What you need to know about electric vehicles

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) It's National Drive Electric Week. Events around the region are promoting the benefits of owning electric cars. And while many of you know that they produce fewer emissions and that they save you money on gas, when I reported on them earlier this year, you wanted me to find out the answers to more practical questions of what it's like to own one. So, I went out to get those answers for you.

Bill Calfee's goal is to get one new person to drive his Tesla Model S each day. Tuesday it was me.

He says when he got the car four years ago, he was concerned about distance. But with more charging stations coming online each day and apps to make it easy to fit them into your trip, he can now time his charges in with breaks during long car rides.

"I'm going to West Virginia tomorrow and I'm not thinking about it today. I'm going to get in the car and drive tomorrow," Calfee said.

Another concern he hears about is how long his charge lasts during winter. He says you're not going to get stranded if you turn on the heater.

"What's great about the electric car is it only uses the electricity it needs. If you're sitting in traffic, it's only heating the car," he explained.

Calfee says he also saves on maintenance costs. He says the battery has never had to be changed. And with regenerative braking on electric cars, the brakes take less of a beating. In 100,000 miles his have never been swapped.

"One-hundred-thousand miles. We've changed the tires and we've changed windshield wipers, and we've added windshield wiper fluid," Calfee said.

Over at Burlington Hyundai, Sales Manager Brad Camp says their electric crossover, the Kona, needs barely any TLC. It's part of the reason that customers like Dan Detterman are looking at driving one off the lot.

"We own an electric plug-in hybrid and we like it so much that we maybe want to get a full electric car," Detterman said.

Camp says customers are asking for electric options. With the Kona's 258-mile range, it's an easier sell. Others don't have that. He says the biggest challenge is still closing the affordability gap. An electric Kona costs at least $38,000-- about $10,000 more than the gas version. And it doesn't have all-wheel-drive. He says it's also hard to advertise them broadly when there aren't that many to sell yet.

We wanted to see how it drove. Like most EVs-- it's zippy!

Detterman also says it's a fun ride. He says he was initially concerned about things like the range and price, but having one changed his mind.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: What would you tell people who are maybe a little skeptical of electric cars? They're used to their gas car.
Dan Detterman: Well, so were we! But now we're looking to go all electric.

In addition to dealers, there are special events planned this week. So, if you want to learn more, you can do that easily.

Wednesday, there's one in Bennington from 3:30-6:30 p.m.

There's one Friday in Burlington from 4-9 p.m.

And there are two on Saturday-- one from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in Grand Isle and one from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Bethel.

Click here for more details about National Drive Electric Week events in Vermont.

Click here to learn more about EVs and charging stations at Drive Electric Vermont.