After driving a not-so-greenish minivan around Cary since my first son was born (16 years ago), it felt like it was finally time to “walk the walk” and make a switch to a more fuel-efficient vehicle. As Greenish Neighbor I’ve done my best to make lifestyle changes that are gentler to the environment. However, nagging at me constantly was the guilt I had over my “demand” for fossil fuels and my contribution to carbon emissions as I drove to school, meetings and errands.
The life changing reality of a newly licensed teen driver in the house (with a second one on the way), pushed the topic of vehicles to the top of the To Do list. As the kids have gotten older my van and I are needed less and less to drive carpools and haul baseball, hockey and lacrosse gear all over town. Great . . . time to downsize my ride. BUT the demand for transportation for our family of four will double in the next year and the impact of that on the planet makes me squirm.
After MUCH discussion, we decided that instead of each having a vehicle to ourselves, we would look at our vehicles as a “family fleet”. We know that in general the “greenest” vehicle is that one that is already in the garage. There is no need right now to replace my husband’s car so we’ll keep our third combustion engine car for longer trips and when the other cars are in use. We decided on two electric vehicles, both Nissan Leafs (Leaves?). We bought a used 2015 Nissan Leaf and are leasing a new 2019 Nissan Leaf.
Here are some of the factors and unique situations that guided our decision to go with these two EVs:
Our kids attend a school that has a charging station on campus. Realizing this is very rare, recommending our exact choice for the commuter car is probably not practical for high school students. However, this would work well if you have a charger at or near your place of employment. Our used 2015 Leaf only has a range of 80 miles so it is pretty much just a commuter car for the morning and afternoon carpool that my son takes to and from school. We purchased it through Carvana and were very happy with this new, simple way to buy a used car.
We live in a single-family home with a 2-car garage. The overnight charging is very convenient and, of course, always available. That is not necessarily going to be the case for multifamily dwellings or those without easy access to electrical outlets. Also, our electrical box had already been expanded when we did a kitchen renovation so that was ready to go. The cost of installing a plug-in station at home will vary widely based on a number of factors. I’ll have more information on that in future posts.
Luckily, we are in a situation that purchasing and leasing these vehicles worked into our budget. Options for new and used EVs run the full spectrum of pricing. We shied away from Tesla because we just felt that we could accomplish what we wanted with a more moderately priced car. One tiny bonus was that we actually made money on the trade in of the minivan for the used 2015 Leaf.
Our family had the time and interest in researching the best options. We were not urgent to replace a vehicle so there was time to consider our options. Once my husband sets his mind to finding information, he enjoys the hunt. His research on hybrid and electric vehicles resulted in what I would now call “enthusiasm” for the EV industry. I’m thankful for this because if it were up to me to do, it might never have happened.
Finally, because of so much of the work we have been doing to gently ease into a greenish way of life, my family is now a bit used to the “try it out and see how it goes” attitude toward more environmentally friendly opportunities. After pushing the family to use beeswraps instead of plastic, compost their food scraps, recycle the even the inconvenient stuff, use cloth napkins, etc., the transition to the EV lifestyle seemed like a logical, though big, step for all of us.
We’re off and running with our new fleet of vehicles! Stay tuned on how we are all adjusting to our new “Leaf Life” and subscribe here for notifications on future blogs.