By: Nick Hutchens

I always knew the journey of electric vehicle (EV) ownership is not merely a transition in transportation—it’s a leap into the future of sustainable mobility. As the world moves towards greener alternatives, EVs bring promises of innovation, efficiency and environmental stewardship. What began as a spark of curiosity about EV technology soon ignited into a quest for knowledge, driving my enthusiasm into electric vehicles. As Consumers Energy’s newest EV Specialist, I wanted to share my first hands-on experience with you.

On a cold November morning, just above freezing, I embarked on my first solo journey in an electric vehicle—the Chevy Bolt EV. As I turned the key, or rather pressed the start button, the car sprang to life without a sound, displaying a modest 107 miles of range on the dashboard. In this moment, I learned my first invaluable lesson—the importance of preparation. Despite the fact I had forgotten to charge the EV overnight, I set off from Hudsonville to Spring Lake and back again (about 60 miles total roundtrip).

My second lesson came quickly as I cranked up the heat and blasted the fans on high. As the miles passed, so did my range, dwindling to 93 miles within just ten miles of driving. The math didn’t add up—14 miles lost in a mere 10 miles traveled! Recalling a conversation with a seasoned EV owner, I adjusted my settings, opting for heated seats and steering wheel to conserve battery life. With this change, I breathed a sigh of relief as the range loss aligned more closely with my actual distance traveled.

The third lesson unfolded as I merged onto highway I-96, pressing the pedal a bit too firmly. Once again, my range began to dwindle faster than expected. I swiftly eased off the accelerator and decided to engage the cruise control instead. To my relief, the range loss stabilized, matching the miles I covered.

Prior to departure, I had downloaded the PlugShare app, proving to be a lifesaver as I located a nearby DC fast charger upon arrival. Within 25 minutes the battery was replenished to 80%, ensuring a comfortable journey home with ample battery life to spare.

It was a maiden voyage to remember—a testament to the exciting future of electric vehicles. It was easy to learn and adjust for optimal efficiency and I truly enjoyed the smooth acceleration, serene driving experience and the absence of smog exiting the tailpipe.