Vail Daily letter: Plug-in electric cars: low cost, small footprint |

Vail Daily letter: Plug-in electric cars: low cost, small footprint

Plug-in electric cars: low cost, small footprint

Response to Vail Daily editorial board commentary on March 21:

The Vail Daily criticizes the leadership of high country counties for supporting the use of electric and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. Despite agreement that these vehicles are environmentally more sound than vehicles operating entirely on the power of internal combustion engines, the board argues that the cost and range of these vehicles is inferior to the dominant gas-guzzling vehicles in the market. The Board argues that only wealthy Americans can afford to own and operate a plug-in electric car. However, a more careful analysis of the comparative costs of affordable automobiles shows a dramatic difference between plug-in electric hybrids and the more commonly purchased gas-burners.

Myth: Plug-in electric hybrid vehicles cost more money than gas-powered vehicles.

Assuming that a buyer goes into the market with the ability to budget the purchase of a used vehicle for $18,000, the middle-class worker can buy the following: 2015 Volt with 20,000 miles; 2013 Outback with 60,000 miles; or 2007 Tahoe with 110,000 miles on the odometer. The United States Department of Energy Alternative Data Center provides a vehicle cost calculator to estimate the lifetime cost of these three vehicles.

Assuming a 40-mile per day commute to work and 4,000 annual miles of travel for other purposes, a total of 12,000 miles, the fuel consumption for the Volt is 93 gallons; Outback is 507 gallons; and Tahoe is 803 gallons of gasoline. The Volt, like entirely gasoline-dependent vehicles, has no limitation on range. Once the electric charge of its battery pack is exhausted, the gasoline-powered generator in the Volt keeps the vehicle going to the next gas station or electric charging station.

The annual operating cost is $3,000 for the Volt; $3,600 for the Outback; and $4,400 for the Tahoe. Annual carbon emissions are 8,400 pounds for the Volt; 12,200 pounds for the Outback; and 19,300 pounds for the Tahoe. After about 10 years of ownership, the lifetime cost for each vehicle is: $64,000 for the Tahoe; $56,000 for the Outback; and $48,000 for the Volt. Therefore, the middle-class worker who is smart enough to purchase a used Volt saves $16,000 throughout the lifetime of the automobile. For more information, look up the Alternative Fuels Data Center at

Kim Fenske

Copper Mountain

From problems to solutions

Each winter season there are numerous letters regarding person-to-person collisions or near-collisions on Vail and Beaver Creek mountains. The most recent suggested all who have “an unfortunate collision with another skier or boarder” should write to the Vail Daily or Vail Resorts in an attempt to get the attention of somebody to do more. The most common request is for more yellow jackets in number and their assignments at more critical locations. This might well be a key component amongst others.

Frankly, to really change things, it will take three things;

• “Fire in the belly” from senior management.

• A comprehensive program addressing safety in the broadest sense of linking it to the three I’s: inexperience, improper equipment setups and inattention to surroundings — other issues are trees, terrain, signage, etc..

• Give the program a catchy, iconic name and market it as a competitive advantage of offering an industry first endeavor to improve skill abilities and common courtesies, with the goal of an enhanced guest experience.

Paul Rondeau


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