OPINION|Drivetime Mahatma: Getting a charge out of taking a spin in an electric vehicle

Chris Durney's name should be familiar to readers of this fine newspaper. He's been in public affairs in this town for a long time, currently for the Veterans Administration hospitals in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

He's also an avid reader of this column. (All the best people are.)

So Durney kept up with the back and forth here about electric vehicles, their merits and demerits.

Which is how we came to be sitting in the passenger seat of his Tesla Model S, which can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds. A Chevrolet Z06 Corvette does that in 2.6 -- ha! -- but the Tesla seats five and has a trunk.

Not that we did that zero to 60 thing. Although there was a moment when Durney demonstrated the car's accelerative capabilities. So to speak. The last time we felt such acceleration was our one and only visit to an aircraft carrier, from which a catapult shot us off the flight deck.

That was fun, too. So to speak.

Back to the pros and cons. In this space, we have been skeptical about range and charging for electric vehicles. Here's what Durney does.

He tells us his Model S has a range of 412 miles when fully charged. That's what the dashboard says. This is, coincidentally, almost exactly the range of our wife's Nissan Murano when fully tanked. That's what the dashboard says.

Not that we'd want to test that range. Same for Durney. He doesn't like for his charge to get less than 30%.

Easy at home. Durney has a 240-volt plug. It's installed in his garage. Every night he plugs in the Tesla; every morning he's fully charged. The plug cost about $300 to install. The car's port is on the fender near the left taillight.

How about road trips? Durney and his wife, Dana, travel to South Carolina to visit family. They make their first stop in Brinkley, at the Pine Crest Shopping Center, where there are eight superchargers available 24/7.

How do we know such detail? We looked it up on the Tesla website, on the map of all its 35,000 charging stations in the United States.

In Arkansas, most are in central Arkansas, including slower destination chargers, although superchargers are also located in Lowell, Texarkana and Jonesboro. It pays to plan, Durney said. And of course he has an app on his phone to do so. It takes about 20 minutes to fully charge at a supercharger.

We note that the United States has about 64,000 gas stations.

The Tesla is Durney's daily driver. Over the past 31 days, he said, he spent $27 on power. Cost of a gallon of gas at the convenience store down our street? $3.29.

The Tesla market may be somewhat limited. MSRP, Durney said, was about eighty large.

"No car's for everybody," he said.

Neither does he believe electric vehicles should be imposed from above. Meaning the government.

"It should be market forces."