Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

My Journey With Electric Cars

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.)


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  • Mimi Holmes Becketwood waiting list April 14, 2021, 5:20 pm

    Way to go, Nancie! Proud of you being an early adopter of electric vehicles. I looked at them the last time I bought a used car (2011) but they were still a bit out of my price range. If I buy another car, it will definitely be electric/ hybrid. Damn the expense!

    • Nancie May 3, 2021, 2:34 am

      GS Motors in Hopkins sells only used (or nearly new) EVs. My daughter bought her used Leaf there and has been very happy with it. Check out their website for these current inventory. It’s a small one-person operation, but a great person to work with.

  • Helen Gilbert April 14, 2021, 7:41 pm

    Great story, Nancie! A few years ago, my son-in-law called and said they had just bought a wonderful new hand-warmer for my daughter, who has trouble with cold hands. He eventually told me they had purchased a used Leaf, which has an electrically-warmed steering wheel! My kids have two EVs between them now, and three hybrids, and I drive a hybrid. We all love them, like you do.

  • Jim Gurley (Becketwood waiting list) April 15, 2021, 2:13 am

    Nancie, this is awesome. We plan to buy an EV as our next car. You’re a good example of a person who values the environment and is concerned about the climate emergency — and who ACTS upon those values! It’s great to know that if my wife and I are able to move to Becketwood we’ll have you — and others like you — as part of our community!

  • Dave April 15, 2021, 2:13 pm

    Where do you charge electric vehicles? We’re parking spots renovated to accommodate electric cars? Thanks……

    • Nancie Hamlett May 3, 2021, 2:31 am

      There is a spot in the North Parking Lot reserved for electric vehicles charging, and an outlet “up the burm” that we plug into. We pay $5/month for use of that, plus $0.10/kwh of electricity used. We keep track of kWh using my Kill-O-Meter that is plugged into that outlet. Brad Holt and I are the only two using it right now, so theoretically we would be scheduling time we want reserved, but that hasn’t been an issue. If there are significantly more vehicles, we would probably want some kind of sign-up. In theory, I coordinate that. I also collect electricity use information and forward to Barb S in the office.

      We’re working on figuring out garage capacity if EVs were to plug in there. But that is not currently permitted. Happy to discuss how, in theory, it could work. More than I want to type here :-). There is an EV working collective under the Environment Committee. We meet monthly or as needed. If you’d like to join us, let me know and I’ll include you in the email.


  • Anonymous April 29, 2021, 7:37 pm

    Jan Sutton Becketwood Waiting List: I love your story Nancy. You were a pioneer with electric vehicles. My daughter and her family have an electric car on order. I am so glad many people are taking the small leap to elecrtric vehicles.