The Parking Lot of the Future, Today

DSCN1172 new chargers cropped

New chargers at Green Mountain Power, in Rutland, VT.

I drove the Leaf down to Brattleboro, yesterday, a 240 -mile round trip; the longest I’ve taken yet in one of the electric vehicles. But it was relatively easy, thanks to some new chargers right where I needed them (both for this trip and for driving to work). Not one, not two, not three, but EIGHT new chargers at the Green Mountain Power operations facility in Rutland, each with two charge ports, PLUS a fast charger. They are all freshly installed, and the fast charger isn’t energized yet, but that’s seventeen new places to charge, all in a line. But, it occurred to me that this is what most parking lots will look like in the years ahead; EV numbers continue to rise (post: “EV’s Everywhere“).

The trip was really fun; I had gone down to give an EV presentation at a workshop in Brattleboro sponsored by a variety of environmental groups there. Part of the event was devoted to electric-assist bicycles, and I rode one for the first time. They are pretty amazing; every time you pedal it’s as if you’re three times as strong as you would normally be, even though the bikes look almost like regular bikes, and the propulsion is silent. I also heard a thought-provoking presentation by Dave Cohen, (link to VPR story with photo) a cycling enthusiast and integrative psychotherapist, who discussed how our technologies have a not-so-good side effect of insulating us from real-world sensory input. To him, cars, including EV’s, keep us from truly experiencing the world, and he thus advocates biking (or walking) when possible. A topic for a whole blog post, when I get a chance. Very nifty video about one of the projects he’s helping with—

On the home front, the solar project continues apace, though it has kept me busy 24/7 and threatens to do so for another six weeks. I’ll post construction pictures soon. But, plenty to ponder on all fronts, and much of it, like electric-assisted cargo bicyles and 17 chargers all in one parking lot, are visible signs of movement in directions that are good for the planet. Yay…

5 thoughts on “The Parking Lot of the Future, Today

  1. Sunny Tappan

    My husband and I appreciated and enjoyed your presentation at the EV symposium in Brattleboro on Saturday (10/25). We have been doing a lot of thinking and talking about our next vehicle since then and conclude that a plug-in hybrid might be the best solution for our circumstances.
    Do you have any advice for us regarding a hybrid that can climb hills? To date we’ve been using a Subaru Outback because we live in the boonies of our town and have a 1/3+ mile 11% grade of hill to go up on a little-used town road that is our only way home in winter (re-routed from 1/4 mile 18- 22% grade a few years ago). Our niece says that her Prius is not particularly good on snow-covered hills (likewise my cousin’s Prius frequently can’t get up the hill to our place in winter).

    Thanks,
    Sunny

    1. Sunny Tappan

      We regularly use studded snow tires in winter, so we would continue to do so. My understanding is that the Chevy Volt has more batteries than a Prius and thus the Volt has better traction… Seems to make sense. My husband learned about 2 used Chevy Volts for sale in Northampton, MA. I think they’re both 2012 makes and one has 21,000 miles on it and the other has 34,000 miles on it. The low mileage makes me question the customer satisfaction of these – or maybe 2012 was a less good year for the Volt? Does anyone out there have any knowledge about any of this?

      1. Kevin

        In the last year I traded in a 2012 Volt with 35,000 miles for a new 2014 Volt. They both have been great cars and I regularly commute over the green mountains to work and home and the Volt performs admirably. During the summer my travels are 90+% electric and often go 2,000+ miles on a tank of gas and in the winter I still am still 80% electric. With good snow tires the Volt is fine in snow similar to other front wheel drive cars.

  2. Taborri Post author

    Sunny,
    I’m glad you enjoyed it; it was my pleasure. In terms of your hill-climbing question, I think we’re talking about traction here, and not overall power. I’m not sure I can give you a perfect answer, but I have heard from a Prius owner that his car didn’t seem to cope with snowy hills well. I didn’t have much trouble with the Leaf last winter, even without putting snow tires on. With studded tires, I don’t think most plug-in hybrids would be appreciably different from other front-wheel-drive cars in terms of hill-climbing. Though, I don’t think any two-wheel drive car would match the winter traction performance of a Subaru. Studded snow tires might lower your overall mileage a bit in the winter, but you might need some in your situation.
    If anyone out there reading this has any input about this, feel free to post it.
    -tb

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