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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

How Has Going Electric (car, not guitar) Changed Our Lifestyle?

Barbara delivers Green Energy Times, what they consider the “real news” paper, with their all-electric Nissan Leaf.

Barbara delivers Green Energy Times, what they consider the “real news” paper, with their all-electric Nissan Leaf.

By Barb and Greg Whitchurch

Short answer: it hasnt. One year ago we bought a 2008 Toyota Prius with 107K miles for $6,600. Last October we bought a 2015 Nissan Leaf with 33K miles for $12K. (The 2013 Leafs have just come off their three-year leases and are available for even less.

As the female of us observes, our Prius is charcoal gray with matching interior, whereas our Leaf is charcoal gray with an off-white interior. The Prius shows off our Great Pyreneeswhite fur, while the Leaf shows off her muddy paw prints. The male of us notes that the Prius is now our “truck”: carrying 300 board feet of eight-foot cedar or 10-foot lengths of pipe – with the hatch closed! It has a tow hitch for a bike rack or a small trailer and a snap-on roof rack for big stuff on top. While the Leaf can take 10-foot lengths of tubing as well, its interior is not bulk-load friendly.

We use the Leaf for 95% of our driving needs. It seats us and Gregs parents comfortably, with the dog in the back. This covers any excursions less than 75 miles in winter. We save the Prius for longer trips or for when we need two cars at once. In warmer weather the Leafs range increases, further reducing our use of the gas-hog Prius. (

Compared to gasoline engine cars, our Leaf has: an enormous amount of torque; extra instant power at any speed; its non-polluting; it’s very quiet; and very cheap to drive. Like the Prius, it cant fail to start on even the coldest VT mornings; no oil spots in the garage; it can pre-heat or pre-cool the interior without polluting; no timing belts, rings, valves, starters; no need to warm up the engine before driving. (We know, gas cars dont need to warm up either, but a lot of folks still think they do.) There are hefty new-car incentives that reduce its already mid-range pricing and used models go for far less than similarly equipped gas cars. (

Bailey has plenty of room while she waits out of the rain in her hybrid dog house

Bailey has plenty of room while she waits out of the rain in her hybrid dog house

We marvel at both carsabilities to climb our steep driveway even when its icy, and were pushing along in six inches of snow. The drive train distributes power only to the wheel with traction and wont spin it, even if we push a little too hard on the pedal. The female of us is thrilled with their stability on snow and ice. (Living back in the woods on a dirt road, were familiar with standard transmissions and all sorts of drive systems.) With the continuously variable transmission in the Prius and the direct drive tranny in the Leaf, theres no more taking a run at the hills, downshifting, etc. Similar to cars with continuously variable transmissions, the Prius finds the most efficient ratio for any load situation in real-time, with no drop-outs, jumps, surges, etc. Both are verrrrrrrry smooth.

Both cars have backup cameras, but our Leaf has “Around View” with four cameras giving a complete picture of the cars surroundings on the dashboard: parking space lines, curbs, etc. Its maps show charging station locations. It syncs with our cell phones, has audible directions for destinations, heated this-‘n-that; and lots more stuff we really dont need.

There are 158 charging stations in VT – up by 14 since we bought the car. ( We slow-charge the cars at home from a standard garage outlet. We deliver Green Energy Times to 50 central VT locations in our Leaf. If you spot our “EWHEELS” plate, give us a honk!

Barb and Greg Whitchurch are board members of VT Passive House and owners of a passive house in Middlesex, VT

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