Recently I embarked on another road trip adventure in my 2012 Nissan Leaf EV. Due to many factors in and out of my control, that adventure turned into a bit of a misadventure. In the following pages I will outline the trip and share with you the unfortunate series of events and factors that seemed to be compounding and conspiring against me reaching my destination.
Purpose of the trip: install a citizen science air quality
monitoring device at a remote location near Franklin, NC. This air monitor was to be part of the Clean
Air Carolina Air Keepers project that is working to build a statewide network
of private air monitoring stations that will help us all become more aware of
what is in our shared air. This network will
give us all better tools, data, and evidence in fighting air pollution in our
Chosen vehicle for the trip: 2012 Nissan Leaf SL
This is my personal vehicle and my nonprofit organization’s outreach vehicle. Being a 2012 “first generation” Leaf it is now suffering from battery degradation due to a chemistry issue Nissan has been aware of for many years. Unfortunately, Nissan HQ has been zero help in repairing or replacing this failing battery despite their knowledge of and my extensive documentation of the issue. I dearly love the car, its technology – well, except for the battery chemistry that is causing the degradation – and all that it stands for as the planet’s highest selling all electric vehicle, however, I am extremely upset with Nissan on this issue and I am sure this fact will impact my decision making process when it comes time to buy a new electric vehicle for myself or for my nonprofit organization. That however, could change if Nissan would choose to support their end of the deal.
Weather: 45F rain and fog.
EV status: 92.1% SOC, 14 kWh available in traction battery
(yes, that is all it will hold – the car is a 2012 Nissan Leaf SL with a
generation one traction battery…oh how I miss those lost 10 kWh…)
Battery capacity bars remaining: 8
Beginning odometer: 70,609
10am – departed Brevard, NC bound for Cashiers, NC
Travel was slow going due to rain, fog, and slow traffic on
curvy mountain roads.
11:00 – arrived in Cashiers, NC at the Ugly Dog Public House.
Weather: 48F heavier rain.
EV status: 20% SOC, 2.5 kWh remaining in traction battery.
I plugged the Leaf into the Ugly Dog’s Clipper Creek L2 EVSE (the only public L2 in Cashiers), verified the charger was working, then I took a wet walk for about half an hour. Upon returning I discovered the L2 had died during my absence and charging has stopped. Red lights on the unit indicated a power/charging fault. In my almost six years of EV ownership, this was only the second time I have had an EVSE malfunction while charging. The first time it was a Clipper Creek EVSE at my workplace – good thing I had L1 “trickle” charging capabilities adjacent to the L2 so no worries. This time however was very different…and it was dumping down a cold winter’s rain.
Lucky for me the EVSE had delivered a 1.9 kWh increase to the
drive battery before it malfunctioned and the car now had a 32.6% SOC and 4.4
I visited the Ugly Dog pub and informed the manager of the station error and thanked them profusely for installing the only EVSE in Cashiers. Staff said they would inform their owner and would work to remedy the problem ASAP. I updated the EVSE error status on Plugshare and then noticed that other Plugshare users had reported charging issues for this EVSE in the past…then I asked myself why the *!@#%! didn’t I check Plugshare before I departed home…!
It was now noon.
Weather: 48F heavy rain.
EV status: 32.6% SOC, 4.4 kWh remaining in traction
I consulted with Waze and realized that I had only two
Drive the 21 mile, mostly downhill yet out of my way distance
to the L2 EVSE at WCU in Cullowhee and maybe get a battery boost from regen and
make it there…or…take the shorter, but steeper, 10 mile run to Highlands and
maybe make it to the Highlands Ugly Dog’s L2 EVSE. From there I could charge up a bit and then
roll downhill through the Cullasaja gorge letting gravity give me forward
momentum and some great regeneration and hopefully make it to my destination of
Franklin, NC. This time I checked
Plugshare and based on the good ratings chose Highlands as it was closer and
there was only a 730 foot elevation gain before I would reach the high point of
this next leg of the trip and could run on regeneration over the last few
miles. Based on my Leaf’s current 3.2
kWh/mile and 32.6% SOC, the regen, and some dumb luck – I calculated that I
would be able to make it to Highlands…but only just…what could go wrong…
I departed the Ugly Dog and went into full on power saving mode…or as some call it – “hypermileing.” I powered off all nonessential systems, turned off the stereo, seat, and steering wheel heater, dimmed the info-tainment display and instrument cluster lighting, turned off the defroster using my hand to wipe the windshield when needed…however, due to the weather, safety, and NC law I had to use the headlights and windshield wipers…and I set out into the cool, foggy, rainy winter weather bound for Highlands almost 11 miles up the mountain.
After an uneventful but wet, foggy, and slow drive up the
mountain I somehow made it to Highlands arriving with a 13.6% SOC and 1.4 kWh
to spare. I made my way through the
little mountain hamlet and up yet another hill to the Ugly Dog Pub #2…only to
find that their only Clipper Creek L2 EVSE was ICED – as it often is – DRAT!
Raining harder. DRAT! DRAT!!
I had to park the Leaf crooked and illegally hoping nobody
would notice the little bright blue EV blocking access to the recycling bins…
I made my way around the ICE car to access the EVSE – which, by the way had a nice sign stating “Electric Vehicles Only” – a sign that has been conveniently (or arrogantly) ignored by many ICE driving visitors to the area who frequently block access to it…so, I dragged the nice long charge cable around the ICE car to my Leaf and plugged it in. As I was about to head into the Ugly Dog to get out of the still heavy rain, the owners of the ICE car (a Porsche Cayenne) came walking up and moved their car…but not before I was able to nicely introduce myself hand then hand them a “If you are not charging then you are blocking” notice which was greeted by nothing but snorting attitude from the recipient – fat lot of good it will do I’m sure. I wonder how they would feel if I blocked their gas pump with my EV…hmmmm. I re positioned the LEAF into the EV parking space and plugged it back in, verified a bit longer this time that the car was going to continue to charge, and then made my way into the Ugly Dog pub where I had an ice cold Guinness to calm my rain soaked, hypermileing, inconsiderate ICE driver stressed nerves.
I charged the Leaf @ L2 for about 1.5 hours for a 41.5% SOC and 5.9 kWh, and jumped back on the road with my next stop in Franklin – it was all downhill through the Cullasaja gorge so no worries – lots of regen – and lots more rain and fog. As I coasted through the beautiful Cullasaga gorge I watched as the cliffs become waterfalls under the torrential winter rains and wondered, and a bit worried, about how much more rain it would take before more than water was going to come tumbling down the steep ridges into the gorge and the road I was driving on? Luckily no rocks, trees or mud joined me on the road and I made it to Franklin.
2:30pm Arrived in Franklin, NC at the Ingles L2 EVSE with 20.1% SOC and 2.2 kWh…and it was still raining. All five EV spaces were open and well-marked (THANK YOU INGLES!) so I rolled into one close to the EVSE and stepped out into the rain to plug in the Leaf. First I plugged the left cable into the car and…nothing. Tried again…nothing. I then tried the cable on the right side of the bollard and luckily it worked. I reported the faulty charger on Plugshare and to Ingles.
I let the car charge for 2 hours while I worked to install the air monitor at a nearby location then returned to pick up the Leaf. The two hour L2 charge session had brought the leaf’s battery up to a 70% SOC and 10.3 kWh.
4:30 pm. Departed for Cherokee, NC in yet more rain.
I drove over 441 in the rain, high winds, and fog and because I was driving on an expressway I was traveling at a higher rate of speed and climbing one of the steepest, longest grades of the entire journey – so all of these factors became a real battery drainer – until I drove over the top of the mountain and regenerated for several miles down into Dillsboro, NC. This regen boost pushed me on to the Cherokee Welcome center where I rolled in at 5:30pm with a 10% SOC!!
I rolled up to the site where the trusty Schneider L2 EVSE – that I have used many times in the past – only to discover that it was missing!!!! I looked around for it and found nothing but a metal plate on the ground where it used to be…DRAT DRAT DRAT!!! …
…again, why did I not check Plugshare before I left home…???…had I checked I might have noticed a comment by Plugshare user/Model 3 driver “Steven” who stated ““Please note the charger has been moved and is next to the main street now.” Because I did not check Plugshare I was not aware of this fact, and from my vantage point near the original location of the L2 EVSE I could not see the new location obscured behind some shrubs in the distance. So, due to my oversight – and my lack of sight – my only apparent option was to drive to the Oconoluftee visitor center 3 miles away in the GSMNP where there is a DCQC and L2 EVSE. Again I practiced my best “hypermileing” techniques, however, as it was now getting dark, still raining, and foggy I was again forced to use the Leaf’s wipers and lights and soon my car dropped into the dreaded “Turtle Mode” as I passed through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance gate. I have only encountered the turtle once before and that was part of a controlled, good weather, safe, daytime test so I would know how the car performed when in an extremely low battery scenario (watch my video of that test here https://youtu.be/ZTNZchis_Fg ). This time however was not controlled, nor was it daytime, the weather was terrible and safety was most definitely an issue as a huge pickup truck was now riding my bumper. I could see my destination in the distance about ½ mile away and I was not about to pull off the road unless the car stopped dead. At the time of the initiation of Turtle Mode the car was moving about 30 miles per hour and as I made my way across the ½ mile distance to my destination the car started to slow down, getting slower and slower but still moving forward up the slight incline adjacent to the “Elk field.” As I topped the small incline I was able to back off on the almost nonexistent accelerator and let gravity help pull me forward…but it really did not help much as the vehicle was continuing to gradually slow down. Somehow, the EV was able to slurp up enough ghostly electrons to make it into the parking area at the VC at a little better than walking speed, I rolled past the main building, around the curve, and then, when I had the EVSE in my sights – the car just could not give me any more and it came to a dead standstill…about 50 feet from the EVSE. According to LeafSpy Pro the drive battery was sitting at an SOC of 6.6 with 0.3 kWh remaining.
We pushed the LEAF the remaining distance to the EVSE only to find the DCQC offline and dark – DRAT! DRAT!! DRAT!!! I tried the reset button a few times – no luck – still dark and offline.
The Greenlots L2 was online so I plugged in and left the car alone in the growing darkness to charge.
We trekked into Cherokee for dinner and later returned – 4.2 hours later – and the car was still charging but it now had a 76% SOC and 11.3 kWh. Still raining, foggy, dark…but at least it was not cold. I updated Plugshare with details of offline DCQC and drove to a friend’s home in a neighboring county for the night. I arrived at his home with a 32.5% SOC and 4.6 kWh. I plugged the Leaf into a wall outlet and bedded down for the night exhausted and personally out of a charge from all the discharging drama of the day.
The next morning, after trickle charging all night, I awoke to fine the Leaf still charging – yesterday was a long day for the little car and I did not plug in until around 11pm.
Morning stats: SOC 88.5% and 13.3 kWh available. Light rain and fog. I made my way back to Cherokee without issue and immediately found the new location of the Welcome Center’s Schneider L2 EVSE and laughed at myself for making such an obvious error the night before. Had I found the new location of the EVSE I could have easily avoided the dreaded turtle mode. I plugged into the trusty Schneider EVSE with a 35% SOC and 4.9 kWh and charged for 2 hours for an 84% SOC and 12.8 kWh. Before heading over Soco gap to Waynesville I updated Plugshare with the new location details.
I then unplugged and drove up, up and up over Soco in the rain and fog and on to Waynesville where I arrived at the downtown DCQC with a 25.4% SOC and 3.5% kWh.
I plugged the little old Leaf into the Greenlots DCQC and charged for 30 min for a 81% SOC and a gain of 12.5 kWh. After all the drama of the last day and a half I wanted a full charge before heading out on the last leg of the journey up, up, and up through the rain, fog and steep terrain of the last steep, remote ridge crossing.
When the DCQC finished I unplugged the L3 and then plugged in the nearby L2 for a further 40 minutes charging to top off the Leaf with a final full charge of 94.1% SOC and 14.2 kWh that would hopefully push me up and over Hwy 276 and back home safe and sound. As I sat there in the rain charging L2 I watched as an ICE driver in a red Nissan pulled hastily into the parking space opposite mine, jumped out, and ran off into the rain. It seemed to me that the driver had absolutely no idea that he had just parked in an EV charging location. He was in a hurry and failed to notice the signs…and the EV parked and charging 10 feet away.
I believe this is what happens in many of the innocent ICEing events – people are just not very observant of anything outside of their frame of reference. Maybe someone needs to come up with an ICE vehicle detector that, when deployed in EV charging spots, will detect the hydrocarbon based fuels/lubricants/exhaust used in ICE vehicles and, when detected, trigger highly noticeable strobe lights and possibly even illuminated signage indicating to the ICE vehicle driver their mistake. While many ICEing events are simple mistakes, others are intentional acts of aggression toward EV’s – but that is another story I have written about before in this blog.
charging I updated Plugshare.
As I set out on 276 it was still raining, but this time it was only a mist and the sky seemed to be clearing a little bit – a good sign? My drive up 276 and over the Blue Ridge Parkway was uneventful, and upon reaching the highest point of the last leg of the trip my SOC was 39.7 and kWh 5.7. With all the great gravity provided regeneration I pulled on the descent to home I soon arrived in my garage with a 28.9% SOC and 4 kWh remaining in my trusty old first generation Leaf’s ageing battery.
Against all the odds I had made it.
I plugged the Leaf into the nearby wall outlet and let it
trickle charge until morning.
I love my old Leaf even with its rapidly failing generation one battery. The Nissan warranty department – I do not care for them very much. Maybe one day a 3rd party battery manufacturer* will make a replacement battery for the first generation Nissan Leaf or, Nissan will drop the price of the OEM unit to something much more reasonable than the current outrageous and unreasonable price that is so egregious that I will not even speak of it here. I really hope one of these things happens soon so I can upgrade my old Leaf and give it a renewed range and a second life as my nonprofit outreach vehicle and daily driver. *Note: If you are the maker of such a battery please do contact me because we need to talk 🙂
Round trip statistics
Beginning odometer: 70,609
Ending odometer: 70,835
Round Trip Mileage 226
L1 – 2
L2 – 5
L3 – 1
Time spent charging:
L1 – 6.0h (overnight), 8.0h (overnight), = 14h
L2 – .50h, 1.5h, 2h, 4h, 1.5h, .70h = 10.2
L3 – .50h = .50
Total charging time = 14 + 10.20 + .50 = 24.7h (14 overnight,
5.7 during lunch and dinner and down time, 2.0 while working and 3.2 on the
It is important to note that my EV is a first generation Leaf. This simple fact means that it charges 50% slower than newer EV’s due to its 3.3 kW onboard charger which limits the speed at which it will charge from L1 and L2 charging sources. If it were a newer EV my L1 and L2 charge times would have been cut in half.
Electric fuel cost for 226 mile round trip: $6.72 (L3) + $2.00*
(L2) + .75(L1) = $9.47
*All but one L2 charge session were cost free.
kWh per mile = 3.57
kWh used for round trip = 62.8
Electricity cost/kWh from energy mix on the road = 0.04
Electricity cost/kWh – if I had used only electricity from my
home power grid = $7.53 (62.8kWh *
Electricity cost/kWh – if I had used only electricity from my
solar workplace L2 EVSE = $3.76 (3.76 =.06
MPGe = 120.4
MPGe cost for round trip = $2.64/226 = 0.01/mile WOW!!!
It is interesting to note that if I had driven this route in
my 2013 Honda Pilot I would not have needed to stop to charge but my fuel bill (maybe
we should call it a conveyance convenience cost) would have been $31.72 or
around 0.14/mile! (0.14 =
That is a fuel cost savings of $22.25!! (22.25 = 31.72 (gas) – 9.47(electricity))
These savings add up rather dramatically when you consider
Even with all the charging station issues, the old EV battery
related crazy, and the garishly long charge times – you cannot rationally dispute
the cost savings of driving electric…and that is before we have even discussed
the significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions!
Those savings are as follows:
A total of 97.9 pounds of CO2 were released into the
atmosphere by using 62.8 kWh of electricity to push my EV on this round trip.
Therefore, by driving electric I prevented over 509.1 pounds
of CO2, as well as other harmful pollutants from entering the atmosphere. (607 – 97.9 = 509.1)
Where did I get the 509.1 pounds of CO2?
Had I used my Honda Pilot for this journey it would have used
over 31 gallons of gasoline which would have emitted 607 pounds of CO2 into the
That is equivalent to burning 301 pounds of coal which would
generate 1,068.96 kWh of electricity.
This amount of energy would be able to charge over 35
And…this next fact is mind-blowing…
This same amount of energy (1,068.96 kWh) would push my Nissan Leaf over* 3,816.18 miles!!!! *I say over because with regenerative braking it would go even further since EV’s make a portion of their electric fuel when slowing down, descending grades, and braking!!
Here are the numbers so see for yourself.
If one gallon of gas contains 33.70 kWh of electricity and my
Honda Pilot would have burned 31.72 gallons of gas on the 226 mile RT trip
If 33.70 kWh * 31.72 gallons = 1,068.96 kWh
And my EV will travel an average of 3.57 miles per kWh
Then 3.57 * 1,068.96 = 3,816.18 miles
The cost, efficiency, and environmental savings of driving electric cannot be rationally disputed.
Over the last few weeks, there have been several reported instances from all over the USA of a minority of pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharger stations (aka Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)/Electric Vehicle charging stations. This relatively small number of incidents has generated much attention on various social media outlets and from EV owners groups/clubs and other automotive-focused news outlets and on YouTube.
At first, I was hesitant to write anything about any of these instances because, in a way, writing about them is drawing attention to the small number of individuals who commit these crimes. However, I decided that – as a previous truck, 4WD, and current sport-utility vehicle and EV owner – it is my obligation to report on these thoughtless incidents and put these narrow-minded knuckle-dragging dunderheads in their places with the facts before they destroy the reputations of respectable pickup truck owners everywhere.
For background I will share a few of these incidents below;
This is the first high profile incident that gathered nation-wide media attention – and from my home state no less.
The revealing thing is that the entire parking lot was practically empty…
It seems obvious to me this was an intentional act directed at Tesla and/or EV’s in general. The other obvious thing is the driver of the truck either did not care or was possibly not aware they were openly advertising who they were with the conspicuous company magnetic sign on the truck door – what a great invitation by EV owners (and others) to report their team member’s thoughtless EV charger blocking action to the company…oh and what a great reason to NEVER use the services of that company in any way. Good work Navarro & Wright, what a great way to make a name for yourself…
In another thread on Twitter, Nascar driver and Tesla owner Leilani Munter garnered some notice when Elon Musk and many others spoke up about this issue;
Recently from not far from my home a Hummer driver intentionally blocks two Tesla Superchargers as a “prank” – what a total wanker.
From this blogger’s point of view these actions do not appear to be accidents since the Tesla Supercharger stations are;
1 – Very visible being lit up with red lights on a white background.
2 – Well marked as TESLA charging stations.
3 – They are most often located in remote parts of the parking areas so as not to take up available parking spots for all other vehicles near the entrances of the nearby establishments where they are found.
In other words – in order for you to block a Tesla Supercharger charging station with your vehicle you would need to either;
1. Drive a Tesla and know where the station is because you have been there before – or allow your Tesla’s navigation system to guide you to it for a charge.
2. You do not own a Tesla and have made a premeditated decision to locate the Supercharger station for the purpose of blocking it with your non-electric vehicle for whatever bizarre load of jollies that action would give you and/or your childish comrades.
3. You are a new Tesla owner/driver/borrower/renter who is unfamiliar with Tesla/EV charging etiquette and are unaware that after the car finishes charging you should kindly move it to a nearby standard parking space so the next person will have access to the charging infrastructure.
4. You are a Tesla owner on the bleeding edge of the lunatic fringe of Tesla/EV ownership. Perhaps you feel that – because you have the means to own a Tesla, that you are somehow above/better than everyone around and you now have the right to park your car in the charging space for as long as you like. If this is your reasoning – then you, my friend, are an entitled little bully and are no better than those who block access with their garish toy trucks. In my experience this type of Tesla/EV owner is rare, yet I have heard reports that they do exist.
So, aside from the occasional parking accident by the un-observant or uneducated – there is no real reason and no real excuse for parking a non-Tesla vehicle in a Tesla charging station.
Misunderstandings Do Happen
As stated earlier, sometimes EV owners who are new to the world of EV’s and have not learned the appropriate EV charging etiquette might mistakenly leave their EV parked in an EV charging space for much longer than needed after the car’s charge is complete – I did this a few times early on and quickly learned my lesson. Most of these infractions are innocent mistakes that can easily be remedied with gentle education of the new EV driver either with a few words or an informational card/flyer left for when the driver returns.
However, some entitled EV drivers seem to be treating EV spaces as a pass to free parking, not at all caring about the other EV drivers who need to stop and fill up their “electron tanks” so they can get on down the road. In the following photo, we see a Tesla parked and not charging in an EV only charging space – how rude.
This is the same as filling up your gas tank, hanging up the nozzle, and walking off.
I have observed this practice on several occasions and when I do I always leave a nice note in the hopes of educating the parking perpetrator on the errors of their ways. In the above case, part of the error may be in the wording of the signage on the wall beyond the Tesla and it reads – “Electric Vehicle Parking Only.” This wordage may give some EV newbies the idea that they are able to park their EV here even when it is not charging. That is just not the case. and is bad planning on those who chose the signs for this site. Luckily, many charging stations now have signs that read “EV Parking only while charging.” Along with this fact many EVSE units will continue to charge you money if your car remains plugged in after the charging session has ended as an expensive reminder to be courteous and move your car so the next person will be able to charge.
Most EV’s and EVSE come standard with internet connectivity. This allows them to be easily configured to send a text to your mobile device when your vehicle has finished charging, therefore, you have no excuse not to move your car thereby opening the space up for the next EV needing a charge.
Bad Parking Planning
On several occasions, I have encountered non-EV’s blocking charging stations – most frequently (in my experience) at this downtown EV charge point supplemented with solar power.
While these non-EV vehicles are directly blocking one of the chargers, at least they are following the directions printed on the pavement that state “EV Only.” In reality, this type of EVSE blocking will not limit the ability to charge an EV since the power leads are usually long enough to reach an EV parked nearby. However, the limiting factor here would be available parking. There are three EV chargers and only two marked EV parking spaces so only 2 EV’s would be able to charge when ICE vehicles are parked in the non-EV marked parking spaces. It seems that common sense would dictate that if you install an EVSE for EV’s, then the number of charge points and parking spaces should be equal.
How some Tesla owners may choose to handle EVSE blocking situations – but it is not at all recommended by this blogger…unless there is no other option I suppose.
Obviously, Teslas do have more than enough power and torque to handle any situation.
Another fun option for Tesla owners to get rid of EVSE blockers – this one is in Chinese but no translation is needed 🙂 Follow the link to view the video
So, what do I, as a previous truck/SUV owner and current Electric Vehicle owner and driver of over 5 years, what do I think of this recent practice of some truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Superchargers with their pickup trucks?
Before I get into my answer I must first note that it is in my humble opinion, based on over 35 years of driving and over 50 years of life experience, that the perpetrators of these thoughtless acts are a very small percentage of overall truck owners.
So let’s call them the: lunatic fringe.
The vast majority of pickup truck owners I know and have met are good, respectable people that own and drive pickup trucks because they serve a utilitarian purpose in their lives – you know, hauling stuff, pulling stuff, doing work, and having fun outdoors.
These good, respectable truck owners would never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source and would never think to use their vehicle as a bullying tool/weapon in the attempt to make some sort of misguided personal, political, or anti-environment statement. They just drive their trucks and use their trucks – and that’s it.
I say this because not only is it common sense and fully supported by evidence – but I also have a bit of experience in this area. In my over 35 years of driving, I have owned, driven, and used the following vehicles:
My first truck – a 1978 Chevrolet C-10 step side.
My first 4WD vehicle – a 1965 Land Rover Series 2a 88″ – before the restoration.
After I personally restored it.
On the trail with friends.
It was a wonderful 4×4, and my favorite, that I drove daily and used for the purpose it was intended – an all-terrain, go anywhere utility vehicle – truly the world’s best 4x4xfar (that may change when Bollinger Motors starts selling their game-changing B1 and B2 SUT’s to eagerly awaiting truck-o-philes everywhere 🙂
I sold my first Land Rover as it was just too nice to drive on a daily basis and then purchased a very well used 1966 Land Rover Series 2a 109″ ExMoD Field Ambulance. I modified this classic old aluminum workhorse into an overland camper and drove it for several years as my daily driver and on many on and off road-trip adventures, wildlife study and conservation expeditions. When gas prices started to climb I was forced to sell it to continue paying for my college education…
…then came the 1987 Suzuki Samurai – a wonderful little 4×4 that took me into remote areas for my wildlife conservation work and more.
It was a great little 4×4 that served me well for almost a decade. It was my daily driver, my wildlife study and conservation vehicle, and my firewood acquisition vehicle making use of the custom winch and bumper to often pull trees weighing more than the vehicle out of the woods for later processing into firewood.
And it was fun, fuel efficient, and reliable off-road…but after over 250,000 miles it began to show serious signs of age so it found a new home and along came…
…a 1999 Toyota 4Runner – a great 4×4 that served me well.
And finally, my most recent 4WD is a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV (random internet photo) that we use for hauling the family around and hauling/pulling loads.
As you can see I love the utility of trucks and 4WD vehicles and I would love to have another one day to make my life and my job easier and more productive. As soon as the all-electric trucks, vans, and 4WD’s hit the market – I will be driving one daily as my company/commuting and utility/wildlife conservation outreach vehicle – and that day is approaching faster than you may think.
Back to the Question
With all that out of the way, let’s get back to the original question:
What do I, a seasoned truck/4×4 owner, driver and aficionado of many years AND an Electric Vehicle driver of over 5 years think of the recent practice of some pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharging stations?
I could relate to you how unbelievably childish, small-minded, knuckle-dragging, infantile, non-sensical and stupid it is while tossing out many colorful metaphors, however, I will refrain from that level of thinking and offer my answer in the form of the following thought experiment:
What would YOU do, as a gas/diesel vehicle driver looking to fill up your vehicle’s fuel tank with refined hydrocarbons, if you arrived at your filling station of choice only to find an EV driver intentionally blocking your gas/diesel fuel pump with their electric vehicle?
Hopefully, you would think the same way I would: either they had made a mistake or…they may be potentially unstable and may even be dangerous – especially if they insulted and taunted you with vulgar language and gestures as some of the perpetrators are being reported to have done.
Why would you think these things?
The common sense answer:
The evidence is blocking the fuel pump.
Due to the obvious fact that the owner of the pump blocking vehicle is driving a vehicle that does not ever need access to the fuel source it is blocking, then evidence and common sense would dictate the following:
1: They may have blocked the pump accidentally. After they have been respectfully informed of their error, they should not hesitate to move their vehicle to the correct nearby charging point. However, being an EV driver I would highly doubt that this would be the usual scenario as EV drivers do not often make the mistake of blocking petroleum-based fuel pumps if the vehicle they are driving is theirs and if they are at all familiar with it. (If you are driving a vehicle of any kind you had better take some time to read the instructions and become familiar with it – all the more so if it is a state of the art high-speed low drag Tesla aka: Intergalactic SpaceBoat of Light and Wonder or any other EV.)
Similarly, the vast majority of respectable gas/diesel vehicle drivers would never think to intentionally park their vehicles in front of EVSE stations and/or intentionally vandalize EVSE units and/or intentionally taunt/insult drivers whose vehicles operate on fuels other than gas/diesel…until recently that is…
2: They may have committed this pump blocking act intentionally. Furthermore, if they were taunting/insulting you or your vehicle/fuel of choice with rude and/or hateful colorful metaphors, it would be even more evidence that their actions were not accidental and they might not be entirely stable individuals – you know, those on the lunatic fringe.
How should you respond?
The safe approach would be to er on the side of caution and be very wary of their actions because no thinking, rational person with even a gram of common sense and decency would ever commit such a blatant act of intentional bullying unless they had an over-sized, unstable, reactionary chip on their shoulder and/or were intentionally looking for a dangerous confrontation.
Suggestion: before you take matters into your own hands in regards to option 2 you should be absolutely sure the situation was not an accident by a person unfamiliar with driving an electric vehicle – possibly something like in the video below where the driver may have borrowed the car from a friend and/or the owner of the car was playing a joke on them.
Once you rule out an accidental parking maneuver, the next step would be to report the thoughtless, possibly intentional fuel pump blocking action to the nearest authorities, step back to a safe location, and wait for the police/tow truck to arrive to remove the disruptive perpetrator(s) – be they blocking a gas, diesel, or an electric fuel pump.
Those of us that drive plug-in electric vehicles refer to the act of accidentally or intentionally blocking charging stations with Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles – “ICEing” or being “ICEd.”
For clarity: ICE = Internal Combustion Engine
Most of the time, when an ICE driver blocks an EV charging station it is an honest mistake made by someone either in a hurry or simply not being observant enough to see all the signs denoting the space as EV use only.
These innocent people should be excused from their mistake and politely educated either in person if possible, or if they are not available, with an informational flyer placed under the windshield wiper – many EV drivers carry these for events such as these.
As an EV driver I encounter ICED EVSE stations frequently – the most recent incident, I witnessed a few days ago while I was sitting in my EV while it was plugged into a Level 2 EVSE and charging during a heavy rain shower. As I sat there in the rain charging I watched as an ICE driver pulled hastily into the parking space opposite mine, jumped out, and ran off into the rain. It seemed to me that the driver had absolutely no idea that he had parked in an EV charging location. He was in a hurry and failed to notice the signs, the two EVSE units…and the EV parked and charging 10 feet away.
In another recent incident I stopped in a local parking garage to plug in my EV only to find both charging spaces ICED…despite the fact that there were several empty parking spaces in the garage…
…and despite the signs and EVSE (charging station) on the wall in front of them – there they sat blocking access to the charging station and neither of these vehicles were plug-in electric vehicles. I left respectful notes on their windshields and then encountered the owner of the Prius. She was very nice and seemed totally unaware of her mistake. Hopefully in the future she will be more observant and leave the EV spaces for the EV’s (If you want to get technical: it’s not like there is a shortage of non-EV parking spaces, it is the other way around – there are plenty of standard parking spaces with EV charging locations remaining in the minority – which means blocking them creates an even bigger negative impact – so please, just don’t do it.)
I believe what happens in many ICEing events is that many drivers are just not very observant of anything outside of their comfortable frame of reference. They do not see the signs and the equipment – they just find an open slot, park their car and run. Maybe someone needs to come up with an ICE vehicle detector that, when deployed in EV charging spots, will detect the hydrocarbon-based fuels/lubricants/exhaust used in ICE vehicles and, when detected, trigger highly noticeable strobe lights and illuminated signage indicating to the ICE vehicle driver their mistake. If their mistake is not rectified, the system would automatically either: identify their vehicle sending them a ticket and notify parking authorities so they can move the blocking vehicle, and in repeat offenders/intentional blockers – place a wheel lock on the vehicle and have it impounded.
This past winter I encountered yet another form of ICEing…with real ice.
The evidence suggested that the snow removal crew chose to pile up the snow in both of the marked EV charging spaces. This is as irresponsible as blocking the spaces with an ICE vehicle especially since there was ample space nearby on the grass surrounding the parking area to pile the snow where ALL drivers – no matter the fuel that powers their vehicles – would then have access to parking. Yes, it may have been an accident, but due to the perfect blocking of the only two EV charging spaces in the parking area – I cannot help but wonder if the individual(s) that did this, did it on purpose possibly as some sort of statement against EV’s, their charging infrastructure and/or the people that drive them. Hmmm, I wonder if these snow pushers also block “handicap” spaces with huge piles of snow…
Accidental ICEing aside, the thoughtless act of intentionally blocking electric vehicle charging stations with ICE vehicles (or blocking gas pumps with EV’s for that matter) should never be excused and should always be reported to the authorities as soon as possible in the attempt to stop the madness before it gets out of hand.
Before reporting the perpetrators, it is probably a good idea to attempt to covertly get a photograph(s) of the perp’s vehicles/license plates and the perp’s themselves so you will have evidence to hand over to the authorities. In my opinion, it is not ever a good idea to confront these types of people as they are often aggressive and volatile and may even be intoxicated and/or have dangerous or deadly weapons in their vehicles or on their persons.
The best bet in these situations is to just step back to a safe place and watch the action happen when the police, tow trucks, and news crews arrive.
EVSE Vandalism Issues
EVSE blocking is not the only issue. Most recently a Tesla Supercharger in Utah was vandalized when some lowlife intentionally tried to drill out the charge connector and cut the charging cable – WTF, really people? How would you like it if I intentionally tried to cut your gas/diesel hose or intentionally vandalized the fuel pump handle that you needed to fuel your vehicle? Grow up people – or crawl back under your rock and stay there.
I have encountered EVSE vandalism on a few occasions in my area. This is one of the most recent – a quick charger’s screen was damaged by an unknown assailant. The crack pattern of the glass suggests a blow from what may have been a hard object such as possibly a rock or hammer or maybe even a fist. The height of the screen from the ground and distance from the parking space places the EVSE’s screen too far out of range for this to be an unfortunate parking accident. This suggests to me that this may have been a deliberate act of vandalism.
In many of these places, those ICE drivers who block an EVSE will receive a hefty fine. Raleigh, NC is a great example where EVSE ICEr’s are fined $50 for blocking a charge point – thank you Raleigh! In my opinion, this should be the rule everywhere and any fines collected could be used to improve roads and infrastructure for everyone no matter what they choose to drive.
And now, from one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged Show , comes this great video illustrating that the phenomenon of ICEing EVSE stations is not just a quandary in the States…
Hmmmmm….all this EV charging station blocking makes me wonder if – way back in the early day s of the internal combustion engine – did some horse and wagon owners who felt threatened by the gas-powered future, seek out and block fuel pumps?
I seriously doubt it because I am pretty sure they had something called common sense and morals.
A bit of a tangent for a bit of a comparison.
Blocking EV charging points is similar to the uncaring, malignant practice that some call “coal rolling.” This is a practice where some truck owners – a very small percentage overall and yet another lunatic fringe group – illegally modify their diesel pickup trucks to – on-demand – emit clouds of black diesel smoke through over-sized exhaust pipes.
These “coal rollers” then often use their illegally modified vehicles to intentionally target pedestrians, police officers, bicyclists, runners, groups of people on the sidewalk, and people who drive hybrid and electric vehicles. They intentionally align their vehicle’s often grossly over-sized exhaust orifice in the direction of their target and flip the switch vomiting copious amounts of dirty diesel smoke all over their innocent targets. If you are interested in seeing evidence of this stupidity – just input “coal rolling” or “rolling coal” into a YouTube/Google search and you will find the video evidence shared by the polluting perpetrators…and you will also find some great memes revealing just how ridiculous the act of coal rolling truly is, such as this one.
For whatever bizarre reasons, this small number of fringe dwellers seem to be proud of their illegal atmospheric littering escapades and wish to share their madness with the world.
If a combination of common sense, the law, and natural selection have their way (and they will), then their actions suggest that it will not be long before these polluted perpetrators will be weeded out of the population and the bones of their illegally modified machines will soon be covered in rust fossilizing in the junkyard – or better yet, melted down and recycled into a Tesla, Bollinger, Atlis or any other EV, a bicycle, wind turbine, or solar array.
The act of intentionally modifying one’s vehicle with a driver operated “defeat device” thereby allowing it to bypass the factory emission controls for the purpose of emitting visible clouds of smoke, and then intentionally targeting people with that hazardous particulate-laden smoke (diesel exhaust is a documented carcinogen by the CDC, the WHO, and the ACA*) is not only illegal in many areas but is an uncaring, thoughtless act of bullying that should not go unpunished. Recently, I was instructed by a State Patrol officer that targeting and “rolling coal” on a person(s) is considered a form of assault and should be reported to the authorities by calling 911 and reporting the incident making sure to get the make, model and, if possible, the license plate number, road name and direction of travel of the offending vehicle.
It is possible that these intentional charging station blockers (and “coal rollers”) may suffer from personal or peer group driven insecurities such as toxic masculinity and possibly even what some may call “short man syndrome” – or both. They may be using their huge, overly modified, often garishly loud, black smoke vomiting toy trucks as an attempt to compensate for some emotional or even physical quality in which they perceive themselves to be lacking.
Another good possibility is that many of these pickup truck drivers are simply just children. Children who have only recently felt the call of their surging primal hormones driving them to make a place for themselves within their world and to seek out a mate in the only way they know how.
In their world, all the other young males (and some young females) in their tribal cliques drive large, noisy, dirty pickup trucks. This being the only courting technique their childish minds can interpret must mean that it must be the preferred and accepted way to entice a mate into their arms. In other words – driving a large, loud, jacked up, overly modified, polluting truck and insulting others with your venomous vitriol might just be the mating call of your sub-species.
I speak from some short-lived experience in this area. When I was a teenager I briefly fell into a similar clique where I tried to fit in and impress by modifying my first truck with a roll bar, light bar, lift kit, loud stereo, and “glasspack.” (No, not the truck pictured above) Needless to say, it did not work for me – in any way. This was primarily because of my extreme nerdiness that was of such an outward and obvious magnitude that no amount of expensive modifications to my vehicle, myself, piles of money, or purchased trinkets would have ever made me “cool” and popular with the “in” crowd. At the time I was just trying very hard to fit in – somewhere – anywhere – and I had fallen to peer pressure. Lucky for me, after about 6 weeks my brain won the fight and I grew out of my fitting in phase. The glasspack came off and the stock muffler went back on in favor of the stereo because enjoying my music was more important to me than the garishly flatulent exhaust noise. I also removed the lift kit as it ruined the truck’s handling and fuel mileage and then later sold the roll bar since all it really did was take up space in the bed. Some people grow up, some never do.
It is also possible, although remote, that many of these folks are just envious and jealous of the awesome Tesla’s and other EV’s and they secretly want one really, really bad – but they could never admit that fact to their fellow pickup truck driving tribe members. To do so would mean ridicule and possibly even exile from their tribe. So to save face they take out their misplaced frustrations in the only way they know how – they block Tesla charging stations and insult the very thing they are secretly in love with and pining away for. It is very much like the jealous little bully in the sandbox breaking the other children’s toys because they are not his.
Don’t be the bully.
Tribalism aka Us vs. Them
Another motive that may drive these individuals to act is simple tribalism. Related and intertwined with the previous motives, tribalism is like the proverbial tick – dug in deeply. Like the tick, they may be so “dug in” to their tribe and their us vs. them outlook on life that nothing will ever be able to tear them out of their ancient tribal tendencies to do a thing. All the others in their tribe are doing that thing so that obviously must mean that thing is the correct and acceptable thing to do – even if all the evidence is against it. You know the type: “My people have always done it this way and I do not believe all the evidence against it so I’m just going to do it anyway!”
Fear of Change.
Also tied to the previously mentioned topics, the fear of change is very powerful and it keeps many from ever progressing. Some of these individuals may do these things out of fear of inevitable change, fear that their comfort zone will be violated. Fear that the status quo will be disturbed. Fear they will lose their toy trucks to new technology, or maybe fear that “the government” will try to take them away and force them to drive electric cars. The fact is that no one, especially the government – is going to force anyone to drive an electric car – it is more the opposite. The way the system is currently set up favors and promotes the status quo. It promotes vehicles that run on fossil fuels even though all of the available evidence suggests the continued rate we are burning through fossil fuels is harming the very environment we all rely on for our very survival – but that is another story for a different day.
Your Vehicle Is A Tool – Not A Weapon.
A rock, a stick, a knife, a gun, a snowball, a brick, a spoon, a ham bone, a sack of ‘taters, and yes, a car or pickup truck – are only as dangerous and/or potentially harmful as the person controlling them.
Hopefully, if that person has been lucky enough to receive the following;
good and positive moral training as a child from parents and mentors
respect and trust of their elders – but not blind trust or blind faith – those are very dangerous
an unbiased and well-rounded education with a focus on the importance of facts, evidence and critical thinking skills
quality time outdoors in nature learning how all things are connected and developing a respect for all living things and for the environment that gives us all life
an understanding of the scientific method and how to use it
a purposeful separation from lunatic fringe extremist hate, religious, and political groups and training in how to recognize them
training into how to use the internet appropriately in order to take advantage of the powerful research tool that it is, while intentionally avoiding the deep quagmire of dead-ends, lies, filth, misinformation, manufactured FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and divisive hate that is also the internet
the appropriate science-backed training in the appropriate use of their chosen tool(s)
the appropriate licenses and certifications to operate that tool or tools in accordance with the laws set by their state/national governments
a good dose of common sense
Then hopefully, that person, when they are released into the wild to wield any of the before mentioned tools – including pickup trucks – will use them wisely for the purpose intended and not ever as weapons of hate or malice to be directed at others – even if they do not agree with their driving, energy or life choices.
No matter the motive, the truth of the matter is this: electric trucks (and cars, sport utility vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, buses, boats, bicycles) are here and more are coming fast – and they will eventually replace the majority of fossil burners simply because they are better, faster, safer, stronger, more reliable, less expensive to fuel and maintain, and more convenient than the old smoke spewing, oil leaking, dinosaur juice burners of yesteryear. Yet, even with all those facts we still must deal with human nature, and brains that evolved during the stone age. With human nature and stone age brains, we are forced to contend with all of the above factors which work together to slow the forward march of progress…
Luddites and complacency aside, nobody will ever take your beloved truck (or car) away from you (unless you intentionally break the law for your own personal gain – then you deserve to have your vehicle impounded and your license revoked).
Your favorite old car and truck and all the previously produced petroleum burners will always be around (if you take care of them) and will always be available for you if you want them – just like horses, buggies, and wagons are still available – nobody took them away. These beautiful, classic cars and trucks of yesteryear will always have a place in history and they should as they are a beautiful part of the complex story that brought all of us to this day in time. They are a testament and a tribute to all the inventors, engineers, makers, scientists, doers and adventurers who had an idea for something better, worked hard to make it happen – and then changed the world. Yes, their creations were based upon and relied upon the internal combustion engine and petroleum-based fuels – back then they were the only viable power-plant option. It is a fact that these fuels and these machines have allowed the human species to expand across the globe at an unbelievable pace, light our homes, farms and cities, grow more food to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, develop better health care, science, and systems that allow us to live longer than ever before, explore the depths of the oceans, and the far reaches of outer space. In many unique ways, these creations and these ancient fossil-based fuels may be the very reason – or at least have played a key part – in the very existence of many of us alive today. We owe a great debt of thanks to fossil fuels and to the beautiful vehicles of yesteryear.
However, as with all things, as with all seasons, change is the way of things. Now is the time for change, the time for growth, the time for progress – it is time to stop burning things for fuel. Like the horse and wagon before them, the majority of these beautiful, earlier modes of transportation worked well for a time, but eventually faded away because something better, faster, stronger, lower maintenance, less stinky and less visibly polluting, was invented – think how fast the Ford Model T displaced the horse – and how the majority of the population quickly accepted the change and adopted it because it was the best option.
The transition from internal combustion to electric transportation will be very similar.
Another thing to ponder is this; how long before our gas/diesel burners (if you are still driving one by ~2025) become a wonderful weekend novelty like the horse and wagon/buggy/Ford Model T is today?
How long before they become a cherished piece in a museum collection…or worthless rusting, forgotten hulks covered in weeds in backyards?
How long before ICE drivers are treated the same way litterbugs (and smokers) are often treated today and end up catching all sorts of flack from those around them every time they drive their old fossil burner because everyone around them is aware, accepts, and understands that toxic emissions from driving fossil fuel powered vehicles harm all life forms and nature – the very life support system that gives all of us life?
Before some of you start ranting in the comment section about how much pollution is emitted from building/charging/driving EV’s – watch the below video for the facts:
How many years will it be before insurance companies start raising their rates on older vehicles because those older vehicles lack any modern autonomous safety features – such as automatic emergency braking, back up cameras, “Autopilot” and “Sentry Mode” – features that make newer vehicles so much safer to drive for the driver and for everyone else on the roads – thereby making older vehicles a dangerous liability to drive – for the driver and others around them – which therefore means it is now much more expensive to insure and to drive?
If you do not believe autonomous “autopilot” safety features will become popular on vehicles or if you do not trust them – think again and watch this amazing video of the evidence.
or…become as obsolete as the slide rule, the film camera, the 8 track, VHS, and cassette tapes, Blockbuster video, Kodak, phone booths, CRT computer monitors and console TV’s…in other words – when will they go the way of the dinosaurs that power them?
A recent article by Zachary Shahan of Clean Technica predicts that the EV disruption has already started and the major disruption will begin very soon. A great comparison between the EV and other disruptive technologies can be seen in this chart.
It will not be long dear reader, it will not be very long….
…this is not a question of if, it is a question of when.
A great example of the fast-growing trend in vehicle electrification is the simple fact that many young, forward-thinking companies (and even the legacy auto-makers) are working hard to bring more than capable fully electric and hybrid-electric cars and now trucks and 4×4’s to market including but not limited to…
Erroneously enough, it seems that some of these EVSE blocking folk may be committing these acts as some form of misguided political statement. There is evidence suggesting some of these individuals may feel that owning Tesla and other electric vehicles are somehow anti-American. If this is true, then it is obvious – these people have not done the simple online research revealing Tesla as an American car company. Tesla’s vehicle and battery factories, parts suppliers, shops, and service facilities create a manufacturing, delivery, and customer care chain employing tens of thousands of hard-working Americans in hundreds of cities, towns, communities, and truckers on the roads (soon to be driving Tesla electric Semi trucks.)
You may also be surprised to learn that Tesla now rates as the
MOST AMERICAN car company.
Furthermore, all of Tesla’s cars (in this country) and all other EV’s in this country – run on American generated electricity produced on our soil by Americans operating American power generating facilities.
Many EV drivers, including this blogger, charge their EV’s at home/work with “homegrown” renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar arrays thereby making them 100% energy secure and practically free to drive. Read my last post about how I power my EV with solar and came to the conclusion that my EV (a 2012 Nissan Leaf) costs me one cent/mile to power and drive!
In other words – any electric vehicle used in this country – no matter it’s manufacturer – is charged by electricity produced from fuels primarily sourced within this country by hard working Americans.
The same cannot be said of fossil fuel powered vehicles whose fuels of choice were – as of 2017 – around 19% sourced from foreign lands* at great cost to our country and our future.
The bullying bozos blatantly blocking Battery-Electric Vehicle charging stations and rolling coal on EV’s and innocent pedestrians with their garishly modified vehicular dinosaurs while attempting to make some sort of macho, tribal, hateful, nationalistic, political, and/or anti-environmental statement against “anti-American electric cars” – are powering their toy trucks on fuels that a percentage of has been procured in faraway lands with governments and policies often hostile toward our way of life.
Seems like someone did not do their research.
On top of all this madness – just keeping the fuel flowing into the tanks of their stinky little trucks (and all of our fossil fuel powered vehicles and systems for that matter) has required decades of war*. It has required the sacrifice and the deaths of tens of thousands of our brave and beloved children, brothers, fathers, mothers, and lovers who were often fighting to protect oil rights and resources to keep your (and my) fuel tanks topped off with petroleum-based fuels because, for the last 100 years there has been no other option – but that is about to change.
While I will always 100% support our brave servicemen and women in the military, and all of my friends and family members who are serving and have honorably served – and some who have paid the ultimate price – I am not at all OK with, and will never support sacrificing my loved ones and friends lives just to protect the flow of oil so I can think I am free when in fact I, and all of us, remain addicted to the fossil fuel machine.
IMHO – to be truly free one must be as self-sufficient as possible. If we are relying on imported energy sources while sacrificing our loved ones to acquire and protect that energy – we are not self-sufficient and we will never be truly free.
To be self-sufficient and truly free, our country needs to work toward the ultimate goal of sourcing all of our energy needs from our home soil.
Being self-sufficient also means to respect and care for that which gives you life. To me, this means using energy resources that do as little harm as possible to the very environment that provides all of us with all of our survival needs. To me, this means we need to focus on developing the amazing untapped potential of ALL available renewable energy sources and keep fossil fuels as a strategic reserve and a backup power source for the lean times. If the USA continues burning through almost 20 million barrels of petroleum per day not only will we quickly exhaust these finite fossil fuels and be forced to scramble to get renewable energy sources online and operational while millions suffer, but we will also speed up the destruction of our health and shared environment with fossil fuel pollution speeding up atmospheric pollution, planetary warming and weather weirding due to anthropogenic climate change.
Common sense and scientific evidence say that now is the time to start making a system-wide switch to renewable energy sources.
We need to move toward 100% renewable energy now.
We know what we need to do.
We have the technology.
We have science on our side.
But do we have the personal and political will power to do it?
Sadly, to keep the costs at the pumps down so the fossil fuel addiction can continue to flow to consumers unabated, and to keep EV and domestically produced renewable energy adoption low – the fossil fuel supported powers and bribed politicians in government keep funneling our hard earned money into supporting the fossil fuel producers and pushers with massive subsidies to the tune of $20 billion annually*! The massively powerful and insanely wealthy fossil fuel machine, working with uncaring, bribed politicians and policymakers on both sides of the political fence, are funneling loads of money into organizations that work to manufacture loads of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – in the peer-reviewed scientific evidence presented to us by the vast majority of the planet’s climate and environmental scientists. Evidence that has collectively revealed that we humans are changing the climate, the natural processes, and the stability of our atmosphere – thereby bringing about anthropogenic climate change and the sixth mass extinction of life on planet earth – and we just let this happen. Why? What is wrong with us?
Furthermore, the acquisition, shipment, refining, distribution, and use of petroleum-based fuels has resulted in countless oil, gas, and fuel leaks, spills and other accidents that have created massive impacts to our shared environmental life support system, loss of human life and wildlife, loss of health and livelihoods for countless people and families, oh and those nagging and worsening air pollution and climate change issues…just to keep the oil and gas flowing to feed the status quo so the cash can continue to flow into the bank accounts of the filthy mega-rich oil barons and corrupt politicians who are working together to enrichen themselves while destroying our shared futures.
All this madness trickles down and the lunatic fringe – in petroleum production, government, and those in their charging station bocking little toy trucks – who remain free to target and assault those of us working to make good and lasting changes in the world by adopting and promoting the following;
promoting and using “homegrown” renewable energy
promoting domestic energy security through the adoption of renewable energy resources
teaching preparedness and self-reliance through the scientific method
accepting science supported evidence and expert guided change
driving a much more energy secure, less polluting, lower maintenance, cheaper to drive, electric vehicle built in the USA and powered by American electrons.
The problem with the small number of fringe-dwelling, macho-driven, small-minded individuals that choose to intentionally block and vandalize charging stations, insult EV drivers for childish thoughtless “reasons,” (and roll coal) is that they do not think – they just act on their primal, fear-driven, toxically tribal emotions without any actual evidence or reason to back up their childish actions.
I could go on but I believe you now know what I think about this issue.
In closing – I have offered examples and explained ad nauseum the many reasons why the thoughtless practice of intentionally ICEing/blocking/vandalizing Tesla and other EV charging stations is ill-advised. However – while I may have explained it, I cannot understand it for you. That challenge is up to you and I hope you have the intellect and the common sense to do so…and to never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source.
Just before the start of this year’s international celebration of electric vehicles known as National Drive Electric Week a leak was discovered in a major gasoline pipeline in Alabama. This pipeline, that supplies gasoline to millions of people along the east coast of the USA, leaked over 330,000 gallons of gasoline into the environment. This is an aerial view of the lake in Alabama that was contaminated by the fuel spill.
This unfortunate and ironically timed disaster is yet another oily thorn in the side of the petroleum industry and it comes amid the recent and past news of multiple oil/gas pipeline leaks, explosions, oil train disasters and other mishaps all over the world, and let us not forget the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and all the petroleum related cover ups and lies by the likes ExxonMobil and Volkswagen. It is as if nature/God/the universe or whatever deity you pray to (or not) is telling all of us – “look you naked little thinking pink apes, you need to end all this madness and leave the fossil fuels in the ground where I put them in the first place! They are highly toxic and dangerous to all life forms – that is why I buried them safely underground and I expected you to leave them there! I gave you unlimited clean energy literally all around you – the winds, the sun, the waves – and what do you do!?! You, dig up the toxic waste of the past and burn it anyway ignoring the bountiful clean energy sources literally flowing, bowing, and shining all around you! Angry, yes – I am well and truly angry at you and the costs are going to be very high. But there is still time. You have one last chance to clean up your careless ways. But if you ignore the punches I have been throwing you in the form of my super storms, floods, fires, if you ignore my warnings and continue with business as usual there will be hell to pay and you just may join the dinosaurs.”
After the leak was discovered repair crews from the pipeline owner Colonial Pipeline began work on cleaning up the spill and repairing the leak in the pipe as seen in the above photo from this source. Notice how close to a body of water the pipeline is at this point. The gasoline leaked into this nearby pond and trace amounts have been found an a nearby pond as well. Luckily however, due to the location and timing of the leak it seems that a major environmental catastrophe was avoided – at least for now. We were very lucky this time but reality shows that it is only a matter of time before another pipeline breaks and causes irreparable harm to the environment and the creatures that call it home–including us. This spill could just as easily have been another Mayflower/Pegasus pipeline spill or much worse.
Unfortunately for everyone in my area, the media grabbed the story and reported on it in the way they do so well…resulting in fears of an empty tank causing long lines at the gasoline stations where people wait for access to the pumps to squeeze out every last drop of the precious, toxic, and highly addictive elixir that gives them mobility and the illusion of freedom.
Throw in a natural disaster and it gets even more interesting…
Above image from this 2012 article after Hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern US causing gas shortages and similar stress that we are facing in the southeast today.
Inevitably the gas station owners were forced to raise their prices to pay for the increased emergency shipping to get fuel to the out of gas communities in a timely manner. Many companies then took advantage of the situation and price gouging ran rampant with prices being reported as high as $5 per gallon in some areas forcing the Governors of several states to freeze gas prices until things get back to “normal.”
Below are a few links to the media explosion resulting from this fuel leak
…but could that really happen? This guy may have part of the answer…
While many believe and trust the mass media reports that a pipeline did leak causing a measurable fuel shortage, there are others that believe this is simply a manufactured demand issue designed to drive up prices and oil company profits across the board.
It is the authors opinion that it may be a mix of both and wherever the truth lies the cold hard fact that remains is that people who choose to drive vehicles powered only by gasoline are terrified that their lives and business will be disrupted by this reduction in the flow of fuel. The other cold hard fact is that this incident has revealed is that our addiction to petroleum products is dangerous and very precariously balanced on a very thin razors edge. The uninterrupted flow of gasoline and oil is all dependent on a very complex, decades old in some areas, infrastructure supported by a complex international petroleum supply chain overseen and controlled by out of date warmongering old fossil fuel pushers and their very well compensated puppets in national, state and local governments that are all hell bent on filling up their bank accounts with our hard earned money at any cost.
It is time we accept the cold hard fact that our nation is locked in a manufactured addiction to the dangerous, toxic drug that we call petroleum and all of its byproducts.
Yet, there exists another way to get around, a better way to get around.
The electric vehicle.
Sadly, many individuals and special interest groups refuse to accept it, many even deny its validity at every turn. A minority of severely addicted close minded petroleum pushers and users even call this not so new idea “un-American.” Some even go as far as mocking it by modifying their petroleum burning diesel-dino-juice guzzlers to illegally to emit clouds of noxious black smoke that they call “rolling coal” in the feeble attempt to make some sort of sad, anti-environmental statement in support of their addiction…
…it is as if they are proud of themselves and their ability to harm themselves, the people around them, and the planet that supports their very lives just to satisfy some childish belief that may or may not be based in one or all of the following observations personally made by the author of this article;
1. “This is a free country so I can do whatever the **** I want to and you can’t stop me.”
2. Everybody else is doing it and it is somehow accepted and “cool” among their circle of misguided friends.
3. I’m “sticking it to the greenies” and to “the man.” The “greenies” being anyone concerned for the future, the environment, social justice, and their children and children’s children, and “the man” being the US government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and any other governing agencies and NGO’s that work to protect us from ourselves.
4. “The “greenies” are wrong about everything. There is no problem with the atmosphere or with pollution or overpopulation etc…and in fact “climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.” (Yes, even though this statement is garishly incorrect on so many levels, there are many people that actually believe the nonsense spouted by Donald J. Trump.)
First off – it is the authors opinion that people are free to believe whatever they choose to believe unless that belief system in some way harms or oppresses other people, animals or the environment. Please, always remember this – just because you believe a thing does not make it true unless it is supported by measurable, observable, testable empirical evidence to prove that belief is the case with factual certainty.
Secondly – it is the authors opinion that many of these ancient beliefs are simply metaphors – some based on actual happenings, others simply myths and legends of ancient “superheroes” created by their authors and undertaking their heroes journeys and presented to the reader as a way to help them make sense of life, the universe, and everything. Sadly, the meaning of these centuries old lessons are often totally missed by the reader who often take them literally, out of context, out of time, and then severely misinterpret them and attempt to apply them to the situations of their modern lives that could not have even been imagined in the simple agrarian world that existed when the words were first written down. These ancient, metaphorical guidelines for life are often so distorted and misconstrued by their transcribers and followers into the erroneous understanding that they are somehow superior and separate from nature – that they have dominion over the earth and all of its inhabitants and resources and therefore they can do whatever they wish to with it. Sadly, some of those on the lunatic fringe of these belief systems are even more disturbing when they announce that they believe that the world will be ending soon and therefore nature and their daily choices and actions do not matter at all because it will all soon be destroyed by a vengeful omnipotentdeity and then, as they often say – “you will all be sorry you did not bow down and pay homage to (insert deity here).”
That kind of apathetic attitude is so scary and so unbelievably selfish.
(Note: I have personally heard all of the above statements from real people, good people, even family members and people I deeply care about, and I am just so saddened and appalled that there are people who still think and believe these things. I am so embarrassed and saddened at the actions of my own countrymen and fellow Human beings when they say and act like they do not care about anything but themselves. Where and when did we gone wrong…?)
UPDATE 9/02/17: Hurricane Harvey hit Texas a few days ago and the resulting rains flooded many of the gasoline refineries and chemical plants that our nation’s fossil fuel infrastructure is reliant upon. Fuel prices have been shooting up in many areas and panic buying has been reported as well and in the attempts to avoid what happened almost a year ago North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issues a state of emergency in order to help keep gasoline flowing into the state and the US government released 4.5 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. The damage from the storm has forced offline around 22 percent of U.S. refining capacity and 13 percent of Gulf of Mexico oil output.
Hurricane Harvey impacting the Texas coast. Image source.
As I write this some of the remnants of now tropical storm Harvey passes over my area leaving behind some soft rains showers and I am inspired to share some facts.
Knowing what the scientifically documented, testable, and undeniable facts show –
Warmer air holds more moisture.
Warmer water feeds more powerful storms.
Prior to hurricane Harvey gulf coast water temps were 85 degrees – 5 degrees above average.
Sea levels have risen by around 6″ on the Texas coast in the last few decades.
For several decades humans have been ignoring the warnings of scientists, naturalists, and common sense and have been draining, filling, paving the water/rain absorbing wetlands/grasslands in Texas/Florida (and other) low-lying coastal regions in favor of building up suburbia which have created a recipe for disastrous flooding.
The Human species’ addiction to burning fossil fuels for energy/transportation and everything else have led to measurable atmospheric carbon dioxide levels higher than they have been in 800,000 years.
This increased CO2 acts like an insulating blanket over the earth trapping heat leading to the greenhouse effect/global warming and the associated increased surface and ocean temperatures, melting of the earth’s ice caps/glaciers, sea level rise, and consequently – stronger, wetter, more destructive storms such as Harvey, Sandy and Katrina.
In other words – our unscientifically supported, largely unregulated actions have had catastrophic consequences. We humans are the root cause of anthropogenic climate change and we humans have created the perfect conditions for yet another superstorm situation for the USA with the resulting consequences – the breakdown of our fossil fuel supply systems, the loss of property, life and livelihood for our people.
These facts speak for themselves and cry out loudly – if we puny humans do not stop ignoring the warnings of climate (and other) scientists and stop burning things for energy thereby releasing atmosphere altering greenhouse gasses into the environment faster than the earth can balance things out, then the consequences are dire – nature will wipe us out of existence. It is that simple. Nature does not care about us so we must care for ourselves and that begins with caring for nature above all else because nature is from where all life originates and is supported*.
It seems rather interesting and ironic to me that these great climate change fueled mega-storms have repeatedly smashed into areas that are:
Highly populated centers of commerce, trade, inspiration, forward thinking progress and science, with people from all walks of life, all nationalities, all ethnicites, all religions, all sexual/gender orientations and…
Many are also areas known for oil and gas production/distribution.
A climate scientist or observant naturalist would say that all indications, predictions, experiments, theories – in other words all the peer reviewed science suggest that these great storms may be a product of anthropogenic climate change.
I offer this bit of long winded observation and insight into that third bit of “reasoning.” What is the omnipotent deity angry about? Is it angry that all the millions, no wait – billions of little people doing what little people do on a daily basis? Is it angry at individual little humans and their bathroom choices, their food/drink/clothing/housing/body modification/decoration choices, their petty little squabbles over who owns what piece of land, is it mad because he said she said whatever stupid comment on Twitter or Facebook, or she said a cuss word, is it angry over the chosen sexual/gender orientation of a portion of the area’s population or that of a random 16 year old kid in a random town in whoknowswhereville, is it angry because you told a white lie, is it angry because you smoked a plant deemed off limits by society, is it angry because you drank a beer, is it angry because you had a sexy thought, is it angry because you have dark skin, is it angry because you are fat or thin, is it angry because you (insert whatever reason here), is it so angry, upset, hateful, and so vengeful at your little so called “evil” infraction that it will toss all reason, common sense and human decency aside to punish you and only you by sending a monster storm your way thereby condemning the thousands or even millions of innocent people that live near you to hardship, pain, loss, and possibly even death because you and a few individuals near you chose to be human and do things we humans do? Are you being punished because you chose to love a member of the same sex or to worship nature, trees, money, sex, drugs and rock n roll instead of one of the thousands of different gods that are worshiped on planet earth today. No. These actions do not sound like the actions of a loving, caring, supportive deity. Whatever all-powerful god or gods may exist there is no evidence to suggest that it would be a hateful, spiteful being. Why would a creator being expend so much energy creating such a complex and wonderful living system that is you and then harm his/her/it’s cherished experiment? These are not the actions of a loving parent/creator. If they are then whatever god-being is doing the punishing does not deserve to be worshiped. Parents love their children unconditionally and I would hope an all powerful creator being would have an even greater capacity to do the same. So no. The creator, if it does in fact exist somewhere in the universe, does not care at all about all those petty little “infractions.” All of the minuscule minutia created by the Human condition, while obviously very important to the user, none of it will matter in 100 years nor will it matter in the grand scheme of geologic or better yet cosmic time. Should such an all-powerful cosmos designing, creating, and manipulating being exist somewhere in the cosmos, it has greater things to worry about such as keeping space-time intact, how to keep the suns burning (remember, there are literally trillions of suns out there in the cosmos), what to do about black holes, dark energy, plate tectonics, evolution, the rains out in Africa, Romulans, 42, how to keep the Daleks,asteroids and comets away from earth and so on. In other words, the super being has much more to worry about than your, or any of our lives and this is why it (if it exists) gave us the ability to reason and think for ourselves which is something that is severely lacking today. It seems that many splinter groups, factions on the lunatic fringe, and even many in the mainstream would rather hold onto destructive, divisive, intolorent, warmongering ways rather than accept the findings of science. Instead of accepting science as a way to understand nature and use that knowledge to better their lives, many misguided followers will instead pray to their deity when bad things happen and that is all well and good. Prayer is very useful in many ways for our emotional health and well-being and praying to a deity may help you bond with entire groups of like minded people. Prayer may help you feel and work better together and yes, it may have a very powerful placebo effect for the users – but it does not get things done on the ground, in the mud, on the street. The only way we can really make a concrete and lasting difference in the outcome of our lives or the future of our shared earth is with direct action through the methods and tools of science and by working together as a team. So yes, please pray all you like and pray hard but praying alone did not rescue the flooded out people of Houston, the Florida Keys, NOLA, – good and helpful people of all ethnicities and all backgrounds coming together using the methods, products, and tools of science and technology did.
However, when the tiny, pink naked apes we call humans start messing with the balance of nature – that my friend just might be the ultimate sin of all sins. Maybe, just maybe, all these recent massive and powerful storms are the omnipotent one’s way of punching the puny humans right in the face, right in the areas where we are processing the very fuel that is driving the engines of climate change. How ironic that the creator deity(s) seems to be giving us repeated series of massive black eyes for the horribly irresponsible way we have treated this (it’s) grand experiment we call life the universe and everything.
Maybe it is time we all stopped fighting over whether or not climate change is real and accept the fact that it is and that we are seeing the natural consequences of our mistreatment and mismanagement of our shared home planet, Now is the time we need to start listening to the signs, signals, and punches being thrown at us before it is too late and the experiment is deemed a failure and is ended by nature (aka the master scientist in charge) and it goes back to the drawing board and starts over like any good scientist*** would do.
It is also very interesting to note that while everyone trusted and believed the climate scientists who predicted that Harvey, Sandy and Katrina (and now as I write this superstorm Hurricane Irma just destroyed Florida) would hit the areas they did bringing the rains, winds, flooding, disruption, and catastrophic damage they brought with them but bizarrely, many of those same people do not trust or believe those very same climate scientists when they say we humans are causing climate change by our continued addiction to and burning of fossil fuels.
Wake up and grow up people. Climate scientists are here to help us save us from ourselves.
To do this we must end our dangerous and destructive addiction to fossil fuels before we are unable to recover from the disasters nature will continue to keep throwing at us.
Sadly it often takes a punch or three in the face to make us change and like the true American heroes in the below rescue video from hurricane Harvey – we need to coexist and work together if we want to save ourselves.
After watching brave Americans of all persuasions, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and religions come together to help each other out after Harvey left Texas under trillions of gallons of water, and after working with the brilliant youth of today, I believe that the age of the science deniers, haters, doubters, and sadly misdirected individuals are a dying breed and that a new wave of reason is sweeping the globe.
Yet even greater hope comes from the many churches, monasteries, and convents are installing and blessing solar arrays. Scout groups, schools and universities are divesting from all fossil fuel investments and going renewable in order to be better stewards of this earth and to educate the children on a better way to use our natural resources. Now is the time we all must wake up and listen to the science and accept the fact that science and religion can work together in protection and stewardship of our shared earth, its natural resources and all its creatures.
Indigenous peoples such as the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes are speaking out and protesting against the injustices being heaped upon their peoples and cultures by the actions of the past and sadly, the actions of today. Personally, I fully support the Sioux and other indigenous tribes and their supporters that are fighting fossil fuel projects all over the world in order to protect their lands, waters and future generations from harm due to our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels.
Photo source and another good read on the Standing Rock Dakota Access situation.
Yet even more hope comes from youth from all over the planet. The younger generation is waking up to the truth that has been hidden from us all for so long. They are working to raise awareness of the environmental and human problems our addiction to fossil fuels are causing. Youth groups all around the planet and other youth led organizations such as the Earth Guardians and Our Children’s Trust are working hard and even bringing lawsuits against governments to create positive change working toward a clean, renewable powered future for us all.
The students and children shall lead the clean energy revolution.
I took the above photo recently after presenting a wildlife education show to a local school. After my presentation I introduced the students to my car. After I explained to them how it works, how much money I save, and how by driving electric you can help preserve nature, wildlife and our future environment, they were unanimously in favor of going EV. Yes, after meeting wonderful young adults such as these I have great hope for the future and I have no doubt that we will be able to end our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels. But it will take hard work and dedication from all of us to break the bonds of this addiction and to make it happen for us all, for the earth and for the future.
You can end, or at least lower, your reliance on fossil fuels.
You do not have to be wealthy or a celebrity to truly make a difference and lower your carbon footprint.
You too can drive electric.
As an example let’s take the case of my Nissan Leaf.
This is what I found this morning when I walked out of my door about to make the 13 mile journey to work.
My little 2012 Nissan Leaf EV was fully charged and ready to roll.
I unplugged the charger, got inside, turned the car on to find…
A wonderful 82 miles of all electric range! I pulled out of the driveway and headed through the unusually sparse traffic for 8:30 am. As I made my way to work I noticed a local gas station that was empty…quite a change from a few days before…so I pulled in to investigate. This is what I found.
I was so happy to have my little EV at that moment! Even with it’s limited range I can always fill it up with electrons anywhere there is an electrical outlet.
As I prepared to pull out of the station I suddenly became aware of three gas powered vehicles quickly converging on my location! I quickly realized that they must have seen my car in front of the pumps and assumed the station had product so they all dove in hoping to get some gas. I quickly and silently eased out of the station, between the converging cars, and on down the road. I had a small bit of anxiety at the thought of what some folks would do if they ran out of gas and could not do the things they need and want to do…and saw my EV silently driving down the road…now I know at least one of the reasons Max was mad.
Those few of us early adopters who made the switch to electric vehicles over the last few years look on as we pass by the conflagrations with amazement, wonder, and a bit of fear and much more than range anxiety…and then we pull up to our EV fueling stations with little to no competition…and grin that EV grin 🙂
We then calmly (and often freely or for a nominal fee) plug in and let the electrons flow into our sweet, silent, futuristic electric vehicles and we can’t help but grin that EV grin…again…because we know that driving electric is just a better way to drive.
I am fully aware that fueling these all electric vehicles requires some fossil fuels such as coal but with gas out of the picture we are on our way to a much cleaner, safer, healthier, quieter society. I believe Arnold Schwarzenegger said it well here when he came up with an excellent reason why we need to all go green.
There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.
I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.
I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice — who would ever want to breathe those fumes?
Clean, reliable, solar, wind and EV technologies are available NOW off the shelf and off the lot. In fact, you can now even find a good used EV for the same price as a good used gas guzzler in fact, many collage students are snatching up used Leafs as their daily drivers because they just make so much sense. Check out Carvana.com for some really great deals on used Leafs!
On top of that the cost of solar has dropped exponentially in the last few years. Just stop and think for a moment…is your roof soaked in sunshine all or most of the day? Why not cover it in solar panels and put it to work for you?
Photo credit A.J. Rowell
Just think about it. If you had an electric vehicle right now how happy would you be that you did not have to go to the gas station? Maybe you could be like this guy who swapped his dirty, toxic VW “clean” diesel for an EV. Just stop and think for a moment how nice it would feel to be able to be truly free from the subscription to dependency and resulting high costs (to your bank account and the environment) and headaches of paying for gas and electricity. Imagine if your electric bill was only a few dollars a month? Most of us who are able to read these words honestly have no real excuse to not make the switch to cleaner technologies. If these options sound good to you, if they sound possible, then make it a goal to at least do some more research into the topic. Imagine.
Photo credit A.J. Rowell
This gasoline madness is just that, madness.
Six years ago my wife and I started making the switch from gas to electric with the purchase of a rechargeable string trimmer (weed eater). Then in 2013 we ditched our ageing Honda CRV for our 2012 Nissan Leaf 100% electric vehicle. Since then we have fallen in love with both of them because they save us loads of money, they are quiet and fun to use/drive and they are so much better for the earth and for our health. While they still require some fossil fuels to charge (until we can one day go solar), the gas and oil have been taken out of the equation and that is a huge thing in so many ways.
A few days ago the little string trimmer finally died so I replaced it with an upgraded 80 volt heavy duty model and an electric leaf blower (they have interchangeable batteries)! Now we are even closer to one day becoming an all electric family and kissing gas goodbye forever!
Going electric is not only for the well to do, I should know because I am anything but rich. Anyone can go electric and end your addiction to dirty, polluting, harmful, dangerous and outdated fossil fuels. All it takes is a little research, a test drive, a small amount of adaptation and compromise and soon, like me, you can be passing gas every day and loving every minute of it 🙂
On September 20 the gasoline tanker trucks started arriving in my area and select stations were able to dispense their product to the public.
On September 21st, as I again traveled that familiar road to work, I stopped at the local gasoline filling station…to squeegee my windshield 🙂
And I noticed that the pumps were all still out of service…all except for diesel.
On September 22nd drivers of gas powered vehicles breathed a sigh of relief when the pipeline began operations again after a bypass was put in place around the damaged pipe. Hopefully soon the fuel supply will be back to some form of “normal” and those that drive only gas powered vehicles**** will be able to get around as in the past. I only hope that this little incident has left many of them questioning fossil fuels and thinking seriously about making the switch to EV’s.
How long will it be until the next pipeline ruptures? Will it be in your neighborhood? Only time will tell.
UPDATE: November 01, 2016 – the very same Colonial Pipeline that caused this fuel shortage just over a month ago exploded yesterday killing one person and severely burning several more.
It seems that we did not have to wait very long for the next major pipeline incident. More on this development to follow. Now do you now see why it is of utmost importance that we break our dangerous addiction to almighty oil and focus on renewable energy!
If the actions of the gasoline addicted public are any indications, I now know that one of the reasons Max was mad was because he was addicted to gasoline.
We have choices. Be the change.
* I am sure I will get some flak for this statement from folks who believe nature was put here for us to use up, dominate, consume, and destroy, in whatever manner we may dream up and that belief is total bull crap. But, whatever. Say what you will – I have stopped feeding the trolls. Feeding trolls only makes them stronger so do not expect a reply unless you put down your emotional ammunition and be reasonable.
***It is my opinion that if there is an all powerful supreme omnipotent consciousnesses in charge of the universe, there is no evidence to suggest that it is a grumpy, vengeful, bearded old white human man on a golden throne. I refuse to accept that out of date old racist and sexist image. Whatever it is or whatever it is not, if it exists it must above all else be a great scientist with a flair for the arts. Only a truly great scientist could design and implement the amazing and complex interconnected self balancing and self governing system that is the cosmos and only an artist could make it so beautiful. Or it is a dog because dog spelled backwards is god 😉
****Yes, I do have another vehicle and sadly is is powered by nasty gasoline. I only use it for hauling, towing a trailer, occasional long distance excursions, and drive it very sparingly. During this gas outage I left it parked and was so very glad I had an EV. One day soon, when a car company produces an EV truck, I will rid myself of the old dinosaur and go 100% EV – maybe it will be a Bollinger B1!
I took a Tesla Model S 90D road trip to New Jersey recently from North Carolina. As you can probably tell, I enjoy talking about it. I used Autopilot about 90% of the time. It worked well on Interstate, but can’t be trusted in construction zones, on secondary roads or anywhere there are not clearly visible lane markings on both sides of the road. Just like traditional cruise control, there is a time and place to use it — or not.
Charging was not an issue. I just stopped at the Tesla Superchargers that were indicated by the on-board computer (two stops/day, four stops for the entire 750 mile trip to NJ). There were more superchargers along the way than needed so I even passed up a few. The biggest change was to my stomach. After a free breakfast one morning at my hotel, the car needed a 40 minute charge about an hour later. So I had another light breakfast while waiting. Next trip I can eliminate double eating by staying at a hotel with a “destination charger” so the car starts the day with a full charge or at a hotel that doesn’t offer free breakfast!
While at my son’s home, we converted an unused 30A/240V dryer outlet to the outlet used by Tesla (identical to outlets installed for electric ranges). I used it to charge the Model S as a test even though there is a supercharger only 10 miles away. I set the Tesla to charge at 24 amps which is 80% of the 30 amp breaker on the circuit as recommended by the National Electrical Code.
The car is fun to drive. I gave my daughter-in-law, Sibel, and grand daughter, Isobel, their first ride in an electric car. When I “stepped on it”, Sibel let out a short scream and 5-year old Isobel said “do it again, grandpa!”
The only strange car behavior was that the computer locked up once while driving. The car continued to drive normally, but I was without navigation and radio for a couple of minutes so I could have missed a turn if there had been one. The computer automatically rebooted itself and returned to normal. I plan to ask Tesla about that. Perhaps car computers need rebooting occasionally just like desktops. I also thought the A/C was a little weak compared to my old Acura, but that might just be a learning curve on the way I use the controls. Outside temperature was 90+ most of the time I was driving.
All in all, I really enjoy the car. The more I learn to use the features, the more I like it. I haven’t yet dared try Autopark and Summon. I don’t want to ding up the car prematurely!
Editor: When Bill finally gets around to testing out Autopark and Summon I hope he decides to write about it and post it here :-
The biggest adjustment for me has been the the feel of the regenerative braking and the accelerator pedal. It feels a little like driving a golf cart. When you let up on the pedal, the car starts braking immediately, so you only have to use the brake to fully stop the car after it has already slowed to a crawl. After 3000 miles, it is finally beginning to feel “normal”. I suspect next time I rent a gas car, that car will feel strange.
The below photo of my Model S was taken at an SAE J1772 charger normally used by Leafs and Volts but which can also be used to charge a Tesla with a supplied adapter. It charges more slowly than a supercharger, but is a good backup if I ever need it. I was trying it out to make sure I knew how to use it.
Editor: Just last night I had the privilege to meet with Bill and several other members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club at a planning meeting for the upcoming National Drive Electric Week EV car show we will be hosting in Asheville, NC. (Read more about it and sign up here). At this meeting we all parked our EV’s around the recently installed BrightfieldTS solar EV charging station at Earthfare in south Asheville for some truly electrifying photos – take a look at this one with Bill’s Tesla front and center below!
Thank you Bill for your exciting story of Tesla ownership! I hope to join you one day with a Model 3 🙂
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The way I see the relationship of debt to owning a car – petroleum or electric powered – is, simply put:
Either one is a subscription to dependency
No matter the car, just the act of buying the thing means you will have to pay weekly, monthly and yearly “subscriptions” for the fuel, repairs, tax, insurance etc…just for the privilege of owning and driving the thing.
To me the logical choice is to buy the one that fits your needs and is more, well…logical.
When buying a vehicle I take a scientific approach and try to leave emotion out of the decision so as not to be swayed by peer pressure (from friends, coworkers and the myriad of flashy automotive ads that saturate the mass media) or manufactured conformity (buy this car to be cool, look good, or “fit in” to some imaginary status caste) or manufactured demand (you need this-you need that–because without it you will be nothing so buy,buy,buy!).
Nor do I listen to annoying, obnoxious, car salespersons like this guy. I listen more to owners who post their stories and experiences on automotive blogs such as this one 🙂 and then I do all of my own extensive research and crunch my own numbers before making a final decision based on my findings.
So, in my rationale I could either;
Buy a gas powered car and pay the (higher) subscription fee for the gas, oil and tune-ups and resulting environmental damage cost caused by the cradle to grave environmental and human cost of the mining, shipment, refining, and distribution of those petroleum products that the vehicle requires to operate.
A blast from the past a 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
Also, when I drive a petroleum powered vehicle I am willingly but not happily forced to accept the sad but true fact that the actual end use of all petroleum based fuels requires much less time to actually burn the fuel to propel the vehicle down the road from point A to point B…than the entire complicated and precarious supply chain that has been constructed to bring that fuel to my car’s fuel tank.
In other words depending on the country of origin of the crude oil it can take weeks to months to explore, deal, mine, protect, trade, ship, refine, store, and transport the fuel to the station where I finally pump it into my tank and then burn it up in only a few days or even a few hours. Then there is the sad facts that it takes 44 gallons of water and around 15 kilowatts of energy to mine, ship and refine just one gallon of gasoline–ONE GALLON! That is about half of the amount of water I use in a day and that 15kw of electricity would push my Nissan Leaf EV about 50 miles down the road! Now if you really want a shocker multiply the above numbers times how many gallons of gas your car holds and if that does not make you furious with the oil companies I do not know what will? I did the math for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner and the results are shocking: the amount of water required to produce just one tank of gas is: 814 gallons!!! The electricity needed: 277.5 kW!!! WOW! By my calculations that amount of water and electricity would supply my wife and I, our house and EV for over 2 weeks (with my car going an average of 200 miles/week)!! Now, figure that for a month…a year…or a decade…of petroleum powered vehicle ownership…it just makes me want to cry.
The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon incident
My rather long-winded but valid point here is that the amount of energy and waste required just to get us down the road in gasoline powered vehicles is just incredible!
There is also the huge cost in human damage, suffering, pain and death caused by the fact that the acquisition of a portion of those petroleum products come from powers and factions that may support terrorism with some of that money. These powers and factions often become involved in wars that drag us into the melee because we are addicted to their product for which many of us cannot live without due to our societal dictated and manufactured purchasing choices so we are forced to fight in their wars in order to keep the oil flowing to feed our sickening dependency.
We are shamefully and totally hooked on oil.
Last but not least there is the environmental damage and degradation caused by the mining, shipping, refining and burning of petroleum (and all) fossil fuels. We have been burning petroleum as our primary liquid fuel and coal as our primary solid fuel for a little over a century and in that very short time we have polluted our planet’s oh so very fragile atmosphere, oceans and wildlife with toxic compounds from oil spills and copious amounts of carbon dioxide–a naturally occurring and harmless gas when in “normal levels” but when in excessive levels it becomes a potent “greenhouse gas” with disastrous effects on life on earth. It is true that CO2 has positive properties when in “normal levels.” If you think back you learned of this in your high school biology class. You will remember that it’s positive properties are; 1. It allows plants to grow and via photosynthesis create oxygen as a byproduct so animals like puppies and kittens, bunnies and whales, and you and me get to live. 2. Another one of its positive properties is that when it is in the form of atmospheric CO2 it traps heat like a blanket on a bed. This heat trapping ability allows the atmosphere of the earth to stay warm enough for life to exist and that my dear reader is a good thing in every way.
However, due to the continued and rapid burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) what we are doing to the planet is so far above anything that could be ever considered “normal levels” that the planet’s ecosystems are unable to cope with the influx of high levels of carbon pollution and in turn it the climate has begun to heat up. It is as if we are adding more blankets to our bed without thinking about how hot it is going to get and how hard it will be to remove the blankets. This process has often been called “global warming” but a more accurate term that better describes the problem would be anthropogenic climate change. This is climate change caused by things we humans do to the planet such as burning fossil fuels. If you would like a good visual of how this works consider the following video by one of my heroes – Bill Nye “The Science Guy.”
Or, on the other hand I could drive an EV and pay the much lower cost for the electricity subscription, support the hard working Americans that build the cars (in the case of Nissan, Chevy, Ford, Tesla, Apple, Faraday Future and more) mine the coal, install and maintain the solar arrays, wind turbines, hydro-electric and nuclear power plants that provide my car with power to move down the road. The simple fact is that the electricity supply chain is much shorter and more efficient than the petroleum supply chain. In the area where I live, the mountains of western North Carolina, the power used to fuel an EV (and a house) is produced locally by a combination of coal, gas, solar, wind and hydro power plants so is therefore MUCH cleaner than any petroleum product will ever be. (Read the true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )
KUWAIT. US soldiers and helicopters in front of burning oil fields. 1991.
The human cost of driving EV is also MUCH more positive in that foreign wars do not need to be fought over their fuel source–electricity–since it is produced domestically, locally and in some cases on your own property! If you have the means to install solar panels or some other form of renewable energy on your property you could easily power your home and EV(s) with clean, unlimited, renewable energy for free (after the cost of the system).
That my friend is brilliant!
Charging up my Leaf at a local solar-electric EV charging station on the campus of UNCA in Asheville, NC.
The sad fact is that now, in many states such as Florida and in my home state of North Carolina, our state government is hell bent on destroying renewable energy development despite the fact that NC is near the top in the nation for new solar installations which, if allowed to continue to grow, our energy grid would continue to get cleaner with each renewable energy installation and in turn the carbon footprint of our homes and our EV’s would just get smaller. There is absolutely no logical reason this kind of backward action should ever be allowed to happen yet our lawmakers and politicians seem to be simply backward thinking Luddites who fear anything new and fear positive change especially when it means good paying jobs, a cleaner environment, and equal rights for all people. If we ever want to progress and if we ever want to break our addiction to fossil fuels we MUST get the fossil fuel fired old fossils out of office and replace them with science minded, educated, caring people who think toward the future and want to make good and lasting change happen for everyone. That change will only happen if we do our research, speak out, vote, and get active.
Either way and whatever car I choose to drive I will always have to pay the subscription to dependency to drive and power the thing…however, I choose the EV because it has a much lower subscription cost* and a much smaller environmental, human and future impact cost and that is as important to me as is the money. *I drive an average of 200 miles/week and my Nissan Leaf EV costs me only about $7-10/week in electricity!!
However, something else to consider is that the EV may initially cost a bit more than the gas car so therefore I may need to finance the EV and go into debt. Yuck…yet another subscription to dependency. However, by buying the EV I would, from day one, have more money in my pocket since I have no gas, oil or maintenance costs typically associated with gas powered vehicles (especially used cars) so…all that money that I would have pumped into the gas tank and crankcase and then burned up and spewed into our shared atmosphere (to the determent of my loved ones, wildlife, the earth and future generations) can now be used to pay off the car loan 🙂
In conclusion; my sleuthing, science and number crunching all allow me to come to the conclusion that I would rather pay for the financing on the EV than drive a lower initial cost yet high operational, high environmental cost, petroleum powered car…but that is my logic, and everyone’s logic is colored and molded by their knowledge, research and experiences so you can take it with a grain of salt if you wish.
Do not believe the fossil fuel fed naysayers who have spent millions on manufactured lies, false advertising through mainstream media outlets and propaganda campaigns (online and on TV) that try to say electric vehicles are dirtier to operate than their petroleum powered counterparts–none of these stories are true.
Even in the dirtiest states with the blackest, coal fired grids, an EV powered by 100% coal produced electricity (which is rare now with all the new wind and solar farms going online all the time) is still much cleaner than any gasoline powered vehicle ever will be (especially Volkswagen’s “clean diesels” or any diesel for that matter) and, because the electricity it uses to push it down the road is generated domestically by Americans – it supports American jobs and does not support foreign wars and terrorism…and that is a really good thing. Furthermore, there are those who will say “what happens to the battery when it reaches the end of its life? It must be toxic waste and more dangerous than the emissions generated over the life of a gas powered car?!?! Answer, this is simply more lies and fabrications designed by those who want to keep you addicted to petroleum fuels. The truth is that the lithium-ion batteries that drive an EV are 100% recyclable. Before they are recycled they are often used as back up power supplies for computer data centers and soon even houses just like a back up generator. (Learn more true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )
The 215 mile range Tesla Model 3 will be hitting the roads very soon!
I truly believe the day is coming very soon when kids will look to their parents and say “Mom, dad – why are you driving that dirty old gas guzzler when you could save so much money, have a great car, and protect my health and future by driving an EV?” and ” I want my first car to be all electric!” ( I already hear that from students in my middle and high school science classes all the time 🙂 Then there’s this very encouraging article from England: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-british-teenagers-expect-their-first-car-be-electric-1524811
Soon, I believe within 3-5 years, the choice will be ours to go electric and support a clean, healthy war-free future for us all or…digress and remain in the past while denying the science and refusing to accept the inevitable truth that driving EV is just a better and more economical way to drive for everyone, for the planet and for the future.
In the fall of 2015 I noticed the Leaf’s brakes acting unusual at low speeds. As I was slowing down at speeds below 30 mph the brakes would grab and slow the car in an inconsistent manner. It was as if there was a sticky substance on the brake rotors causing them to grab intermittently and very briefly, slowing the rotation of the brake rotors making for an uncomfortable ride. This problem came and went at random- the only factors that were consistent were;
it always happened at speeds below 30 mph
it was more frequent in cold or wet weather
it was always random
When the issue first started I promptly called Jennifer in the service department of Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC where I regularly have my car serviced, to get the issue investigated…unfortunately, she informed me that the service department was closed for a day or so while they were having their floors resurfaced so my only option was to take the Leaf to the Hunter Nissan service department in nearby Hendersonville, NC for the check up. Upon arrival at Hunter I dropped my Leaf off in the service department and browsed the lot while I waited for a report.
My Leaf at Hunter waiting to be checked out…it is very dirty due to the constant rains associated with the powerful 2015-16 ElNino
Soon, I found myself checking out the details of an NV200 small cargo van and shortly thereafter a wonderful sales associate ( I wish I could remember his name) introduced himself and we were off taking a test drive in the NV200.
The test drive and conversation with the salesman was wonderful but obviously I had no intention on buying an NV200 because it is powered by the wrong fuel for my needs…gasoline.
The reason I test drove it was to try to get an idea what the electric version of this small van might be like to drive. Th electric version is the eNV200 and it is powered by the very same battery-electric drive-train found in the Leaf. My test drive was wonderful, with the NV200 driving surprisingly well for a small van…it really felt like I was driving a car. However, I do not believe it is a good comparison with the eNV200 because truthfully, from my point of view as an EV owner – it was noisy, vibrated, and smelled a bit odd. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking down the NV200 at all, it is a very capable vehicle and all those things I mentioned are status quo for gas powered vehicles. In my defense I suppose I am a bit more sensitive to these things because I have been driving electric almost every day now for 2.5 years so I guess you could say I’m a bit biased since my conversion to the wonderful all electric Nissan Leaf. In fact, thanks to Nissan who is leading the way in the world of electric vehicles, I’m a total convert to driving electric. So much so in fact that I will eventually divest from gasoline totally and the path to make that happen for me is the eNV200. If Nissan ever decides to bring it to the USA I will be the first to own one and will use it as the company vehicle in my nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation and conservation and renewable energy education organization Earthshine Nature Programs. I’m sure the eNV200 is an even capable vehicle than the NV200 due to its lower center of gravity, higher low end torque, virtually silent drive-train, and much lower operating costs.
Sadly however, the game changing all electric version of this wonderful small van is currently only available in Europe and Japan and there is no word from Nissan when or if they have plans to bring it to the USA.
I feel so passionate about this vehicle becoming a reality in the USA that I recently authored a blog post on this amazing van and how I believe Nissan should get to work on bringing it to the USA as soon as possible. In my opinion, if they do not, they are missing out on a really great opportunity found in the thousands of large and small business owners, Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers that would jump at the chance to lower their overhead, make a difference, and drive clean, green, EV vans on their daily routes in cities, towns, and in the countryside of the USA.
Maybe one day soon, Nissan will decide to bring the eNV200 to the USA and offer it for sale alongside the best selling EV on the planet –
the 100% electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf.
Until that time I will continue to drive my Leaf and love every gas free mile.
Charging up at a BrightfieldTS solar charging station in Asheville, NC.
After the test drive I had a nice chat with some of the Nissan employees about the eNV200, Leaf, IDS concept and the future of EV’s in general.
Then I received the message that my car was ready and I was told that they could not duplicate the problem…interesting?
I knew the problem was there because I had experienced it but Nissan’s own service technicians could not find any issues…and apparently their diagnostics did not reveal any issues either…reminds me of when you finally get in to see the doctor…and the symptoms are gone. Murphy’s law.
I drove off the lot a bit frustrated with the situation but since there was nothing I could do about it I went on with my day.
A few weeks later I found myself in Asheville, NC pulling up to a CHAdeMO DCQC to grab a charge when out of the blue the car exhibited the odd braking symptoms again! This time I was ready for it and had installed a LeafSpy Pro app on my smartphone coupled with a Konnwei KW902 OBDII Bluetooth adapter (read more about it on the Electric Vehicle Wiki.) This device allows me to monitor the Leaf’s systems at a glance and, at the push of a button, scan all of the car’s systems for error codes (see below photo for an example of how LeafSpy Pro reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes. Note, these codes are not from my car, I found this photo on the LeafSpyPro app page in the Google Play Store.)
As soon as the Leaf’s brakes started acting up I rolled to a stop and hit the Leaf Spy only to discover all systems were green and operating perfectly – save for the BCM that was throwing out an error code. I promptly called Anderson Nissan and informed Jennifer of the issue. She said that I should get the Leaf to her ASAP. I agreed with her because as I see it – if there is a both a physically detectable and technologically documented problem in the braking system of you car, putting things off is never a safe option.
I was only about 5 miles from Anderson Nissan so off I went and soon I was rolling through the big bay doors and onto the beautiful, newly finished service room floor. Jennifer was there to greet me and after she gathered the required information she informed me that the 3 year/36k mile basic warranty on the car had expired within the last few days and that the braking system was no longer covered by the warranty…bummer.
She said however that since I had documented the problem almost two months before and had been a loyal customer of the Anderson Nissan Service Department since I had purchased the Leaf, that she would contact corporate and see about getting the part covered in “good faith” but the only catch was that it may take several days to get an answer from Nissan HQ. I had no issues with waiting because Jennifer and team quickly had me a loaner car – the pretty, new Nissan Altima in the photo below.
I drove off leaving the Leaf behind thinking I would see it again in a few days…but that was not the case because Mr. Murphy is always ready and waiting to pull out his law and make life a bit more complicated for us all.
A few days later I spoke with Jennifer and learned that Nissan had agreed to cover the cost of the brake master cylinder and booster assembly as well as the Intelligent Brake Control Module (IBCM) under a good faith agreement. The only cost to me was going to be for the use of the loaner car that had now become a rental. This was great news to me especially when I found out the cost of the OEM components would have been $2000!! Ouch!!
THANK YOU NISSAN and THANK YOU JENNIFER!!
Later, I did some quick research online and found a used OEM unit for $265 which I would have opted for had Nissan not been able to cover the parts under warranty. I’m a teacher and do it yourself mechanic and would find covering a $2000 repair bill out of the question unless there was absolutely no other way. Luckily, that was not needed as Nissan agreed to cover the parts…whew! I am very glad I did not need to install used parts in my Leaf just yet because the car is still covered under its 5yr/60k mile power-train and 96 month/100k mile drive battery warranty so during that time I do not want to use anything but new OEM parts if possible for fear of voiding any part of the warranty. I may be overly cautious with this but I feel it is better to err on the side of caution in these matters.
Jennifer then said that the parts needed to fix Elektra were not going to be in for several more days. I was fine with this as I had the now rental car but the issue was that I needed to go out of town on important family business and had no other option but drive the Altima. She said I could take the rental car out of town so on the road I went…WOW! Nissan and Jennifer are even more AWESOME!!
A week later I returned from my out of town trip, borrowed a car and, and returned the Altima – which by the way gets amazing fuel economy – it averaged around 40 mpg for the entire time I had it! When I dropped off the Altima I learned from Jennifer that the parts were in transit and should be installed by the end of the week. At the same time I snapped this pic of Elektra looking lonely in a parking lot full of gas powered cars.
A few days later I spoke with Jennifer again and she said the parts were going to be installed on Saturday! Woo Hoo!! Below is a pictorial timeline of the removal of Elektra’s faulty braking system components and the installation of the new parts.
In the middle of surgery to remove the defective parts
The defective parts removed. Note the hole in the top center looking into the cabin of the car. This is where the brake master cylinder/booster assembly bolts to the bulkhead.
The defective components
The shiny new components
The surgery is complete!
On the road again! (Yes, the little Nissan Leaf is surprisingly agile in the snow!)
A huge thank you NissanHQ, Anderson Nissan, Jennifer, Marlon, the Leaf technician that performed the “surgery,” and the other players behind the scenes that all worked together to get my Leaf back on the road as painlessly and as fast as possible and for helping me make this blog posting happen for all those out there that are interested in learning about driving the all electric Nissan Leaf (and hopefully one day soon, the eNV200 van!)
Awesome, friendly, service from Jennifer, Marlon and crew!
Very well done!
(…they even washed it and fully charged it!!!)
Until next time…
“Plug into the future!”
Blue water leaf is not affiliated or responsible for any ads that may appear below this line.
I offer just the facts on EV’s from the point of view of an EV owner of 2.5 years.
FACT: In 2013 I purchased a one year old 2012 Nissan Leaf (100% electric car) with 1,200 miles on the odometer. I have now driven the Leaf over 33,000 gas free miles. UPDATE as of 6/21/17: I have now driven the Leaf over 50,000 miles.
FACT: I drive it daily to work and back in all weather, on paved and gravel roads, and up and down the mountains we call home. I drive it an average of 40-45 miles/day and more on weekends. Due to the wonderful and growing EV charging network that continues to expand and open the roads to EV drivers – I can go almost anywhere in the WNC/Upstate SC/East Tennessee areas with no problems.
A GE charging station in Black Mountain, NC.
MYTH: It is very expensive to charge an EV.
FACT: Just the opposite. It costs me an average of $.89/day – close to $7/week in electricity to drive the EV around 300 miles/week. When charging at community EV charging stations (level 2 and 3) I usually pay around $2 – $6 to fully charge my Leaf and many of these stations are in fact…free. Many of these stations are also solar powered so some of my electric fuel is solar generated and my EV is then solar driven and fully zero emission! Learn more at www.brightfieldts.com
FACT: Even when I account for the cost of electricity over the last 2.5 years – I have still saved close to $3000 that I would have spent on gas and oil had we continued to drive two gas powered cars.
Charging the Leaf in downtown Salisbury, NC on a recent road trip.
MYTH: EV’s have very short range, will run out of “juice” and leave you stranded.
FACT: While the currently available EV’s do have limited ranges varying from around 70 to 300 miles on one charge – like most newer Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered vehicles they have alert systems to let you know when your fuel level is getting low. They also have sophisticated GPS connected navigation systems that allow you to plan your trip ahead of time taking into account stops at charging stations along the way.
No matter if you run out of a charge or if you run out of gas – it is your fault for not planning ahead as I found out recently in the blog post just before this one.
A Tesla Model S charging.
MYTH: “Electric Vehicles are not zero emissions, they run on coal, and are dirtier and more polluting than internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles that run on gas/diesel fuel.”
Let’s break it down…get ready because this is detailed.
FACT: Battery Electric Vehicles BEV’s (the focus of this report) do not run on anything but electricity and are themselves – zero emission. That being said, depending on how that electricity is generated– the place it gets its electricity–could be “dirty” (coal) or “clean” (renewable energy) but in most places it is a combination of both so let’s dig deeper.
FACT: A small ICE car emits ~390 grams of Carbon Dioxide CO2/mile.
FACT: The average power consumed by a small EV is ~.25 KWh/mile.
FACT: ~907 grams of CO2/KWh is emitted from coal fired power plants in the dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas.
FACT: 907 (g) x .25 (KWh) = 226 grams/mile in dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas, which remains lower than the 390 grams from the small ICE car so in reality, even if your EV is charged in an area that gets all of its electricity from coal, EV’s are still cleaner than a comparable ICE powered vehicle.
MYTH: Building more EV’s will require us to build many more power plants to provide all the electricity to operate all of them.
FACT: EV’s are charged from the same utility grid that your mobile devices use. Like your devices, EV’s come with their own charging cable that plugs into a standard electrical outlet found on the outside of your house. Like most of your mobile electronic devices they are usually charged at night, while you are sleeping, and when electricity generated from emissions free wind and hydro power is in low demand, lower in cost, and goes mostly unused – so there is ample supply to power your EV. For those opposed to plugging in (or the busy, lazy and/or forgetful types) now in development are inductive charging highway lanes that, when you need a charge, you will just simply drive in the lane and your car will charge while moving at speed! There are also currently available inductive charging pads (just like you can buy for mobile devices) but made for select EV’s. This will eliminate the need to plug in your EV at home and possibly one day you will even be able to just park in an EV charging parking space and your car will automatically start charging as you walk away.
FACT: The US power grid is getting cleaner every day as more fossil fuel fired power plants are retired and more renewable energy power systems go online – so in these areas especially, EV’s are much cleaner.
Three Nissan Leafs, A Chevy Volt, and a Tesla Model S charging at the BrightfieldTS solar canopy charger in downtown Asheville, NC.
FACT: One parking space covered with a canopy of photovoltaic solar panels (2.5KW) in the southeast would produce around 3,292 KWh/year. This will operate an EV for around 13-16K miles of 100% emissions free driving on clean, sunshine generated electricity!
FACT: EV’s produce a portion of their own fuel via the process known as regenerative breaking – try to find an ICE powered vehicle that does that!
FACT: The average EV travels an average of 4 miles/Kilowatt hour (KWh) of electricity.
FACT: It takes 6 KWh of electricity to refine one gallon of gasoline (source US DOE).
FACT: The average EV can travel 24 miles on the power that it takes to refine just one gallon of gasoline!
FACT: It takes ~9 KWh of energy to extract and transport the crude oil that will be refined into that gasoline.
FACT: An EV could travel an additional 36 miles on this energy.
So, no new power plants are needed, especially if we do not produce the gallon of gas. So…get an EV, and drive 60 all-electric miles on the same amount of energy we are generating today to refine all that dirty gasoline…
Save the 44 gallons of water that it takes to refine that one gallon of gasoline! It is a no-brainer.
While anyone with a purely electric vehicle will tell you that good trip planning is essential for anyone owning a fully electric vehicle, you just never know what may happen out there on the road. Back in the days before electric vehicles I would always carry a small plastic “jerrycan” just in case I ran out of gas. Today, I always carry a 100′ heavy duty extention cord in my EV for the very same purpose. Good thing for those of us that drive 100% electric vehicles, there are thousands of dedicated charging stations in most cities across the USA and the world however, in between those EV chargers there are also millions of standard 110v electric outlets everywhere you will find people and their buildings.
These outlets and their electricity can be accessed in emergencies…with permission of course. That said, I have only had to plug into a handfull of outlets due to a low battery charge since owning the Leaf–one of the first being on day one of Leaf ownership…I was such a greenhorn :-)…and most recently on a road trip I covered in this blog posting.
Trickle charging at the SmokyQ BBQ in Marion, NC.
When I have had to do so, most of the people that have granted me access to their outlets have been very friendly, very interested in EV technology, and have freely offered some of their electricity. In return I have always left them a generous tip for the use of their electricity and their time. In almost every instance the most valuable thing I have driven away with is not the electricity, but the friendly conversation with an individual I would have never met if not for my EV. I offer the below recent video as an example.
In fact, many EV owners including myself, list their homes and businesses on Plugshare.com as residential EV charging locations. They do this in support of other EV drivers that may be close to the end of their vehicle’s range and need a charge to get to the next high power charging station and they do this to be part of the rapidly growing community of like-minded, forward thinking EV owners who see a brighter, cleaner, fossil fuel free future on the horizon for us all.
MYTH: It is very expensive to power an EV.
FACT: The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents/kWh. Therefore the average person driving an average EV 15,000 miles per year will pay about $540.00 per year to charge it. Personally I spend less than $300/year on electricity to fuel my Leaf…how much did you pay for gasoline/diesel last year?
I bet it was much more than that.
Think about what could you have done with all that extra money you spent on gas and oil? Just think about it…or remain in denial of the facts. It is your choice.
FACT: Believe it or not – five 100 watt light bulbs left on continuously for a year use nearly the same amount of energy as it takes to power an electric car 15,000 miles! Here’s how: Five 100 watt light bulbs use 500 watts. In 24 hours they use 12,000 watt-hours or 12kWh. In 365 days they use 4,380kWh. A typical EV that uses 30 kWh for every 100 miles will use 4,500 kWh to drive 15,000 miles! Simply by turning unnecessary lighting off at your home, you can drastically reduce or completely eliminate your annual transportation fuel cost. Try doing that with an ICE powered vehicle! (The cost of LED lighting products has dropped recently so we have replaced almost all of our light bulbs in our house with LED’s. This has not only saved us money but we have also totally offset the cost of driving our Leaf EV!)
Learn more here: www.pluginamerica.org/drivers-seat/how-much-does-it-cost-charge-electric-car
Cars are not the only way you can reduce emissions by switching to EV’s
FACT: One piece of gas burning lawn equipment emits more hydrocarbon pollution into our shared atmosphere than a gasoline-guzzling crew-cab pickup truck! You would have to drive a 6.2L V8 truck almost 4000 miles to equal the emissions produced in 30 minuets of use by a gas powered 2-cycle engine such as a string trimmer (weed-eater). Why not use an all electric string trimmer or lawn mower—there are many available now and they all can even be fueled with renewable energy you can generate at home!
UPDATE 6/21/17: Since I wrote this article many companies have introduced all electric lawn equipment such as the Ego backpack leaf blower and the Husqvarna Auto Mower and many others. Electric vehicles are quickly and quietly taking over the world and that is a very good thing!
MYTH: EV’s, solar, wind, and other renewable power sources are not American because they do not create jobs or use the oil/gas that we fight deadly wars to acquire.
FACT: The Nissan Leaf EV is made in Smyrna Tennessee and provides over 300 American workers with excellent jobs. Tesla provides around 6000 Americans jobs now and will employ 12,000 after the Gigafactory goes online. The number of employees working in the solar industry has more than doubled in five years and today there are now over 200,000 Americans working in solar. Believe it or not, there are now more people working in solar than in gas and oil fields and that’s almost three times the size of the entire coal mining industry…the carbon bubble is bursting. The wind energy industry provides great jobs to over 70,000 Americans and clean power to over 18 million homes. And that’s just for starters…companies like Solar City and Arcadia Power are changing the way we acquire our energy at home from renewable energy providers.
FACT: Sourcing our energy domestically (be it solar, wind, hydro, coal—whatever the source) provides many good jobs to Americans and is much more efficient and much safer than traveling thousands of miles, dealing with foreign governments that are often hostile and feed terrorism groups, extracting the crude oil, then finally bringing it back home to be refined and used…often at great cost and loss of life due to the wars that often must be fought to keep it flowing.
FACT: It is more American to be self sufficient and produce your own energy at home, than it is to rely an outside source to provide you with that energy.
FACT: You can power your home and your EV with off-the-shelf renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, etc ) that you produce at home…and even make a profit from the excess!
A solar powered home in Asheville with a monthly power bill of less than $20!
MYTH: EV’s are expensive to work on.
FACT: While it is no secret that EV’s have many similar systems as ICE powered vehicles such as braking, steering, suspention, heating etc. However, EV’s rarely need major servicing on their drive systems due to the simple fact that they have far fewer moving parts in their power plant whereas the average ICE engine has thousands! Therefore, EV’s require far less maintenance to keep them “healthy” and are therefore much more economical to drive.
I have been driving my Leaf now for over 33k miles and the little EV has required no specialized routine maintenance by me other than the occasional washing and vacuuming, a set of new windshield wiper blades, adding a little air to the tires, and the occasional topping off of the washer fluid – you know, the things you would need to do to any type of vehicular construct no matter its fuel source.
Recently, I had to replace the cabin air filter. By replacing the filter myself I saved around $50 labor cost (as quoted by my local Nissan dealership)!
Costs: $35 for the filter and about an hour of my time. This is not that bad considering this is the first in-depth preventative maintenance (that was not covered in the warranty*) that I have completed on the car…in 33k miles! Had this been a gasoline/diesel powered vehicle I would have had to spend far more time and money over the same 30K mile time-frame. For example, to keep my 1999 Toyota 4Runner “Godzilla”, my only remaining ICE vehicle that I keep only for long range trips and hauling large loads, running in an efficient as possible manner (for a machine with so many miles – 200+k – and so many moving parts that can and will wear out due to constant use thereby lowering the fuel economy of the vehicle and lowering the amount of money in my bank account) I use G-Oil, a bio-based fully synthetic American made motor oil, and I change the oil filter when I change the oil. Just the oil/filter changes for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner have cost me $230** over the last 30k miles! Operational costs for user replaceable parts and non warranty covered parts for the Leaf during this same period of time = $55 (wiper blades and cabin air filter)!
FACT: The simple fact that EV’s do not have as many moving parts as petroleum powered vehicles makes them much more reliable and cost effective to operate than their fossil fuel powered counterparts. The do not have or need any of the parts that commonly wear out in gas/diesel vehicles such as: belts, chains, hoses, air/fuel filters, water pump, spark plugs, glow plugs, oil, filter, clutch, transmission, muffler, catalytic converter, exhaust pipe…they do not even have an engine.
MYTH: EV’s are new…scary…future technology and cannot be trusted.
FACT: Electric vehicles are anything but scary and nothing new. The electric motor that moves them has only a few long lived moving parts and is a proven technology that has been used to make our lives easier since the mid-late 19 century.
They pre-date ICE powered vehicles and were hitting the roads of the world in the late 1800’s – see the timeline here: www.energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car
FACT: New technologies often have bugs that need to be worked out and then an adoption period before becoming mainstream. Examples: the light bulb, the toilet, the automobile, the air plane, the microwave, the personal computer, the cellular phone, the rocket ship…the electric car is no different and will see some setbacks but it is here to stay.
FACT: If your house or business is connected to the grid, and you or your company pays a power bill, then your, and most everyone’s houses/businesses are electric. Washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer, stove and range, heating and cooling, lighting, entertainment systems, kitchen and many bathroom appliances, computers, mobile devices…electric…with many of these systems relying on electric motors and systems that quietly work in the background keeping our lives and the lives of our devices comfortable and functional. Why is it then that we continue to use outdated, noisy, toxic, leaky, high maintenance, complicated, petroleum powered transportation systems to get around on earth, in the water, and in the sky?
Part of the answer to the above question may be fear of change driven by a inate and often handed down complacency that many feel when they get set in their ways and comfortably used to any form of technology they have grown up with. To some, anything new, especially if it upsets the comfortable status quo, is seen as an invader that must be ignored and even stopped at all costs. I suppose not everyone can be an early adopter and game changer like Elon Musk. The final parts to the answer are the simply complicated politics and lots and lots of dirty money. In this recent article by Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club president Rudy Beharrysingh he states: The political implications of oil and gas are huge. Currently, the U.S. imports about 9.5 million barrels per day of oil. About 30 percent of this is from OPEC, with half of this from the Persian Gulf. That’s about 1.4 million barrels per day coming from the Persian Gulf. At a cost of $35 per barrel that is $50 million per day that we (consumers) send to the Middle East (on the order of $20 billion per year). And, that’s low compared to what it used to be. Need I say more…?
An eye opening Nissan Leaf commercial from a few years ago
MYTH: “EV’s are slow like golf carts, dangerous, and I heard that they catch on fire and burn to the ground all the time.”
FACT: EV’s are anything but slow. The little Nissan Leaf EV will go 0-60 in around 10 seconds. The BMW i3 EV will do it in 7.2 and the Tesla Model S P85DL 100% electric car has the world record for the fastest accelerating production four-door car ever! It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a brain melting 2.6 seconds! Dangerous, totally the opposite – the Tesla Model S was rated by the NHTSA as the safest car ever tested…in history! If you want to see a Tesla Model S EV go against a Holden supercar take a look here:
Fires. According to the NFPA, cars catch fire on American highways once every two minutes. There were an average of 184,333 vehicle fires per year from 2008 to 2013. (I went back only to 2008 since it was the first year a highway-capable all-electric vehicle in serial production was available in the United States. That vehicle was the Tesla Roadster). Out of those 184,333 fires, less than a dozen of involved electric vehicles…ALL of the others were liquid fuel powered vehicles. There were an average of 1651 car fire injury and death victims every year from 2008-2013. In fact, due to fires involving liquid fueled vehicles 1765 people lost their lives during that timeframe. “The risk of a car or vehicle fire is even greater than the risk of an apartment fire. More people die in vehicle fires than in apartment fires each year in the United States,” said AAA President Robert Darblenet.
FACT: Electric vehicle fires are not a common occurence in any way yet news agencies just love to manufacture drama. The fact that gas powered cars burn all the time is nothing new, it is not dramatic anymore…but let an EV catch fire (like one did recently in Norway – see: www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-s-burns-fire-supercharger-norway/ ) and it is all over the headlines because sensationalist drama centered around anything new and possibly politically controvercial feeds the weak minded. Note: I am not saying anyone reading this is weak minded because if you have read this far you obviously are interested in the facts and not the drama 🙂
More info on fires related to electric powered vehicles and other devices and systems can be found in this article and in this Wikipedia article.
Fact: electric vehicles present far less of a fire hazard than ICE powered vehicles.
Think of it like this: if everyone had been driving clean, fast, safe, low maintenance electric vehicles for the last century, and someone tried to get you to drive or even ride in a vehicle powered by an incredibly toxic, flammable, explosive, liquid fuel—what would you do? Personally, I would R.U.N.N.O.F.T!
Observation: Back before I drove an EV I was forced to periodically visit gas stations to fuel the subscription to dependency I had opted for when I purchased my gasoline powered vehicle. While filling up I often encountered people fueling their vehicle with the engines running, or even more astonishing – smoking while pumping gas. On these occasions I wanted to sit the people down and calmly warn them of the errors of their ways. I wanted to describe in detail the science behind their potentially very hazardous actions and the three times that I have had close calls with gasoline fueled vehicle fires that I offer up to you below –
Situation #1. Year 1986. My old Chevy truck would not start so I continued to give the engine more gas, the engine flooded, fuel leaked out of carbureator, a spark from a cracked spark plug wire ignited the fuel leak sending flames up and out of the engine bay melting all the rubber and plastic items under the hood. I put out the fire with a small fire extinguisher I kept under the seat and when it ran out I had to toss a jacket on the fire to finally put it out. If not for my fast thinking the vehicle would have burned to the ground and this would have caused me great peril.
Situation #2. Year 1991. Although not a road vehicle incident, I believe under the circumstances it still applies. My old lawn tractor was running rough. I took off the air filter housing and adjusted the carbureator to richen the mixture and it started running better. I then failed to replace air filter assembly. A few moments later the engine backfired through the carbuerator sending a saber of flame straight up and into the old plastic fuel tank (that was soaked with fuel residue) which subsequently ignited into a ball of flame. This melted the fuel tank causing raw gasoline to cascade down onto engine and tractor like a flaming waterfall of peril. The tractor quickly began to burn to the ground. A passing off duty firetruck stopped to extinguish the tractor as it sat burning in middle of a field.
Situation #3. Year 2000. While my driving 1966 Land Rover up a steep highway grade, the vehicle’s cab suddenly filled with thick, acrid, white smoke and at the same time I smelled an intense gasoline smell!! I quickly pulled the vehicle off the road and bailed out running about 100 feet away leaving the engine running and door open for fear of meeting my ultimate demise! I watched from a distance as the smokle cleared from the cab of the still running vehicle and then a few seconds later the vehicle shut itself off as the fuel in the carbuerator ran out. I did not want to get near it for fear of whatever caused the issue possibly igniting a gas vapor explosion, fuel fire, and loads of deadly peril. After about 20 minutes of watching I decided that it was safe and carefully approached the vehicle. I soon discovered that the issue had been caused by faulty wiring. A wire had been routed around the fuel line and normal vehicle vibrations had caused the wire to abrade against the metal frame of vehicle creating an electrical short which burned all the insulation off of the wire causing the acrid smoke. The exposed red hot wire then melted through the plastic fuel line cutting it totally in half. Gasoline then poured out of the fuel line and all over the top of the fuel tank – yet somehow, no ignition had occured. Talk about the luck of the Irish–it was with me that day. I would not be writing this if the gas fumes had ignited. If that had happened, the cab would have become an instant inferno, and both fuel tanks, that were 1/2 full or less and located under the driver and passenger seats, would have possibly ignited killing me in a flaming fuel fire worthy of dramatic news worthy sensationalism.
So you might say I am somewhat qualified, or at least have some life experience in the area of what can happen when gasoline and an ignition source are brought together. You could also say that I have the obligation to inform people of the error of their ways when I see them ignoring common sense and the warning labels posted all over the gasoline and diesel fueling station’s liquid fuel pumping machines. However, I also know from past experience that when I try to help others by offering friendly advice on the subject, I have always been met by rude comments like “mind your own business”, “it’s a free country” or “#!@! off!!”…so, since these people apparently either are; totally ignorant and/or do not understand the science behind the reality of the situation, have a death wish, or just do not care at all about their own safety or the safety of the other human beings that may be nearby. So, now whenever I encounter these situations I always report these individuals to the fueling station attendants and then I get away from the area as fast as possible because highly flammable liquid fuels + the increased potential for static/spark/flame induced fuel vapor ignition + careless, know-it-all or ignorant humans = loads of peril and Darwin awards just waiting to happen.
FACT: While it is true that a new Tesla Model S P85D will set you back over 100K, you can get into a new EV such as the Nissan Leaf and soon to be avaliable Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 for less than $35k. You must also remember to factor in that you will NEVER pay for gas/diesel and oil again and that in itself adds up to thousands of dollars/year…even when you account for the cost of the electricity used to fuel your EV! Then, when then you factor in all the money spent on tune-ups and engine/transmission/exhaust system repairs for most ICE powered vehicles – all the savings add up to reveal that most EV’s are much more economical to own and drive than your average ICE powered vehicle.
MYTH: When the battery wears out a new battery will cost more than the car is worth.
FACT: When an EV’s battery degrades to the point where it is no longer able to store enough energy to propel you in your daily commute, the battery can be easily replaced with a new one-it is as plug and play as the battery in your mobile device or cordless tool…only larger. Currently the cost for the Nissan Leaf battery is around $5500 so it is about the same as having a new engine and transmission replaced in a standard ICE vehicle. After the battery is replaced you essentially have a new car. I admit that price is a bit high (especially if you are a do-it-yourself mechanic) but when Tesla’s Gigafactory (goes online in a few years they will start turning out lithium ion battery packs that will drastically lower the costs of EV batteries across the board. ( Learn more here www.teslamotors.com/gigafactory )
Note: all EV manufactures have excellent battery warranties/leasing options that serve to help new EV drivers “ease into” a better way to drive and are great incentives for adopting a this technology. Nissan for example, offers a battery warranty of 8 years/100,000 miles against defects and 5 years/60,000 miles against capacity loss – whichever comes first.
MYTH: A used EV battery cannot be used for anything and is toxic waste.
FACT: Used EV batteries can be recycled just like any battery but before that time comes they can be used in stationary power storage facilities, as back up generators when connected to the energy grid, homes, and businesses, and off-grid power stations especially when connected to renewable energy power systems. Nissan has recently partnered with Green Charge to repurpose Nissan Leaf batteries for stationary energy storage Learn more here:
FACT: Most EV drivers charge their cars at home overnight with the dealer supplied standard equipment charging cord that allows the car to be plugged into any 110v outlet. Many drivers have faster Level 2 charging units installed in their homes so they can charge up even faster.
Plugged in and charging at a friend’s barn.
When out on the road there are over 25 thousand EV charging stations in the USA alone and the number is growing every day. To find out how many are near you just take a look at www.plugshare.com.
A screen capture of the close to 100 public charging stations in the WNC area from www.Plugshare.com
MYTH: Charging an EV is SLOW!
FACT: While not as fast as filling up the fuel tank EV charging is getting faster every day. Currently there are three levels of charging for most EV’s.
Level 1. AKA Trickle Charge. This is the method of charging that most EV owners use to fuel their vehicles while they sleep. The car comes with a charging cable with J1772 SAE plug that will fill the battery at the rate of 5-7 miles of range added per hour.
Level 2. This method of charging, that also uses the J1772 SAE plug, can be found at most of the publicly avaliable charging stations in cities and towns. These units are often found near shopping centers, movie theatres, resturants and downtown areas and will fill up an EV in 1-4 hours depending on how low the vehicle’s battery was upon plugging in. These units can be installed in your garage at home and there are some portable models as well.
Level 3. The fastest method of charging a fast charge capable EV. Using dedicated fast charging equipment and CHAdeMO or CCS equipped EV can be charged to 80% capacity in as little as 20 minutes!
Plugged into a fast charger
FACT: Most EV owners love their cars so much that they have become “crusaders” of the technology and promote them every chance they get because they know from experience that that they are a much better way to drive.
The Bluewater Leaf in the Blue Ridge Mountains of WNC far from any charging outlet
OPINION supported by SCIENCE, RESEARCH, and EXPERIENCE: All of these reasons and more are why EV’s are superior to everything else on the road and one day in the near future gas/diesel will go the way of the old fossils that power them. (this is not only my honest opinion proven by science, research and experience but it is also been documented by the owners of EV’s everywhere in articles like these and more:
FACT: Quoted from this Clean Technica article writen by Mike Barnard.”A tipping point has been reached in the last two years for electric cars. Almost half of all fully or partially electric vehicles sold in the past decade were sold in 2014. In addition to the standard-bearing Tesla, every car manufacturer in the world has fully or partially electric cars in their lineups. The most exciting cars in the world are now electric.”
FACT supported OPINION: Driving ICE powered vehicles is like purchasing a subscription to dependency on a highly toxic, highly addictive drug that shortens your life while constantly draining your bank account and damaging everything it comes in contact with.
Be the change you wish to see in the world and the world will change….or do nothing and nothing will ever change…it is your choice.
* Parts replaced under warranty included one shock absorber, 1 strut, grease for the power window actuators, and two suspension bushings – all of these things are not EV specific and are commonly replaced/repaired items on all road vehicles. Non-warranty covered and non-user replaceable parts that needed replacement due to age/wear = Tires and brake fluid. Total cost = $610.
** Oil change only parts I have purchased for the 4Runner over the last 30k miles – several gallons of GOil and several Oil Filters = $230. Had I included all of the other parts I have replaced myself on the 4Runner over the same time-frame – the costs would have been well over $800! (If I had included the non-user replaceable parts and labor I have given to Larry at the auto repair shop then add another $1200!!!)
Total parts cost to operate Nissan Leaf for $30k miles = $665
Total parts cost to operate 4Runner for 30K miles = $2000
While I am aware that the 4Runner has over 6 times the mileage as the Leaf, the point remains that I have spent over 3X as much money on just parts to keep it on the road during the same period of time so…
After “Godzilla” the 4Runner dies, I will never go back to gas.
It had to happen eventually…routine maintenance. I have been driving my Leaf now for over 30k miles and the little EV has required no specialized routine maintenance by me other than the occasional washing and vacuuming, a set of new windshield wiper blades, adding a little air to the tires, and the occasional topping off of the washer fluid – you know, the things you would need to do to any type of vehicular construct no matter its fuel source.
Recently however the Leaf popped up a message on the infotainment/nav screen and informed me that it needed maintenance on its Air Conditioner Filter aka: cabin air filter.
Below I have outlined the step by step method I used to change the filter.
Remove the glove box in its entirety–a simple matter of removing a few screws and then gently pulling the unit down and toward the rear. (This does not need to be done if you are a contortionist and want to use the tiny plastic door located on the back left of the inside of the glove box). This is a view with the glove box removed.
2. A look inside reveals the ECM – the “brains” of the beast – bolted to the bulkhead.
3. Looking to the left of the ECM we see the air handler system.
4. Note the white plastic cover (black in some model Leaf’s). You will need to remove this to access the air filter. No tools are needed, just simply locate the tab on the bottom of the cover and lift outward to remove the cover to reveal the air filter. Mine was overdue to be changed so there was an assortment of botanical debris collected around and on the forward side of the filter.
5. Lift the flexible tab near the top of the filter (just above the word front in the above and below photos) and pull gently down and out to dislodge the top of the filter from its housing. Then pop out the bottom and the filter will slide out as in the next photo if you do it properly.
6. Continue to slide the filter outward until it stops. You will then need to gently work the other side of the filter loose to get it out of the housing. Once out, you can inspect it for damage and debris.
You may want to take a look inside the air handler box to make sure all is clean and debris free. This is the inside of mine…
The old and new filters compared side by side. The old one (30k miles) is on the left. The new one looks darker due to a coating of charcoal and baking soda that will act as an air freshener apparently.
7. Installing the new filter is the reverse of removal but you will need to be careful in how you insert the filter to get it just right. I found this video tutorial very helpful – especially for this part of the job.
8. The type of filter I used is pictured below.
After the filter is inserted, replace all the parts and you are good to go for another 15k miles or so.
I hope this tutorial has helped guide you in the replacement of your Leaf’s cabin air filter so you can save even more money and grin an even wider EV grin 🙂
By replacing the filter myself I saved around $50 labor cost (as quoted by my local Nissan dealership)!
Costs: $35 for the filter and about an hour of my time. This is not that bad considering this is the first in-depth preventative maintenance (that was not covered in the warranty*) that I have completed on the car…in 30k miles! Had this been a gasoline/diesel powered vehicle I would have had to spend far more time and money over the same 30K mile time-frame. For example to keep my 1999 Toyota 4Runner “Godzilla” running in an efficient as possible manner (for a machine with so many miles – 200+k – and so many moving parts that can and will wear out due to constant use thereby lowering the fuel economy of the vehicle and lowering the amount of money in my bank account) I use G-Oil, a bio-based fully synthetic motor oil, and I change the filter when I change the oil. Just the oil/filter changes for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner have cost me $230** over the last 30k miles! Operational costs for user replaceable parts and non warranty covered parts for the Leaf during this same period of time = $55 (wiper blades and cabin air filter)!
The simple fact that EV’s do not have as many many moving parts as ICE (petroleum) powered vehicles makes them much more reliable and cost effective to operate than their fossil fuel powered counterparts. This is one of the many reasons that EV’s are superior to everything else on the road.
* Parts replaced under warranty included one shock absorber, 1 strut, grease for the power window actuators, and two suspension bushings – all of these things are not EV specific and are commonly replaced/repaired items on all road vehicles. Non-warranty covered and non-user replaceable parts that needed replacement due to age/wear = Tires and brake fluid. Total cost = $610.
** Oil change only parts I have purchased for the 4Runner over the last 30k miles – several gallons of GOil and several Oil Filters = $230. Had I included all of the other parts I have replaced myself on the 4Runner over the same time-frame – the costs would have been well over $800! (If I had included the non-user replaceable parts and labor I have given to Larry at the auto repair shop then add another $1200!!!)
Total parts cost to operate Nissan Leaf for $30k miles = $665
Total parts cost to operate 4Runner for 30K miles = $2000
While I am aware that the 4Runner has over 6 times the mileage as the Leaf, the point remains that I have spent over 3X as much money on just parts to keep it on the road during the same period of time so…
After “Godzilla” dies, I will never go back to gas.
“Chapel Hill and back without a drop of gas,” I exclaimed, walking through the door, after traveling from Asheville to Chapel Hill in the electric vehicle. With a “range” of only 85 miles, traversing 500 miles in two days was a significant good achievement. Gone were the days of “range anxiety” as I had mapped out the trip to the last mile.
Two days earlier, after dropping my child to school I headed to Black Mountain. Opposite the visitor center there are two J1772 chargers. Attached to one charger was a red Model S from Georgia. No doubt they were on a road trip. It looked like they had left it there overnight as the screen on the unit indicated “charge complete” with a charge time of 10 hours. I had a mind to pull out the charger from their car in case someone else needed to charge, but decided not to lest they were offended.
Knowing the car would require a few hours on the Level 2, I needed something to do. I strolled downtown Black Mountain and found a café where I grabbed a coffee and bagel while settling into The Martian, by Andy Weir. A friend recommended the story to me after hearing of my adventures on the trip to Atlanta!
After 1 hour and 50 minutes, I returned to the chargers. The red Tesla was gone. My car had 98% charge and 90 miles. I then headed to Ridgecrest – the top of the grade. Regenerative Braking is an aspect of EVs that is unparalleled in gas counterparts. At Ridgecrest the meter read 80% and 77 miles. By the time the car had wound down the 6% grade to Old Fort, the meter was at 83% and 85 miles – a gain of 3% in battery energy – more than 700 watt-hours of energy (about 2400 Btu). Tell me of a gas car that can gain fuel while driving!
The next stop was Hickory, 62 miles from Black Mountain.
One of the disadvantages of electric cars (or me) is that on long trips I tend to drive the speed limit or less, attempting to maximize the range. Thus, it seemed everyone on the highway was passing me. I drifted into strange thought patterns wondering why we were always in a hurry to get somewhere. I drifted to the past: The distance from Toronto to Montreal is about 550 km. In my college days I would boast: “It took me four and half hours” an average speed of 122 km/hour, way above the speed limit of 100km – and never a ticket!
Finally, I pulled into the Hickory dealership with 25% battery. I charged for 30 minutes (CHAdeMO) and left with 91% and 78 miles.
By noon, I was in Statesville with 47% charge and 50 miles. I could have tried to venture to Winston Salem without charging, but the distance from Hickory to Winston Salem is 78 miles, plus the dive to the chargers. I felt this might have been stretching it somewhat since one wrong turn it would be trouble!
The dealership in Statesville had only Level 2 chargers. A friendly sales girl told me where they were and tried to sell me a new Leaf as wellJ One hour later, Watney had almost destroyed the HAB and I left Statesville with the range meter read 77% SOC and 77 miles.
The Winston Salem dealership is far off I40 to the north of the city on University Drive. The CHAdeMO is located behind the service area. When I arrived a car was blocking the unit, but a nice worker noticed I wanted to charge and moved the car. Arriving with 25 miles and 27% charge, I left with 91% charge and 95 miles. NASA had discovered Watney was alive.
Burlington was 53 miles away, however I entered the dealership with 40 miles and 40% SOC. When I plugged into the CHAdemo, the unit showed an error. One of the employees tripped the unit off waited a few minutes and then put it back in. I re-attached the vacuum plug and hit start. It worked! However, I noticed the battery was hot – 1 bar away from the critical zone. Perhaps, the continuous draining and charging to over 80% SOC was heating it up. I hoped it would not hit the critical heat zone which could potentially damage the battery. I was tempted to take the vehicle through an underbody car wash to cool the pack, but luckily the “air cooled” system on the car worked keeping it below critical. I finally arrived at Chapel Hill with 50 miles and 59% SOC. Watney had found the Pathfinder!
The trip back was a retrace of the forward journey with the exception of climbing the mountain at Old Fort. I had planned to charge at a campsite there and had travelled with my Level 2 charger from home to do so.
But, after leaving Hickory, 9 miles out of Old Fort, the sign read “Black Mountain 19 miles”. The car had 37 miles. Sure, a no-brainer, I could make it up without charging. As I entered the grade the meter read 25 miles. Up and up, the car made the hill admirable, but every mile of the 6% grade took away 2 from the meter. By the time I reached the top of the 5 mile grade the meter read 14 miles. Yes, Hickory to Black Mountain was possible using this EV with energy to spare! Having left Chapel Hill at 8:30 am, I arrived home at 5:30 pm, travelling 240 miles with 5 stops and not a drop of gas! Did I mention that even the energy was free on this trip! Tell me gas car that can do as much?
So there you have it. Long distance travel is possible with limited range electric vehicles. All it takes is patience and thought. If anyone tells you about the range of electric cars, you know what to tell them as Watney would: “&* &%(+ & $%^&$#%^!”
The reason for narrating this otherwise routine trip as a story is to being attention to a function what we all take for granted – travelling. Our addiction to oil over the last century and a half, while bringing a lot of positive growth has not been without extreme negative environmental and political consequences. While politicians clamor about spending and national debt, they tap into the non-renewable oil bank at alarming rates. In fact, if the US were to use only its reserves for our consumption, we would run dry within 3 to 5 years! http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/crudeoilreserves/
It seems that the advent of the electric car will revolutionize transportation and you all are all pioneers of this technology. I apologize to those of you who have not read or seen the Martian for some “spoiler” effect, but the novel seemed to fit well with this narrative.J
The eNV200 is a wonderful and incredibly practical cargo vehicle that will benefit so many large and small businesses, taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers, shuttle and delivery companies, nonprofits, schools, churches and other organizations as well as families that need to tote around several people, cargo, and animals, on a daily basis. Its beauty is not only found in its practicality and simplicity, but also the very low cost of operation due to its all electric drive train that has been proven by the astounding success of the Nissan Leaf.
As you can see the eNV200 is a very capable vehicle that is loved by many and, as far as I am concerned, its obvious benefits as a small, electric cargo vehicle outweigh any current range limitations. Unfortunately, I assume that from Nissan’s business point of view – this is not a practical outlook and I fully understand that position.
However, if Tesla can make a vehicle with a range close to 351 miles…and Chevy can make a car with a range of 238 miles why is Nissan taking so long to catch up, make a longer range battery, and get the eNV200 on the roads here in the USA?
I have questioned the “authorities” at Nissan in person and online and all I get is vague open-ended comments that lead nowhere and on one occasion a Nissan associate even attempted to re-direct me to another subject…hmmmm…why all the cloak and dagger…? It is just a van…not an issue of national security.
After all my research and I have finally come to the conclusion that either-
Nissan is working on and/or waiting on battery technology that will offer the longer ranges that many sources have reported will be in the next generation Leaf. This technology could obviously then be applied to the van and thereby make it much more appealing to the US market where the average person drives a longer distance each day than in Japan, Europe, and the UK where the van has been available for the last year or so. I would welcome longer range between charges so if this is the case I have no issue waiting.
Nissan is planning to release the van alongside the redesigned Leaf in 2017 -possibly with the same battery options as with the second generation Leaf.
Nissan has the technology in place for a 200+ mile range Leaf and/or van but is waiting to release the car at a later date in order to dispose of the current stock of older technologies.
Nissan is no better than all the other fossil fuel fired car companies and in bed with the oil companies and does not care at all about EV’s – they are only producing the EV’s they now produce as compliance cars in order to offset the toxic effects of their other more polluting offerings such as the over-the-top nasty GT-R over 100k gas guzzling sports car or massive guzzler the Titan XD pickup.
Or…Nissan is not planning on releasing the eNV200 in the USA.
Option one and option two make the most sense from my point of view.
Option three I can understand as well but I do not believe it to be the case as the technology in the Leaf and the van is essentially the same so one would think that Nissan would produce all the EV vans and Leafs it had in stock in order to maximize profits in order to produce the next generation of EV’s/vans with more capable range.
Option four…if this is the case I will have lost loads of faith in Nissan as a forward thinking company in position to rule the EV market.
Option five…well, I truly hope it is not an option.
Nissan Light Commercial Vehicles product planner Evan Fulton stated in this article that “If we had, say, a thousand business owners waiting, we could move very quickly.” Well, I would be one of those business owners that would put an eNV200 to purposeful, and highly visible daily use should it become available in the USA so that leaves only 999 more businesses and individuals to get on-board with the eNV200 to possibly count for something. If you are interested in the eNV200 please, PLEASE do contact Nissan or at the very least comment on this blog posting with your interest because Nissan needs to know there is interest so that the eNV200 will become a reality.
UPDATE as of August 2017: Hey Nissan, just look a the comments to this blog. It looks like people in this country really want the eNV200 so why are you still dragging your feet? Let’s do this thing!
I am usually a very patient person but just knowing that there are eNV200’s all over the roads in many other parts of the world, and that real people are enjoying daily use of these remarkable cargo-utility vehicles for purposes very similar to my needs…I just could not take the suspense any longer so a few months ago (years now) I wrote Nissan HQ in Atlanta in the hopes of being considered as a product tester for the eNV200. Below is the letter for what it’s worth…
Hello Nissan North America,
I would also like to personally thank Nissan for supporting the WNC area in working to build our EV charging infrastructure with the assistance of the installation of the first DCQC on the campus of Asheville – Buncombe Technical Community College and for bringing the Nissan Leaf EV to the world’s roads. It is truly a remarkable vehicle that I have been driving to-from work daily since August 2012 and I am excited to see what upgrades and improvements are to come for the Leaf.
I am also very excited to someday see the eNV200 all-electric cargo van hit the roads in the USA.
If at all remotely possible, I would like Nissan to please consider my non-profit wildlife conservation organization, Earthshine Nature Programs, to be included in any future field/beta tests of the eNV200 van. If Nissan chooses to select my company to test an eNV200 (if this is even possible) I would give it a very thorough beta test in an area that would give it great visibility.
Why do I say this?
1. Earthshine Nature Programs is a small 501c3 and currently, I drive my personal 2012 Nissan Leaf as our only company vehicle. We are in great need of a dedicated company vehicle and, as we are an environmental/wildlife conservation nonprofit organization whose goals are to teach ways to better live with wildlife, conserve and protect nature, and live more sustainably by using renewable energies such as solar, wind and driving EV’s, to me it makes perfect sense to use a clean EV as our company vehicle and promote Nissan’s clean vehicles and clean charging technologies to everyone we meet.
2. We drive our Leaf an average of 15k miles/year and all of these miles are in and around the Western North Carolina, East Tennessee, Upstate South Carolina and North Georgia areas. We are very visible to the public in our Leaf however, other than a small front license plate, it has no company insignia that denotes who we are. However, if we are able to one day acquire an eNV200 van we will have it outfitted with our company logos (see photo example) and (if a field test vehicle for Nissan or a vehicle donated by Nissan…) we would gladly apply any and all appropriate logos chosen by Nissan to the vehicle to make it more visible to the general public when we were out and about. This could only help promote Nissan’s amazing EV technology to everyone we meet.
The outreach van would be charged primarily via classroom generated solar energy from our our soon to be constructed, student-built and maintained 6 kW solar array!
3. I would drive the eNV200 in all types or weather and various road conditions as I have been doing with my 2012 Leaf. I have a ~30 mile round trip daily commute and this route takes me from my home at an elevation of around 2200 feet to around 3000 feet at my office. This route consists of several miles of high speed driving at 55-60mph, several more miles of “country road” driving at speeds of 35-50mph, then ~6 miles of mountainous driving on curvy, two and single lane paved and gravel roads at speeds of 15-30mph. I also drive to and from my various wildlife conservation/research study sites at least twice/week and I frequently make many wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and consultation “house calls” all around the WNC area throughout the year. In all of my travels, on all road surfaces, and weather conditions, the Leaf has preformed above and beyond my initial expectations. It is truly an exceptional EV. Should I be able to partner with Nissan and acquire an eNV200 van, I would drive it in the same conditions as the Leaf in order to test it’s capabilities as an environmental outreach education, wildlife conservation and rescue and renewable energy education work vehicle in the cities, towns, and countryside of my service area.
4. I would also display/promote the eNV200 van at any/all National Drive Electric Week events, public car shows, farmers markets, and EV club meets that our local EV club (the Blue Ridge EV Club on Facebook) hosts or attends in the future. In 2014 I was one of the Asheville “City Captains” for NDEW, we put on a great show and I produced a video documenting the day, it is available via the YouTube link below. If you skip ahead to 6:28 there is a fun spin around downtown Asheville, NC in my Leaf and a convoy of EV’s that you may also enjoy 🙂
In conclusion, I believe that if Nissan chooses to offer/loan/donate an eNV200 van to Earthshine Nature Programs as a test vehicle, we will certainly be able to give it a wonderful field test and give it great visibility in the community. Also, as an early adopter and a science-minded person, I love to keep track of usage data. As I have done with my Leaf, I would keep detailed daily written reports as well as video documentation on all of my experiences with the eNV200 van. I would then post detailed stories with photos and videos on a blog similar to this one that would be dedicated to the eNV200. This blog would allow people anywhere in the world to learn from my company’s experiences using an eNV200 van as a company vehicle and it would serve to further promote Nissan’s game changing EV technology to the world.
It has been almost two years since I sent that email to Nissan HQ and in return I have received…silence. Hopefully, this means that they are considering shipping my company a shiny new eNV200 complete with the new longer range battery technology as a Christmas present…or maybe a birthday present next July…
I can dream can’t I… 🙂
From my point of view as a forward thinking nonprofit business owner, science and renewable energy educator, and supporter of the rapid adoption of clean technology and energy innovation, I believe that once the eNV200 is released in the USA it will be a great seller among progressive small businesses all over the country and a great move by Nissan that I will support 100% just as I have done with the Nissan Leaf.
Thank you Nissan for working to create the future of transportation today, now stop wasting time and please bring the eNV200 to North America because many of us are ready and willing and tired of waiting!
UPDATE 8/23/17: Still no contact from Nissan. Still no eNV200 van in the USA. Since I posted this article dozens of like-minded people have commented that they are also very interested in the eNV200 as a Nissan offering in the USA.
I wait in suspense to see if Nissan will surprise us all in September when it releases the redesigned Nissan Leaf with longer range and maybe just maybe along side it, the eNV200 small cargo van with longer range for the US market as well.
We can only hope Nissan has chosen wisely because if they wait much longer, other companies will grab the spotlight and they just might loose their lead…for example, have you seen the upcoming VW I.D. Buzz or the Bollinger B1 and who knows what Tesla is working on…