“I just LOVE my new car!” my friend gushed while parking her new 2015 Toyota Sequoia at the mall. I tried not to roll my eyes, knowing she gets at best, 17 miles per gallon.
Now, I’m not a tree hugger by any means, but I am environmentally conscientious. When I started working at Zappos about a year and a half ago, I always drove past the electric car charging stations at work. I remember thinking, “I want to go electric!” What made it even more enticing was that Zappos LEAF provides eight charging stations for their employees to use … for FREE! Talk about a win-win situation.
So many questions
Reducing our carbon footprint and getting free of debt is important to my husband and me. He’s going to school for nursing, and I have a hefty college loan for my MBA, so we needed to find ways to reduce our spending. And that meant taking a hard look at our lifestyle. Buying an electric car seemed the way to go, but there were so many questions! What if there was a power outage? What if you lose charge while driving? Where are all the charging stations? What if there’s an electrical storm? What if the power company goes out of business? OK, so some of those are worst case scenarios, but it’s overwhelming! Not to mention with two boys aged 6 and 8, the thought of going electric can be hard for a family of four.
Turning over a new leaf
My husband and I did a lot of research before taking the electric plunge. Our previous cars were a 2003 Ford Escape, a 2006 Prius and a 2013 Honda Shadow. We decided to keep our Prius because we adored the low fuel cost, which was only about $40 per month to fill the tank. With our Ford Escape having engine problems and taking $90 per month in gas alone (that’s nearly $1,100 for the year!), we decided to say goodbye and trade it in for a 2013 Nissan Leaf. By paying all cash, we didn’t have to worry about a car payment. In turn, I was able to pay down my school loan, which was a definite bonus!
Waste not, want not
I’ve been driving the Leaf for about two months now and absolutely love it! Now it seems silly that we didn’t do the switch sooner. I live about 12 miles from work and was scared I couldn’t adjust to the all-electric lifestyle. But so far, it’s been great. I have to strategically plan out my travel distance to make sure I can get from point A to B, C and back again. It takes eight hours to get a full charge, and on average I can get 80 miles per charge. This has definitely helped mitigate my spending. While it might not be the longest mileage, the Leaf has a sophisticated feature where you can reserve the battery and optimize your miles by shifting into B-mode. Oh, and bonus: I love how I don’t ever have to get a smog check, oil change or gas.
If you don’t mind doing a little planning and only need to go 80 miles or less in a day, I recommend eyeing the Leaf. For longer routes, consider the Hyundai Ioniq that can go up to 110 miles; the Tesla Model 3 with a range of 200 miles; or the new Chevrolet Bolt EV with a promised distance beyond 200 miles. So, ask yourself this: Which would you rather lose? Your carbon footprint or your hard-earned cash?