By Nancie Hamlett, Becketwood Member
This is a story I love to tell! I began my journey with electric cars after seeing the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Powerful documentary. I purchased my first electric car in 2007, a Zap Xebra (pronounced “zebra” and you could even purchase a model with stripes!). It was a cute little three-wheel car with a bubble-like fiberglass body, turquoise green. It had a top speed of 30 mph and could go up to 20 miles on a charge. The word “ELECTRIC” was spread across the top of the front windshield in bright yellow “electric-looking” letters. I got lots of thumbs up and honks from folks I passed. If I had my windows down, people would give a shout or ask me about it. It was such fun!
I figured out the back streets to drive from my home in south Minneapolis to my office in Golden Valley, a 12-mile journey. Obviously, I couldn’t make a round trip on one charge, so during the day I charged at a co-worker’s house and walked a mile to the office. I paid 25 cents a day for the electricity that it used to fully charge. For $10.00/month I could drive to work! Alas, it was the prototype model, not well tested, and electric vehicles were too new for folks to know how to repair them. So after a couple years, I donated it to MPR and hoped someone with more skills than I could enjoy it.
A Nissan LEAF was my next electric car. I loved it also. It was a very well-made car and was able to get up to 125 miles per charge (less on the highway), so other than not being able to drive to my sister’s in Chicago, it worked well for me. I plugged in at night in my garage, a regular 110 volt outlet, so very convenient. I loved knowing I wasn’t polluting the air as I drove, and charging with renewal wind energy made it even better.
A Chevy Bolt came next. It didn’t seem as substantial of a vehicle as the LEAF, but as a “crossover” vehicle, it was higher off the ground, much easier to get in and out of, and was used (dealer driven for three years) but I was still able to get the federal credit as the “first owner,” which made it affordable. Advertised at 230 miles per charge, in the summer the gauge reads 300 miles/charge maximum (though I’ve never tried it out at that); in the winter I’m doing well to get it up to 200 miles per charge--it’s glorious!
When my daughter needed a “new” car a couple years ago, we discovered a dealership in Hopkins (GS Motors) that sells only electric cars, mostly used cars. She’s been very happy with her four-year old used LEAF at a reasonable price. It’s a great place to explore if you’re looking for a less expensive electric car with lots of life left in it.
If you ever want to talk electric cars, or take mine for a spin, I’m happy to share my experience with others. (The electric car folks at Becketwood are thinking about an event on Earth Day where we can have our cars out front and you can see them, drive them, or just stop down and talk. Watch for postings.)