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Published on January 14th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor

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Electric Vehicles Are Just Better

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January 14th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Reviving Gaia
by Roy L. Hales

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Brad Gibson was so disturbed by the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” that he decided to never buy another car that burned gas to commute. He and his wife Mariko would share their 2005 Subaru Outback XT until they found an alternative. As they were both working, that meant that Gibson could only use it part of the week. He pedaled the 40 miles to and from work twice a week, which was not always pleasant in rainy Washington State, and caught buses. At one point, his father offered to give them a second car, Gibson said no. Though not in the top 1% of America’s wage earners, he was in the top 10%. If people like him were not prepared to make changes, how could they expect anyone else to?

He had to wait nearly five years before a practical, mass-market EV became available, in the form of the Nissan Leaf.  In 2010, having never been in an EV before, Gibson took a chance and ordered one.  He took delivery in June, 2011 and was delighted to discover it was a real car.  It had acceleration and handling that rivaled or bettered any gasoline cars in the same price range.

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Brad, Mariko & Taiyo Gibson camping
Image Credit: Brad Gibson

He soon came to the conclusion that EV’s are better vehicles. Gas cars are an antiquated technology. They rattle and sputter and are so inefficient! Brad bought the Leaf for Mariko, but quickly took over as the principal driver.  She ended up driving the Subaru for two more years, when they decided that he Leaf was working out so well, that he decided that he would never buy another car that burned gas, period.  And in an effort to cut their addiction to gasoline, they would try going all-electric, with a second Leaf in June 2013.

Mariko loves driving electric.  She prefers it over the very nicely equipped Subaru Outback she had been driving.  Now the Subaru sits in the driveway.  The Gibsons keep it for trips that are beyond the scope of their Leaf, but have only used it once in the last six months.  Brad has come to the conclusion that his gas car is not worth the expense. They would be better off renting a gas car, should they ever need one, and so he plans to sell their Subaru.

Thanks to the development of the Electric Highway, Gibson could easily drive across the border to Vancouver, south into Oregon or east to Wenatchee. The only challenging route left is west into the Olympic Peninsula, where there aren’t any fast (Level 3) charger installations.

There are some inconveniences, like the half-hour stop Gibson has to make at one of Seattle’s Level 3 charging stations when he drives over the mountain passes, but these are relatively inconsequential when weighed against the advantages in terms of the environment and how much money his EV saves him.

Looking through a recent $2,500 “major service” bill to maintain his Subaru, he noticed that is was all for parts that do not exist in his Leaf.  With the EV, paying for maintentance on timing belt replacements, transmission maintenance, fuel injectors, gasket replacements, oil leaks, exhaust systems and the like are a thing of the past.  Even brake pads, which are used very lightly in EV’s, rarely need servicing since the majority of braking on an EV is done magnetically–in addition to saving on brake pad and rotor wear, this “regenerative braking” recaptures the energy of the moving car, charges the battery and extends driving range.

Gibson notes that it’s not that the exhaust system on a gasoline car has been replaced by something else on an EV, it’s that it doesn’t exist at all on an EV.  This means it can’t break, and there is no maintenance.  So many things that we have become accustomed to maintaining, from various air filters to mufflers, or performing regular oil changes simply no longer happen with EV’s.  This makes EV’s incredibly reliable, and very cheap to maintain.  Gibson has yet to pay any maintenance costs on his either of his Nissan Leafs.

The most significant cost advantage has come from the drop in his fuel bill. No more $50-$60 bills at the fuel pump each week.  Instead, Gibson says his monthly power bill has increased by about $35-40.  Instead of paying $2,500 a year for gas, he is paying $452 for the electricity that goes into Leaf.

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The Gibson’s Nissan Leafs charging in their garage: Brad’s (l) & , Mariko’s (r)

Brad Gibson believes the beginning of the end of the gasoline car will be in 2017. That’s the year that Tesla is expected to release Model E, a $35,000 vehicle that can travel 200+ miles on a single charge. The whole EV industry is preparing for this. Nissan has developed a battery that will all allow the Leaf to go twice as far between charges. BMW’s I-3 has been developed with an eye to keeping the Model E’s threat to the M3 in check.  Gibson thinks that once you have a selection of competitively priced EVs capable of going the same distances as conventional cars, that gas cars are to doomed to become a historical footnote.

Why?  Gibson replies, “Because EVs are much better vehicles.  They handle better.  They accelerate more quickly and much more responsively. The economics are better–they’re cheaper to run and cheaper to maintain.  They are both safer and more reliable.  And on top of all of that, they’re much better for the environment.”

(Photo at top of page: Brad’s son Taiyo and their dog, Freeway, in the back of Brad’s Nissan Leaf)

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  • Na

    Electric cars are horrible for the environment, and they aren’t any better than a gasoline powered vehicle in any way. Hopefully major auto manufacturers just give up on this bad idea, and stick to what works best.

  • Doug

    His story is almost exactly my story, except replace Leaf with and Active E, Leaf with a Tesla model S and replace Suburu with and old BMW325. Once my wife and I went EV, we don’t just prefer electric, we now hate gasoline cars for all of the reasons stated above.

    I now notice that I smell gasoline cars – I never did before. And I hear them, rattling and clunky. I can’t imagine ever driving an antiquated ICE again, except for the occasional rental car – and even then, it will be with much displeasure.

    • Brad Gibson

      Hi, Doug,
      This is why I think that EV’s will eventually win the day. I didn’t start out with a particular distaste for ICE vehicles–I’m sure you started out the same way–but now they seem so unbelievably convoluted, inefficient and toxic.

      I think this will come to be the common and prevailing view, which will make ICE vehicles very unfashionable once the tide turns. It may take a generation for the shift in perspective, but I seriously doubt it.

  • Brad Gibson

    Hi, this is Brad, from the article.

    Thank you for the support, everyone, and most importantly, even for those who aren’t in 100% agreement, the civil discussion. This is how thoughts and new ideas should be shared.

  • Pat Campbell

    The Leaf has certainly worked out for us in Vancouver, WA and yes we still have our Subaru Forester although it gets so little use State Farm dropped our 6 month premium by $50. Retired with income limited and time expanded we have plenty of time to quick charge as we get around Oregon, Washington, and into British Columbia. We have opportunities to visit all that we passed by when we were more hurried. Inexpensive but elegant Native American casino buffets with L2 chargers are now our friends for example. We can tailor our trips to the various charging resources that are out there. Home electricity costs are about $20/month when we are not traveling and $12-!5 a month when we are. Our Leaf mileage for the past year was about 14,000.
    Yep I recently put $2500 into our Forester as well. Mostly for stuff that doesn’t exist in a Leaf!

  • rarnedsoum

    I believe in EVs.
    Congrats to this writer if his LEAF is continuing to service him.
    With 17k on mine, after 2 years, its truly a pile of rubbish.
    Both from the quality and customer service standpoint.

    I just thank god that I only bought one.
    We considered a 2nd LEAF, but got a Mitsubishi ‘i’.
    People may make fun, but the Mitsubish had 78 miles range when we bought it, and 2 years later, still the same. Never been back to the dealer yet from the day we drove it off the lot.
    More cargo space, better sounding stereo, etc.
    The LEAF has been to the dealer, 6+ times, and still the problems remain.
    They not only refuse to rectify the issues, but damage the vehicle further.
    EV training people?
    Started with 109 miles per charge, now about 74.
    A/C compressor rattling, loss of power, and range anxiety because of the poor range estimator.
    I’ve owned Chrysler, Datsun, Toyota, VW, and more.

    But no more Nissan.
    More than likely, my next purchase will be a Subaru or Tesla.

  • Critical Thinker

    I like Brad’s thinking until it gets to the environmental concern. As long as the production of electricity is not renewable it is not environment-friendly and sustainable. If only 10% of all cars would be replaced by e-cars, where would the renewable electricity come from. Let’s stick to reality it is not a “green” transportation solution until we have electricity from renewable sources.

    • Wayne Williamson

      This has been address many times over here. Even an electric car powered by “dirty” coal is better than an ice.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Onshore wind blows more at night. Unfortunately there’s less demand for electricity so there’s not as much market for onshore wind at night.

      Fortunately for onshore wind EVs are going to be parked and plugged in at night. This will mean a new market for wind, more income, and more profits.

      That will lead to more investment and more wind farms for charging EVs.

  • http://www.michaelblieden.com Blieden

    In the first year driving my Volt I drove about 7,000 miles and spent a total of $198 on gas. Electricity cost was around $35 a month. I’m absolutely never going back. I think that ICE cars gave us a lot and served a purpose, but they seem totally antiquated to me now.

  • Justin Barkewich

    Its funny how its said that in 2017 things will change. I just told my wife tonight from here on out till the tesla e comes out $1000 a month or more into a seperate savings for it….I believe starting this year, ev sales will start to rocket.

    • Brad Gibson

      The reason I said that I felt the real change will begin in 2017, is because that is expected to be the dawn of the “affordable” (~$35k) 200-mile EV. I don’t see EV’s becoming maintsream cars with 70-80 mile ranges, even if their prices dropped by half.

      I’ve found that people don’t really want a car that meets 90% of their driving needs, they want the whole hundred (they have it now). EV’s at 200 miles will meet that bar for some; thus the break into the mainstream.

      Tesla also styles their cars the way the market expects. While I love my Leafs, they still look like Gummy Bears to me, and that is off-putting to the masses. Even BMW’s I3 has an odd look about it–only Tesla seems to be doing the styling right.

  • SteveEV

    I agree with Brad 100%. Our economy of 2008 proved how a gasoline addiction is ruining our lives. I could not wait for the LEAF and found a 1999 Ford Ranger Electric to avoid the price and toxic emissions of fossil fuel. Within a week I knew there was no need to buy gasoline. In fact, electric power was so much better. The Ranger still serves as my work vehicle and a LEAF is my family car, both powered by my solar collectors. Gas vehicles are so annoying now that I can appreciate their shortcomings.

  • wattleberry

    Saw TV news item today which was compelling; it was discussing the difficulties trying to eliminate NoX, particularly from diesels, and the concentration of articles at low levels specifically affecting small children who are now suffering more asthma than ever before.
    When electricity from renewable sources becomes the motive and heating power we will experience air of a purity not known for hundreds of years.

  • Jonny_K

    More fun. He forgot about more fun. They are too.

    • Brad Gibson

      You are right about that, Jonny. I did forget to say “more fun”. They are!

  • Will E

    decrease the monthly power bill by installing solar panels.
    the car is a mobile storage battery.
    solar produces electricity. EV uses electricity.
    produce what you use.

    • Brad Gibson

      I purchase carbon-free electric power. Unfortunately my home is such a natural, highly wooded area, I would receive less than 15% of my panel’s ratings. :( My next home will be solar compatible.

      I am looking into virtual net metering, though, because then the panels I own don’t need to be on my roof, and can be placed in ideal locations for maximum ROI, lowest installation cost, etc.

    • Janu Alpho

      However, Electric Vehicles are quite cost effective when we compare with petroleum cost. Anyhow let me consider your valuable point and i believe this might be Eco friendly. Thanks for your opinion.

  • sault

    This is why we need total cost of ownership information on window stickers instead of just fuel economy figures. If people knew how much they spent just maintaining their gas powered cars over the long haul let alone fueling them, the market for EVs would take off a lot quicker.

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