Armen Hareyan's picture

We Need To Make Sacrifices To Control Environmental Damage, LEAF Driver

A Nissan LEAF driver Jim Seko responded to feedback on Electric Cars group on Facebook on the topic of the widespread electric car adoption and their impact on the environment, saying people need to warm up to the idea of sacrifice, which now seems difficult.

Here is Jim in his own words.

"I'm a lifelong car nut, electrical engineer and recently converted environmentalist. I did a lot of reading about EVs. I might even call myself a bit of an expert. I did all the math but I still was worried about the financial wisdom of leasing a $38,000 car. I worried that I might get stranded with a dead battery. I totally understand the fear people have. But all my fears were overblown. I have 27K miles on my leaf and, yes, I did run out of range, once. I called Nissan and with no questions asked they sent a tow truck right away... and I lived through it. Some people say we need to make big sacrifices if we want to stop the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels. I wonder why it seems so difficult for us to make tiny sacrifices for sake of sustainability."

Mark Renburke commented back writing what is needed to turn comfort-seeking consumers into accidental environmentalists.

"Not to be pessimistic, just realistic: Most people just don't care enough to make even a bit of sacrifice... and they never will, no matter how much we educate and inform. They want convenience, features, performance, and even simply vanity in some cases. The irresistibly appealing plug in car choice (in all meanings of automotive appeal) is what is needed to turn them into an accidental environmentalist."

Is owning an electric car today a sacrifice?

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It all comes down to economics. Many would like to do what they can to help the environment and improve sustainability, but when it comes to their wallet most find they have to make rational spending choices, and these days petrol powered ICE vehicles are simply more economical to buy and operate.

As for EVs - they are not yet affordable or practical for many, especially depending on their geographic location and needs for commuting and travel. There may not be charging stations available at work which might enable some with longer commutes to get back home that night, etc.. Or for those living in areas with seasonal temperature extremes, A/C or heating needs greatly reduce travel range in an EV. But - these are issues being addressed in future models.

With any new technologies it takes time to build up the necessary support infrastructure and improve economies of scale. A perfect example is Tesla - with Model X they are working to produce a less expensive EV that would appeal to many, and they are frantically at work on their new battery plant which should help get those battery costs down. Nissan is working on a more practical range LEAF which should help this model succeed, and as more EVs hit the roads there should also be more charging stations built to accommodate them. All moving in the right direction.

But beyond all this - the largest problem the world faces is population explosion, which is putting more demands on the environment from human geographical expansion, need for food and use of natural resources. I know this is a touchy subject but more is not better and if you are concerned about environmental care and sustainability then population growth cannot be ignored.

The biggest problem with EVs is this: The only people who can afford plug in cars are those who can do math.

You can lease a Leaf for $199 per month and pay $25 a month for electricity and never pay for oil changes, or spark plug or timing belts or fuel injectors etc, etc,

Acdoding Edmunds dot com, true cost to own calculator, the Nissan Leaf is the most affordable than any gasoline car, including hybrids. The only sacrifice required is doing the math

I don't mean this comment to be political. I just want to point out the simple fact that the US still imports a lot of oil. That puts our national security at risk. Personally I don't even care so much about the financial cost but I do care about the cost in blood. When we can say we no longer import any oil I will feel free to buy an ICE car.

I haven't sacrificed much for my 2015 SL. It replaced my beloved 99 Camry V6 LE which was totaled in a crash last year. Hmmm... electric seats lost. Heated seats and steering wheel gained. Rear wiper gained. Heated mirrors gained. Peace and quiet gained. Savings of 80% on fueling costs IF I am too lazy to go to public chargers in the No Charge to Charge scheme (if I always did that, for the first two years, I would save 100% on fueling costs, which were approximately $200/month). I don't have to waste time having oil changes, nor do I have to pay for them. I don't have to pay for a AAA membership since Nissan provides roadside assistance for free ($80/year). I don't waste time at the gas station and I'm not tempted by their lottery tickets or snacks.

Our monthly mileage driven in our one-car family is 750-900, but we made a conscious decision 7 years ago to move close to school and work and now none of those are more than 4 miles from home. We got so much of our lives back in exchange for $1000/month more in housing costs! I get so tired of people complaining about their long commutes to live in their cheap(er) houses while they pay thousands to fuel and maintain their cars and waste hundreds of hours in their cars, exposing themselves to many more hours of accident risk in the process. You don't get the time back.

We are much happier and calmer now that we drive less, and now that we drive electric in a state that gets 75% of its power from renewables, we don't even feel very guilty about the environment, and the wars waged to keep oil flowing (or the earthquakes and groundwater contamination caused by all the on-shore drilling and fracking). I am pretty sure I will never own another ICE car. We did a 570-mile trip in 2 days in the LEAF, and it was fine... leisurely as we stopped to charge for 30 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes, but I am OK with that.

Electric cars as they exist now are not perfect, but neither is any ICE car. Tell me your ICE has never broken down, overheated, had a broken hose or belt, or some other malfunction that cost you many hours and hundreds of dollars to fix? EVs have many fewer moving parts, and as a simpler device, are much less prone to these sorts of failures. Electric cars continue to get greener every time your utility brings online more solar or hydro power... gas cars just pollute more and more as their parts work less efficiently over time. EVs are getting better, and once 200-mile range is common, I can't see any excuse.