A very wise man long ago said there is nothing new under the sun. I guess that is true in the ultimate sense. Everything is built on something that has preceded it. Every idea is an expansion or enhancement of an idea someone has already put forward. Everything future has a part of the past.

The “new” phenomenon of the electric automobile is no exception.

Who built the first electric vehicle (EV)? Well, that depends on who you ask. In 1828, Anyos Jedlik, a Hungarian created a small model car powered by his new motor. In 1834 a blacksmith from Vermont, Thomas Davenport, built a contraption which operated on a short circular electrified track. In 1835, Professor Sibrandus Stratingh of the Netherlands and his assistant Christopher Becker created a small-scale electrical car. English inventor Thomas Parker built the first practical production electric car in London in 1884.

During the 1950s and 1960s the American Big Three automakers had their own electric cars but for various reasons they faded away. Then the 21st century arrived and things changed.

The Tesla Roadster was the first production automobile to use a lithium-ion battery and the first production electric vehicle (EV) with a range greater than 200 miles per charge. Tesla is an expensive, high-end product targeted at affluent buyers. 12,700 of the Model S were sold through June 2013.

Other EVs that target buyers with more average incomes include the Chevrolet Spark, Honda Fit, Ford Focus, and Nissan Leaf with the Leaf being the most popular. The 100,000th Leaf was delivered to a student in Atlanta early in July 2013. As of August 2014 Nissan had sold more than 176,000 EVs more than all other major automakers of pure electric vehicles combined. The Leaf accounted for 130,000 of those Nissan vehicles.

Last Saturday I joined the EV family when I signed a two year lease on a Nissan Leaf SV model.

Plugging the car in rather than pulling up to the gas pump seems a bit strange but I think I will like the $4000 I will save by not buying gasoline during the next two years. The generous tax incentives that the state and federal governments give are much appreciated. Planning my in-town driving to stay within the 84 mile limit of the charge will take a little doing but I will learn.

The front wheels of the Leaf are directly powered by the electric battery and the absence of the drive train makes for a very smooth ride. Since there is no engine there will be no oil changes. The spaciousness of the interior, the navigation system, rear view camera, heated seats and steering wheel, and premium sound system enhance the experience. And it has plenty of “get up” when you need to merge into traffic on the expressway.

It has been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but as I approach my 71st birthday I want to prove that old saying to be wrong. I am sure there are some “down sides” that I will discover along the way but every adventure has them. I plan to endure the bumps and enjoy the ride.

Jamie Jenkins

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