It Took Time To Build Gas Stations Too, Says 97-Year-Old Driver (Video)

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"I love to drive," says the 97-year-old driver. "And that's, to me, part of my longevity."

But Charlie Yaeger is old enough to remember when gas stations were so sparse that drivers had to memorize where every one was located.

In a new video issued by Nissan, he draws parallels between that experience and today's rapid build-out of public electric-car charging stations.

The man who's driven everything from a 1916 Baker Electric and a Ford Model T to an Eighties Nissan Maxima wagon appears on the video reminiscing about the state of U.S. roads.

Before the Interstate Highway System was developed in the 1950s by President Dwight D. Eisenhower--as a defense measure, by the way--roads were simply paving laid on top of muddy tracks, Yaeger recalls.

"We reveled in the fact that we had 60 miles of concrete from Chicago to Danville," Yaeger says.

"Well, that was the superhighway then: two 12-foot lanes of concrete, with no shoulder."

"It was very gradual until Eisenhower," Yaeger recalls.

But electric-car charging locations, even the DC quick-charging stations, are remarkably inexpensive compared to just a single mile of concrete road.

In most cases, running the appropriate electric wiring from the transformer or building electric panel to the station costs as much as the charging station--with simpler 240-Volt Level 2 stations now available at less than $1,000.

So Yaeger offers a useful long-term perspective on the gradual arrival of vehicle infrastructure.

2011 Nissan Leaf plugged into an EVgo quick-charging station, Texas

2011 Nissan Leaf plugged into an EVgo quick-charging station, Texas

Enlarge Photo

Indeed, he may be one of the few living drivers who have driven production electric cars separated by 95 years of the gasoline century.

And the all-but-centenarian driver is optimistic about the future for electric cars as part of the U.S. vehicle mix.

“It will be another infrastructure evolution,” said Yaeger.

He's seen it before, remember.


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Comments (11)
  1. I don't think the infrastructure for modern electric cars will be as hard to obtain. The electrical grid has been in place for some time so chargers only need installing. People say that hydrogen's biggest disadvantage is the needed infrastructure, which is true because it doesn't exist except for a few extremely rare places. So EVs can bring us a zero emissions future right now, and in time the infrastructure will grow, and electricity will be produced in increasingly cleaner ways. This is one reason why I'm for EVs, you don't have to wait you can just buy one and instantly own a zero emissions car and supply your energy from home.

  2. The benefit is the growth of EV Charger infrastructure is going to be much cheaper and much faster.

    It takes half a year to build a gas station and a million dollars. America has a few billion Level 1 charging points and it's trivial to modify a dryer plug to support an EV Level 2 charger, so with a few thousand dollars we could easily install a few hundred million Level 2 charging points. It's more work to install Level 2 chargers at businesses or commercial facilities, but still we are talking on the order of 50 million commercial locations and costs on the average of 10-15K for commercial facilities to support Level 2 chargers. Level 3 chargers are more expensive, but you really only want to install them at existing gas stations.

  3. there are a few hundred thousand of these, and yes a Level 3 charger is pricy but so is a gas pump. I suspect service stations will be able to match
    Level 3 charing into their business model as most gas stations also have 3 phase power at the pole.

  4. it will be a constant uphill battle until the day the oil companies give in and start spending their huge wads of cash on building THEIR electric charging network.

  5. I think the futur is with exchanging batteries, not with recharging them. Exchanging the batteries pack might be as fast as filling up with gazoline. And fast recharge is very hard on the batteries; their expexted life is base on slow recharge. So let's start with the right infrastructure: a series of battery exchenge stations.

  6. Actually evidence appears to point in the opposite direction. Frequent quick charging doesn't really make much, if any difference. This is based on Nissan Leafs that have done 10's of thousands of miles on the clock. The ones that are regularly quick charged don't seem to lose capacity any quicker than the ones that aren't quick charged at all.

  7. I think his main point is that standardization of battery packs will allow for an exchange system similar to cordless drills. When the battery pack is low, remove the old pack and replace it with a juiced up one while plugging the old pack into the grid to refresh it.

  8. Yikes! Love the gentleman and the point that roads and gas stations had to be built just as the electric car infrastructure needs to be built BUT isn't there anybody at Nissan or the production company that knows that Dwight Eisenhower, as the narration claims, did not in fact make it a priority of building a national highway system and infrastructure before BEFORE WW II because the President before WW II was in fact Franklin D. Roosevelt?

    The Eisenhower Administration did in fact initiate the national interstate system but it was done while he was President after WW II.

    Jeez, with the wealth and ease of information available today by use of the internet, how on earth do people not get basic historical facts correct? Such a glaring error.

  9. If I owned a restaurant or any business on a long stretch of road I would have a charging station to draw customers.

  10. Perspective - nice!

  11. Why is he messing with cars, I thought he was a fighter pilot :)

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