By Kim Davis
It all a started a year ago at the Future in Review Conference when I first test-drove Ford’s all-electric vehicle, the Focus Electric. It was such a quiet ride. The regenerative brakes fascinated me. I could generate energy while slowing down for a stop light on the way to work! I ended up testing several other options over the course of a year. The Chevy Volt seemed like the most practical choice because it also includes a gas generator engine that would prevent the “range anxiety” that can come along with pure electrics and allow me to drive hundreds of miles without stopping for gas or a recharge.
But the more vehicles that I drove and the more I thought about it, I knew that I wanted to go with a pure electric option. I wanted to commit to the technology that allows me to drive without gas — a trend that plenty of others were already behind. I lead the agency’s Technology Practice and I love getting my hands on (or behind the wheel of) innovations that have the potential to have a big impact.
Going down this path presented a number of challenges, worries and questions. “With my 30-mile round trip commute every day, will I experience ‘range anxiety?’ I hear of more charging stations and see them at the drugstore and the airport, but will they be everywhere I need them to be? Is this better or worse than stopping at the gas station? How do I go about finding a vendor to install a charging station in my garage, and is it required? I know that we’ll see more innovation with the batteries, so should I wait a bit longer?”
I logged my daily mileage for a couple of weeks. I started noticing where all the charging stations are located (and where they are not). I visited several different dealerships. I stopped in at the Tesla store at the Mall. I read the contrarian views, as well. I talked to colleagues, enthusiasts and EV owners. I finally made a decision after visiting the Drive Revolution: The Future of Transportation event at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, where hybrids and all-electric options were on display. “Why not?!?” I finally said. What could go wrong? Why not be part of this grand experiment? So, I finally took the leap.
While I still have questions, my new license plates just arrived in the mail, so it feels official now. I’m one of 70,000 Nissan Leaf owners on the road (30,000 in the U.S.).
I will be blogging about my experiences along the way. Let’s see if my initial worries are real challenges and if there is anything that I failed to consider. I think I’ll hit the open road now… 80 miles at a time anyway.