Guest Contributor: Stacy Noblet
My career began just over 17 years ago when I accepted a job with ICF, a global consulting firm. I joined a small team focused on supporting the use of alternative fuels in on-road transportation. In 2004, EVs played a very minor role in my work, limited to the time I spent maintaining a small list of remaining inductive paddle charging locations. But it would only be a few years before my professional focus would land firmly in the transportation electrification space.
Flashing forward to present day, I spend much of my time working with utilities to design and implement customer-facing EV charging programs. The exciting and rapidly evolving EV industry has given me the opportunity to become a subject matter expert who continues to learn new things every day. I also get to interact with incredibly dedicated, knowledgeable, and simply impressive people, including those just beginning their careers and the veterans who have paved the way.
Despite dedicating much of my career (thus far) to increasing the use of EVs and charging stations, I do not drive an EV. For many years, my husband and I shared one car and relied on public transit for our commutes. Once our family grew, we did increase our fleet to two, a commuter car and a larger leased vehicle for weekends and road trips. We’ve evaluated EVs on a regular basis, keeping a close eye on new model announcements, and fully intend to replace our reliable yet aging Prius with an EV when the time comes.
I recently had the opportunity to test drive the all-electric 2020 Kia Niro. To date, my hands-on experience with EVs has been limited to the brief ride-and-drives at events and conferences. But Kia was generous enough to loan the Niro for a weekend so I was able to get a much better feel for how it might work for the family. We were able to run a few errands and transport the family (and our gear) to my daughter’s rec league soccer game.
Overall, it was a great ride and a fun experience! Of course, the acceleration was fantastic, especially compared to my minivan. The Niro also provided plenty of space for our family – two adults (one quite tall), two kids in booster seats, and our stuff. We’ve since added a dog and he would have been very comfortable, too. The instant “de-ccerlation” when letting up on the pedal took some getting used to, but that’s to be expected with an EV.
The EPA-estimated range of the all-electric Niro is about 240 miles, plenty of mileage for our daily lives and most of our weekend adventures around the Washington, DC area. The vehicle came with a Level 2 charger and is equipped with an SAE CCS for faster charging. My kids easily found the charging port on the car! And that’s maybe the most notable observation: driving the Niro felt very intuitive and natural because it’s a lot like the gas vehicles most of us are used to driving. The design isn’t futuristic, it’s practical and approachable!
Would we consider the Kia Niro when we’re ready to add an EV to our family? Perhaps. But because I’m a bit more knowledgeable about EVs than the average consumer, I expect we’ll go with a model that is more innovative and purpose-built. I’ve got my eye on a few and will be following both the new and pre-owned markets closely!
Stacy Noblet is an expert in clean fuels and technologies in the transportation sector and Senior Director of Transportation Electrification for ICF. She studied at Johns Hopkins University and Western Michigan University. You can learn more about Stacy’s work at: https://www.icf.com/company/about/our-people/n/noblet-stacy and https://www.forbes.com/sites/stacynoblet/.