Electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle sales are on the rise nationwide—since 2014, Texans have driven 76.9% more and had the seventh-highest increase of EVs in the U.S.
As you navigate the sea of Teslas on Austin’s roadways, you might be surprised to see Elon Musk’s vehicles only mark the poles of the most popular, with more affordable options filling in the gaps. Take a look at Austin’s most popular EVs.
1. Tesla Model 3
There’s a reason you see so many Model 3s in Austin—they’re the most popular electric car for the capital city. The lowest price you can grab the five-seater car for is nearly $47,000, before tax credits, but if you want all-wheel drive, you’re looking at an extra $10,000. This Tesla is known for its luxurious interior, sleek body, sizable 15” touchscreen displays, 360-degree cameras, 300+ mile range and ability to accelerate from 1-60 mph in 3.1 seconds.
2. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
A bit more affordable than getting a Tesla, you can cop a hybrid RAV4 starting at $29,575 and experience the benefits of electric and gas all in one. With about 30 miles to the gallon, standard creature comforts like a seven-inch touch screen Bluetooth audio system, heated seat options, 203 horsepower and full electric capabilities, you’re bound to see a bunch of these vehicles driving around town.
3. Toyota Prius
Arguably the original EV, the Toyota Prius has stood the test of time as one of the most reliable hybrids on the market. Starting at $25,075, Priuses are one of the most affordable alternative fuel options available and can be customized to fit nearly any lifestyle. You can reach a cool 58 miles to the gallon with its 121 horsepower engine, find an AWD option if that suits you will you listen to your favorite tunes on a seven-inch touch screen display.
4. Toyota Camry Hybrid
Similar to its Prius and RAV4 counterparts, the Camry Hybrid has similar options to offer in a classic sedan frame. Starting at $27,980, the Camry can reliably get over 50 mpg, comes standard with a seven-inch touchscreen with the option to upgrade to a nine-inch, has a zippy 208 horsepower engine and ranks as a “Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle.”
5. Tesla Model Y
The more robust cousin to the popular Model 3, the Tesla Model Y makes everything bigger. And they're made at the local Tesla factory.
Carrying over the 300+ range, 15” touchscreen display and the ability to supercharge, the Model Y comes with more diverse options: An add-on third row for up to seven seats, three times more cargo space and a marginally decreased acceleration speed of 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. You can only get an AWD version of this car at a starting price of $65,990.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.