Turning Over a New Leaf

NIssan LeafThe Nissan Leaf, if you aren’t familiar with them, is a 100% electric car, one of the first (not counting GM’s “Impact” EV). I might buy or lease one. Mr. X thinks this is a horrible idea, he refers to the Leaf as an “over-priced car with a limited range”. Needless to say, I mostly disagree. In my case, I love my job, but have to drive about an hour each way to get there. I drive an old, beat-up Subaru Impreza that gets 31 mpg, and I usually carpool with a co-worker. But, I still use about 2 ½ gallons of gasoline a day. I’d really, really like to change that. Plus, we live in a solar and wind powered house, and in the sunnier half of the year we have lots and lots of extra power that we can neither use nor put into the grid, because we’re a good long ways from the power lines. We could do most of our driving in the summer, at least locally, “for free,” using that extra solar. Other times of the year I could probably charge the car at work. Vermont’s grid power mix is about 2/3 hydro and 1/3 nuclear, so even if I was charging from the grid it would be relatively carbon free and mostly renewable. I figure that over the life of a 3-year lease I could save about 1,700 gallons of gasoline. That’s a lot. I’m not a fan of consuming by buying brand-new things, and I wouldn’t consider buying a new gasoline-powered car; better to eke all the life out of something used (and cheaper). But a Leaf would be a paradigm shift, and possibly an exception.

It would also help increase demand for EV’s (Electric Vehicles). Mr. X disagrees here, too—he thinks a product needs to be completely competitive to succeed in the market. But we’ve actually come to a meeting of the minds on this one—he agrees that it is something of a “chicken and egg” problem—we would like a better EV (say, 200 mile range and for less cost), but without demand or economies of scale the manufacturers aren’t going to be able to develop one. So we need to be part of the demand.

So I’m going to check into it. I’ve never driven an electric car before, not counting a golf cart. I will keep you posted.