Calvin J. Frye

GEM car logo

Why Electric?

Funny thing for a geologist to want to pass on petroleum, right? Well, let me count the reasons...

For several years, I've been driving around Oberlin in a couple of almost-toy cars, neighborhood electric vehicles, now made by Polaris and called the GEM

Since I got my new job in University Circle, the GEM was no longer a viable vehicle for such a distance. So I got a Leaf!

In general, electric vehicles cost less to operate, stink less, and any associated pollution (say, worst case, from a coal-fired power plant) is easier to clean up at the smokestack instead of at each and every exhaust pipe on the road. Not to mention it's really hard to carry a lot of anti-pollution gear on a moving vehicle without crippling mileage and acceleration.

Electric vehicles are quiet, very enjoyably so. Well, not so much the GEM, which is more like a go-cart, but that's fun, too.

The main problem with the Leaf is the range. In theory, I could just squeeze out a complete round trip from home to the office and back on a single charge. In practice, I drive too fast, I like to run the heater when it's cold, etc. etc. and I prefer to charge at both ends of the trip. There is a rumor that next year Nissan will increase the range of the Leaf to more closely match that offered by BMW, Tesla, and others.

There is a community of EV drivers, and it's fair to disconnect a car that is finished charging to plug yours in. Likewise, if you are the first to leave, and you see a car parked next to you with the charging door open, that's an invitation to plug them in before you leave. Chargers that charge (a fee, that is) aren't so friendly. How do you know an EV is done charging, if the charger isn't helping? See below...

Helpful links for my vehicles, and maybe yours: