The Nissan Leaf

Scott, thank you again for your continued commitment to driving a Nissan LEAF™. you have reserved your place in history and will be one of the first in your area to own one.we are still finalizing some details of the order process, and we will be in touch later this summer with additional information on your order timing. rest assured, this will not impact your reservation status. we will continue to keep you updated with all developments as they occur.”

This was in my e-mail and yes it has my hopes extremely high. Especially adding to that is that my home assessment for the charging station states that I’m number 13271. There are 15,000 cars reserved for the U.S. in the first batch which leads me to believe that since I’m the 13,271 person to schedule the assessment (which is part of the process to reserve the car) I think I’m in a good position to be one of the first to own this car!

I know it’s not official, but it’s looking good. It’s practical to not get too excited until I hear more, but that’s not going to happen. I can’t help it.

You might be asking why go electric? I think for me the main reason is no more oil changes, no more oil filters, and no more gasoline. That’s big savings in the long run. It’s also to make an environmental statement too. I think in the wake of the BP oil disaster in the gulf, now is a good time for Nissan to release it’s electric car. So far public interest has been good and it seems the Leaf is off to a good start. There are limits to what an electric car can do, even the Leaf isn’t for everyone. A 100 mile range it’s going to be good enough for vacation trips or driving too far. Even with charging infrastructure the fastest re-charge time is just under 30 minutes and that’s with the level 3 charging station which is the most expensive to install. Most people who end up driving the Leaf or other electric cars as they come on the market will have level 2 charging stations installed. They are slower but still within an acceptable rate of charge. We’re talking around 8 hours to charge up from a low state of charge, basically on empty. However, most charging will probably be done from around half empty on up so that will shrink the re-charging time. Level one charging is your typical 120v outlet and from low charge to full would take about 20 hours to charge the batteries on the Leaf! Still, with public charging stations, people can drive around and charge while they go shopping or are dinning out.

If you can’t get your hands on the Leaf or you need better range then you might want to take a look at the Chevy Volt. It is technically a hybrid, but it acts more like a pure electric car for about 40miles, no gas is needed. Once you run out of battery power, a gasoline engine kicks in and keeps you going while charging the battery (as I understand it). You can plug the car in at home and charge the battery which would probably charge fairly well on 120v and probably only in a few hours on the level two charging station (240v). The system is what I was hoping to do with my Prius by having it converted into a plugin but I was never fully satisfied with the systems that are available. Still, you will see a plugin version of the Prius from Toyota in a couple of years. Toyota is also working with Tesla Motors so we may see some interesting electric cars from Toyota soon too.

And if you can’t pry yourself away from the ICE car then there is still some good news for you. Advancements in MPG continues and we may see some improved ICEs coming in the next couple of years that will help save on gas. Imagine your typical gasoline non-hybrid car getting 50MPG! It’s not just a dream anymore, but a possibility! Don’t forget that bio-fuel isn’t out of the picture or even hydrogen (though I don’t see that happening for a while).

I hope to see more and more electric cars out on the road in the next few years and here’s hoping the Leaf does well. Oh, and don’t forget about Ford, they have an electric focus on the way too!

Scott, thank you again for your continued commitment to driving a Nissan LEAF™. you have reserved your place in history and will be one of the first in your area to own one.

we are still finalizing some details of the order process, and we will be in touch later this summer with additional information on your order timing. rest assured, this will not impact your reservation status. we will continue to keep you updated with all developments as they occur.

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That's Your Suggestion?!

A screenshot from The Sims 3

I was playing The Sims 3 today and I could not help but post this photo. My character is teaching his son to talk and well you can’t imagine what they are talking about!

I thought we decided that nuking the oil well was a bad idea!

Anyway, this is a lesson to all you new fathers out there. Leave that talk about atomic weapons till they get older…

Spill Baby Spill!

While I do not usually like to talk politics on my blog , I might have to break that rule. I do consider myself an environmentalist. You can go ahead and call me a tree huger, but I assure you I do not make love to trees, though I do like trees. They can provide some much needed shade during the hot months of summer!

It’s day 56 since the BP rig exploded and oil began to leak into the Gulf of Mexico. I haven’t blogged about this because I knew it could get me involved into politics or into controversial issues. However, it’s time I throw my opinion into the ring. Bare with me, this post might actually be longer then a few paragraphs! Anyway, there is a lot of anger going around and it seems that no one is immune to it. Whether you are an oil company, the President, an English person, a scientist, or just about anyone it is likely someone is mad at you over this tragic event. (Though I hope no one is mad at the scientists because it’s not easy getting an accurate read on how many gallons or barrels have entered the Gulf of Mexico).

What really saddens me is that BP didn’t seem to put in enough effort to improve their safety technology at the same time they were perfecting their deep drilling technology. Now, I can understand to an extent that the company was confident there couldn’t be a spill. If you drill right it makes sense that a spill would be unlikely. However, conventional wisdom suggests that you should always be prepared and it is obvious to me that BP was not. In hind sight, BP would have saved so much money, time, and lives had they spent money on improving safety, prevention, and clean up technologies. It’s not always easy to predict the future, but it seems that old technology that doesn’t work well to begin with and never tested in deep water operations would not be good enough in the event of a spill in deep water. Clearly, this is a lesson to any corporation which is involved in dangerous operations or operations that could cause death, environmental damage, etc..

For the record, I’m not against drilling for oil. However, if we are going to do it we should reduce the dangers of a spill as much as possible. In fact, I support Obama’s decision to stop new drilling. Think about the people who have been hurt by this whole thing. To start, the workers who died on the rig who should not have lost their lives. Then of course Louisiana, Alabama, Missouri, and Florida citizens who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods because of this. Then there is the environmental impact which has already killed many animals and threatens many, many more. The Wetlands in Louisiana which could get wiped out (that’s a major concern because the wetlands help protect against devastating hurricanes and reduce the damage a hurricane can do). And yes this is also bad to American BP and English BP workers and stockholders. I’m sure I missed someone and if so I do apologize.

As the title of my post here alludes to, I am making fun of the mantra, “Drill Baby Drill!” I hope Sarah Palin is not offended, I do not mean to single her out. I think we need to change this mantra to something more fitting to me: “Solar Baby Solar!” Yes anyone can use that quote (just make sure to mention that I said it. Yes I’m claiming its mine)! If there is any blessing to come out of this spill is that maybe America will start to see how important clean, alternative energy is. While not perfect, solar power has great potential to replace oil as an energy source and it doesn’t pollute or create an environmental threat to our planet. I believe that this technology is already quite usable and will continue to improve in the near future. When asked, “should we sacrifice progress for conservation,” I say we don’t have to. We can create green energy now and in the near future it will be able to replace our dependence on fossil fuels.

Now there is some resistence to making fossil fuels obsolete. However, this resistence is futile. Humans progress, it’s what we do, and at some point we will run out of oil and gas anyway. So, why put off the inevitable? Surely the oil companies, which make more money then any other industry, can afford to start their own green technology. At some point they have to evolve or they won’t survive anyway. And besides, green technology is cool and green is a cool color! The general public doesn’t care if we stop using fossil fuels as long as they don’t have to stop using energy. We waste so much oil and gas as a society. Green technology will make us more efficient so that we won’t have to conserve energy (which most of us don’t do a good job of anyway, myself included). This is because since solar panels create electricity from sun rays, we will have an unlimited source of energy (unless someone destroys the sun somehow. Course at that point we would all die anyway). This also turns your house into a power plant and you can sell extra energy you don’t need to the electric company!

What I am most excited about with regards to solar power is what it could do to the auto industry. Electric cars (yes I know there is already a trend heading in this direction)! Think about it, no more stopping at the gas station to fill up, and no more oil changes. Instead, you drive your car around and at the end of the day all you need to do is plug you car into your house. The solar energy you created, which will easily last you overight and then some, will fill up your car’s battery so that in the morning it will be ready to go with a full charge. This is something we could do now and you can too, if you have the money. And don’t worry about charge times, because quick charging technology is constantly improving. One day, it will take only a few minutes to charge the car instead of a few hours. Not only that, battery capacity will eventually exceed that of your average gasoline powered sedan (though some may miss the sounds of a roaring engine, but don’t worry we can program that into the car so it still sound bad ass)!

Of course, then we might see something like an electric powered Hummer. That’s all we need, a tank powered by electric batteries! Still, I think once electric car technology becomes more affordable and efficient people won’t care as long as they are saving money and can drive all over the place.  Then we won’t need OPEC anymore. Though we will still drill for oil it will be reduced dramatically. That’s because oil helps us make plastic, which for now isn’t going anywhere.

It’s also important not to forget about wind power. Probably the oldest form of a power plant (or maybe the water wheel?), wind power has a lot of potential too. And of course don’t forget about bio-fuels like bio-diesel and ethanol. Those technologies should come in handy too. Oh and I suppose clean coal too (meh).

I guess the whole point of this article is to show that we can be environmental friendly and still be cool. We can still waste energy and have large cars that can mow over anything in its path and not completely destroy planet Earth in the process (at least until we can terraform Mars and live there. That would be awesome)!