After watching Zach and Kyle’s videos from California and the Tesla Model 3 celebrations, I note that the LEAF I drive is not nearly as gifted in the world of Autopilot — certainly not anywhere near the Tesla AP gifts. I thought back to attentiveness and error in my experience as I transitioned to the EV realm without such protective measures.
Mentioning caution is a must for anyone else looking to transition to an electric vehicle. The quiet (it is so silent that you think it is off — when it is on) is sometimes a risk.
The first week I drove the Nissan LEAF, I started to leave the car while it was still running. The LEAF is sooo silent. I was accustomed to sounds from years of ICE driving. If there was no sound, the car was off. That’s not how it works with EVs.
The first time the quiet really tricked me, I started to exit the EV while it was still on. As the EV was in park, it was not so dangerous. And being in park, the EV would not eat up range quickly either. Still, it is not a good idea to leave a running car!
Another time (the first week), I was sitting in the EV about to get out and some folks walked up to ask questions. I found myself in conversation, and forgot about turning the car off. Again, the quiet made me think the EV was off. I started drifting backward and realized I was not even parked. Again, the interruption may have distracted me, but it was the quiet of the car that made me forget that I was not off completely.
Little things, and I caught them, but if I had not become more attentive to making sure I was safely parked (and turned off), the result could have been much worse.
GPS directions are pretty good in the LEAF. A recent trip required that I drive just a bit too far, and so I had to rent a car. I rented a Chevy Spark. I guessed the Chevy Spark might be about the size of the Chevy Bolt, and I was curious to see how it compared.
The ride was rough by comparison to the smooth LEAF, of course, with that awful noise of an ICE car. I did not have a GPS on the dash. As I was in 5 to 7 to 9 lanes of fast-flowing traffic in a large city I know nothing about, I turned on my voice-activated phone GPS for directions. With traffic flowing 70 miles an hour, I felt it necessary to keep my speed up to be safe. I relied on the phone’s voice-directed GPS to direct me to the proper lanes and exits.
At one point, I started to exit where Miss GPS led me to do so, and (almost) bam! Almost. The exit had a large sign in front of it — a barricade. Probably, the locals saw a sign saying the exit was closed and had no problem, but I did not know what exit was what, or even consider the possibility of a blocked exit and navigation error as I was going so fast and relying on GPS in a foreign area. I listened to the GPS and took the exit to a terrible — but luckily safe — halt.
I had to speed up fast to get back into the speeding traffic. A case in point of why that instant torque is actually another safety measure of EVs. I needed that Tesla torque, or even the torque that my Nissan LEAF has to a lesser degree … that little gas cars do not have. I feel lucky to stay alive one more time.
Singing the safety blues to people the next week … about the dangers of listening to GPS directions, I confirmed that I am not alone in Florida. Everyone I talked to about traveling city to city wished for a train. No one I’ve spoken to will drive on I-4 or in Miami. Where are the trains?
Moral. Don’t rely on your phone GPS, and get a car with AP. And… vote for TRAINS.
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