battery efficiency won’t decrease nearly as much.

EV Purchasing Tip #4

Check the Battery Life

When purchasing a used EV, one of the deciding factors should be the condition of the battery. An EV’s range decreases over time due to the degradation of its batteries. How much a vehicle’s batteries degrade over time depends upon the specific vehicle/battery, as well as the utilization of the vehicle by the previous owner(s). Some vehicles may decrease in range by 1% each year, whereas others may decrease by 3% or more each year. Thus, this battery degradation directly decreases a vehicle’s range.

So, if you’re considering purchasing a used EV, what can you do? Do your research; check the online forums of the specific make/model to read about other owners’ experiences with battery life. If you’re purchasing from a dealership, ask them to run diagnostics to check the health of the battery. If purchasing from a private party, take the vehicle to an independent shop or a dealership to have the battery evaluated.


If you’re purchasing your first EV or just considering what EV options are on the market, I hope these tips help. Good luck!

Road-Tripping in a Non-Tesla 100% EV

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Abraham Lincoln

I have the unique pleasure of working with an employee-owned organization, Melink Corporation, that is dedicated toward making the world a better place. Our vision is to help advance clean energy such that it transforms the world through improving our global economy, security and environment – for ourselves, our children and future generations.

Though energy efficiency and renewable energy are at the core of what we do, sustainability is central to who we areIf we don’t lead by example, who will? So, in addition to operating a Net-Zero LEED® Platinum headquarters facility, we have a super-green fleet of vehicles. Our National Network of Service Technicians each drive hybrid vehicles. Our parking lot has over twenty electric-vehicle charging stations. In total we have over forty hybrids and seventeen EVs in our fleet driven. 61% of our employees drive either hybrid or electric.

I, personally, drive a 2018 Chevy Bolt and have done so for about nine months. The car has a 238 EPA estimated range and does not have the luxury of accessing Tesla’s Supercharging Network. I have a 45 mile commute, one-way from my home to my office. Fortunately, by driving an EV, living in a home and working in an office that are both powered by renewable energy, my ‘electric gas’ is very clean. I have three young kids, and it is very important to my wife and I, that we set a good example; not only so we guide them toward making their own integrity-based decisions as they mature, but also so in a direct effort preserve their future. As Abraham Lincon said, You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

This month was the first time I took the Bolt on a good old fashion, American road-trip. I knew it would be a challenge but as another President said, nothing in the world is worth doing unless it means effort pain and difficulty. Here’s how it was (and can be) done.

The Hardware. You’ve got to have an EV that has an extended range. Here’s a list, for your reference, of the longest range EVs on the market today. But you’ve also got to have the capacity for Level 3 charging. On the Chevy Bolt the hardware cost an incremental $750, from the factory. GM advertises 90 miles of charge in 30 minutes, up to the 80% mark and the speed begins to taper to protect the battery.

The Fuel. There are of course Plug-in Hybrid EVs such as the Chevy Volt and Honda Clarity. Those models have about 30 – 50 miles of battery capacity with traditional gasoline as a backup. This isn’t the kind of EV I’m talking about here; I’m talking about 100% electrons. And I must acknowledge that during my road trip the electrons pulled from the grid may be coming from brown-power sources; but not necessarily. Wal-Mart, for example, has solar on many of their locations. And one of the two EVgo stations I charged at was at a Wal-Mart. Nonetheless, what’s the advantage of driving an EV vs. a traditional internal-combustion engine that uses gasoline? For one, EVs convert about 60% of their energy from the grid to power at the wheels; gasoline only converts about 19% of the energy stored to the wheels. Also, electricity, even from a coal-fired power plant, is a domestic energy source. Finally, you can get your electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind.

The Apps. Before making any long-distance road trip, pre-planning the locations of charging stations (and their distances from one another), is critical. There are a number of apps you can use to see what’s out there: PlugShareChargePoint, and EVgo are the ones I use.

The Infrastructure. EVgo is America’s largest Public Electric Vehicle Fast Charging Network, with over 1,000 chargers in 66 markets. As a non-Tesla driver, this network is vitally important for the emerging EV market.

The Planning. A few days before my trip from Southwest Ohio to Eastern Tennessee, a 350 mile commute, I identified two Level 3 Fast charging stations and one Level 2 charging station for my trip. The first Level 3 charger I stopped at was only 35 miles from my house, located at a Wal-Mart in Florence, Kentucky. I topped off and drove another 239 miles to Knoxville, Tennessee… quite literally almost no margin for error between charging stations. Fortunately, during my planning I learned of an EVgo charging station that’s being installed about 3/4 that distance, along I-75 near Williamsburg, Kentucky. So the infrastructure is continuing to develop. After making it to the next fast-charger in Knoxville… I had 8 miles to spare. Nonetheless, I made it. So I charged for about one hour (180 miles). While I waited I was able to eat lunch and catch-up on some work. Then I drove another 35 miles to my final destination, which was for business purposes There I stayed for about 30 hours, plugged in to a residential 120V outlet at 12 amps. I got my charge up to about 90% before making the return trip… back to Knoxville, then to Florence, then home. Similar to my first-leg, I made it back to the Florence charger with about 6 miles to spare.

Lessons Learned. For one, my tire pressure was relatively low when I left my house. It took the necessity of my thin battery margin to realize the impact it had on my mileage efficiency. So, I filled them almost to max-pressure and the Bolt was ‘intelligent’ enough to roll this new information into its algorithm, thus giving me an increased range by about 10 miles from where I was before. Second, I noticed that by turning off my air conditioning, the algorithm gave me another 10 mile boost in my range. Also, I tried to keep my speed (on I-75, no less) at around 65 mph. You’ll notice in this chart the relationship between speed and range; the faster you drive, the less efficient your mileage.

In order to change the world, we’ve got to do things differently. Otherwise, if we continue to do the same things, nothing will change. This trip wasn’t easy. An otherwise normal five-hour trip took me about seven-hours, one way. I didn’t want to leave the house at 5am and I certainly didn’t want to get home at 2am. But I wanted to demonstrate it could be done, in the hope that just maybe it inspires others to make the leap, not only to an EV, but to a brighter future.

Purchasing an Electric Car

You may have noticed by my title – I’m senior accountant at Melink-  that I’m involved with finances. It’s in my nature to look for a good return on the money I invest in products and services. So, when I decided it was time to purchase my first electric vehicle (EV), I conducted a good amount of research.

I decided on a used 2013 Chevy Volt, and it has been everything I hoped. Being diligent in charging my Volt – at home and at work – I was even able to drive 3,000 miles on one tank of gasoline.

Electric Chevy charging

When considering an EV, the most important thing to determine is your realistic commute. That will help you weigh the pros and cons of the limitations of a pure electric car. Starting with a zero-charged battery, an EV (pure electric and gas backup models) will take anywhere from four to 22 hours to fully charge for a 40-200 mile range depending on the model and charger you select. Take it from me, invest in a 240V charger if you want the shortest charge time.

In the United States, there are about 20 models of mainstream EVs available for purchase.