So, about a month ago I started driving my new electric smart car. His name is Bob. Bob is totally awesome. And totally adorable.
People notice Bob. People are very curious. I like that they ask me questions, want to sit in him, want to get driven around the block. I want to let everyone see how great Bob is, and I like to talk about him.
But I have noticed that many of the questions people ask have a definite undertone of judgement and skepticism that surprised me a little.
Many people comment on his diminutive size and ask “But how useful is he, really, when you can’t take your whole family anywhere in him?” My answer is that if you pay attention, you will probably notice that most people spend 80-90 percent of their driving time either alone or with one other person in the car. I drive to work. I pick up my son at The YMCA. I go to the grocery store or the gym, alone or with my son. Those things make up over 90 percent of my total car time. When three or more of us want to go somewhere, we have our gasoline-powered Subaru to take us. I have used the Subaru once this month.
The next thing people ask is “How far can you go on a charge?” I can go up to 80 miles on an overnight charge. This does not seem like enough to most people – even though most people who ask me live within ten miles of where they work. Seriously, ten miles. They could drive to work and back four times in a day if they had to, but they think that’s not enough. I go to work (20 miles from home), to pick up my son, to the store, to the gym, for some other errands on the weekend – and the lowest Bob’s battery has gotten so far is 18 percent of full charge. If we want to take a road trip on the weekend, we can take the gasoline-powered Subaru.
One of the most ridiculous questions I get from people is “Aren’t you afraid of what will happen if a semi truck hits you?” Really, people? A semi truck? You think you’re not going to be dead if a semi hits your SUV? Seriously, the issue of safety is an important one. And it is completely true that if an SUV hits Bob, I’m likely to get more hurt than you would get if an SUV hit your SUV. But that’s not what people say – they always bring up the semi trucks. I liked my husband’s response, when he said “Yeah, it doesn’t handle meteor strikes well, either.”
But by far the greatest majority of the questions have to do with money. Everyone wants to know how much he cost, how much he costs us in electricity, and how does that compare to how much I was spending on gas. And when I explain that we pay a monthly lease fee which is just a bit more than I was spending on gas per month and then about 45-50 cents per day on the electricity, people go “ppht!” and dismiss this as a ridiculous waste of money.
A WASTE OF MONEY.
People spend more on one weekend of skiing with their family than I spend on Bob for the whole month.
People buy a single item of jewelry that costs more than I spend on Bob for six months.
People buy dinners that cost what I spend on Bob for two weeks.
And most people make monthly car payments that are far more than I spend on Bob for a month.
But people don’t seem to consider those things A WASTE OF MONEY.
For some reason, people expect an electric vehicle to be completely free of charge (no pun intended) or it’s not worth it.
Since when is money the only thing to consider when making a decision in your life? If that were the case, we would not have children, or pets, or take vacations, or eat desserts, or have cable television, or volunteer our time, or do most of the things that we enjoy doing.
Many of the people who want the details of how cost-effective Bob is are the same people who ask me how cost-effective my vegetable garden is, without ever stopping to consider how cost-effective their own LAWN is not.
I spend my money on things I think are important, and that I enjoy. Good, healthy food. Books. Quality clothes that will last for a long time. Practical shoes. Vegetable seeds and seedlings. Fruit trees. Improvements to our home. Solar panels. And a vehicle that I love to drive, that does not pollute the air, and that makes a statement about what I think is important.
I am willing to spend some money to support a technology that I believe is important to the future quality of life on our planet. I am hopeful that electric vehicle technology will continue to improve, in combination with an increase in the adoption of solar power, and it will not be long before four-seater electric vehicles with 100+ mile ranges will be common and affordable.
Bob is awesome. I believe that he and all his electric relatives are going to slowly and steadily change our world. Slowly, because they have a lot of work to do to change people’s attitudes first.