Filling Up At The
Pump Plug: First All-Electric Car In Ulster And Dutchess
By Peg Lotvin
From Issue 14: Spring 2012
What’s quiet? Quiet as a kitten sleeping; quiet as snow falling?
Gardiner residents Marty and Janine Brutvan’s new Nissan Leaf. I took their new all electric car for a test drive the other day. Just turning it on is an adventure. Push the ON button and exactly nothing happens. You wonder how to make it go. Then you notice the dashboard …lit up like a 747 with all kinds of messages.
Janine points to the gear shift. Just a little knob that moves back and forth to drive, reverse, etc. All directions are given in a whisper because it is so quiet in the vehicle. There is a map on the screen, like a little computer screen (which it actually is) that tells you how far you can go.
The Leaf goes about 75 miles on a charge. That means about 35 miles one way. Then you have to go home. Another map on the screen tells you where there are charging stations. The nearest one is at the Brutvan’s house in their garage. As this is the first Leaf sold in Dutchess or Ulster County it may be a while before there are charging stations every mile or so. Eventually local service stations will have them, along with gas stations along the Thruway. Right now the car is charged at 220V at a charging dock in the garage. When more charging stations are available they will be at 440V so the charging time is fast. Stop on the Thruway, plug in, get a cup of coffee and a bad danish, jump back in car and on your way.
Amazingly, in the trunk of the car there is an emergency 110V plug in a backpack kit. If you get caught too far away from home or another charging station, you can do an emergency charge from any household electric plug. It might take a multiple course meal plus brandy before the car is charged enough to get you home, but you will get home. Janine does not expect to have many problems of this nature. With three active and involved children most of her daily trips are to the kids’ activities in New Paltz, or otherwise locally.
The Brutvans started researching electric vehicles several years ago. They put a deposit on the Leaf in 2010 and took delivery in February of this year. So far, Janine and Marty are thrilled. Janine’s chief complaint is the upholstery is a very light color. Three active children make for spilled stuff once in a while. Standard in the car are heated seats and a heated steering wheel for cold weather. An addition is a small solar panel on the roof that produces power to run the radio and CD player. (Janine loves her music.)
The Leaf is not an inexpensive vehicle, but there are tax credits to bring down the cost, and the Brutvans got a very favorable loan rate because the Leaf is so ecologically in tune. Another possible expense, of course, is that of electricity to charge the car.
Here is the real kicker! The Brutvans produce their own electricity from solar panels on the roof of their house. During my little test drive the odometer kicked over to 700 miles and not a drop of gasoline was purchased to drive those miles and not one cent was spent on the electricity to run those miles. How cool is it to just wave at your maybe not-so-favorite gas station as you go silently by?