-by Deb Seymour-
All my driving life, I had been on the lookout for cars with good fuel economy. Though I was only nine years old at the time, the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-1974 had left an indelible impression on me. Oil was not a bottomless resource and its lack of availability-whether caused by nature, or in the case of the embargo, by man- this lack would affect everyone around and everything around me. Because this, as an adult, I’ve always been hyper-aware of gas mileage and from day one of my driving life strove to use as little gasoline as possible. I drove mostly small, Japanese cars with high MPGs. Although I kept hoping, I thought I would never see anything better than 36 miles a gallon in my lifetime.
Then, in 2007, along came the ZENN. The ZENN (“Zero Emissions, No Noise”) was Canadian-made, low-speed, limited-range , but 100% electric car. No gas, no oil, no joke! I couldn’t believe it and though I was not planning on buying new car at that time frame (my Honda was only seven years old)… I did! It didn’t matter to me that “Zoe ZENN Car” had range was only 30 miles and her top speed 35 miles. She took care of 90% of my driving needs around town, and precious gasoline was reserved for taking the Honda on long trips. I even wrote a song about the ZENN (called “Little ZENN Car”) and made a music video with the help of my fellow SEVA members. I was content…and I was sure I would never see anything faster or longer-ranged than the ZENN in my lifetime.
Then in 2011, the Nissan LEAF burst in upon the scene. Oh, my! A highway-capable electric with three times the range of the ZENN. Who knew? Sure- Tesla had just begun delivery of the first Roadsters, but the deliveries were few, the price very high and the car seemed like a total fantasy car. The LEAF, on the other hand, was affordable. However, since I had already the ZENN, I didn’t immediately run out and buy the first LEAF. But things change fast. Within two years of the LEAF’s launch, Nissan more-or-less doubles the size of the on-board charger (3.3 kWh to 6 kWh) which cut the charging time and increased the range from 72 miles to 85 miles. Therefore I (who would “never lease a car”) did the math, did the thinking and I leased a 2013 Leaf in early 2014.
Wow! Nearly three times the ZENN’s range and highway capable! I sold both my ZENN and my Honda and happily drove my 85-mile range LEAF from Seattle to Ashland, OR and back within the first three months of ‘ownership’. Sure- the trip took a little longer, but knowing that I could travel that distance without noxious exhaust spewing from my tailpipe was worth it! But alas, 18 months after I first got her, “Lady Red Leaf” got totaled in an accident not of my making. (The other driver failed to yield to my right of way at an intersection.) I never thought an accident like that would ever happen to me. But it did. This was September of 2015.
My friends said “You’ll probably never get another LEAF after this, right?” WRONG! The 2013 Nissan LEAF saved me & my boyfriend from much worse injury because it did everything it is designed to do in a crash. We walked away with only bruises and a bit of whiplash from the car whose front was entirely caved in. The Nissan engineers know their stuff. Like I said, I was so impressed that I went and leased another LEAF, this time a 2016. The 2016 (“Lady White Leaf”) brought even more improvements, the most important being a real-world range-up to 105 miles on a single charge! “I’ll never change car brands again”, thought I…
…except that a mere four months after acquiring the 2016 LEAF, I saw an ad for a used 2014 Tesla Model S on Craig’s List that I couldn’t believe. The Tesla only had 17,000 miles, had had two previous owners and I thought “There must me something wrong with this particular Tesla. Someone would never sell it at the price they are asking if it weren’t. And Craig’s List is the last place I thought I’d see a TESLA for sale… (Maybe a used ZENN, but not a TESLA- yikes!) I resisted for eight weeks. But when no one spoke up for the car, it moved from Craigslist to EBay…and the price down another $10K …
Well, I never…so I did! Now “Sir Percival ‘T’ Tesla, White Knight” came to join Lady White Leaf at the Seymour house. There is no issue with the car- the first owner passed away and the second owner simply upgraded to Tesla Model X. Talk about having an “EV Grin”! This past summer, I took “Sir Percival” for a five week, seven states, 5508 mile electric Tesla Road Trip. I never imagined I’d be driving up the winding road of Teton Pass (10,000-plus feet) in Wyoming in an electric car with no power or performance issues while simultaneously not despoiling the beauty of the mountain forests with exhaust fumes. Nor, as little as eight years ago, would I have ever believed that I’d have even one, let alone two, super- powered, white, long-range, highway-capable clean electric vehicles in my driveway. Not to forget mentioning that I haven’t bought a drop of gas since March 2015!
The moral here, I guess, is “never say ‘never’”…because life has a strange way of laughing at us when if we do!
See You Down the Road!