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Published on May 26th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

27

Car Hater To EV Lover (What Made Me Into An Electric Car Lover?)

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May 26th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan
 
Here’s a short version of how I changed from being ‘ugh’ about cars to ‘meh’ about electric cars to a super EV enthusiast. Check her out:

I’m not going to lie — I’ve got issues with cars. My master’s degree is in city and regional planning. From my experience studying that (before, during, and after graduate school), I’m well aware that cars and cities simply don’t mix well. I mean, they could, but the vast majority of cities in the world are overfull of cars.

A city, by definition, is a lot of people living in a relatively small space. To try to move individuals around in quite large vehicles of their own is highly inefficient. In the US, this results in the loss of trillions of dollars a year. Seriously. From billions of hours wasted in traffic, to oil imports from countries that aren’t fond of us, to lives lost and people injured from car accidents, the costs are actually quite stunning, incomprehensible, and incalculable.

But I won’t go on about that today — rather, let me switch to the topic in the title. I have become a huge electric vehicle (EV) fan, obsessed even. I actually started a website due to my desire to read and write about electric cars every day.

So, why and how did this switch occur?


Basically, I know that global warming and climate change threaten society like nothing before. The unnatural disasters, drought, floods, disease, migration, political instability and even chaos, wars, etc. that could come about due to massive, unprecedented (since humans have been around) global warming is a tremendous threat, one that it is hard to imagine we are ignoring as much as we are.

Furthermore, there’s a large amount of air and water pollution from gasoline-powered vehicles; there are the issues of oil dependency mentioned above; and, not to be discounted, gasmobiles create a tremendous amount of noise pollution.

Bike-only roads with green spaces on the side quite common in Groningen, Netherlands. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / Bikocity

Bike-only roads with green space on the side quite common in Groningen, Netherlands. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / Bikocity

Yes, I think it would be great if we transformed cities and our lifestyles in order to switch from driving to bicycling and using mass transit for the majority of trips. I actually lived in a city with a 50-60% bicycle commute rate (Groningen, Netherlands). I am sure the transit commute rate wasn’t bad either — the buses were often packed. The city was so quiet and unpolluted that it’s hard to describe it. The quality of life was the best I’ve seen anywhere.

But, again, that’s all a discussion for another day. While I’d love it if all cities emulated Groningen, I know that isn’t happening. And I know that a lot of people still think they need and want a car, and want to drive for most trips. In other words, I know that there’s still a tremendous amount of demand for cars, and that they will be dominant transportation forces in our cities and countries indefinitely. So, the pollution problems must be addressed.

Image Credit: Fiat

Image Credit: Fiat

Electric cars are, quite simply, the cleanest option we’ve got. Even with the relatively dirty grids we rely on today, electric cars are cleaner than gasmobiles. But our grids are getting cleaner every day, and if we install our own solar panels, we may be able to charge our cars with 100% clean, renewable electricity. That is a humungous step forward. Humungous.

So, I started reading and writing about electric cars a few years ago. And as I have, I have fallen in love with their beauty, simplicity, performance benefits, and revolutionary spirit. I’ve fallen in love with the EV movement. I’ve fallen in love with specific EV models — the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Fiat 500e, Detroit Electric SP:01, and of course several electric supercars. (No offense to the others — I love and like several others, too.) I’ve also become fascinated with thoughts and projections on how the electric revolution may play out. All in all, this is just a super fun technology and transformation to cover.

Of course, I still think cities are much nicer when they are planned for humans rather than transporters that are simply too big for efficient and pleasant city life. But electric vehicles themselves are such a huge step above what we have today, and they really are a useful option for a number of occasional needs, that I can’t help being an EV enthusiast. If I ever do buy a car again, my biggest problem would be deciding which EV to go with.

That’s my story. How about you? How did you fall in love with electric cars?

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Luc Perraudin

    Thanks for Your great experiences and understanding of the context in global dimension that points to individual responsibility in change of mind!

    I want to invite You to get member of our WAVE-group (World Advanced Vehicle Expedition by Louis Palmer, the first man to drive around the world in 2007/08 by solar powered electric vehicle – the famous Solartaxi).

    This years WAVE, the most important electric vehicle Rallye of Europe, starts on June 28th near Vienna and leads to Zurich after having traversed the Alps from east to west. In Zürich, on July 6th we will have a world record attempt, registered at Guiness World Records. You are invited to be part of this. Just register online at: http://wavetrophy.com/en/programme/record/

    Kind regards

    Luc

  • Tom Gray

    Um, embarrassing, but I fell in love when I finally figured out that the range/refill numbers are totally not comparable to gasoline-fueled cars–a range of 60 miles (our EV) is just fine with a gas pump (110 outlet) in the garage. We still have a Prius for longer trips, but 80% of the miles for ordinary driving are going on the EV, and our “fleet” mpg is north of 175. So far, it’s clearly capable of being driven to town twice a day for several days without being depleted.

    • Bob_Wallace

      What sort of reactions are you getting from people who are observing your “EV lifestyle”? Any of them starting to develop a crush?

      • Tom Gray

        On me? No, not yet. :)

        Seriously, I’m publicizing it (note to town listserve and a few blog posts). One person is seriously interested–we’ll see if that leads to a purchase. I’ll be publicizing more, gradually over time. My wife is involved in working on town solar and weatherization efforts (oh, and she organized a town Q&A with other EV owners, but only a few people showed up). It’s a slow process, way too slow for the planet, unfortunately.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I think public perception of EVs is changing faster than you might suspect.

          I’ve seen a large change in what’s showing up in the media. The success of the Tesla S has quietened many critics. The recent large cut in LEAF prices has delivered a strong punch to price complaints.

          The market is also changing. It’s no longer “Nissan and a California billionaire”. Now we’ve “real ‘merkin car companies”, Ford and Chevy making EVs.

          • Tom Gray

            That’s good, I just think the transition needs to happen with overwhelming speed because of the climate crisis. So, the quicker the better.

  • Arndt Ritter

    EVs are just green wash over a form of transport that has no place in urban (and suburban) settings. Drivers are still the biggest cause of preventable death in children. Traffic still isolates and disrupts the social fabric of cities. Roads still take up an inordinate amount of our valuable land space. And we still have a burgeoning obese population. Don’t get me wrong, EVs are cool and a ton better than their ICE counterparts, but the really interesting clean techs are the ones that change the very way in which we operate in our cities.

    • George Strong

      autopilot for cars!

      • Arndt Ritter

        Now that’s awesome tech! EVs are just green-washed metal boxes of death. Google cars are where the awesome is.

  • Aloha

    EV mean less fume in my lung!

  • agelbert

    The fact that electric motors are over 70% efficient in converting electrical energy to mechanical energy WITHOUT dumping a lot of waste heat into our overheated atmosphere.
    I rarely drive (less than 1,200 miles a YEAR). My next car WILL BE an EV!
    I wIll still seldom drive but I will have the piece of mind to know I have an auxiliary power plant to run my refrigerator for about a week if my power goes from a storm.
    Nasty weather is coming our way. EVs will help us get through it. :>)

    • Southernfink

      Hey Agelbert, Shame they took the popular EV 1 back from a public that was willing to buy them , all were send to the crusher, while one was stripped of all electrical components and put on display in a museum somewhere.

      • agelbert

        Hi Southernfink!
        Well we just passed the 100,000 EV mark in the USA so I think this time the EVs will take over. Then every power tool and yard machine will become all electric too. The battery puzzle now being solved for EVs will apply even more to lawn mowers and snow blowers.
        The electrics will be a LOT quieter too. It won’t be long before some zoning ordinance will mandate manual or electric mowers for lawns because of ICE “noise pollution” in addition to air pollution. :>)

        • Southernfink

          Agelbert , I am all for electric cars while the irony is that as a pedestrian you do not always hear an electric car until the very last moment like when the driver is on the horn and is pulling funny faces at me (^^,) so a little bit of noise makes them safer as well.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Adding a small amount of warning noise at low speeds (before tire noise starts being adequate) should be standard.

            And it’s time to start putting collision avoidance systems in cars. Warn both pedestrians and drivers. Insurance premium decreases should offset the cost.

          • Southernfink

            That is a good idea actually , various methods of drive train come to mind , what I was thinking …perhaps slightly squarer teeth on the transfer of torque …

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think collision avoidance warning systems will be standard equipment fairly quickly.

            They can’t cost that much to manufacturer. Look how affordable a digital camera is that can focus on faces and determine when your subject is smiling.

            Got to save insurance companies fortunes in claims and repairs.

          • Otis11

            I can guarantee that such a system is in the works. A system that spots bicyclists and pedestrians and tracks their movement in relation to the car’s projected path… and if a collision has a statistically significant chance of happening it will first alert the driver, then make a small sound to alert (but not startle) the cyclist/pedestrian, then a louder sound to make sure both are aware.

            There’s also the possibility of applying the breaks to avoid a collision, but that gets into a legality issue.

            (It’s also very likely that such a system will show up on a bicycle – first warning the cyclist to cars approaching from the rear, and then alerting the car as well.)

  • J_JamesM

    The simple fact that so many car reviewers- such as consumer reports- have declared the Tesla model S to be the best car, period.

    The simple fact that Tesla has managed to create a stunningly beautiful, incredibly efficient, supremely practical luxury car that flies like a bat out of hell and costs less than the competition.

    The simple fact that electric cars have done what they haven’t done in literally one hundred years- made themselves competitive with, nay, superior to, gasoline-powered cars.

  • http://jpwhitehome.wordpress.com JP White

    Interesting perspective.

    I used to view cars as utilitarian, A to B objects of no special mention.

    Now I have an EV (LEAF) I am a car person :-) Just like yourself, it took a technology worth owning for me to be become excited by cars. Wish I had the money for a Tesla S :-)

  • comsys

    I have just order an EV. After 18 months using solar power on a small scale at home I traded in a 1998 starlet for the EV plus a few extra euro!!! The technology in use in this equipment is my main interest, I hope to use the EV to power the house eventually, the irony of all this is I have the solar panels mounted on a Toyota corolla at the moment. Looking forward to the next experiment.

    • George Strong

      Go for the Tesla Model S. It feels like riding in a rocket and the entry level is only $62500.

      • comsys

        My son tried to book a test drive in the Tesla but unfortunately he gave too little notice, the next time he is in ca he will try again. They are not for sale in Ireland yet.

  • Ross

    Haven’t got one yet but I know I’ll love it when I do. Only have a diesel car at the moment.

  • Bob_Wallace

    “The city was so quiet and unpolluted that it’s hard to describe it. The quality of life was the best I’ve seen anywhere.”

    EVs will make our cities quiet and unpolluted. Self-driving EVs will make our cities much safer for pedestrians and bike riders.

    I’ve spent time in cities where walking and public transportation were great ways to get around, but we’d have to rebuild most American cities and suburbs to let us get away with cars.

    Perhaps over time our cities will evolve to be more car free, but in the meantime EVs give us the solution we need to move away from fossil fuels and clean our air.

  • Folatt

    “That’s my story. How about you? How did you fall in love with electric cars?”

    Mine was simple: Learned about peak oil, figured that gasoline would be replaced by something else, then I found out how expensive “the fuel” of EV’s were going to be and I was hooked.

  • Corbin Holland

    Tesla Model S made me a believer. What is your EV site you talked about in the article? I enjoy reading your articles.

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