Why not drive an electric car?


It isn’t surprising that under 5 percent of cars on Martha’s Vineyard are either electric or hybrid electric. It’s unfortunate, but given how long the combustion engine has reigned supreme, we can give ourselves some slack.

A new state database recently released is tracking how well each municipality is doing when it comes to making the switch. The 5 percent of Vineyard vehicles is out of the nearly 27,000 registered total. Not a significant percentage by any means, given where we are headed. The future of electric cars is no longer a hippie pipe dream, but a mandated future that’s coming fast. If you want to drive a car, it will likely be electric in the next decades.

California, one of the largest car markets in the world, wants 100 percent of new cars and light trucks sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Regulators made the decision amid a changing climate, saying that 50 percent of carbon emissions are from vehicles. 

California’s decision will have, and is having, a large impact across the country. Massachusetts has also pledged that all new cars on the market will be electric by 2035. And Martha’s Vineyard, with its own pledge, is attempting to be emission-free by 2040.

The Vineyard is actually primed to be an ideal location to go electric, given its size and layout. The switch is attainable, and probably easier than most people think.

The biggest hurdles for the transition to an electric vehicle are “range anxiety,” cost, supply, and general unawareness.

“Range anxiety” is the fear that you might run out of power in the middle of a drive. It’s an understandable fear. Public charging stations aren’t ubiquitous, like gas stations. Towns across the Island have set up recharging infrastructure that’s open to the public, but they aren’t everywhere.

Because the Vineyard is relatively small, there isn’t a great need for locals to have access to public charging infrastructure. Tourists coming to the Island, yes, but most of us here live in single-family homes, where setting up our own charging station is fairly easy and inexpensive. And a charge overnight will get you where you need to go on the Island. All you need is an outlet and electricity. New electric cars now get about 300 miles on a charge. So unless you’re driving around the Island several times, range anxiety shouldn’t be a major concern.

As for supply, major car companies have only recently begun to fully endorse the idea of electric, likely after California’s major decision. With a slow supply chain, it’s been difficult to buy electric. But that is changing. 

According to the latest Global EV Outlook, a total of 14 percent of all new cars sold across the world were electric in 2022, up from around 9 percent in 2021, and less than 5 percent in 2020. The report also found that 2.3 million electric cars were sold in the first quarter this year across the world, about 25 percent more than in the same period last year. Production is ramping up.

Anecdotal evidence: The car commercials during the latest Super Bowl were largely for electric vehicles. They are coming, and they will be more available.

As for the cost, with more cars arriving on the market, the price will ultimately come down. There are also federal and state incentives that make the costs comparable to the combustion engine. And as we get closer to 2035, more used electric cars will be available at a lower price.

For the Vineyard to get beyond that 5 percent mark, public awareness will likely make the biggest difference. Bill Lake, member of the Aquinnah Energy and Climate Committee, helped set up a car show on the Vineyard during Earth Day this year, when about 20 residents brought their electric cars for a little show-and-tell. He says that beyond making the switch for ethical reasons or for costs, neighbors seeing their neighbors drive an electric car will have the biggest impact. 

Agree or not, it certainly can’t hurt. These types of initiatives are strongly encouraged, and could go a long way in convincing Islanders that going electric is the smart option. 

As for the benefits of driving electric, aside from the obvious climate benefits: maintenance issues tend to be far fewer without the the complication of a combustion engine; the torque on electric cars is impressive; air quality will likely improve in major cities; and you don’t need to stop at a gas station ever again.

Beyond locals having their own electric cars, more could be done to encourage public and private entities to make the switch. The Steamship Authority hasn’t given us much hope they are endorsing a fossil-fuel-free future, and that’s unfortunate. The state and towns could push harder for rental agencies to offer electric options. And taxis and ride-share companies could do a better job promoting electric.

Where credit is due, the Vineyard Transit Authority has made gains adding electric buses to its fleet.

Still, there are some complications and questions to think about as we aim toward the golden age of electric vehicles. There are issues with mining for minerals for car batteries. Can our grind sustain the emergence of electric cars? Also, is the electricity we use to charge our cars just burning more fossil fuels? 

We are making strides in these areas and it will take time, but the reality is, the world needs to shed its addiction to oil. The climate is already changing, which is impacting lives daily. 

Part of the transition comes down to individuals making choices. So consider buying electric the next time you’re in the market for a car.


  1. I might buy one when it can go 450 miles and charges fully in 15 minutes. But I will be dead by then.

    • Don’t make any long tern plans.
      Today, the Lucid Air has a range of 516 miles.
      And 15 minutes of charge for 248 miles.
      The down side is that it is only 1200 horsepower/takes almost 2 seconds to get to sixty.
      When was the last time you drove more than 450 miles in one day?
      How many miles can you go between “Rest Stops”/10 minutes of charge. .
      Range anxiety is pure BS.
      My current vehicle, a fine vintage northern European touring sedan, has a range of 234 miles.
      It takes 6 minutes to recharge the gas tank.
      You have to squeeze the the end of the hose the whole time.
      It smells bad.
      My next car will be electric.
      Your grandchildren and likely your children will drive electric cars.
      Stop and smell the trend lines.
      Try not to blow your top.

      • Hess My research shows that the Lucid Air takes 12 hours to fully charge but I may have that wrong. It also costs about 110k for a base model. I drive 850 miles per day many times and the last one was 1600 miles in two days. Yes its tiring. I will stick with my prognostications. . Imagining a hypothetical all-EV world requires acknowledging the unavoidable fact of a rats’ nest of assumptions, guesses, and ambiguities regarding emissions,” . “Much of the necessary data may never be collectible in any normal regulatory fashion, given the technical uncertainties and the variety and opacity of geographic factors.”

    • And so will all the children mining the rare earth minerals that make electric car batteries. They will be long dead.

      • John– Children in impoverished countries
        regularly mine gold, silver, salt, harvest
        tobacco, pick coffee beans and palm beans
        as well as make rugs, pottery and most
        things that are in your life.
        And they are used extensively by the oil
        In the U.S there has been a major shift
        to weaken child labor laws, ( mostly led by republicans )
        in the last few years.

        • Sounds as if you are saying, Don, what the heck, just more child labor deaths. No biggie. With some of those other products you mention, (not all but some) it’s possible to find sourcing that employ better, though not ideal labor conditions. In terms of the essential, rare earth materials, not so. Every purchase of an electric car endorses those practices. One might argue (I would not) that it’s the price of progress. But to pretend otherwise is just that – pretending.

          • John– I am not just saying “no biggie” to child labor around the world. I am just pointing out that you seem to only have a problem with it when it happens in an industry that doesn’t fit your political agenda.
            You are correct that all the mining and manufacturing in the industries I point out could be sourced out to better employers– but again, you state that all the gold mines could improve but say the rare earth mining can’t ? How is that exactly ?
            Your point is absurd on the face of it. Child labor is a problem– going the wrong way in the U.S at the moment thanks to you know which political party.
            Do you think there are no child coal miners ?
            Think again ;
            If you or you spouse has any gold or silver jewelry, are you endorsing child labor ? How about a diamond ?
            How about when your computer dies and it gets “recycled”
            you have a computer– are you endorsing this ?
            Citing child labor as a reason to not drive an electric car is disingenuous at best.

            I looked to see how children were being exploited to put windmills up, by the way– here is the shocking proof about that :

      • Maine has enough Lithium for the near term.
        Maine has child labor laws.
        Lithium is old technology, the future of batteries is solid state.
        Silicon is abundant and easy to harvest, without children.

        • I am all for that plan, but the problem is the present state of such mining. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Maine mining is theoretical, and Mainers don’t seem to want any part of it.

    • If you’re not, should we clean the windshield, check your fluid levels, and air up the tires in your 15 minutes of shame?

    • 450 miles is 50 miles more than the average range for a gas powered car. So it’s no a fair comparison. But you know that.

    • Andy — sorry to break the news to you
      Both of your requirements will be met in less than
      3 years.

  2. Andy–
    The Tesla Supercharger is the fastest charging option when you’re away from home, allowing you to charge your car up to 200 miles in 15 minutes. Designed to get you charged and back on the road as quickly as possible, we own and operate over 45,000 global Superchargers that are accessible on a 24/7 basis, located on major routes near convenient amenities.
    Of those 45,000 superchargers , as of June 12 , 2023, 1782 are located in the U.S

    I wonder how many 24/7 gas stations there are in the U.S ?
    Just as a reference, there are only about 120,000 gas stations in the U.S.
    So if one out of every 67 is open 24/7 that puts them on par with the # of 24/7 Tesla superchargers– and we know that there are fast chargers that Tesla does not own.


    So today, with one 15 minute stop, you can go 600 miles.
    How often do you do a 600 mile trip in one day ?

    In 2018 the best Tesla could do was 335 miles range and get 50 miles of range in 15 minutes at their fastest chargers.

  3. A daily driver for most on MV can be electric. Adding more battery-based driving range only adds more weight.
    If you need the do-all vehicle for that annual family trip, then buy a hybrid, or rent a vehicle

  4. The if of EV’s has long been answered.
    The only question is the rate multiplier of the annual increases.

  5. We cant even run air conditioners without taxing our “Grid” here on the Island. what makes you think we can run all the vehicles as well? ill take AC over an electric car, if that is the option. if the cape wind fed the charging stations, I would be all in!

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