Most Nissan Leaf owners are passionate about their electric cars, especially the earliest ones who've already taken delivery.
But not all of them have served three tours of military duty, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tim Goodrich was posted to Afghanistan as an avionics technician, supporting the AWACS planes that feed aerial surveillance data to mission planners who use it to dispatch fighter planes, bombers, and other aircraft. He also spent time in Iraq with a unit that maintained the no-fly zone over that country.
He bought his 2011 Nissan Leaf in part because it uses absolutely no gasoline. And Goodrich has seen first-hand what it takes to support an oil-based economy, both in U.S. foreign policy and military efforts by the country and its allies.
U.S. Air Force avionics technician Tim Goodrich in Oman, with plane flown over AfghanistanEnlarge Photo
"How much sense does it make," he asks, "to send money to countries that don't like us, don't share our values, and sometimes find ways to get that money into the hands of terrorist organizations?"
That's not a particularly easy question to answer, especially when asked by a veteran who's been on the ground in both of this country's latest wars.
Interviewer Jim Motavalli asked Goodrich, "Are those conflicts wars for oil?"
The response was quick: "Absolutely, that's part of it--though there are other interests at play in the geopolitical spectrum."
"Every year, we send at least $250 billion to overseas countries because the cars we drive have an insatiable thirst for oil," Goodrich wrote in a recent commentary. "In other words, about half of our trade deficit is due to imported crude petroleum."
But more and more, global energy politics is no longer just about the U.S. and its need for gasoline. "The whole world is positioning itself to secure energy reserves," Goodrich notes, "including what China is doing in Africa."
U.S. Air Force avionics technician Tim Goodrich at Tinker AFB, OklahomaEnlarge Photo
Now that he's out of the service, Goodrich is a graduate student at the University of Southern California, and works as a business agent for a labor union. And he's a passionate advocate for electric cars,
He loves his 2011 Leaf, and says he's never run out of electricity despite long journeys throughout the greater Los Angeles area. He plans his trips to be aware of nearby charging stations, aided by the iPhone app provided to Leaf owners.
“Ninety percent of Americans drive less than 100 miles a day," Goodrich points out, "and to me it just means doing a bit more planning before I set out."
That planning, in fact, led Goodrich to become--quite inadvertently--the very first user of a newly opened charging facility near the USC campus.
"When I pulled up there," he said, "they were just dedicating the station." As soon as the ceremonies were over, he plugged in.