How We Became An All-Plug-In Electric Car Household

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Why we switched to a two-car plug-in household.

Why we switched to a two-car plug-in household.

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Since November 2006, our family has always owned at least one plug-in car and one powered by gasoline.

For almost two years, our fleet has been a Nissan Leaf electric hatchback, and a used 2008 Toyota Prius. 

After two years and nearly 42,000 miles of driving the Leaf, however, our once high-tech Prius had begun to feel like little more than a gas-guzzler.

It also became the subject of a good-natured daily fight over who would would have to drive it, versus who would get to enjoy the comfort and performance of the all-electric Leaf.

With a few high repair bills looming on the horizon for our little gas-guzzler, we did the only logical thing we could: We traded it in for a Chevrolet Volt.

But if we hate buying gasoline and love electric cars so much, why go for the range-extended Volt over a pure battery electric car? I’ll explain. 

Daily driving

For the most part, my personal transportation needs are fairly simple: I need a car that can handle daily errands.

Those include taking the children to after-school clubs, visiting friends, and doing the weekly shopping.

Because I work from home, I drive less than 15 miles in an average day--something our Nissan Leaf handles perfectly. 

2011 Nissan LEAF

2011 Nissan LEAF

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the remaining 20 percent of the time, I’m attending press launches, visiting friends out of town, or teaching the occasional music class in a local school.

The Leaf handles most--if not all--of these duties, but occasionally, I need to venture beyond the 74 miles or so the Leaf can muster on a full charge. 

Thanks to a growing network of CHAdeMO quick-charging stations in the UK, it’s now possible to drive hundreds of miles a day in the Leaf. But while the network is rapidly growing, driving the Leaf long-distance requires extra planning and extra time.

When I’m working on a tight schedule and have to be back home in time to pick up the kids at school, taking the Leaf isn’t always an option. 

My wife, a contracting software engineer, commutes daily from our home to ... well, wherever she happens to be working at the time.

For the past seven months, that’s been a company based 40 miles from home--though her commute in the past few years has been as short as 20 miles and as long as 100 each day.


 
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