Hyundai’s Kona EV
RENTING AN EV? IT AIN’T EZ.
There is no better way to kick off the New Year than with a couple of great American traditions: watching the ball drop during “Times Square New Year’s Eve” presented by Korean automaker Kia and waking up to the beautiful blue skies in Pasadena for the “135th Rose Parade” presented by Japanese automaker Honda. Makes you proud to be an American … And speaking, er, writing about foreign automakers, I decided to rent an electric vehicle during my recent trip to San Francisco. I had never driven an electric car and thought it would be a good learning experience.
After the No. 3 rental car company in the U.S. botched my reservation at the #1 Club Gold kiosk, I was awarded a Hyundai (“Yes, Hyundai”) Kona EV. It showed I had a range of 170 miles, which I figured would be just enough for a couple of days. My first stop was a parking garage in San Francisco’s Financial District. Shoutout to my new favorite app, SpotHero, which secures parking spaces in advance.
The car had no transmission arm or key, just buttons. When I parked I hit the P button and exited the vehicle. The Kona EV erupted with, “Danger, Will Robinson!” or something similar. Because it is so quiet, I had no idea the car was still running. One must hit the off button after the P button. First lesson learned. But I enjoyed driving the vehicle. As I began running out of juice, I learned another valuable lesson. If you own a gas operated vehicle, you don’t have a gas pump at home. If you own an electric car, you have a charger at home. Hence, the number of gas stations versus the number of charging stations.
I found a pay charger at the Whole Foods (of course) in Oakland but found that there are two types of chargers. One is for Tesla and one for everyone else. It’s like an Apple phone versus android. Or Mac versus PC. Or VHS versus Betamax, but I digress. I have no idea how I spent $30 in one hour to get about five miles of charging, but I managed.
When I got back to San Francisco for an overnight stay before my early flight, I had about 11 miles of juice for a 12-mile drive to SFO. Luckily, my hotel had a charger. They charged it overnight for free unless you count the $85 to park. When I got my car, the dashboard showed I had 240 miles in the tank. Those rat “you know what’s.” Hertz, I mean, the No. 3 rental car company in the U.S., gave me a car that was not fully charged and there was no way for this EV novice to know. I had sparks coming out of my ears. A final lesson learned…
Back in Dallas, as I was crossing Mockingbird Lane one evening, I was approached by a rapidly moving strip of light. It was eerie. I thought it was a UFO. But I was in Dallas, not Roswell and my radio didn’t become static. Turns out it was my first close encounter with a Tesla Cybertruck. I’m glad the driver didn’t stop and ask me to ‘Take me to your leader” or worse, need a vehicle battery charge …
David Mullen is Editor-in-Chief of Dallas’ Katy Trail Weekly. This column first appeared in that publication.