Electric Car Notes by Ben Zuckerman 02

By Ben Zuckerman

We have now had our Nissan LEAF EV for a month and things are going smoothly. Everyone we have taken for a test drive has nice things to say about the car. The LEAF does not have a tailpipe. So, it is a great feeling to drive around town knowing that no carbon dioxide or any other polluting gas is going into the atmosphere (as I mentioned in my previous post, our solar PV panels supply the electricity for the car). The LEAF has two forward “gears”, drive and eco. If you like to drive a peppy car then that’s drive mode — generally electric vehicles can match or out-accelerate the usual internal combustion engine (ICE) car. But if you are more concerned with getting maximum range per charge as I am, then you will want to mostly be in eco mode.


Note: This is the second of a series of guest posts on electric vehicles–EVs. I’ve written about the potential of EVs in my books since 1995. As part of my work with renewable energy I’ve examined the amount of electricity required to meet North America’s electricity needs, including that from a fleet of EVs replacing all passenger vehicle miles travelled. Consequently, I am keenly interested in the real world experience of those drving EVs, so I’ve asked Ben Zuckerman if he could periodically summarize his experiences with his Nissan LEAF.–Paul Gipe

The LEAF would be a great car for any family with two or more cars. According to a survey of Angelinos by the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA, 60 percent of residents already have two or more cars. So use of a LEAF as a commuting car and an ICE vehicle for occasional long trips does not require a big shift in behavior. For a one-car family, a LEAF plus a car rental for that occasional long trip is worth consideration. Also, the LEAF (and other EVs and plug-in hybrids) are or will be eligible for stickers that allow driving in California’s car-pool lanes with only one person in the car. A similar, long-standing, California program for driving in the car pool lane with non-plug-in hybrids (such as the Toyota Prius) is about to expire.