Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Matter of Convenience

As I pulled out of my driveway this morning to the horrific realization that I was almost out of gas.  Already late for work, I bargained with myself for a while, hoped I had enough to get to my job (in reality, I had plenty, but I can't always tell if the gas meter is messing with me when its on the last quarter gallon).

I'd meant to go get gas last night on my way back from the mall (because on the way back from the mall and from church is really the only time a gas station is actually "on the way" for me).  But after a longer-than-usual shopping trip to get a wedding present, I totally forgot.

As I left work, I figured I should get around to stopping at the station so I wouldn't spend too much time driving on the last dregs... especially since I don't really have time between now and when I'd have run out to fill up.

I bargained with myself for a while, trying to decide which gas station would be the least out of the way.  I finally picked the one that I could stop by when I was about halfway home, which would mean a longer drive but hopefully a more pleasant one.  Unfortunately, I didn't know there was significant amounts of construction along this route, and, by the time I finally got home, my usual fifteen minute drive home from work had taken me forty-five minutes, due to the detour and time waiting for my tank to fill up.  (It also cost seventy dollars...)

This is the kind of thing I think of every time I hear people say that electric cars aren't "convenient" because the batteries only last a certain amount of time and then you have to wait for it to recharge.  I understand that the first modern electric car only had a range of 60 miles (quickly upgraded to 100), and the Nissan Leaf can only go around 70, so if you frequently need to drive more than 60 miles (approximately the driving distance from Seattle to Olympia) before you had an opportunity to plug your car in, that might be a problem.  Of course, if you got a Tesla Roadster, you could drive from Seattle to Salem, Oregon without a problem, so long as you could charge it before driving home (Roadsters have a range of 245 miles).

But if you're like me, and the longest drive you ever drive regularly is from Seattle to Tacoma, and while you are wherever you are, you have the opportunity to plug your car into a standard electrical outlet... maybe it would be more convenient to wake up in the morning to a fully fueled car, and not have to take a half hour and seventy dollars out of your day just so you know for sure you can make it to your friends wedding... two days later.

But, I suppose that depends on your definition of convenience.  If you'd rather have the freedom to drive from Seattle to Eugene without once stopping for an hour (or half an hour, if you have a Leaf) at one of the quick charge stations currently being installed along the way than be able to wake up every morning knowing your car has plenty of fuel to drive 30 miles to work and back, then keep your gasoline car.  I, for one, would rather not have the stress of wondering if I have enough gasoline to get to work when I'm already late.  I, for one, would rather have the convenience of an electric car.

1 comment:

  1. This may be off-topic, but I love my GPS for its ability to find me the best place to stop for gas on my way to anywhere!