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EVolution of the EV

Nissan Leaf charging. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Nissan Leaf charging. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

By Greg and Barbara Whitchurch

Our previous article on electric vehicles (EVs) was “How Has Going Electric (car, not guitar) Changed Our Lifestyle?” (bit.do/Lifestyle-EV) in the April issue of Green Energy Times. In it, we shared our general lifestyle experiences with our “new” (used) 2015 Leaf. Here we dig a little deeper to help you dig a little deeper as well. This is not an “article” as such, but a compendium of annotated links which will concisely provide critical information to those of you who are interested.

We recommend that readers take a look at a brief history of the plug-in electric vehicle (EV): bit.do/History-EV.

Although that video only brings us up to about 2010, it is clear that the primary advantages of the internal combustion engine (ICE) car came from long range and fast refueling. The many disadvantages of ICE (wasted energy, noise, danger, pollution, etc.) were overcome by tolerance and an ignorance of the long-term side effects.

Even though typical daily car trips take people much farther than they used to, the new crop of EVs is able to provide most people with plenty of driving range and quick-enough charging to cover more than 95% of their desired driving requirements. In other words, there is probably an affordable EV which will not have an impact on your driving patterns or expectations for at least 95% of the driving you do. And, if you purchase a “charge card” — pardon the double entendre — you can fulfill all of your driving needs.

To the extent to which your driving expectations could be affected, perhaps those disappointments could be moderated by some combination of the major operational savings (gas, oil and filter changes, tune-ups, exhaust system replacement, etc.), your environmental concerns, the maintenance savings, avoiding adverse health effects, and EVs’ inherent performance improvements (driving is smooth, the pick-up is amazing, the winter traction is outstanding). Again, Barb and I just charge our Leaf at home on a standard wall outlet, and we have a second car (Prius) for long trips. Often our Prius sits unused for two to three weeks.

Last month we took our Leaf to Burlington (50 miles) to attend our monthly Vermont Passive House meeting at the home of another member, whod just bought an EV and had installed a high-power charging station in her garage. During the 75-minute meeting we picked up 50% of a full charge (about 50 miles). Our summer range is about 100 miles; winter about 75. There are more than 150 charging stations in Vermont already; some will provide an 80% charge within 30 minutes.

Lets take a look at the technology involved in current EVs. Although this next piece uses a Tesla for its model, the technology and design principles are the same for the Leaf and most other EVs: bit.do/Design-EV.

Now lets look at how each Leaf is built: bit.do/Assembly-2010Leaf. This approach is pretty similar to the Tesla production line.

The previous video covered the 2010 model; here are the 2013 upgrades: bit.do/Review-2013Leaf.

And here are the updates to the 2014 model: bit.do/Review-2014Leaf. (Ours is a 2015.) You can see that Nissan is serious about keeping up with the competition in all phases of car design. A major redesign of the Leaf for 2018 will appear on September 6th.

Keep in mind that there are tremendous deals on brand new Leafs (Leaves?) here: bit.do/2017LeafDeal. There are similar deals in OH, HI, CA, OK, and perhaps other states as well. More info on the Drive Electric VT support here, bit.do/2017DEV-Incentives.

We are not promoting Nissan or their Leaf – thats just the only EV we know. If you still have qualms or questions, we suggest you test-drive one or, better yet, rent one for a couple of days. National Drive Electric Week is coming up September 9-17 with events across the country including EV dealers, owners and advocates. These are a great way to learn more about your EV options: bit.do/2017Drive-Electric-Week.

We wish you luck with your expanding transportation choices!

Barb and Greg Whitchurch are board members of VT Passive House and owners of a net-zero passive house, a Leaf and a Prius in Middlesex, VT, http://bit.ly/2nRCdGL.

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