by Alan Yonan Jr. | Feb. 15, 2023
I’d been thinking about buying an electric car for more than a year when I finally got the nudge I needed last fall. My aging gas-powered ride with 140,000 miles on the odometer needed a major repair that would cost several thousand dollars. When I asked my mechanic what I should do he advised me it was time to move on.
I made the decision to buy a used EV, hoping to find one with relatively low mileage at a price within my budget. After searching Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace I learned that what I had been hearing about high prices and limited selection for secondhand EVs was indeed true. My searches turned up only a dozen or so used EVS for sale and none seemed like a good fit. There were a handful of Teslas being offered, all of which had asking prices significantly over my budget. And the “affordable” listings were mostly older, high-mileage EVs — not the kind of car I was hoping for.
So, I called a friend with an autobody shop in Mapunapuna who comes across good deals on used cars from time to time. I was in luck. He had a 2018, second-generation Nissan Leaf with just 29,000 miles on it that was available for a good price. I picked it up that week and entered the EV age.
When I got behind the wheel of the Leaf for the first time the biggest differences I noticed from my gas car were the instant torque delivered to the wheels from a standing start and the extremely smooth acceleration. I immediately understood what people meant when they said EVs are fun to drive. It’s also fun to cruise past gas stations knowing that I no longer have to shell out $60 or more to fill my tank. And the Leaf’s 150-mile range means that I can drive anywhere on Oahu and back home again on a single charge.
Another benefit of getting an EV was the fact that our home has a rooftop solar system that produces more electricity than we consume. As a result, we’re able to charge the Leaf at home with minimal impact on our electric bill. And because I work from home several days a week, I’m able to charge up during daytime hours when the output from our solar panels is at its peak.
Although many EV owners who charge at home opt for Level 2 chargers, which must be installed by a licensed electrician, we’ve been able to get by with a lower-voltage Level 1 charger that plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet. Our Level 1 charger provides about 40 miles of range during an eight-hour charging session. That’s generally enough to meet our weekly driving needs, although I occasionally charge at one of the free Level 2 chargers at shopping malls around town or one of the Hawaiian Electric fast chargers, which can add about 40 miles of range in just 15 minutes.
Five months after taking the EV plunge I can confidently say I have no regrets. After driving gas-powered cars since age 15, it took a bit of time for me to get used to the different feel of an EV. But the one-pedal driving and other features of the Leaf now seem like the new normal for me. And it’s a good feeling to know that by swapping my gas-powered can for a zero-emission EV, I’m helping Hawai‘i meet its clean energy goals.
Alan Yonan Jr. is a senior communications specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.