Free Gas

By Gary S. Vasilash

Back in 2005, when gas prices were rising, some OEMs, as well as local dealers, offered consumers pre-paid gas cars. Mitsubishi, for example, depending on model, provided $1,500 to $2,500 for a vehicle purchase.

What’s interesting is that 2005 wasn’t really all that bad a year gas-price-wise.

That is, in 2002, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gas averaged at $1.38 a gallon. It was something of a steady climb to $3.29 a gallon in 2008. The average price in 2005 was $2.31.

Today Kia America and Electrify America announced that buyers of the Kia EV6 electric SUV will get 1,000 kilowatt-hours of free charging at Electrify America stations.

In a clearer context: that’s enough energy to drive from 3,500 to 4,000 miles. Depending on the model. And the comparative heaviness of one’s right foot.

While that is certainly a nice bonus, it is puzzling that when there are vehicles ostensibly as good as the EV6 that the pot needs to be sweetened with some electrons.

To be sure it is a customer convenience, but doesn’t it, in some way, undercut the basic goodness of the vehicle (i.e., “Hey, you might be thinking of something else, but we’re going to put a cherry on top, so it is better!”)? Not that I have anything against free energy, but somehow the value proposition of the vehicle itself ought to be sufficiently compelling.

“So, Sally, why’d you buy the EV?”

“Free charging.”