For our latest adventure, we leave the spandex and the electronic gear shifting behind and go in search of an electric…car. Actually, we have found the car, a Kia EV6, which we ordered over four months ago from Freedom Kia in Morgantown, WV. Now we have to go pick it up.
The first question you probably have is, “couldn’t you buy the car a little closer to home?” Yes, we could have, but the Atlanta-area Kia dealers were charging a $5000-$12,000 markup on the cars. No thank you. An extensive internet search brought us to Freedom Kia, which doesn’t charge any markup. Good for them, and for us.
It’s all about organization and logistics. Planes, trains and automobiles all come into play on this trip.
First, we fly to Pittsburgh (and take a train to the terminal).
Then, we rent a car (one-way) and drive to Morgantown, which is about 75 miles away. Planes, trains and automobiles, see? After spending the night right next door to the dealership, we spy the car the next morning.
It’s a one minute drive to Freedom Kia from the hotel.
And here it is on the dealer lot, the all-electric 2023 Kia EV6, all-wheel drive with 320 horsepower and 14 miles on it. The car costs more than our first house!
We originally ordered the RWD model with 100 less horses, but this car came in and it was “our turn”. For a penalty in range, we got a lot more speed. And bigger wheels! Will that penalty come back to haunt us? After about 90 minutes at the dealer, our salesman EJ Edmunds hands over the keys and we are ready to roll.
Before we hit the road, a good word about EJ and his Freedom Kia dealership. These guys are great. No BS–just a straight deal. I knew what we were going to pay for the car months before we bought it and there were no surprises. I wish they were closer, but if you are looking for an EV6 and don’t want to pay markup, this is one of the few dealers in the country that will sell for the right price.
And we’re off! The car stays clean for exactly four hours before it starts to rain.
Our first charging stop is at Hawk’s Nest State Park, which is smack-dab in the middle of West Virginia.
While we are charging, a short primer on car chargers. There are basically two kinds found on the highway, Level 2, which takes 6-8 hours to charge up and Level 3, which takes our car about 15 minutes.
There are no Level 3 chargers in the entire state of West Virginia, so we are “stuck” reading in front of the fireplace at the lodge. We were supposed to hike, but the weather is bad. The view, however, is great.
The plan is to charge the car up to about 50%, which will give us enough juice to get to our B&B in Bluefield, which happens to also have Level 2 chargers. After about two hours, the charger proves to be slow and we are only up to 46% (about 120 miles). We really want to get to Bluefield (80 miles away), so we take off. That should give us 40 miles of reserve. Maybe we should have waited for the extra 4%.
There are three things that electric car batteries don’t like, and we’ve got them all on the next leg of this trip:
- Mountains, check
- Cold weather, check
- Highway speeds (more air resistance), check
It’s dark, it’s raining, there are trucks everywhere, and we are near no chargers when we realize that power consumption is up, range is down, and we may not make it. We are undergoing big-time range anxiety on the first day of electric car ownership. I turn off the heat and slow down to 45 MPH and hope that we hit a downhill, which will allow the car to regenerate power. Long story short, we hit a 5-mile downhill just before Bluefield which allows us to get there with 16 miles to spare. No sweat!
The Bluefield Inn is very nice, and the charger allows us to get up to 100% overnight.
We didn’t take a picture at night, which means you missed the Christmas lights display.
The next day the rains continue, but we finally leave West Virginia and hit a great corridor of high-speed Level 3 chargers all the way back to the Atlanta area. No more range anxiety. Our first stop is outside of Bristol, VA.
Looks like a gas station, doesn’t it? While we walk around a nearby Sam’s Club, it takes less than 20 minutes to get us up to 95%. The car texted me that it was done before we got finished with our walk. I’m sure it’s the first text I have gotten from a car.
The next stop is west of Knoxville, TN.
This one took about 15 minutes, which is how long it took us to walk to the Walmart, use the facilities, and get back to the car. We didn’t need to charge again, but after the anxious moments from Day 1, we stop in Ooltewah, TN (just outside of Chattanooga) for 10 minutes to “top off the tank”. Did you know that Ooltewah is the home of Little Debbie snack cakes? Check out the company store if you are in the vicinity. We did.
The last 100 miles of the trip home are uneventful. Altogether, we drove about 675 miles total and paid ZERO for electricity. Here’s where we charged:
The two charges in West Virginia were free (and slow) and the three at the high-speed chargers came “free” with the car, which will now charge in the comfort of our garage.
We didn’t really buy the EV6 for long-distance highway trips as we take our tandem bike and our minivan on those. It’s going to be used for driving around town instead of the minivan, which gets about 18 MPG in the city. But if there are enough high-speed chargers on the route (there’s an app for that!), you really can take the EV6 wherever you want.
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