September 24, 2023
“Like a lot of people my age, I live in an apartment, so it isn’t practical to charge an electric vehicle at home,” said Nick Benitz, who nevertheless has been driving an impressive 2022 Ford Lightning electric pickup truck for almost a year. He uses the truck for his business, Nick’s Window Cleaning & Services.
His company, which does window, solar panel and gutter cleaning as well as window screen repair and replacement, operates out of the back of his new truck. The truck’s battery does not just power the vehicle. It also powers a 220 volt plug in the truck bed and 110 volt plugs in the front for his pressure washer, pumps and screen fabrication equipment.
He charges the Lightning’s batteries during the day at Electrify America power stations. At night, he plugs in at his mother’s house. He received federal, state and utility company incentives to purchase the Lightning, and his mother received incentives for installation of the charging station.
“I’m fully booked, so I have to hustle all day between customers,” he said. “The fast-charging stations get my Lightning from 50% to 80% charged in just 30 minutes during my lunch break each day.”
Even on days when he doesn’t have time to charge, or when a standard charger is the only one conveniently available, he reports “the radius of my service area doesn’t exceed the range of my truck, but I charge when I can because I don’t like to come close” to running out of power. His base model Lightning has a 230-mile range, while an extended range version of the truck can deliver up to 320 miles, according to EPA estimates.
Benitz calculates his Lightning runs at 15 cents per mile, while a gasoline powered truck would cost him 39 cents per mile plus the cost to operate a separate generator hauled behind the vehicle. “I use the money I save to pay for the truck, which I get to keep, rather than burning up the money into the air” with gasoline, Benitz said.
Kent Bullard, field representative for the Electric Vehicle Advocates of Ventura County, said electric vehicles are becoming more common in the commercial sector. He put me in touch with Nick’s Window
Cleaning & Services and cited several other examples.
Hansen’s Plumbing has five Ford E-Transit vans equipped as mobile plumbing service vehicles. Gold Coast Transit uses Nissan Leaf cars as driver support and relief vehicles. At FedEx’s Oxnard facility, electric service trucks deliver packages the last miles after items reach their destination city. An employee said the Oxnard facility currently has 30 electric vehicles and about the same number of diesel vehicles, but plans to transition to all electric.
In celebration of National Drive Electric Week, which runs from Sept. 22 to Oct. 1 this year, Bullard and his group are coordinating electric vehicle promotion to both the commercial and residential sector at several upcoming gatherings.
Local events among those listed at driveelectricweek.org include:
• Sept. 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Port of Hueneme Banana Festival, 105 E. Port Hueneme Road in Port Hueneme. EV Advocates will display two cars and staff an educational booth with information about incentives and opportunities for purchase of electric vehicles. Displays will also show how the port is electrifying operations.
• Oct. 1, 12:30-4:30 p.m., Ventura Harbor main lawn, 1591 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura. A showcase of electric vehicles will include cars, vans, SUVs, trucks, bikes, electric equipment and vintage vehicle conversions displayed by their owners, who will be available to answer questions.
• Oct. 15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Thousand Oaks Rotary Street Fair, 449 N. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. EV Advocates will display a few electric cars and staff an educational booth in front of Moorpark Road and Brazil Street with information about incentives and expansion of the charging infrastructure.
David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at 805-658-4312 or email@example.com.