Home Built e-Motorcycle Travels England

We usually talk about electric happenings that are local; but this story was just too encouraging. You will be enchanted as you read this unfolding story of inventiveness, determination and reward. Plug-In NCW has been saying that there are unintended advantages to EV travel, this story exposes some of them.

Enjoy the trip…..




Pybus University Class

Plug-In NCW partnered with the Pybus University program at Pybus Public Market to present an opportunity to learn some of the basics of Electric Vehicle ownership and to experience a selection of available vehicles. Some of the topics covered:

  • Why it’s more economical to drive an EV than a fossil fuel vehicle.

  • EV charging and how to find public EV charging stations.

  • Buying or leasing an EV.

  • What vehicles are currently available

After the classroom discussion there were EVs from Chevrolet, Nissan, Smart and Tesla and owners available to continue the learning experience.

This class was video recorded by NCWLIFE and can be viewed on their website at: You can also view it below.

Jack Anderson and Randy Brooks presented the information and answered the many questions generated. This presentation was also part of the national Drive Electric Week events coordinated by Plug In America.



New Bolt Owner Takes Family On West Coast Road Trip

By David Morgan, resident Chelan County, Wash.

Love our Chevy Bolt!

A few months ago we decided to buy a new EV just before the WA sales tax exemption expired. We sold our 2013 Volt, which we bought used in late '14, with some reluctance, as it was a great car that introduced us to a better way, convincing us almost overnight we’d never consider any car without a plug. 

We drove it 30,000 miles averaging 140 miles per gallon, which hinted at the possibility of forsaking gasoline forever. It was so good we later bought a lightly used ’13 Leaf for cheap and zealously convinced a few friends to buy EVs of their own. We came to see gas stations as places with squeegees and restrooms, while trying not to think about how many hours of our lives we’d wasted pumping gas and inhaling fumes.

How much better is the Bolt?  So much better that it’s hard to say what could be improved. I’m not going to detail the solid feel, comfy seats, serene quiet, and rocket acceleration. I guess it’s a little small but we’re used to that (the only gas car we ever owned was a ‘95 Neon), which goes hand in hand with conservation. And the idea of buying a new car was intimidating. But not as much as climate change. We wanted to be liberated from petroleum forever and the Bolt was the only realistic way to do it.

In four months we’ve gone 8,000 miles. We’ve never been tempted to drive so much, all without asking ourselves: Is this trip really necessary? I seriously doubt we’ve spent $100 charging. We’ve been to Spokane a few times and the west side of the Cascades several times. We even drove from Leavenworth to downtown Seattle and back without charging, but with all the places to plug in over there it wasn’t necessary other than to prove it could be done (once was enough).

But the best road trip took us nearly to California, visiting National Parks along US 97 in Eastern Oregon along the way, covering 1,200 miles for about $37 in charging fees. 

You might be surprised how easy it is to charge. Here in the Northwest there are new charging stations being added to the network every week or so. I hope the following illustrates how affordable and simple it is around here for anyone to ditch gas once and for all. 

1.       We unplugged from our garage with a full battery, which GM says is good for 238 miles (we can easily do better in mild weather). In case you’re wondering, that charge added about $1.80 to our Chelan County PUD bill.

2.       We used a free fast charger in Yakima at a Chevy dealer. About 20 minutes added more than enough extra juice to reach Mauphin, OR, which I’m not even sure was necessary but why not when it was convenient, and we needed a stretch break anyway? We found this charger, and all others, using the Plugshare website/app, which lists fees and other details such as nearby things to do, places to eat, etc.

3.       We camped in the Mauphin city park overnight and plugged into an RV outlet using our JuiceBox charger.

4.       We left the next day with another full battery. Although we didn’t need to charge, while we ate breakfast in Madras we plugged in at a regular charger at City Hall two blocks away, gaining about 30 miles for free.

5.       After a long day including three great hikes in different parts of Newberry National Volcanic Monument, that night we camped at Big Pines RV campground (very nice!) in Crescent, OR and used an RV outlet to fill up while we slept.

6.       We spent the next three days driving and hiking all over Crater Lake National Park, charging several times for free at Mazama Village, our home base in the park, whenever it was convenient. Occasionally we saw other EVs at this charging station, but sharing was no problem.

7.       It was sad to leave Crater Lake but the consolation was even though the battery was full when we departed, while descending about 4,000 feet back to civilization the car kept charging itself passively and kept us from speeding down the hill, which is a neat trick! Using the electric brakes, the Bolt crammed in more electrons until the display said we added about 150 miles of range. All I had to do was steer and admire the scenery. Who wants to use primitive, energy-wasting mechanical brakes anyway?

8.       We drove a few hours to Oregon Caves National Monument near California, hiked underground, and later drove to Wolf Creek, OR. That night, for the first time on this trip, we had to pay to charge (flat fee $4) while plugged in overnight at a regular charger next to our hotel.

9.       The next day the girls had donuts on their mind, not to mention their own beds. So we headed home via I-5 stopping briefly in Salem for Voodoo Donuts in a big pink box for the road. Later while eating lunch near Eugene we used a fast charger for about 90 minutes, which nearly filled the battery (flat fee $10). Later we ate dinner while charging at another fast charger at Tacoma Mall (pay by the minute $22.85 total) which easily got us all the way home, even though we didn’t wait for a full charge.

We’re already planning next summer’s EV adventure into Northern California. Meanwhile I hope you find some EV inspiration. And consider this an invitation to contact me if you’re EV curious.




Plug-In NCW Committee Member Nick Chambers Departs

When I say, "departs" I mean in a really big way.  Nick Chambers was a founding member of what is today Plug-In North Central Washington. His insight and knowledge of the automotive industry was a primary factor in this organization's success in helping foster EV adoption in our part of Washington State.  For several years Nick's employer has asked that he and his family move to  Germany to work at Home Office.  This year the offer was too good to pass up.   We will miss his uncommonly good sense and slightly rye humor.


To recognize his contributions Nick (center) was presented with a Lithium vehicle starter system by Jack Anderson (left) and Randy and Anne Brooks (left).  We expect him to assist stranded German ICE drivers and have the opportunity to demonstrate the value of EVs.  In truth, we may have been attempting to "bribe" Nick to return to Plug-In NCW upon his return. 



Plug-In NCW Participates In Chelan, Leavenworth 2018 Earth Day Fairs

Once again Plug-In NCW had a great exhibit of EVs at both the Chelan and Leavenworth Earth Day Fairs.

On Saturday, April 21, the exhibit at Chelan was possibly the best we’ve ever had, with 11 EVs
displayed! They included:
- Tesla Model 3! Yes, if you weren’t there you missed seeing this beautiful new Tesla.
- Chevy Bolt
- Smart Car EV
- Tesla Model X, which did the Christmas “Easter Egg” dance several times for all to enjoy.
- Tesla Model S
- Re-designed 2018 Nissan Leaf
- VW e-Golf
- Kia Soul EV
- Zero electric motorcycle
- Link Transit full sized BYD electric bus, with 200 kW inductive charging!
- Polaris Ranger EV with lithium battery pack
- An assortment of battery powered landscaping tools

Although the weather was windy and cool at the 9 a.m. opening, the wind died about 10 and we had great weather and full crowds until about 3 p.m. when the wind picked up again.

On Sunday, April 22, we had a smaller, but busy exhibit at Leavenworth. Once again we had:
- Tesla Model S
- Kia Soul EV
- 2018 Nissan Leaf
- Smart Car EV
- Polaris Ranger EV
- Assorted battery powered landscaping tools

Thanks for celebrating Mother Earth with Plug-In NCW, your community and the planet. Already looking forward to next year. 



Washington State Alternative fuel vehicle sales tax exemption ENDS May 31

The Department of Revenue has notified the Washington State Auto Dealers Association that the alternative fuel vehicle sales tax exemption will end on May 31. To receive this tax exemption, your vehicle must be delivered on or before May 31, 2018.

The list of qualifying vehicles is available at

The exemption

  • Only applies to new vehicles.
  • Only applies to the first $32,000 of the selling price or total lease payments if the customer leased the vehicle prior to the exemption’s expiration.
  • Expires on the last day of the calendar month after the Department of Licensing determines that 7,500 vehicles have qualified for the exemption.

To qualify, a vehicle must:

  1. Have a base model MSRP under $42,500 and be on the list linked above; and
  2. Be a passenger car, light duty truck or medium duty passenger vehicles that:
  • Is exclusively powered by a clean alternative fuel; OR
  • Uses at least one method of propulsion that is capable of being re-energized by an external source of electricity and is capable of traveling at least thirty miles using only battery power.

If you are receiving your vehicle after May 31, 2018, you will be required to pay all applicable sales taxes.



Local Community Developer Goes Electric With Smart Car

By Steve King

When I was asked to write up a short article for Plug-In NCW, I felt grateful to have the opportunity to share my story. For anyone who has been thinking of buying an electric vehicle (EV) and has questions, that is a good thing. After contemplating and evaluating this endeavor for six months, I am now leasing a new 2018 Smart Fortwo EV and couldn’t be happier! I hope by sharing this story, it will help you make the leap as well and more importantly choose the option that fits you.


First, I want to share my typical driving situation. I own a 2007 Honda Ridgeline with 125,000 miles on it. It is a great SUV! I drive it to and from work in the city of Wenatchee about 10-20 miles per day. On weekends, I often take it on a day trip up the Icicle Valley, to Chelan, or around Wenatchee to take advantage of our beautiful outdoor wonderland. About six times a year, I drive about 600 miles round trip to visit friends on the Washington coast. Finally, once every other year, I take a week or two road trip vacation somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 miles. All total, the Honda has been racking up 15,000 miles per year on average. At this rate, it won’t be long before it will be time to replace the Honda at a price pushing $40,000 with sales tax. Ouch.

What is worse, is at least 10,000 miles per year is in town driving where gas mileage runs around 13 mpg. The in-town driving is tough on the Honda and its tires, and is a bit clumsy in the city. This is the primary motivation for buying an in-town car. I used to own a Geo Tracker and it was perfect for bouncing around the city and thus I admit a small car is really all that is needed to carry myself and groceries.

In evaluating which car to purchase, I wanted to keep my costs low and essentially pay for the car with gas bill savings. My options included purchasing a used Nissan Leaf, a new Chevy Bolt, or another small electric vehicle. After test driving a Bolt, a very nice EV for the price, I decided to eliminate that option due to the purchase price. It would be more expensive than my gas bill savings even with the Federal Tax Credit of $7,500 and trading in the Honda
Ridgeline. The second option, a used Nissan Leaf, is very affordable at roughly $6,000 to $8,000. After nearly purchasing a used Leaf, I decided to investigate the lease of a new EV Smart car which required going to the Mercedes dealer in Portland, OR. There is so much demand for these little cars, that they sold three of them while I was test driving one. I see why!

With the $7,500 tax credit that Mercedes applies to the lease, I walked out of the show room with a 36 month, 30,000 mile lease for only $143 per month. This is pretty hard to beat! Now, the Honda gets parked except for road trips and in the mountains where it excels. I also get to keep $8,000 in the bank and end up with a new car instead of a used Leaf. If you can tell that I’m happy with the choice, you are right!

So far, everyone asks… “How is the performance of the Smart car?” Here are my two cents. First you need to drive one to fully understand. I think you will be shocked at how well they drive for such a short wheel base (even in the snow). It is not a luxury car, it is an in-town car that can park anywhere, turns on a dime, and is simply fun. It is spunky with the torque of the electric motor and has enough creature features to make it very comfortable.

The first week of leasing the car the temperatures in Wenatchee were below 30 degrees and bottomed out in the teens. I will tell you that the EPA rated range of 58 miles was cut to about 40 miles with the heater going full blast. So, the first week, I chose to charge it at a level 2 charger twice for about three hours each time. Now that the weather has warmed up to the 30s and 40’s, the range is now 70 to 80 miles in town. Since there is not an 110v outlet at my apartment, I am charging it once a week and once on the weekend at one of the many L2 chargers located in town.

Check out the PlugShare app and you will find all the chargers. It is a piece of cake. Planned charging is easy to do as part of your regular activities. For example, it is easy to charge while taking a walk at the park or at Saddlerock where there is an L2 charger, or at noon when having lunch.

The Smart car has an impressively fast L2 charging system. It is not a hassle at all. In fact, it is even a little easier than realizing unexpectedly… oh I need to go get gas.
At the end of the day, the life of the Ridgeline is prolonged, I have a new run around town car, save a lot of gas, and enjoy sharing with our community the opportunities to contribute to the advancement of technology, conservation of energy, and the betterment of our city.

- Steve King lives in Wenatchee and contributed this article at the request of the Plug-In NCW committee board. King is the Community Development Director for the City of Wenatchee. 



Federal Government Extends Charging Station Tax Credit for TY 2017

Congress extend EV-related tax credits for charging stations, and electric motorcycles that had expired on December 31, 2016. The new date is December 31, 2017. So, in other words, if you made a qualifying purchase in 2017 you can claim it .

The tax credit for charging stations (EVSE) is 30% (up to $1,000), while for electric motorcycles its 10% (up to $2,500).

Note that the extension is only retroactive. For right now it does not include the year 2018.

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Recycle things Electronic

Plug-In NCW has highlighted Pacific Power Batteries previously but their joining the E-Waste program means that they now handle more than just batteries.  You may want to plan your E-Waste drop offs for Wednesdays because they offer free watch battery replacement Wednesday of every week.

They now recycle televisions, computer monitors, towers, laptops, and cellphones. They also recycle anything battery-related: alkaline batteries, NiCad batteries, lithium batteries, and automotive batteries. Everything that is rechargeable (lithium) is free to recycle. Alkaline batteries are charged $1.10 per pound.  In regards to computer parts, towers, monitors and chords are recycled. Keyboards and printers are not recycled.  If you have a question call before you make the trip.

Pacific Power Batteries has been recycling batteries for a long time, but the E-Waste part has recently started. They are open Monday-Friday from 8-6 and Saturday and Sunday from 9-5.  Phone: 509-663-6100. Email:



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Chevy Bolt – First 5 Impressions After 3 Weeks Of Ownership

By Steve Firman

Like most people yearning for an alternative to gas and diesel-powered cars, I wanted a Tesla, but didn’t have the means for a $100,000 car. In 2014, we purchased a used Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and we really like the car. However, it's basically a gas-powered car that is made more efficient with the use of a battery and electric motors to re-capture braking energy. It works great and I’m not knocking it, yet I still wanted a car that did not require fossil fuels. So, in 2017 Chevy announced the Bolt and we wound up buying one in November.


Our First 5 Impressions:  

  1. The car is easy to get in and out of, an important factor for us. It's smaller than the VW Jetta TDI that I drove for 11 years, but it stands a bit taller.  
  2. The car is stunningly smooth. I’m used to the “turbo lag” of a VW turbo-diesel and while I hardly noticed it after a while, the Bolt is a revelation with its instant power, smooth acceleration and no shifting. 
  3. The range. It's rated at 238 miles and it will probably do that in the summer. The car “learns” your driving habits and predicts the remaining range. With a fully-charged battery, our predicted range is about 185 miles. This is in the winter with the heater on and with snow tires. This turns out to be plenty for multiple trips around the Chelan Valley and a trip to Wenatchee and back, and that makes it more than adequate for us.  It will probably be back up to 230+ miles in the summer with the low-rolling-resistance tires.
  4. It is comfortable for a small car. It's easy to get in and out of, and it’s also easy for older people to get in and out of it, as it stands a bit taller than a sedan and nowhere near as tall as an SUV.   
  5. Charging the car: It comes with a level-one “portable” charging cord. This cord is like a laptop charger but about 5 times larger with a heavy cord. It will charge the car from a 120-Volt standard outlet at either 8 Amps or 12 Amps from the outlet. It takes about 2 full 24-hour days to charge it with the portable cord if the car is fully discharged. This has not been an issue for us, because we tend to use maybe a quarter of the battery capacity in a day, and it charges overnight just fine. Nevertheless, I have ordered a Clipper Creek 40-Amp 240-Volt Level 2 charger that will charge it from empty overnight. I just need to get it wired in to my house.  

If anyone wants to use a Chevy Bolt for cross-country travel, make sure the car is equipped with the Level-3 charging option. I was told by the dealer that this cannot be added as an after-market option. A Level-3 charger will add about 90 miles of range on the car in about 30 minutes. And shoot, my car doesn’t have this option. Once I get my Level-2 charger hooked up, it will add about 25 miles of range in an hour of charging.

So those are my 5 first impressions. I can now pass by gas stations and not care what the price is! That, and we are blessed with inexpensive hydro power in Chelan - there is no coal or oil being burned to produce our electricity. The car has a 60-kilowatt-hour battery. A full charge from empty costs about $1.80. Someday I may get to installing solar panels at our home, and then we can charge the car for free! That said, I actually didn’t buy the car to save money on fuel. I bought it so that I can have one car that burns no fossil fuel. The side benefit is that it is super fun to drive!

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EV Sales continue to Increase

We have passed the "tipping Point" and it seems quite certain that electric powered vehicles will continue to replace the pollution producing ICE.  During December of 2017 EV sales were 1.6% of all new cars sold in America.  A record number of 199,826 EVs were purchased in this country during last year.  Plug-In North Central Washington looks forward to the challenge of ensuring charging opportunities for all the new electric vehicles.




Major Turnout for Autonomous Driving Forum in Wenatchee

On Wednesday, November 1, Plug-In NCW participated in an exciting EVent at the Confluence Technology Center (CTC) in Wenatchee. Hosted by the Chelan County PUD, Dr. Michael Kintner-Meyer of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. gave a presentation on “Smart Transportation: What is smart about it and how might it impact you?”

Our current level of “autonomous” (self driving) cars, the future of fully autonomous cars and their impact on the economics and environment of Washington state was the focus of the presentation, with a panel discussion afterward. Plug-In NCW Charger Network Coordinator volunteer Randy Brooks participated in the panel discussion.

To compliment the presentation, Plug-In NCW agreed to have some AutoPilot equipped Tesla vehicles at the CTC before the presentation for attendees to get a demonstration ride of “semi-autonomous” vehicle operation.

That turned out to be more challenging than we thought! After several weeks of unsuccessfully getting any autopilot-equipped vehicles to attend, the day before we finally got a commitment for one vehicle! Then, through the extraordinary efforts of Jim White at Chelan PUD, another vehicle from west of the mountains agreed to be there.

Although the demo rides were not scheduled to begin until 5 p.m., people started showing up at 4:30. Fortunately one vehicle was already there, so demo rides began. By 5 o'clock we had two vehicles going and a full sign up sheet!

Then, out of the blue, two brand new Tesla Model Xs arrived! The owners, from the Wenatchee area, had heard about the event and showed up to see what was going on. They readily agreed to give demo rides! It was a good thing, because by 6:30, when we closed demo rides to attend the presentation, 77 people had been given rides! Wow!

Folks from Cascade Auto also brought a brand new Chevy Bolt for people to see.

About 90 people attended the presentation and panel discussion. Interest was high and questions and discussion continued until 8:30 pm, when the PUD event coordinator had to end the EVent!



Soap Lake Charger Latest Added to NCW Network

The Soap Lake EV charger is complete, verified, and posted on PlugShare! The enthusiastic support of the City of Soap Lake and prompt work by Segalini Electric in Ephrata brought this unit on-line in record time. The charger is located at Smokiam Park, at the north end of town, just off Hwy 17.  The Mayor is working on getting “EV charger” signs posted on Hwy 17.  The pin on PlugShare is accurate. The statue/sundial there is pretty awesome!  



Stehekin Valley Ranch adds E-Bikes

For more information check

The Wenatchee Business Journal reported that the popular resort at the end of Lake Chelan is now offering the rental of Rad Power Bikes which are available from the Seattle company by direct purchase.  E-Bikes or "Pedal Assist" are a growing segment of the bicycling market.  These are not electric motorcycles but are bicycles that require varying levels of human effort to climb hills or gain speed.  Twolocal central Washington sources of other brands of e-Bikes are Full Circle Cycle, and Cycle Central.  Plug-In NCW will have the Polaris e-Bike at our National Drive Electric Week EVent on Saturday the 9th, 12 - 6PM, parking lot of Commercial Printing/Dusty's Drive In, Wenatchee.  




Oroville Charger Now Live at Camaray Motel

The Camaray Motel is now hosting an EV Charger supplied by a grant to Plug-In NCW from the U.S. Department of Agricutlure. It's a high amperage Level 2 (haL2) 240v, 80 amp, charger.

The Camaray Motel was evaluated, along with several other sites, for the best location based on access to services like restaurants and restrooms. The charger was supplied by Plug-In NCW, with the Camaray paying for installation. For the first three years, EV owners can charge their cars for free.

Randy Brooks, Charging Network Coordinator with Plug-in NCW, charging his Tesla using the new EV Charger in Oroville.



Plug-In NCW at Chelan and Leavenworth Earth Day Fairs

Plug-In NCW had displays at both the Chelan and Leavenworth Earth Day Fairs, to educate attendees about the benefits of electric vehicles and available local charging stations.

The Chelan Earth Day Fair was held Saturday, April 15th, at Chelan Riverwalk Park. An estimated 1,500 people attended. Plug-In NCW organized the vehicle exhibit, which included three Teslas, including a Model X; three Leafs, including a 2017 with a dealer rep; a Zero electric motorcycle; a Polaris electric bicycle; a lithium powered Polaris Ranger EV UTV; a Green Machine lithium ion powered commercial lawn mower; a GEM used by Lake Chelan Sailing Association as a launch vehicle for small sailboats used by sailing students; and a small sailboat with a Torqueedo electric outboard auxiliary motor; and numerous battery powered yard tools.

The Leavenworth Earth Day Fair was held Sunday, April 23rd, at Lions Club Park in Leavenworth. Plug-In NCW again organized the vehicle exhibit, which included two Tesla Model S’s; three Nissan Leafs, including a 2017 with a dealer rep; a Kia Soul EV; a lithium powered Polaris Ranger EV UTV; a Polaris e-bike, and numerous battery powered yard tools.

Plug-In NCW members Jack & Charlene Anderson and Randy & Anne Brooks also participated in the silent auction, offering chauffeured rides in their Tesla Model S’s. Proceeds from the silent auction go to local environmental organizations, including Plug-In NCW this year. The successful bidder was a group of ladies who plan a “girls afternoon out” with both Teslas taking them from Leavenworth to Chelan for a wine tasting tour. Charlene and Anne will drive!



Plug-In North Central Washington Donation

The organizers of the Leavenworth Earth Day Fair have notified Plug-In NCW that we will be one of the recipients of proceeds from this year's silent auction.  This financial assistance will certainly aid our mission.  We are currently installing six new charging opportunities in the north central Washington area. In June Plug-In NCW is sponsoring "Charge across Washington" to highlight that small battery cars can drive along US Highway 2 all the way from Everett to Spokane.  We will stage mini EV car shows at each charging stop on the route and have committed to spending advertising money to notify local residents of this opportunity to learn about EVs first hand.  The new funds from the silent auction will be put towards fulfilling this objective.



Guess-O- Meters, Getting ICED and Turtle Mode

New electric car owners learn the ropes.

Story - Wendy Isenhart, Photos – Ed Isenhart

Electric car #1 Full disclosure-- -this isn’t exactly our first electric car. That honor goes to the pink Barbie electric jeep we bought our granddaughter for Christmas ten years ago. Our daughter was irked, “You are the guys who wouldn’t let me have Barbie dolls-- -!” But she came around fast, anointing it “the first electric car in the family.”

Electric car #2 - The second electric car in the family belonged to our son, Wolf and daughter-in- law, Naoko who work in high tech in Seattle. They leased a red 2012 Nissan Leaf, the first year it came out with a built-in fast charger. They loved the car, we loved the car, everyone who got a chance to drive it loved the car. Perfect for short hops around Seattle, it was plugged in at home every night, warmed up remotely on house power before work every morning and never ran out of fuel—well, almost never. Four years later, with lease returns showing up in the used car ads, we wondered about an electric car for our second car.

Ed and I were down to one car after a car/deer collision (mine) totaled the good old Highlander and a sports car liquidation sale (his) and the cherished 1972 Volvo 1800ES is now in California with younger, more limber owners). We’d been trying to get by with one car, but one just wasn’t enough. Someone was always getting stranded.

And then-- -I’m on the board of Plug-In North Central Washington, (PINCW), a nonprofit focused on building charging station infrastructure up and down Eastern Washington’s highways to encourage adventurous EV owners in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, B.C. to come visit our fruit and wine wonderland, drive their electric cars through scenic routes, stay in our unique towns-- -so, there was pressure to practice what my team was preaching. After the deer encounter, we replaced the Highlander with a 2009 diesel VW Jetta sports wagon. When they found out, I was booed.

Our experiences brought us, in late September, to wandering around the Town Nissan dealership in East Wenatchee, looking at a few uninspiring used cars in our $5000 price range. Beyond, in the new car section, a 2016 electric Leaf caught a golden shaft of late afternoon sun. The deeply lacquered bronze metallic new car paint seemed to glitter. Our salesman perked up and asked if we’d like to take a look?

Electric Car #3 - Two hours later, let me just say that shopping on the last day of the month and the last day of the quarter, plus $5000, put us into a brand new electric car lease at a monthly fee even we could afford. So-- -after the paper shuffling and signing, Ed drove her home to Chelan. I followed behind in the VW that had just lost its new car status. He’d come up with other names, “Leaf Erickson” and “Cleveland Brown”, but she was too close in shape and color to be anything but the Coffee Bean.

In my headlights, I admired the sleek, not-so- little brown beauty. Muscular sports car haunches hinted at her torque off the line and bright LED headlights swept the road ahead, illuminating orchards alongside. I was in awe but, even after a quick lesson from Salesman Dan, all I knew for sure about the Leaf was how to answer my iPhone with no hands. The dashboard was a high-tech monster, replete with Sirius radio, GPS, touch screen navigation and choices, choices, choices.

The rest was an operational blur-- -three different forward drive gears? Birdseye camera? Big and little connector ports? How was I supposed to know which one was the right one? I flashed back to us walking out of the hospital with our first baby, thinking-- -they trust us to take him home? Don’t they know we don’t know what we’re doing?

Two months later - Well, now the Bean has 1200 miles on her, we’ve learned some things that may be helpful to you when you get behind your first EV steering wheel.

1. Read the manual, then sit in the car and read it again. After following my own advice, some things were still outside my brain, waiting to be absorbed.

2. Talk to everyone who has owned an electric car. They love giving advice and can answer most questions, although the technology keeps advancing, so your new car will be different and better in some ways.

3. Visualize your Leaf (and any similar-capacity electric car) as a fossil fuel car with a 5-gallon tank. It magically refills every night when you plug it in, but for longer trips, plan ahead.

4. Take a friend who has had an electric car along for a ride. After muffling through suggestions one, two and three for a few weeks, I asked fellow committee member and one-time 2011 Nissan Leaf owner, Randy Brooks, to ride with me to the November PINCW meeting in Wenatchee. We often use the Executive Boardroom at the Hilton Embassy Suites since PINCW installed and provides maintenance for two Level 2 chargers in the front parking lot. Randy said,

“This plan will work out great-- -we’ll drive 40 miles to Wenatchee, plug in for the two-hour meeting and then drive home to Chelan on a full battery.”

My 2016 Leaf EV has the larger 30kw Lithium battery with about 100 miles, give or take, in a full charge. As I was learning, actual mileage depends on terrain and temperature and load weight and driving style, just like fossil fuelers, but they have more wiggle room. We had an 80-mile drive down and back, in mountainous terrain with the heat on and headlights one way. It would be a squeeker without a recharge.

I picked Randy up at his and Anne’s house north of town. He admired the Bean and her leather upholstery, and then asked, “Why aren’t you in ECO mode?” Well, I’d heard and read about it, but hadn’t tried it out. ECO is one of the three forward drive modes, the one that doles out acceleration in modest amounts, saving energy.

“Push the big button that says “ECO” on the steering wheel,” Oh, yeah, that one. “Anne and I always drove in ECO”, he said. “It could also be called ‘SNOW MODE, because it’s perfect for winter driving conditions.” Randy’s an early adopter and an engineer. Getting the most out of the least energy is his thing, while I guess mine is driving the Leaf like I’d drive any other sports car. Today, we’re being conservative.

ECO mode made an immediate difference visible on the mileage indicator. Randy explained that it was really a “Guess-O- Meter” and not a sure thing. I felt a shiver of “range anxiety.” I thought it was a promise, not a guess. But hey, no worries, I had the expert along.

Randy fiddled expertly with the NAV screen between us, changing from energy use readouts to charging station locations to GPS, showing me how to turn the eagle-eye camera to side view for parking and check the battery usage of heated seats and various elements, like interior lights. He marveled at the difference LED bulbs made. Much less battery draw, he noted approvingly.

Going down the Knapp’s Coulee grade, I shifted into DRIVE a second time, putting the car in “B” mode, the third forward drive gear. Randy was delighted. “We didn’t have that maximum regenerating mode in 2011,” he said, as we watched the Guess-O-Meter’s estimate of miles go up. I relaxed and enjoyed the learning experience all the way to Wenatchee, until I turned into the driveway of the Embassy Suites.

“OH NO!” Randy yelled. “We’ve been ICED!” I wasn’t sure what that was, but I was sure it was bad, real bad. “Internal Combustion Engines, parked in the EV charging stalls!” Randy spit it out. And sure enough, there they were, blocking me from the twin chargers.

The nice woman at the front desk sympathized, but there was a convention and all the suites were booked and there were no other parking places. The car owners were paying guests and, well, we weren’t. After the PINCW meeting, our President, Jack Anderson had the best idea-- -I should have parked behind them where the long EV cord reached, leave a note on the dash saying please notify the desk and I will move my car immediately-- -but it came too late. Randy and I were heading home with half a battery of juice and it was uphill all the way.

The Guess-O- Meter melted miles-- -by the time we came into Chelan, it had stopped showing any numbers at all, just three blinking lines -- - -- - -- -. “It will do that for awhile and then it goes into TURTLE MODE” Randy said. “Anne got that far down once. In TURTLE MODE, you can only go 35 miles an hour. Just enough to get you to a safe parking place beside the road.” And then what?

“Then, you call AAA and they come and tow you to a charging station.” Randy nodded, “every EV owner should join AAA.” Well, since I hadn’t done that, you can imagine my happy face when I saw the Clipper Creek charger on the wall in Randy’s garage. He plugged the Bean in for 20 minutes while we had a cup of tea and I drove home on 12 new miles worth of Randy and Anne’s electricity.

My last new owner advice would be to go ahead and endure Nissan’s clunky App setup (Randy helped get mine installed on my iPhone, Ed did his own on his iPad) as it leads to great things-- -like warming up the car on house power while you finish your coffee and getting a text message that your car is fully charged if you’re out and about.

And one more thing-- -join an EV group, like Plug In NCW. It expands the good feeling of being on top of the technology, which allows you to relax and savor the sheer joy of driving a responsive car that runs for FREE. Well, almost.



The Future Really Is Now

I was quite happy to see the Quest Pontoon boat displayed at the Wenatchee Sportsman Show by Sandy Williamson was powered by an electric motor. Quest has three electric outboards that they can integrate with any of their pontoon boats.

Most of us are aware that Minn Kota makes trolling motors, but did you know they have a line of “E-drive” outboards? Sandy explained that you can get several 48 Volt options in the Minn Kota line. Then there was a manufacturer that I have not heard of, “Ray Electric Outboards.” These guys produce electric outboards in Florida and you have to like their positioning line, “We Don’t Troll - We Motor”.

The Quest pontoon boat being displayed at the Town Toyota Center was powered by a Torqeedo Cruise outboard. This is a German manufacturer that is likely the leader in electric power for boats. Check out the “Deep Blue” line of outboards producing as much as 80 HP!

Torqeedo in a partnership with Johnson Controls, developed and is now marketing the Deep Blue High Voltage Lithium pack which looks like an automotive battery.

Quest also markets an optional solar charging system that is designed into the boats structure for a natural and functional look. As we investigated the system we were impressed with the Torqeedo Lithium battery pack. The one on display was a 48 Volt system with a 110 Ah rating. Completely waterproof, only 130 pounds and small enough to be completely unobtrusive. This is a “Shout Out” for PontoonWest and Sandy because they have brought an electric powered boat into their inventory so that the rest of us can see them.

For more information contact Sandy Williamson at:, or (888) 387-1963 or (253) 376-8273.

Check these websites for more information on electric outboards: blue-high- voltage-battery/4101- 00.html Outboard/E-Drive/