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As more manufacturers commit to electric vehicles, 41 Action News takes one for a test drive

Posted at 7:10 AM, Aug 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 08:11:12-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From how to charge an electric vehicle, to how they handle compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts, we took a Chevrolet Bolt for a test drive to find out firsthand.

Evergy, the new company combining KCP&L and Westar, lent 41 Action News reporter Charlie Keegan the keys to the car for two days.

The first thing Keegan noticed was how quiet the car was. Unlike a gasoline-operated cars, you can barely tell when the engine in an electric vehicle is running. And it remains quiet at most speeds.

Speed is another factor that took Keegan by surprise. The Bolt had no trouble accelerating and keeping pace with highway traffic.

Many people worry about running out of power and steer clear of electric vehicles as a result. Jeff Beeson from Evergy said the company has installed more than 2,000 charging ports from Sedalia to Hayes as part of the Clean Charge Network. So finding a place to charge the vehicle’s batteries isn’t a problem.

“We’ve dominated the in-town driving, so now you can get to work, get to the supermarket. The next step are those long road trips. So we’re focusing on highway 70 and 35, those big corridors in our area,” Beeson described Evergy’s future plans.

Charging at a public station proved to be easy. Downloading a smartphone app made it simple to connect with the port and begin a charge.

Electric vehicles can charge in a standard 120 volt outlet inside a garage or outside a home. That’s considered a trickle charge which loads the batteries with about 4 miles of range every hour. If a person drives 40 miles a day, they can fully recharge overnight.

Most public charging stations in the Clean Charge Network add roughly 30 miles of range for every hour of charging. But Evergy is now installing Level 3 chargers which can fill a vehicle’s battery to about 80 percent full in roughly 20 minutes - perfect for a coffee break on a road trip.

Beeson said plugging your car into your home will increase your electric bill by about the same amount as adding a second refrigerator to your home. Many estimates say charging an electric vehicle is the equivalent of paying 70 cents per gallon of gasoline.

The Bolt has a regenerative braking feature. It basically allows the driver to stop the car without using the brake pedal. The vehicle takes energy from the wheels and turns it into electricity to power the vehicle. The sensation of stopping by simply letting off the accelerator, and not touching the brake pedal was the hardest thing for Keegan to adapt to.

Saturday, August 31, representatives from Evergy will be at KCP&L’s Connect Center at 1710 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. for an electric vehicle showcase. They will be able to answer questions and even let pre-registered guests test drive a car. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Click here for more information.