My Electric Vehicle
Obsession

Mark D Larsen


Bradley GTE
(click to enlarge)



Automotive News
June 25, 1979

(click to enlarge)
For many years I had longed to own an electric vehicle, ever since I drove the Bradley GTE in the photo above —over four decades ago! It was a very rudimentary EV, with lead acid batteries so heavy that more often than not it would bottom out when crossing driveways and speed bumps. Although it looked like a sports car, with aerodynamic lines and gull-wing doors, in reality it couldn’t hold its own in a race with my mom’s Ford Maverick. Its range was a mere 40 miles at best, and its cost was astronomical: $40,000, i.e., about $116,000 in today’s dollars.

Even still, I remember how smoothly the car accelerated, how wonderfully quiet it was. With the OPEC oil crisis of the 1970s fresh on my mind, I was enthralled with the idea that one could charge the car at home overnight, never having to buy another drop of gasoline again. Cool! It seemed a foregone conclusion to me that, sooner or later, car companies would realize that this was the future, and start mass producing even better EVs than this kit car, and at a much more affordable price.

Indeed, I became obsessed with electric cars, encouraged by stories such as the one on the left, touting the development of the ETV-1 by Chrysler and General Electric, reportedly designed to “be mass produced by 1985 for about $6,400.” Yet 1985 came and went, and I never heard another word about the ETV-1. Even worse, although I heard rumors in the early 1990s that GM was working on a similar car dubbed the “Impact,” I never knew that they later produced and leased it as the EV1 until after they had gathered them all up and crushed them, claiming that there was “no demand” for them. When I found out, thanks to the Sony Pictures Classics’s documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, I was absolutely furious. Nobody had asked me if I wanted an EV1! I would have bought one in a heartbeat.

After all those years and disappointments, my dream finally came true. I had resolved to purchase the first affordable EV as soon as it was available, and the first company to bring one to market in this country was Nissan, with its much touted LEAF. I put my deposit down the very first day that Nissan started taking reservations on April 20, 2010, and took delivery on March 28, 2012. I drove it for more than six years, and loved every minute of it. It was the best car I had ever owned: quiet, clean, comfortable, economical, reliable, responsive, nimble... downright fun to drive.

In fact, I came to enjoy driving on electricity so much that I could no longer stand to get behind the wheel of a gasmobile when driving distances farther than my LEAF’s range. I therefore decided to hedge my bets and put down a deposit to reserve a Tesla Model 3 when it was revealed.

I can now unconditionally state that I will never go back to driving on fossil fuels again. Nothing beats driving on sunshine!