Ollie’s Electric Car Pledge and Our Move to an EV

By Paul Gipe

It worked. Ollie Danner’s Electric Car Pledge and his organizational skills are the reason we’re now driving an EV or Electric Vehicle.

It wasn’t a direct route of course. And just signing his pledge to go electric wasn’t enough to push us over the edge. But the pledge was a nudge—and that’s all we needed.

First, some background. We leased a 2015 Nissan Leaf about a month ago and we’re loving it. It’s made driving fun again.

We’d planned to buy a plug-in hybrid some time ago. (So the pledge wasn’t such a stretch for us.) But our ten-year old Mazda needed some expensive repairs and frankly the plug-in hybrids (PHEV) in 2010 just weren’t ready yet. So we opted for a used Prius as an interim car until the plug-ins were available.

That was four years ago. We found the Prius a great car. We should have ditched the Mazda and bought a Prius much sooner.

When the PHEV started coming out we looked at a few, including Ford’s C-Max and the Prius V. Frankly, we didn’t care for them. They were much bigger than what we were used to driving. They’d simply put the battery in the space near the real wheels eating into the cargo area. While it was a simple solution, it was not an elegant solution. Nancy, my wife, wasn’t impressed. End of discussion.

Previously, I’d driven a Chevy Volt for Automobile Magazine and I wrote my take under Chevy Volt Test Drive. As a result, I wasn’t keen on the Volt.

Note: This is one article in a series on Electric Vehicles (EVs) and our experience moving to electric.

So the move to a PHEV was off until Ollie came along.

Ollie created his web site and contacted me about it and his upcoming EV show and tell here in Bakersfield.

Yes, Bakersfield. If you know anything about California the name Bakersfield will tell you a lot. This is an oil town if there ever was one. We used to have a derrick for training roughnecks just up the street from where we live. (In a sign of the times, it was removed when they covered the parking lot with a 1 MW solar car port.) Bakersfield’s Kern River Field is still among the world’s top 15 oil producers. This is a place where they coal roll Priuses.

I signed Ollie’s Electric Car Pledge and went to his EV meet up. In the meantime I’d driven a friend’s Nissan Leaf and noted how quiet it was. Ollie had Leafs on display, BMW’s new EV, and a Fiat 500e. It was fun talking shop. As I was leaving a guy drove up in a MiEV and had a trunk full of adapter cables for his EVSE that he had upgraded. (More on EVSEs in a subsequent post.)

Next up was Ollie’s Electric Vehicle Festival and EV Meet-Up as part of National Drive Electric Week on September 21st. There was a similar line up of vehcles, but there were two Leafs and their owners: John Gifford and John Lotze. They knew their stuff. Both had been driving a Leaf for over a year and they were sold. As a former car guy I went over the Leaf in detail with them. Both were techies and they had the answers to my questions. They were convincing.

What startled me most was John Lotze casually mentioning he’d driven to LA. I stopped him. “That wasn’t in the Leaf was it?” I’d been studying the charge stations in the region (there are only three public stations in all of Bakersfield) and couldn’t figure how you could get to LA without a Tesla. Yes, it was he said. He’d done it twice! (More on how he did it in another post.) I was impressed–and I was sold.

I wanted a Leaf.

The task now was convincing Nancy that she wanted a Leaf too–and Ollie couldn’t really help with that.

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