When it comes to celebrating Earth Day and working towards green initiatives, Pip and I do what we can. I don’t think I’ve become completely and totally green, but I do think my carbon footprint has gone down a few sizes. We’ve got the dual trashcan for our recyclables. We’re turning off lights and conserving power when we can (although being the digital family that we are, that’s a challenge); but since a Plug-In Day event held in Manassas, I had been wanting to go all in. That was why when, back in November, it was time to seriously start shopping for a new car, I said “I want to go electric.”
At this alternative fuel event sponsored by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and Electric Auto Association, I got a closer look at the rock stars of consumer electric vehicles (or EVs, as they are commonly known by) which included the Tesla Roadster and Coupe, the Chevrolet Volt (an EVs that had a nine-gallon gas tank as a “reserve” for when the battery is low), and the Mitsubishi MiEV. While I didn’t find the looks of Mitsubishi’s EV appealing, they were offering test drives so I took the MiEV for a spin. The first thing I noticed — the car truly sold itself, not just in how it handled but in how quiet it was. I mean, whisper silent! (A little unsettling, but in a really good way.)
So I was sold on the concept of an EV, but I wanted to find one that fit right with me. The Volt was a pretty elegant looking ride, but there was a model not represented at the 2012 Plug-In Day — the Nissan LEAF. In our test drives, we found the interior far roomier than expected, a comfortable ride and stealthy just like the MiEV, and a battery with an impressive range of 100 miles on a fully charge.
The next test drive was the Volt, and neither Pip nor I could tell the difference between it and the LEAF. This was when the decision came down to affordability, and the LEAF offered an ideal three-year lease. Why ideal? Within three years, we were not only given an opportunity to consider a newer model (hopefully with better battery range) in 2015, but we can take a look at the infrastructure for EVs at that time. Improvement or stagnation? Based on that, we know the next move to take in investing an EV.
Since signing the papers and driving off the lot, I have not had one regret in undertaking this “bleeding edge” of automotive technology. In the short time I’ve driven our LEAF, I have learned a lot already in how to drive an EV because there is a science to it. But for anyone who has described our EV as a “glorified golf cart” let’s talk about the facts:
- The gasoline bill has dropped to $60-70 a month.
- The amount of carbon emissions I have reduced by driving our LEAF equals over 600 pounds.
- Oil change bill — cut in half.
- My electricity bill has increased by only $5 a month. If that.
Honestly, I’m still waiting to see where I’m making the sacrifices to go green here. (Okay, I admit, the infrastructure is still in need of a kick in the pants, but we will see how these next three years play out.)
There are more benefits to driving our LEAF than just driving by gas pumps. Our LEAF came with a lot of change in how we drive, how we plan a trip, and how we live around it. That’s what I’m covering in this column; and along the way, we might have a bit of fun driving what some days feels like science fiction. And if you have a question about driving an EV, feel free to ask @EV_Joan on Twitter. She’ll answer as we embark on this adventure to dive green.
One road trip at a time.