Hey, Gov. Bill “Pilot Oil” Haslam, BP, the American Enterprise Institute, Koch Brothers, ExxonMobil, and the rest of you dirty energy folks! Suck on this:
The first thing you’ll notice: no tail pipe! The second thing you’ll notice, if you drive one: no heat! I pulled the car into the garage and the hood is still cool to the touch.
I’ve had this car for, oh, about two hours now and it has a ton of features and gadgets that will take me a week to figure out. But really it’s just like any other car. There are a few things I’ll have to get used to, but little that’s unique to the Leaf, or the electric engine. Sure, there’s the no-noise thing, you know the car is “on” because a green light tells you. But anyone who drives a hybrid is used to that (my old Toyota hybrid says “READY” in big letters.) That’s because there’s no engine “rumble” like you get with an internal combustion engine to let you know the car has started.
The Leaf starts with the push of a button, and you shift into drive or reverse with a weird little toggle thingie. If you’ve ever driven a stick-shift and learned the old H gear system, the Leaf’s toggle is counter-intuitive: reverse is to the left and forward, drive is to the left and down. And I’m also going to have to get used to looking in a display screen when backing out of a parking space, not looking behind me: the display screen has much better visibility.
The car is eerily quiet, something else you’d be used to if you drove a hybrid. Except the Leaf stays quiet, whereas the hyrbid eventually has an engine rumble. As any student of physics knows, noise and exhaust are signs of inefficiency. So the fact that my car is quiet and has no tailpipe is to me a sign of progress.
The stuff that will take me forever to get used to are the satellite radio, GPS map, Carwings, cell phone bluetooth connection, etc. Except for Carwings, which is unique to the Leaf, I think all the rest of the tech stuff is pretty much standard on most new cars these days. I’m not that tech savvy so I will need to spend a couple days figuring out all the doo-dads and gadgets.
I must say, it’s awfully … blue. I’m sort of wishing we’d gone with the white. Actually, I wish there’d been a green option. I mean, it’s called a Leaf! Y’all didn’t think of making one in green? The only color options were blue, white, silver, black and red. Ah well, maybe next model.
I do feel a little bit as though I’m fiddling as the Titanic sinks (or the economy burns), buying a new car right now. Of course, I reserved my Leaf way back in May 2010. I had no control over the timing of this purchase, and boy I sure wish it had been a month ago, before the whole debt ceiling crisis threatened to take down the economy. But we needed a new car, and gas and oil changes are one less expense I have to worry about.
So, off to drive my new car.