Ray Addison II doesn’t worry about gas prices, no matter how high they get. He’s been driving a rechargeable, battery-powered Tesla sedan for the last six years, and he doesn’t plan on going back to internal combustion engines any time soon.
About 2.32 million electric cars now roam America’s highways and streets, but as of June 2021, only 3% were owned by Black drivers, according to the Fuels Institute, a non-profit think tank. is vice president and chief marketing officer of
Addison, who is Black, works for Go-Station, an Austin, Texas-based company whose app makes it easier for electric vehicle (EV) owners to find charging stations. Addison is vice president and chief marketing officer.
Making the switch to electric
Addison bought his Tesla while working for Daimler, a European carmaker. He’s always been a self-described “car guy.”
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“I was intrigued by the technology,” he said of the Tesla. “For someone who’s driven nothing but gas-powered cars, I was interested in the performance of it.”
After a lot of research, Addison determined Tesla to be his best option. At the time of his purchase, the company offered free, unlimited charging with a vast network of charging stations.
He recalled that during a test drive, a Tesla sales consultant invited him to feel the car’s power and, while on an open road, gave him free rein to press the pedal.
“It was quiet, seamless, fast,” Addison said. “I felt like I could feel my organs press against the seat.
“Some people say you gotta have an engine that burps and growls,” he added. But the test drive threw all of that out of the window. “It’s about how it makes you feel, the sound it makes, the impression you make when you pull up to a valet,” he said.
Addison’s children see his Tesla as entertaining, referring to its speed as “wee mode.”
Overcoming ‘range anxiety’
One of the biggest sticking points around electric vehicles is “range anxiety,” a fear of running out of battery and being stranded.
“I can understand that [perspective],” Addison said. “The closest parallel is an iPhone, where everyone is walking around with a lightning cable in their backpack.”
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives about 39 miles daily – well within the range of any modern EV, which can travel 200-plus miles when fully charged. Some days, Addison says, he’ll drive about 45 miles; on others, as little as seven.
“With an EV,” he said, “I could have 50 miles left before I need to charge again.”
Like most EV drivers, Addison charges his Tesla at home. He estimates his monthly electric bill has increased by about $20.
The cost factor
Most homes are already built with the wiring needed to do EV charging. Chargers available on the market can plug into any 120-volt outlet (the two-pronged outlet for regular household appliances) or 240-volt outlets, which use three prongs and are commonly used for electric stoves and dryers.
Autotrader published a cost analysis last month which found electricity to be far cheaper than gasoline. At about 14 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), at a rate of 3 to 4 miles per kWh, the average electric car would cost significantly less to fully charge than to fully fuel a gasoline-powered vehicle.
Addison paid $106,000 for his Tesla, which sells far cheaper models. In addition, other auto makers are fast gaining ground in the EV market. Chevy’s 2023 Bolt will have a sticker price of around $25,600.
Expanding the charging network
Last year’s federal infrastructure bill, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden, included $7.5 billion to pay for building 500,000 charging stations in the U.S. and Canada by 2030. About $16 million of that total went to North Carolina.
Go-Station currently has more than 4,000 EV charging sites across North America and hopes to continue expanding with an office in Charlotte.
Charlotte has one of its own public charging stations, known as the PoleVolt, located at the Ritz at Washington Heights, a public space on Beatties Ford Road. Duke Energy, the city of Charlotte and the UNC Charlotte Energy Production and Infrastructure Center will roll out at least two more in the future as a pilot program to study the viability of creating a wider network of public chargers. (Tesla has its own network of charging stations.)
EV owners and companies have created apps like PlugShare and ChargeHub to share information about where to find charging stations, sometimes for free.
A few tradeoffs
Saving money, looking futuristic, reducing harms on marginalized communities and doing right by nature are good, but Addison admits there are a few tradeoffs.
Charging, for instance, takes more time than filling up at a petrol station. Some charging stations may take up to 45 minutes to give a full charge. Others require considerably less time.
While recharging his Tesla on a trip to Maryland, Addison “found a grassy spot under a shady tree and I just sat,” he recalled. “I could recuperate physically and mentally.”
“I was on a trip to Maryland and found a grassy spot under a shady tree and I just sat,” Addison said. “I could recuperate physically and mentally.”
Addison said he finds himself changing tires more often due to the Tesla’s power, but hedged by saying he saves a lot on maintenance and repairs as well.
A change in the transportation landscape
Some research suggests that electric vehicles are right on track with Biden’s sustainable transportation goals. A 2020 Consumer Reports survey predicts that EVs will outsell gas-powered cars by 2040. Marketing research from IHS Markit forecasted that hybrid and electric vehicles will increase to 32% of all vehicle sales in the United States even sooner, by 2030. China is seeing similar projections. EVs have already outsold gasoline vehicles in Europe.
“I don’t know if there’s gonna be a world where every vehicle is electric,” said Addison.
There are still adjustments that need to be made in energy production, Addison admits.
Academics and human rights advocates alike have concerns about the human cost in mining for minerals to make the batteries that power these futuristic vehicles.
“If you go up the chain, sometimes you’ll find these green solutions are powered by dirty sources,” Addison said. “But as a whole, are we doing better? Are we on the right path?”
Time will tell.