KingMidget's Ramblings

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I Went Green


I have a problem and it’s time to admit it publicly.  I go through cars like a drunk in a wife beater t-shirt goes through cans of Schlitz.  OK, maybe not quite that bad.  But, I do have a problem.

I’m Jekyll & Hyde when it comes to cars.  On the one hand, I really don’t care about cars.  They are just a means to get from one place to another.  I’ve never been one of those guys who are fascinated by cars.  Fast cars.  Cool cars.  Fancy cars.  It’s never really mattered to me.  They are just cars.

That said, when I get a new car, I get excited.  I enjoy the newness of the thing.  And, all too quickly, I get bored with it and start thinking about my next car.  My first car was a Toyota Corolla SR5.  I owned it for ten years and drove it over 100,000 miles.  Since then, in the last twenty years, my wife and I have owned or leased twelve different cars.  None of them have been expensive.  Corolla, Sentra, XTerra, Rogue, HHR, Ranger pickup, Kia Soul, etc.  Some of the purchases/leases were made for good reasons, too.  Going from two-door to four-door cars when kid #1 was born.  From small four-door cars to larger four-door cars when kid #2 was born.  Buying a truck because isn’t it great to have a truck to haul things around in.  Getting rid of said truck because it only got 15 miles to the gallon.  Leases to save money, replaced with purchases to try to get rid of the endless car payments, replaced with leases to save money again.

In all of this, there were two cars I really liked.  My first and the HHR.  I don’t know what it was about the HHR, but I just liked that car.  The novelty of it, the newness never wore off.  Problem is that a couple of years after purchasing it, I was stopped in traffic and a driver coming the other way lost control of her vehicle and slammed into mine.  I was unscathed.  The car was not.  It was totaled.  Which led to a Nissan Altima Hybrid.

My last purchase was a Kia Soul.  At the time I really wanted a Nissan Juke, but the supply of the Juke was gone because of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago.  The Soul was a poor second choice.  The novelty of it wore off pretty soon and I’ve been itching to replace it.

A couple of months ago, I started looking at the Juke again.  It’s a cool little car and I would be able to get it with a manual transmission.  One of the single biggest reasons the cars I’ve owned over the past six or seven years were not that exciting for me was that they were automatics.  I really wanted to go back to actually driving a car and I was looking forward to a Juke with six speeds.

And, then I read an article about how Nissan had dramatically dropped the price of its 2013 Leaf.  It’s an electric vehicle.  With federal tax credits and a California sales rebate, you could walk off the lot with a Leaf for under $20,000.  The world shifted.  A manual Juke and continued trips to the gas station for about $22,000 or a Leaf for just about the same price, maybe less, and no more trips to the gas station.

The biggest issue with the Leaf is its range.  Under optimal situations, you might be able to drive a Leaf 100 miles before needing to charge the battery.  Under normal situations, the range is more like 70-80 miles.  So what.  Easily 95-98% of my driving is within the Sacramento-Elk Grove area.  My daily work commute is 15 miles one way and the garage I park in just had a bunch of charging stations installed.  For those out-of-town trips, we still have the Rogue.  Or this — a more leisurely approach to driving — stopping every 70-80 miles for a quick re-charge and a couple of hours for lunch or a walk around wherever that might be.

Ultimately, the choice was easy.  I forsook, probably forever now, my desire to return to the world of driving a car.  No manual transmission.  Instead, I leased a Leaf.  I figure to save several hundred dollars a month not paying for gas.  I can live with that choice.

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8 responses to “I Went Green

  1. oliviaobryon June 1, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Very cool! I’d like a Leaf myself!

    • kingmidget June 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Can’t imagine how thrilled I am with this. There will be adjustments to be made but I think they’re good ones that begin the process of living a more minimal life.
      Is “more minimal” an oxymoron?

      • oliviaobryon June 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

        My stepmom drives a Volt. She loves it and operates almost entirely on the electricity. Look forward to hearing how you like it as you adjust. I’m on a more minimal quest too, oxymoron or not.

  2. Bastet June 2, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Fantastic! I’d love to have an electric car…and did I just see an oxymoron? Really it would be great and if I lived in Germany I’d do it in a second…Italy…ah…the charging stations are in the works, but not working yet sheesh!

    • kingmidget June 2, 2013 at 7:50 am

      The charging stations are an issue. I think I want to take the car on a longer journey soon and see if it works with stopping for charges. The car comes equipped with a navigation system that includes information on nearby charging stations.

      • Bastet June 2, 2013 at 8:01 am

        Some friends of mine in the U.S. have a hybrid (think that’s how you spell it) and it was a really great car…anyway this Leaf sound cool, just as long as you can find a way of keeping it in juice…I was reading not too long ago, that in some place or other, they had way stations where you could exchange your dead battery for a charged one…probably Germans.

  3. countingducks June 2, 2013 at 6:10 am

    I’ve never even heard of a ‘Leaf’ in the Car sense. You learn something everyday

    • kingmidget June 2, 2013 at 7:49 am

      The drive for electric cars and hybrids and cars that are less gas-dependent is resulting in more and more new cars out there. It’s hard to keep track of all of them.

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