Bicycle fiat 500e interior

Published on May 24th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


How Electric Cars Won Over A Car Hater

Here’s the story as to why I became an electric car lover after being a car hater:

I’m not going to lie — I’ve got issues with cars. My master’s degree is in city and regional planning. From my experience studying that (before, during, and after graduate school), I’m well aware that cars and cities simply don’t mix well. I mean, they could, but the vast majority of cities in the world are overfull of cars.

A city, by definition, is a lot of people living in a relatively small space. To try to move individuals around in quite large vehicles of their own is highly inefficient. In the US, this results in the loss of trillions of dollars a year. Seriously. From billions of hours wasted in traffic, to oil imports from countries that aren’t fond of us, to lives lost and people injured from car accidents, the costs are actually quite stunning, incomprehensible, and incalculable.

But I won’t go on about that today — rather, let me switch to the topic in the title. I have become a huge electric vehicle (EV) fan, obsessed even. I actually started a website due to my desire to read and write about electric cars every day.

So, why and how did this switch occur?

Basically, I know that global warming and climate change threaten society like nothing before. The unnatural disasters, drought, floods, disease, migration, political instability and even chaos, wars, etc. that could come about due to massive, unprecedented (since humans have been around) global warming is a tremendous threat, one that it is hard to imagine we are ignoring as much as we are.

Furthermore, there’s a large amount of air and water pollution from gasoline-powered vehicles; there are the issues of oil dependency mentioned above; and, not to be discounted, gasmobiles create a tremendous amount of noise pollution.

Bike-only roads with green spaces on the side quite common in Groningen, Netherlands. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / Bikocity

Bike-only roads with green space on the side quite common in Groningen, Netherlands. Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / Bikocity

Yes, I think it would be great if we transformed cities and our lifestyles in order to switch from driving to bicycling and using mass transit for the majority of trips. I actually lived in a city with a 50-60% bicycle commute rate (Groningen, Netherlands). I am sure the transit commute rate wasn’t bad either — the buses were often packed. The city was so quiet and unpolluted that it’s hard to describe it. The quality of life was the best I’ve seen anywhere.

But, again, that’s all a discussion for another day. While I’d love it if all cities emulated Groningen, I know that isn’t happening. And I know that a lot of people still think they need and want a car, and want to drive for most trips. In other words, I know that there’s still a tremendous amount of demand for cars, and that they will be dominant transportation forces in our cities and countries indefinitely. So, the pollution problems must be addressed.

Image Credit: Fiat

Image Credit: Fiat

Electric cars are, quite simply, the cleanest option we’ve got. Even with the relatively dirty grids we rely on today, electric cars are cleaner than gasmobiles. But our grids are getting cleaner every day, and if we install our own solar panels, we may be able to charge our cars with 100% clean, renewable electricity. That is a humungous step forward. Humungous.

So, I started reading and writing about electric cars a few years ago. And as I have, I have fallen in love with their beauty, simplicity, performance benefits, and revolutionary spirit. I’ve fallen in love with the EV movement. I’ve fallen in love with specific EV models — the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Fiat 500e, Detroit Electric SP:01, and of course several electric supercars. (No offense to the others — I love and like several others, too.) I’ve also become fascinated with thoughts and projections on how the electric revolution may play out. All in all, this is just a super fun technology and transformation to cover.

Of course, I still think cities are much nicer when they are planned for humans rather than transporters that are simply too big for efficient and pleasant city life. But electric vehicles themselves are such a huge step above what we have today, and they really are a useful option for a number of occasional needs, that I can’t help being an EV enthusiast. If I ever do buy a car again, my biggest problem would be deciding which EV to go with.

That’s my story. How about you? How did you fall in love with electric cars?

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Saint

    I get 5 miles per kilowatt with my Leaf and a kilowatt cost me 13 cents in Florida. My lease is only a few $ more than I was paying for gas each month. Plus it drives like my 67 barracuda commando did in the good old days.

    • Zachary Shahan

      Awesome. Such an insanely good deal that it’s amazing more people aren’t jumping on this. Awareness….

  • Kerry Knoll

    In 1985 I bought a Lada (in Canada where I live). It ran on propane which was costing about 40 cents a gallon, or on gasoline if propane wasn’t available. I thought it would be a huge hit but shortly after the Russians shot down a South Korean passenger jet and my car windows all got kicked in. I’m richer now, and involved in the lithium business, so I started following electric cars about four years ago. They are going to be our future, just not now. I don’t understand why the Fox News types hate them so much. If they don’t like them, they don’t have to buy them. My Tesla arrives on Tuesday, 18 months after I ordered it. When I test drove it a while ago, getting back into my BMW was like getting into a KIA, it was that superior, at the same price point. It won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, same for Automotive News. Consumer Reports, which trashed the Fisker and probably contributed to it’s demise, gave the Tesla it’s highest ever car rating.

    • Zachary Shahan

      haha, great story on the Tesla vs BMW. would love to drive one someday. congrats on the great buy!

      and plenty of other good notes. thanks for chiming in! :D

  • Chris Coza

    Why the hangup on the electricity needed to power EV’s. They use roughly the same amount of electricity as is used to refine gasoline. No extra electricity generation is required to go electric. Our home air conditioners draw more power than EV’s.

    • Zachary Shahan

      you’re not referring that question to me, are you? no hangup here.

  • Zackb

    I am in love with the pure driving experience. The first time I drove my Nissan Leaf I experienced the future as never before. The acceleration was effortless and the car wafted down the road like a magic carpet. Now when I have to drive an old fashioned gasoline car I cannot help but imagine the Rube Goldberg contraption under the hood with its belts, pulleys, valves, pistons, filters, pumps, gears, and fluids all to harness and control multiple explosions just to propel the car down the road.

    I took the Nissan home the same day. I never dreamed that being environmentally responsible could be so much fun.

    • Richard Vacman

      That’s good news. I think,You may enjoy my show.

    • Zachary Shahan

      That’s awesome! :D Believe it or not, I’m yet to drive one. Tried to get one as a rental on my last trip to the States, but couldn’t. Have had offers for test drives, but all in the US while I’m over here in Europe.

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