Kia EV6 is great for everything except transportation (WSJ)

Readers may recall Tesla Road Trip, in which we spent 10.5 hours on a 7.3-hour drive while saving our beloved Mother Earth.

“I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping.” describes a reporter’s attempt to drive from New Orleans to Chicago and back in a Kia EV6, a seemingly great car except for the lack of dog mode.

Given our battery range of up to 310 miles, I plotted a meticulous route, splitting our days into four chunks of roughly 7½-hours each. We’d need to charge once or twice each day and plug in near our hotel overnight.

Over four days, we spent $175 on charging. We estimated the equivalent cost for gas in a Kia Forte would have been $275, based on the AAA average national gas price for May 19. That $100 savings cost us many hours in waiting time.

The car lost range faster than planned and charged slower than advertised:

But when we tick down 15% over 35 miles? Disconcerting. And the estimated charging time after plugging in? Even more so. This “quick charge” should take 5 minutes, based on our calculations. So why does the dashboard tell us it will take an hour?

They encounter a charger that is supposed to deliver 350 kW and instead it delivers 20, but occasionally one does work.

In the parking lot of a Clarksville, Ind., Walmart, we barely have time for lunch, as the Electrify America charging station fills up our battery in about 25 minutes, as advertised.

The woman charging next to us describes a harrowing recent trip in her Volkswagen ID.4. Deborah Carrico, 65, had to be towed twice while driving between her Louisville, Ky., apartment and Boulder, Colo., where her daughter was getting married.

Load up that Kindle if you’re going to travel with an electric car:

As intense wind and rain whip around us, the car cautions, “Conditions have not been met” for its cruise-control system. Soon the battery starts bleeding life. What began as a 100-mile cushion between Chicago and our planned first stop in Effingham, Ill., has fallen to 30.

“If it gets down to 10, we’re stopping at a Level 2,” Mack says as she frantically searches PlugShare.

We feel defeated pulling into a Nissan Mazda dealership in Mattoon, Ill. “How long could it possibly take to charge the 30 miles we need to make it to the next fast station?” I wonder.

Three hours. It takes 3 hours.

Here’s a map of where they charged:

As part of my plan to be wrong about everything, I would have expected electric cars to become cheaper and more practical than gasoline-powered cars (so many moving parts!) within 10 years of the first practical car (let’s call that the Tesla S, introduced in 2012). Right now, however, they’re both more expensive and less practical (as you can infer from the fact that you almost never encounter an electric-powered Uber).

A reader comment on Toyota pits all of its engineering prowess against Tesla:

The biggest benefit of tesla isn’t even how it’s made, the price etc. It’s the supercharger network. Without anything resembling it (and there’s nothing else really) other manufacturers don’t make cars, they make toys.


34 thoughts on “Kia EV6 is great for everything except transportation (WSJ)

  1. Here in London the only Ubers still running are electric ones. Mostly Kia e-Niro (much cheaper than the EV6 at £35,000 vs £52,000) but some Tesla Model 3s as well. Driving a gasoline-powered car would cost more than the ride is worth when prices are £1.80 a liter ($10.25/US gal). Not even hybrids, as those greenwashing scams-on-wheels stop having the advertised mpgs once the puny battery is exhausted (granted, they have wimpy engines that are more fuel-efficient than most overpowered US 6-cylinder engines).

    Also, the Tesla SuperCharger network is now open to other brands of EVs.

    • @Fazal: My 2010 “Greenwashing Scam on Wheels” gets a consistent 31-32 MPG where I live (when it doesn’t have to climb small mountains with 800 pounds of cargo plus the passengers in it.) If Ford had doubled the capacity of the battery pack, it would get higher mileage. It’s the best car I’ve ever owned.

    • A greenwashing scam on wheels would be ideal for my 25km daily commute & occasional long trips without range anxiety. It’s a shame they’re being legislated away in favour of pure EVs.

  2. > Right now, however, they’re both more expensive and less practical

    Yes, but electric cars might save us from climate change, which a new study (source: Google News) says “could spell the end for Midwestern corn by 2100 if trends continue” (except actual temperate, rain, and corn data says the exact opposite):

  3. I recently completed at 1450 mile trip from MA to WV and back in 26 hours. I slept for 2 hours, ate three sandwiches and drank four large coffees, plus some assorted snacks (pickles, radishes, tomatoes) that we brought along.

    This was in a 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid, a 12-year old vehicle with about 86,000 miles on the clock, powered by a 2.5 liter Atkinson-cycle inline 4 with two electric motors in the transaxle and a 250 pound NiMH battery pack that serves as the floor of the rear cargo compartment. I use Mobil 1 0W-20 Extended Performance for oil with a Mobil 1 M1-102A EP filter.

    We were lugging a combined total of approx. 1300 pounds of combined passengers and cargo packed into the car with the back seats folded down on the outbound leg, around 500 on the return leg, up and down the hills in PA, MD and WV. The maximum elevation we attained was ~2800 feet. I reset the mileage/energy calcs. when we left. We averaged a consistent 70-75 MPH while on the highways, which were blessedly mostly clear because of the times we chose to travel. I get around 460 miles of range on a fill-up with 87 unleaded.


    Trip Average MPG: 29.1 MPG
    Gasoline used: Approx. 50.2 gallons.
    Gasoline cost: Appox. $195
    Average highway speeds: 70-75 MPH with occasional bursts to >80 and some short slow sections.
    ZERO time spent charging

    The FEH ultimately derives all its propulsive energy (and all the rest of it) from burning gasoline. However it uses its HV battery as an “energy sink” to recoup kinetic energy during braking and while going downhill. The ~90 horsepower traction motor in the transaxle then uses that energy to assist the internal combustion engine. The battery pack is very small by modern EV standards and the curb weight of a Limited model like mine (loaded, but not 4WD) is about 3800 pounds. I inflate my tires to 37/37, two PSI more than the recommended pressures.

    So: I drove ~1460 miles and paid $195 for gas in a 12YO Hybrid, or about 13.35 cents per mile. They drove about 960×2 = 1,920 in a Kia and paid $175 for charging, or 9.11 cents per mile.

    So my cost per mile was 46% higher. But I wasted no time charging, this is a 12-year old car with a 12-year old battery pack, and it’s a larger, less-aerodynamic vehicle. It actually weighs less!

    I guess if you run the numbers, EV advocates would say that we should keep increasing the price of gasoline until the crappy transportation in the Kia becomes so economically imperative that nobody can disagree that it’s better!

    • Sorry for the extra comment, but I forgot. The FEH has a ~15 gallon gas tank. We stopped for gas four times (not to max. capacity each time, and they took about 5 minutes each) and at the end of the trip we still had about 3/8 tank left. So we spent about 25 for real minutes at gas stations. We also took an extra hour because we got lost finding our way to a friend’s house to say hello. Not in the NAV system (current as of 2019! Dang!)

      They stopped to charge ~1920 / 10 = every 192 miles.
      We stopped for gas 1450 / 4 = every 363 miles and had a lot left at the end.

      BTW West Virginia has some very well-maintained highways. Smooth, well-marked, well-maintained. Pennsylvania was a mess in a lot of places. WV still evokes John Denver’s song. It’s beautiful country, really majestic in a lot of places, and sometimes you just want to stop by the side of the road, get out and marvel at it, but we didn’t have the extra time on this trip.

  4. They got what they paid for – such problems are virtually non-existent for Teslas. With V3 superchargers actual charging time is just a bit more than filling up a cer.

  5. When the Tesla Model 3 rose from $35k to $60k, that was the end of the lion kingdom’s dreams of electric cars. They’re just going to keep escalating in price like houses.

  6. Demographics Anecdote Department: I took a drive today, and as it so happened I traversed a relatively poor town near where I live. I rolled up to a stoplight and on the other perpendicular, making a left in my direction, was what appeared to be BRAND NEW, bright red Mercedes E-450 Cabriolet.

    The woman (I think) behind the wheel was either a dwarf or extremely petite and could not have been older than 20. Her ethnicity looked mixed white/Latinx (I didn’t ask her pronouns) and her long hair was folded into braids. She looked like a child behind the wheel, but she drove the car with alacrity. Booming from the stereo was something I didn’t recognize, but it was very loud indeed.

    I wondered how she could afford such a car in a relatively poor town? Maybe her daddy is very, very successful in what he does for a living. It certainly was an impressive sight, and I don’t think she cared about the price of gas to fuel it. The EPA estimates are 23 city / 30 highway.

    I’m glad the people who really worked to own that kind of car are finally getting the chance to live large in Massachusetts without prejudice. It’s Social Justice.

    I think she drives mostly on the highway.

  7. Alex, 29mpg on a road trip isn’t that good… I get 30mpg from sea-to-shining-sea in an SUV.

    A couple observations:

    1- Hills don’t affect fuel economy, unless they are steep enough you are forced to downshift on the way up, or brake on the way down. The former reduces engine efficiency, and the latter dissipates energy.

    1b- Gasoline engines generally have the highest efficiency (carnot) in the highest gear and lowest power at that gearing. Generally 50-65mph on the highway, depending on the gear ratios.

    2- Wind resistance is a big deal to fuel economy/range. The basic physics is elusive to a reporter doing a test drive for wsj or nyt, but should be familiar to, say, a private pilot.

    2b- If you get unlucky on your road trip and encounter a brisk headwind, your range will fall short by 10-25%. This is a common but unreported reason for range shortfall in EV test drives, especially in the Midwest.

    2c- If you are running short on range, and wish to limp into the next charging station, your best bet is to find a large truck and tailgate. Range issue solved. Waiting for a favorable tailwind is a considerably more costly strategy.

    • @Steve, I agree with almost all of that but you also need to remember this is a 12-year old car carrying 800 pounds of cargo and two passengers. Downhill, the system recharges the HV battery so it effectively recoups quite a bit of energy. The combined EPA rating of my car is 32 MPG (34 city/ 31 highway combined) and the base car was 23 MPG (21 city / 28 highway.)

      When I got back from the trip I reset the computer, and in the past 400 miles I’ve averaged 31.6 MPG combined, driving in mixed city/highway, so after 12 years it is still very close to the original EPA rating. At the time it was very efficient for a small SUV and it still is. Fazal characterizes it as a “scam on wheels” but that has not been my experience.

      I’m 100% with you on the “draft a semi trailer for mileage” thing. I did that on a spring break trip to Ft. Lauderdale driving an SCCA-prepped Volkswagen Scirocco. It was like the car was being towed by the trailer and the trucker on I-95 knew what I was doing and gave me a thumbs-up when he finally turned off after a few hundred miles.

  8. The ChargePoint Level-2 dual bank 240v charger costs $4000. The ChargePoint Level-3/Level-2 dual bank 240v/480v charger costs $40,000.

  9. Don’t really see what the big issue is here. The whole article could be summed up in a title: “Inner America lacks fast EV chargers”. It is quite simple. Without fast EV chargers, EVs can’t be used for long distances. This is nothing wrong with EV technology. If you swapped the locations of fast EV chargers with gas stations, and have most gas stations just deliver a trickle of fuel, you’d have the same problem with a gas car.

    • Don’t really see what the big issue is here.
      If you swapped the locations of fast EV chargers with gas stations. Could it be a bit challenging? Naw.
      Don’t really see what the big issue is here.

    • Jarle and Anon: “Tesla Drivers Stranded In Half-Mile-Long Queue To Charge Cars” And it is not in the backwoods of fly-over land, this is progressive California, that coincidentally already suffers from electric power back-outs.
      The article says that very expensive Tesla supercharger can take 75 minutes to charge Tesla completely. How huge waiting queues can be avoid with such technology?
      New excuse for Tesla managers who do not want to be back in the office: sorry, I had to charge my Tesla today.

    • I think Jarle raises a good point about “Inner America”. If these people don’t live on the coasts, why should we care about them? They don’t deserve nice things that are the result of coastal innovation.

      (Facebook and Twitter could automatically block posts from Inner America users until they’ve passed a test to show sufficient familiarity with Science and other areas of Coastal Truth, such as “junking a 10-year-old Camry in favor of a $100,000 Tesla saves the Earth’s resources.”)

    • Great idea Philip. And “Inner America” should not care about its products making to coastal areas. After all who needs corn, beef, oil, coal, hydroelectricity, metals… . Seems that California already started boycotting “Inner America”, judging by frequent power outages.

    • @philg Who said anything about deserving or not deserving? I was merely stating a fact. It is harder to build a network of charging stations outside cities, simply because the area to be covered is much larger.

      @Low Skilled Immigrant Yes, it can take 75 min or more to charge some electric cars at fast chargers. How can huge queues be avoided with such technology? Well, for starters you could notice that most superchargers (at least the ones I see) have much more charging spots than a gas station has outlets (maybe 3x more?). Another point is that unlike gas cars, most EVs are charged at home. Unless you are driving hundreds of miles each day, it is perfectly fine to charge your EV at home. It is also much cheaper. In Norway, where I live, it is between three to five times cheaper to charge at home vs. a fast charger. Most of my trips to a fast charger involved charging for 10 min or less, usually topping up only enough to make it home, and I think this is typical for most EV owners. So that means those 75 min charging are either (1) people that live in apartments or otherwise can’t charge at home, or (2) people going on longer road trips, which presumably are a much smaller number than the typical EV driver. I’ve been driving an EV (in Norway) for more than 7 years and never saw a queue like the one you mention. The largest queue I’ve encountered was a single car long. In sum, I still believe there is nothing wrong with the technology, only that the network doesn’t exist in many places. But it is only a matter of time. It is much simpler to build EV charging stations than gas stations, and at least from the trend seen in Norway, many gas stations are already diversifying and having some fast chargers on the side. I predict than in 10 years most of them will either have converted to EV chargers of closed down.

    • > Low Skilled Immigrant

      You’re shipping “hydroelectricity” via combustion engine delivery- what??

      You do realise California has a large amount of agriculture including growing beef right?

      What’s your explanation for Texas power grid issues, since they are the ultimate rightwing dream state?

    • Anon, hydroelectricity is shipped via power lines, story how it was first developed by AEG in Europe and Tesla in the USA is very interesting. Man-made reservoirs and dams produce reliable hydroelectricity. Also California agriculture depends on man-made reservoirs and dams. But Democrats in California release reservoir water into Pacific which is a crime in my book. California farming that was developed after reservoirs were constructed now depends on drilling for water deep into the waterbed, which is expensive. Nowadays Cali farmers mostly rent out their land to large agricultural conglomerates. And they grow mostly auxiliary crops, fruits and nuts.
      Never tasted California beef but had seen a bunch of cows on my trips, too few to be anything but a tax-ma management herd.
      I love Texan beef. Herds in Texas are huge.
      Texas electricity problem is from partaking in government handout for unreliable “renewable” sources, and occur mostly during extreme weather events. VS California regular seasonal rolling blackouts independent of extreme events. Saying that new breed of Texas Democrats seem to be especially corrupt and vicious,. Texas would become a terrible place to live fast if they could take control.

    • Jarle, Tesla gives battery warranty for 150K miles, and owners claim that if often fails at 120K miles. Warranty cover battery if it is charging to lower then 70% capacity! 70% of 300 miles is way to little for me, and I ran vehicles to 300 K miles at least. I do not want to buy 2 – 3 $60,000 cars in place of 1 $25,000 car, and given growing electricity rates (electricity costs went almost 100% up in the past 8 month for me), realistically I am going to just about half my fuel costs, even if I mostly charge slowly at home, while making car not available in case of personal emergency and power outages.
      And electricity will just grow more expensive with more electric vehicles on the road.
      Price of car is the best no-BS indicator of car real costs for the environment. And it remains huge for electric cars.

    • Low Skilled Immigrant:

      “During the state’s grid failure, Gov. Greg Abbott, along with other conservative state leaders, falsely blamed the outages on renewable energy sources like wind and solar. However, most of the outages stemmed from problems with limited natural gas production and frozen supplies at natural gas, coal and nuclear facilities, and not from solar and wind failures.”

      Shame you keep echoing such ignorance =(

    • Anon, you can skip your sham campaigning and shilling here.
      I recall it as it was a singular event and I followed it in real time. Abbot claimed that regular gas/coal generators froze (ha-ha, easy to cure with any type of heater if it were the case, somehow there is never news that north of polar circle Russain metal plants lost power due to freezing and gas/light oil do not freeze, unlike diesel that may require heater) to defend his decision to partake in federal electric windmill pork, which indeed froze. He is still miles better than any Texan Democrat I know.
      And you are missing the point, one time extreme nature event outage (no policy could protect from an asteroid strike) does not equate to rolling outages due to inadequate everyday power grid that can not handle regular pick consumption.
      Even with expensive inadequate financial engineered wind generators Texas power grid is good for continuous use, unlike California power grid.

  10. “Greenwashing Scam on Wheels” Department update:

    This afternoon I decided to reset the MPG computer, set the cruise control to 42 MPH (2 MPH over the speed limit on the roads I was driving) and measure the last 5.5 miles of my trip home.

    Now – admittedly, the best way to measure this trip is to average both directions, because it has some extra downhills on the return leg that would become uphills on the outbound leg. However, this was an effective test of the HV battery and EV mode (which shuts off the engine under 45 MPH unless you’re going uphill). Here are the results:

    62.3 MPG in a non-aerodynamic, 12 year old Hybrid with the windows up on a sunny day and the electric A/C on. My guess is that if I run the other direction and take the average it will be >35 MPG. In other words, above the EPA estimate. This is on 2 lane “country” roads.

    So it may be a greenwashing scam, but it’s a pretty good one.

    Full disclosure: I searched for this car and bought it used. I took my time to find a really, really nice example, previously owned by a physician and dealer-maintained with all the service records.

  11. The discussion the other day (which I enjoyed, and I don’t hate Fazal – he has his reasons for what he says, I’m sure of that) got my interest going and luckily today I had a reason to drive about 365 miles from MA to NJ and back, mostly over I-84/684/Saw Mill Parkway/Palisades/I-46 Jersey.) I reset the computer before we left. We spent $50 on gasoline at $4.95 / gallon and here were the results:

    33.0 MPG honest ‘injun. Cruise at 68 while on the highways (troopers were out everywhere IN FORCE) and that is 1 MPG better than the combined EPA 32 rating this car was advertised as delivering back in 2010 (34 city, 31 hwy, 32 Combined). A/C was on the whole time. My Scam on Wheels is at least delivering what it promised it would, more than 12 years on.

    Time spent at gas station: approx. 10 minutes (I took the bugs off the windows with my Mother’s Speed Clay 2.0 near Hackensack NJ, which Ms. Tessmacher should be grateful to know was never hit with one of Lex Luthor’s nuclear warheads.)

    Time spent charging: ZERO.

    • @Alex, I appreciate the detailed stats, even if anecdotal. I think the discussion of electric vs gas and efficiency often gets emotional but particular details often differ significantly from country to country, so what makes financial sense in the US may not necessarily make sense in Europe.

      For example, I share some details of a recent trip I did with a Tesla Model 3. This trip was around 420 km (262 mi), mostly on highways but with some vertical gain (about 3000 m, our about 10,000 ft). In this trip I started with a full battery and ended up using about 80% of it. Electricity costs $0.15 / kWh at home, and gas costs about $10.3 / gallon. How do you compare the efficiency of the Model 3 with your numbers? Assuming it does 33 MPG for the trip, the whole thing would cost about $82 in petrol. What I paid was about $21 for a 15 min supercharge (36 kWh, or $0.58 / kWh) plus about $3.5 charging at home (6.5 hours, $0.15 / kWh), so about $25 in total.

      If you do the conversion for MPGe using the energy in a gallon and the energy per mi of the Model 3, then I get for this trip about 140 MPGe, which is not that far from the Model 3 EPA rating (141 MPGe). Using the MPG conversion by cost ($/gallon / $kWh) / (kWh/mi), then I get (using the numbers above and 0.24 kWh / mi) an MPG of 292.

      For these conditions, it really is a no-brainer to go electric. Sure, it did take 15 min out of my trip to do a fast charge, and then I had to charge overnight when I got home. But it more than compensated for the much cheaper cost.

    • Jarle,

      I don’t have any doubt that your numbers are correct, and I’m not contesting the fact that a good EV is more energy efficient while driving. In MA, electricity currently costs approximately 18 cents per kilowatt hour (residential.) At 0.24/kWh / mile, or 4.32 cents per mile assuming 100% charging efficiency. So 365 miles would cost me just $15.77 worth of electricity, assuming a perfect world.

      That’s a great deal! But it’s a very rough calculation that doesn’t seem to include anything about 1) The initial price of the vehicle, 2) How long you need to drive it at that rate to recoup the money and 3) All of the externalities associated with producing, scrapping and remanufacturing the batteries.

      I haven’t seen a very good comparison taking into account all of those factors yet. And a Tesla Model 3 is beyond my means by at least $30,000 right now.

      My point here was to refute the idea that my car was somehow a “scam” when Ford designed it – given the realities of the time, in 2004 (when the basic engineering was frozen for production and then tweaked a little along the way.) It wasn’t a scam in 2005 or in 2010, when as far as I can remember you could count the number of Tesla charging stations on the fingers of one hand.

      My harebrained idea has always been that the United States should be constructing more nuclear power plants based on modern, 21st century engineering. You couldn’t get anyone in the MA legislature to agree to that, and still can’t now. Lowering the base cost of electricity in this state would do a lot more to “help the poor” and advance the case for EVs than anything else.

    • I end today’s series of comments ’bout the Goose Egg with the following video:

  12. On this blog, it has been mentioned several times that there are not enough charging stations and it takes a long time to charge an EV car. Looks like the the Biden administration is aware of this which is why they are trying to solve it by requiring charging stations every 50 mile [1].

    This is a good idea, until when you realize that today, a supercharger takes at least 15 min to give you about 200 miles (the Tesla models). Fifteen minutes wait is too long for today’s consumers vs a 5 min in-and-out for gas station. Not only that, a 15 min wait will turn a charging station into a gridlock due to the long wait. This long delay means the owner of the charging station cannot turn around customers fast enough to make a profit. Who wants to run a losing business? Of course, Uncle Sam will *solve* this problem by subsidize charging stations.


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