Confessions of a Recovering Car Nut
By Gerry Gaydos (Originally posted Sep. 2014)
Hi. My name is Gerry and I’m partly responsible for global climate change. Like so many of my cohort who grew up during the second half of the 20th century, I love cars! Especially ones that hug the corners!
In B.C., fossil fuel powered vehicles produce about 30% of our regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. North American motorists produce a disproportionate part of the global total GHG emissions.
I’ve owned 43 cars over my lifetime, and even though many of them were fuel efficient sports cars, I’ve been a continuous contributor to the burden of climate-changing C02. Not anymore. Now I’m driving a money saving electric car that also hugs the planet, and loving it!
So why would a guy like me ditch his passion for piston engines and go electric?
Here are 7 sound reasons:
1. NO tailpipe emissions! That means better local air quality and less climate change. Even where coal is burned to generate electricity, an EV will create half as much CO2, at the source, as a petrol-powered car at the tailpipe. In B.C. an EV is nearly 100% cleaner.
2. EVs are nicer to drive than fuel burners: more torque, quieter and smoother acceleration, music sounds better in an EV and the ride quality is better without the noise and vibration of a piston engine, better handling because of a low centre of gravity (the battery is under the floor, and EVs never have noxious petoleum vapours in the cabin. In short, an EV driver has a more sublime motoring experience.
3. EVs promote world peace. Electricity is a local energy source. Canada still imports a whack of petroleum. Oil supply “security” is often at the heart of geopolitical conflict. Meanwhile, solar electricity to power your home, and your car, can be made from sunshine on the roof of your house, without toxic spills or military intervention.
4. How long can an EV run on sunshine? As long as there’s a sun in the sky, that energy can power your car. Is battery life expectancy a problem? Nope! My 12-year-old RAV4 EV with 90,000 miles (145,000 km) on the clock still has 90% of its original battery capacity. I can drive about 160 km on a charge.
5. An EV wont make a stink or wake the neighbours. Let’s be clear, the stink of car exhaust is only the beginning of the harm it does. As for the racket, for a century Rolls Royce has tried to engineer the noise out of their cars as a hallmark of their excellence. Quiet is a standard feature of any modern EV.
6. An EV motor has one moving part. A simpler drive system is easier and cheaper to run. EVs need virtually no service or replacement parts. About all you’ll ever replace on an EV are the tires, wiper blades and washer fluid. Even the brakes on an EV last longer because the motor acts like the brakes, during “regenerative braking”, and harvests the energy of the car’s motion, turns it into electricity and recharges your battery to slow the car down. How cool is that?
7. EVs don’t harm the ocean the way fuel burning vehicles do. A huge amount of CO2 gets absorbed by the oceans. That causes ocean acidification that many species can’t tolerate. The oceans have always been a major source of food for humans, but more importantly, half of the planet’s oxygen comes from the phytoplankton that live in the oceans. CO2 emissions are literally driving the biosphere into collapse, a crash that we won’t survive! Replacing internal combustion engines with electric drive, that can run on clean electricity, might help us steer clear of catastrophic damage to the oceans and our own demise.
Maybe you’re thinking you can’t afford an electric car. Ironically, beyond the lower initial price, you’ll probably pay more for a fossil fuel powered car over time. My fuel sipping Civic burned just shy of $2,000 worth of fuel each year, while my EV driven the same distance costs about $350 a year for electricity and maintenance combined!. But how do you deal with the higher purchase price of an EV? Buy used!
Nine months ago I bought my used RAV4ev for half the price of a new compact fuel burner. My 43rd car relationship is electrifying, it doesn’t demand so much energy, and it has enabled me to drive away from the pumps for good. It’s 12 years old, still drives like new, still gets great range, and does it all for the price of a cup of coffee each week. However, today I noticed the washer fluid is empty again . . .
Internal combustion is so last century.
Gerry Gaydos is a recovering car nut and Sierra Club BC volunteer who enjoys life with an EV in Victoria.