Winter Testing the Volvo C30 ElectricEnlarge Photo
Later on today, I will hit the publish button on my final article as a full-time writer at Green Car Reports, turn off my computer, and officially end my time as an automotive journalist.
Today, I start the transition from automotive writer to electric car advocate, a role I’ve wanted for many years, but--as many will attest--one which rarely pays the bills.
You see, while I’ve only been working here at Green Car Reports for a few years, my love affair with plug-in cars started way back in 1984.
I had just turned five, and my two elder sisters--10 and 15 years my senior--received a weekly encyclopedic magazine in the mail called The Tree Of Knowledge.
Every week, the magazine would arrive with teen-friendly articles on everything from cell division to the basics of thermodynamics, the evolution of classic music, and how bones repair.
And so, after my sisters had read it, the precocious Mini-Me would sneak into their bedroom, and sit on the floor, cross-legged, looking at the pictures and trying to figure out the words.
It was then that it happened: I encountered my first electric car.
Staring back at me from the pages of the magazine encyclopedia was a cutaway diagram of a 1976 Enfield electric car, showing its physically big, yet underpowered motor, its massive 48 Volts of lead-acid batteries, and a sweeping, electrically-heated front windshield.
1974 Enfield 8000 Electric Car
1974 Enfield 8000 Electric CarEnlarge Photo
It was bright red, about the same size as a Morris Mini-Minor, and made perfect sense to me.
I was in love.
From that point on, I was fascinated by everything electronic.
In between hours of music practice, school work, and the occasional bit of helping out on the farm, I tinkered with radios, motors, and eventually, computers.
But it would be another 21 years, after graduating as a professional musician, that I would start to pay close attention to electric cars again.
My 1965 Morris Minor--a car I purchased a few years after graduation, in the ultimate pursuit of a childhood fantasy--had started to suffer from years of neglect and poor servicing under the care of its elderly former owner.
Its replacement, a roaring 1.8-liter Morris Minor hot-rod woody wagon from 1962, drank gasoline like a fish, and it wasn’t as fun to drive on everyday commutes as I thought it would be.
Morris Minor Hot Rod
Morris Minor Hot RodEnlarge Photo
In fact, I sold the very car I’d purchased to beat BMW M5s on the freeways around my hometown just a scant few months after I bought it. And I kept the '65.
And then it hit me.
Gasoline was rapidly approaching £1 per liter, and it was running my bank account dry. It was smelly, and my slowly-rusting wreck was leaving oil everywhere.
I wanted something simpler, cheaper, easier.
So I started the strip-down of my beloved car, removing its interior by hand, selling off its old parts, and using a cheap Chinese electric scooter as my main form of transport.
But the 40-year old car was rusted through in places I knew I couldn’t afford to fix. I had to scrap her.
In the interim, my passion for electric cars was well and truly ignited. By this point, I’d found a cheap, three-wheeled neighborhood electric vehicle to drive around in: the City El.
City El NEV
City El NEVEnlarge Photo
With a top speed of just 35 mph, crude handling, and a range of 30 miles on a good day, the City El wasn’t easy to drive.
It was electric, and that’s all I cared about.