Thursday, December 7, 2017

Why EVers Make The Best Fitbit Friends

When does compromise turn into a chosen lifestyle change?  This is a question I have pondered but only because it seems to be the general perception from the dark side concerning us EVers is that we have to have compromise to drive EV.    For reasons I don't understand, gassers feel that its more convenient to get in line and get gas than it is to plug in at home.

For a while, I could begin to understand why they felt that way. My 2011 LEAF had 85-90 miles on a good day but required constant diligence on my part to accomplish that.  But in those days, it was either do it or walk. Public charging did come early to Olympia when Chargepoint installed a level 2 charger in the Summer of 2010 at the LOTT Treatment plant but since I didn't work in town, it was not a convenient to my range issues.  So, I could understand someone in the dark seeing that as a compromise but it never was to me.  It was simply a new and emerging way to conduct my life.

In November of 2003, I was recovering from Black Friday and stumbled across  It was intriguing this Prius and I thought it was simply super cool.  I spent ALL day reading the ENTIRE SITE, including every post. (they were a "bit" smaller back then) and decided that was the car I wanted.  So I jumped into my 15 MPG F-150 and drove to the Toyota Dealer thinking I would call someone to give me a ride to pick up the truck after I took my new car home and...

Well, it was readily apparent that I wasn't the only one who had this idea and it was also apparent I was not early to the game either. Despite my "cash in hand" motivation, I was only able to put down $100 deposit and be put on a waiting list expected to be "8-10 months long."  So I suffered along with my truck... PAINFULLY.

Every day, I envied over experiences related by people on Priuschat who already had their Priuses and daydreamed about the time that I would be able to enact my own assault on the challenge of "50 Miles per Gallon."

Despite essentially being told that delivery in 2004 was far from assured, by February, I was calling once a month to check on the status of my car. Despite month after month peeling off the calendar, I always received the same response.  "It could be 3 months or it could be 6 months"  which was the very same response told me in early June when I made my monthly call.

So color me surprised when Toyota of Olympia called me the last week of June to ask if I still wanted the car?  DUMB  question!!

Well, they said we might have something for you but needed an answer right away and it was the exact color, trim and accessories I ordered with the addition of floor mats. (I hadn't realized you had to order those. I thought they were included.)  I was ecstatic and while pulling on my shoes, advised them I would be over in 15 mins with check in hand and....

They said, "Well, the car may or may not be available, but in case it is, we just wanted to know if you were interested." 


Since it was not a face to face conversation I am not currently serving time for the murder of a car salesman...

To make a long story short. 5 agonizing days later, Toyota called and said the car was mine if I was willing to pick it up in the next 48 hours.  I was at work at the time but was there that day and drove my new Prius home. (The truck sat at dealership for 3 days. I really didn't care about it but they did say I would have to pay for towing so I did pick it up and took it to my sister's house since I did not have two parking spaces where I was living at the time)

The issue was that the Prius was in such high demand despite Toyota increasing the build allotment several times that the car was selling at MSRP so it was pay MSRP or find another car.  Apparently a few dozen people including the one who ordered the car, thought they could negotiate a lower price. That is how I got my car. I already knew from Priuschat that some dealers were ONLY selling Priuses for MORE than MSRP.  Deals were simply not to be had.

I wouldn't realize it until many years later but that Thanksgiving weekend of 2003 is when I made my conscious choice to change my lifestyle (at least while driving).   From that day, I started tracking my true cost for transportation and to this day, not a single mile has gone unrecorded.

Well, I quickly realized that 50 MPG was not much of a challenge. Simply drive at or near the speed limit.  So it became a 500 mile tank (A given) 600 mile tank (Tough but doable) and even a 700 mile tank (requires planning on EVERY mile!)

But the teeny tiny infinitesimally small taste of EVness was addicting. I had to have more!  But after several investigations into the new market of pack extenders,  I decided full EV was the way to go and got suckered  into getting a ZENN in 2007.

At first it seemed like a good idea. WA was one of only two states at the time that allowed NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) to go 35 MPH.  I lived in Oly, worked in Oly an 18 mile round trip commute. and it had a 30 mile range (supposedly) so all was good.  It was my daily commuter for 3+ years until my LEAF arrived.

But I soon realized that relying on a 30 mile car when the  national average driving distance was 38  miles was a mista....compro... a challenge.  For the first year, I was fine.  But degradation happened so starting early in the 2nd year, it became a struggle to make it so my employer allowed me to plug in at work. The reality is there was an outside outlet on the building and I worked the early shift so parking along the building especially the ones at the far end of the entrance was always available, so I started plugging in. It wasn't until 2-3 months later that the General Manager came to talk to me about it and how much it cost, etc. I advised the cost would be less than 25 cents per day and he was happy about that and never heard another word again.

Later I found out that he never did care but only responded because my co-workers started complaining that I was "getting free gas" and that was unfair.  So this was my first taste of  "EVenvy."

Well, eventually I realized (after 2 battery pack replacements) that my ZENN wasn't working and my Son (who LOVED that car because it was a two seater so he got to ride IN THE FRONT SEAT!)  relegated himself to riding alone in the backseat of the 2010 Prius I got (mostly for tax credit that was expiring and for the price cut received from Toyota as an invitee of the reveal in Detroit in 2009) when I realized that going somewhere OTHER than Olympia might be nice.  😕

Again, I investigated battery pack options and was literally minutes (after several weeks of browsing) from spending $8,000 on a Li pack for the ZENN when Nissan announced that they were putting a highway capable EV on the market within a year!

That did it. I found and read ALL there was on the Nissan LEAF (took all of 10 minutes...) and decided that was my car and having learned from my Prius mistake, was determined to be first in line and for the rest of the story, read my blog!!

Although I was already fully aware, society in general failed to realize the growing importance of battery management.  Recently I was 'doing the Puyallup' with a LEAF full of friends and Lacy had battery issues of the phone persuasion. Luckily she also had USB C like me so I let her use my power pack. She basically ran it to dead which was ok.  I had a few but was more than a bit puzzled why EVERYONE didn't have a few. I have like 5 or so?  Including one from Portland NDEW

You'll never guess how I got this. 😎

But even when they aren't free, its hardly expensive to have a few lying around.  Costco 
two pack here. I felt the splurge was worth it. Sadly, I did it last year when they were
 like $15 so a much heavier hit on the budget!  😏

But the question remains; Why do people suck at battery management?  Is there no sense of priority in their lives. I (like EVERYONE I know) can survive for only short periods of time without my phone. It is my connection to nearly everything that is important to me. It is required to do my job (I have co-workers using cheapie prepay phones who struggle because of it not understanding why traffic aware mapping is CRITICAL)  So you would think that making sure your phone has enough of a charge plus a comfortable buffer would be a no brainer, right?

Well, the reality could not be farther from the truth.  I find it weird every time I am at the airport charging away with one of my power packs while people stand at the pole plugged in because the very few seats with power are always the first ones occupied.

But maybe our sad heritage of "growing up gasser" is the cause. Despite hundreds of miles of range, running out of gas is still a common occurrence. This implies the more time you have to address a VERY VITAL need, the less likely you will take care of it right away.  Cellphone manufacturers thought all they had to do was provide a battery that easily got more than 12-24 hours of use between charges but even that failed.

So finally to support the title of the blog, I have a fitbit. I love it. It does give good insight into several things including general health, sleep patterns, heart rate, etc. but despite having a bunch of fitbit friends where I can see their progress online,  I find most simply don't show up but occasionally.

My niece Kerry is a nurse at University of Washington Medical Center and a very active person and she was on fitbit daily for a month. Then it dropped to a few times a week and now its been over 6 months since she has posted any stats at all so I asked her what happened and she stated "I forgot to charge it"  well, she had a Blaze like me which only needs to be charged for like an hour every few days.  I wear my Fitbit ALL the time only taking it off and putting it on the charger when I take a shower.  But Kerry was actually one of several friends who slowly faded away to nothing or was off much more often than on.

It was then I realized that my Fitbit Friends could be put into two basic categories; EVers and Gassers.  ALL my EVer Friends are active nearly every day while most of my Gasser Friends are active much less than half the time.  So to Randy, Patrick, Sam, Keith and George; Thank you for being the reason that Crickets have not taken over my Friends list!

I guess I have to realize that battery management is still in the "learned behavior" category.  I pine for the day when it simply is the natural way of things.

And finally; when multiple plugs exist maybe its time to be more specific or text less?  😉

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