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Betty, the Moonlight Blue Nissan LEAF. Image by Stuart Ungar.


Saying Goodbye To Betty

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My dad always said that a car is good for getting you from point A to point B. And by saying that, he was imparting the wisdom that historically cars aren’t an investment, but just a modern necessity for many to take them around safely to work, home, around town, and on the occasional trip. But eight years ago, when we needed a car (after our veggie-oil converted VW Jetta died), I hunted for my new eco-obsession … a Nissan LEAF.

I had wanted a LEAF for many years prior, as I was smitten with the idea of having an electric car. We had solar panels on our roof and I couldn’t think of anything cooler than driving on sunlight. So when I found a LEAF online for sale, I had a conversation with my wife and we purchased it sight unseen.

I felt the LEAF needed a name and I settled on Betty Blue (since the car was ocean blue). The name reminded me a bit of the irreverent Betty Boop character of years past and it seemed to have just the right amount of sass for my new ride.

As an at-home dad, Betty helped me shuttle my kids back and forth to school and after-school activities, grocery shopping, and even the occasional adventure — my daughter and I made a trip to the other end of the state to charge at a DC Fast Charger (DCFC) since I knew I had the port on my car but there were none close by. That meant stopping at a campground midway and charging using an adapter that a friend assembled and my home plug-in Level 2 charger to make the trip possible. It was a weird “field trip” for sure, but the kind of thing that memories are made of.

Years later, when my “Covid experiment” was creating an EV podcast, Stu’s EV Universe, my daughter created the artwork for the podcast, and of course it featured Betty out in the vastness of space.

2022 was not a good year for Betty. A few months back, lighting hit a tree close to my driveway and a large part of the tree broke off and did some serious damage. I was thinking she was totaled, but I got away with having all the work done at a local collision place for the $500 deductible.

This past week, she wasn’t so lucky. Driving down the highway at around 70 mph, my hood suddenly bolted upright in front of me. All I could see was a sea of blue. With adrenalin pumping, I was able to see just enough around the edges to maneuver to the breakdown lane and turn on the emergency lights. A call to my 24-year-old son found him willing and able to come out and rescue us with enough rope and duct tape to secure the hood and we made the slow journey home.

Through Evolve KY, the non-profit EV group I founded, the car has been in countless ride/drive/education events through the years, and I know for sure that several people have purchased an EV due to riding in my car. I have driven it in two “EVs against DV” (Electric Vehicles against Domestic Violence) parades and I remember getting teary-eyed driving it in the first local pride parade when I thought about how I was supporting my daughter and how so many onlookers were marginalized by their family and community and weren’t so fortunate.

In short, Betty has been more than just a car … more than a vehicle to get me from point A to point B. It has been a change agent for the better. And that is something that is quite welcome in this day and age. I can only hope that my next EV will be so special.

All photos by Stuart Ungar

Related story: The Nissan LEAF Is 10 Years Old, 500,000+ Sold Worldwide

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Written By

Stuart Ungar has been interested in how technology can help us live lighter on the Earth for most of his life and remembers going on solar house tours as a kid in the ‘70s with his dad (and having to travel many miles to see each site). Stuart is the co-founder of Evolve KY, Kentucky’s non-profit electric vehicle group and has a brand new podcast — Stu’s EV Universe, which can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other major platforms. Stuart lives with his wife and college-age kids in Louisville, Kentucky.


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