We’re excited to bring back Plug-in NC Ambassador Spotlights in 2022! This year, we’ll be highlighting Plug-in NC’s go-to advocates for electric vehicles (EVs) as we share their stories and expertise. First up is Rich Pacetti.
For as long as Rich can remember, he has been fascinated with cars. He studied electrical engineering and mathematics at Duke University and later earned a master’s degree at UNC Charlotte. While at Duke, he put his skills to the test and helped build a race car with other students. Now, Rich works as the Instrumentation and Controls Design Engineering Manager at Duke Energy’s McGuire Nuclear Station. He loves spending time with his wife, Katie, and their kids, Josh and Julia Madison.
Let’s get to know Rich!
How long have you been driving electric, and how did you decide to make the switch?
I bought our first EV on New Year’s Eve 2020. I had a 2013 Passat TDI (diesel), but after teaching my son Josh to drive it, he really wanted it for his first car. With his 16th birthday fast approaching, I decided to take advantage of Duke Energy’s employee incentive of $3,000 towards the purchase of a new or used EV in 2020 so I could pass my Passat on to Josh. I loved the idea of no longer paying for gas, and we have free Level 2 chargers in our work parking lot.
How did you decide which EV to buy? What stood out to you?
Initially I was going to buy an inexpensive, used Nissan Leaf with high mileage that would have been almost free after the Duke Energy incentive. However, when I shared images of the car with my wife, she wanted to keep looking. I expanded my price range and search area and then discovered the all-electric Volkswagen (VW) e-Golf.
We really enjoy VW, and I drove a 2003 Jetta TDI for about 10 years and then our 2013 VW Passat TDI. I was able to get my wife into a gas-powered Golf, but she felt the headroom was too small (she drove a 2003 Mitsubishi Montero for 15 years and now drives a 2017 Ford Explorer Sport). So, I expanded my search area and price range further and discovered a very rare beauty, the Mercedes-Benz B250e.
The B250e is the only all-electric vehicle Mercedes-Benz made (until their EQ line comes out in 2022) and the only B-Class model sold in the U.S. (electric, diesel and gas variants are sold elsewhere in the world). I had probably read about the B250e in my Car and Driver magazine years ago, but I didn’t even remember it existed. It was a beautiful car that didn’t “look electric,” and the used models were very reasonably priced. I bought a mint-condition 2017 B250e off a 3-year lease with only 7,600 miles. The original sticker was $46,800, and I paid only $18,000 and then got my $3,000 rebate. I couldn’t turn away a nearly brand-new $50,000 Mercedes for $15,000. I found mine in California, had it shipped here and picked it up on New Year’s Eve 2020.
What’s your favorite thing about driving electric?
Owning an EV offers a plethora of benefits, but the low cost of ownership is my favorite. On about 13,000 miles in 2021, I only paid around $100 in charging and $200 in service!
Have you taken any road trips in your EV?
Because of the B250e’s limited range (rated at 87 miles by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and lack of DC fast charging capability, I haven’t driven it more than about 70 miles from home. However, it covers 90% of my driving needs, and we take my wife’s Explorer on road trips.
How/where do you charge?
I primarily charge at work for free. I did install a Level 2 charger for home, mainly for weekend and holiday charging when I can’t charge at work. I’ve also taken advantage of free charging stations in the greater Charlotte area, primarily through ChargePoint. I’ve never paid to charge my EV other than approximately $100 in electricity costs for my home charger.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced driving electric?
My car does have limited range compared to most new offerings today, but that just requires planning and flexibility and has not been a significant challenge.
Do you have your eye on your next EV yet?
As a VW Group fan, I love their new Audi e-tron GT. I’m also interested in the Audi A8/S8 full-size luxury sedan, which has both mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
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