For quite awhile my husband has wanted an electric car. We are not a kid-toting SUV family by any means. We do curb recycling in addition to saving water that otherwise would go down the drain for our plants. Yeah, we take our responsibilities to lower our impact on the environment pretty seriously!
In truth, I've never actually "hugged" a tree. But I do like nature and I respect the need to live with it, rather than usurp it for my own purposes. Naturally, that means we wanted to finally have a vehicle that didn't need gas. It goes without saying that regardless if you're doing it for environmental reasons or you just really hate paying almost $4/gallon for fuel - not needing to stop at the pump is the number one reason to own an all-electric vehicle! So, last month hubby decided our business was stable enough right now and we really needed a better car - so it was time to take the plunge. I wasn't about to stop him. We leased a 2011 Nissan Leaf a few weeks ago now and I wouldn't give it up for anything! Well, maybe if I was carjacked. But they wouldn't get more than 100 miles away so I think I'd get it back.
What really amazed me though - besides riding in a car with features I hadn't even dreamt of having in a vehicle - is how many people seem so reluctant to consider an electric vehicle! You would think driving to the gas station and paying a rediculous percentage of your income just to be able to earn it would drive everyone toward the electric option. Sure, right now there is a wait of a few months to get a new one, and obviously not everyone can budget for a new vehicle right this moment. But then why aren't they even considering electric for their next new vehicle, like we had been for so long?
Once I spoke with several people upon mentioning our new purchase, I started to see the answer was simple.
Ignorance and familiarity.
This is a completely new thing that has been brought about in the past by a fringe population. If you have ever seen the documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car?" you understand what I'm talking about. The entire film is populated by California hippie-types; not folks that most of us would encounter on a daily basis. Unless we lived in California, of course.
Now, the oil manufacturers have known for years that theirs is a dying industry. There are charts and graphs and all sorts of debate about just how long we could continue to use the fuel we pump out of the ground but the fact remains that the Earth simply does not replace it fast enough and we *will* run out. Eventually.
You can bet that the big companies simply will not go quietly into the night and bankrupt! No, they are working on the next generation of vehicles so they can continue on the path to riches far into the next millenia.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, it means eventually you - or your kids - will have to get used to the idea of having a car that runs off something other than the gas you use now. If you are in the market for a new car in the next few years, here are some things to consider:
The initial cost of an electric car is a bit higher, because you have to install a charging station at your home. What you save, however, is not only gas costs to fill it up but no more oil changes, transmission fluid (at least for now), belt replacements, spark plugs, etc. You need battery coolant occasionally, windshield fluid and power steering. That's it.
Oh, and it costs about $1 extra on your power bill to charge up your car each time. Awesome, right?
Chances are, this won't be your only vehicle right now. That's ok, because these cars get about 100 miles per charge, currently. Part of the reason we leased is the expectation that will increase by at least a few hundred miles as the technology improves. But - that's actually a good long day of driving around town! Bonus - your car uses the energy normally wasted for breaking and slowing-down to re-charge the battery. So by driving in-town, you're actually getting closer to 105 miles-per-charge.
No, you won't be driving it cross-country to your aunt Edna's. But you can save up the money you would be spending on gas running errands all over and getting to work and use that to fuel bigger trips.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are a few downsides. First off, this car does much better at lower speeds and city driving wheras a normal combustion engine vehicle gets better gas mileage the faster/more uninterrupted you drive. At times, you'll be feeling like an old person going the speed limit, especially if you need to make a quick hop up the interstate. It's totally opposite of how most people drive and that might not go over well with the speed demons.
We at least, have encountered some problems with the phone sync/bluetooth but that really isn't related to it being an electric vehicle. It's worth noting, though, if you rely heavily on using your phone while driving. Which you shouldn't of course, but we all know what reality is like.
Your will make your mechanic sad, since this will have to be serviced at the dealership. Most people aren't certified to work on these types of vehicles yet. The good news is, since you don't need to worry about the traditional visits for oil changes, etc. you won't have to be seeing a mechanic at all unless something goes wrong or you just can't be bothered adding your own fluids.
Overall, I couldn't be happier with this vehicle. It's so quiet, you don't even know it's on! It seats five average adults comfortably, has a nice hatchback type trunk and I don't even need my key to drive it! I have to have it with me, of course, so the RFID chip tells the car it can start. No keying-up your doors unlocking in the dark or fumbling for the ignition, though.
And the best part for me, as an ADD mom? It's impossible for me to lock my keys in it. :-)
photo by Melody Bakeeff