After MoMo came into our lives, I found myself needing a car for various errands. We’d need to go to the vet, or take her to dog training classes, or maybe rush her to the emergency room because she at some unleavened pizza dough… Whatever the case, we never really went far.
By this point, I had already transformed into a pretty heavy anti-car person. I’d been working at Skip Scooters which focused on micromobility, I had sold my Subaru WRX STI, and my wife and I were bicycling to work on a pretty consistent basis (on some days I’d still ride the motorcycle). Cars are pretty much essential in California due to the various unwise urban planning policies, but I never really enjoyed having one. Traffic is awful in the bay area, and it’s only getting worse. Rush hour traffic is incredibly stressful - despite my best efforts with Audible - and numerous studies show that driving is the single worst form of commuting and the largest contributor to people’s daily unhappiness. Add on to that the various expenses from maintenance, and it just felt like something I had to be rid of.
Faced with the realities of California and MoMo, we knew it was time for a car. But I didn’t want another sports car. In fact, I wanted my car to be as cheap as possible, and last as long as possible. The car is ultimately a means to an end, and if everything goes well, I wouldn’t have to be in it for very long at all.
That’s when I found article after article after article raving about the Nissan Leaf - specifically, used Nissan Leafs. Electric cars in general have basically no maintenance, and after 12 years or so, you can just pay to have a battery swap which turns your car into a brand new one! And can we talk about how cheap electricity is compared to gas? I have a Whole Foods near where I live, and it costs just $1.73 for a full charge. The Chargepoint app is also amazing; if it’s full, you can enter a waitlist and it’ll reserve your spot - preventing anyone else from plugging in if it’s your turn. You can also stop charging remotely from the app if your battery is full. And it’ll give you a full graph of the kilowatt hours being transferred to your car.
In California, plenty of places provide cheap or free electricity, so even with the degraded battery of only 50 miles on our 2011 Nissan Leaf model, it’s super easy to find places to charge. There really isn’t much range anxiety anymore. And with level 3 chargers, we get another 25 miles of charge in just 10 minutes of charging! Best of all is the price point. This is a 2011 used Nissan Leaf that cost me just $5,000! It’s a car I can have for the next decade, with basically no holding costs.
Sure, I’m not going to do any road trips or go to Tahoe any time soon, but for our needs - and I’d venture for most urban Californians’ needs - the Nissan Leaf is the perfect car.