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.

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

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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