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Please don’t write me a ticket, I’m speeding in an electric car!

by Doron Amiran, CCP  |  Dec. 4, 20145

Lately I find
myself conflicted. This is nothing new, because life is often a struggle to
strike a balance between doing what we want, and doing what we know is right. For
example, I know that plastic water bottles are needlessly wasteful, but
sometimes I am thirsty and someone hands me a bottle of Dasani, so I drink, and
am slaked. The devil on my shoulder is cackling, and the angel on my other
sheds a tear at my weakness.

But never has
this duality been stronger than when I am behind the wheel of my new Fiat 500e
electric car.

Most of the
time, the angel holds sway as I carefully manage my driving for maximum
efficiency, keeping the power-use gauge securely in the blue, and out of the
red. I gain immense satisfaction from completing a trip with lots of range
remaining on the batteries.  Coasting
down hills in “regen” mode has become so second nature that when I occasionally
drive a gas car I find myself irritated that I am not generating new gasoline
every time I tap the brakes. Internal combustion vehicles are truly dinosaur
technology, in every sense.

But sometimes
when an open stretch of windy Sonoma County road opens up before me with
vineyards glowing in the autumn light, the devil takes over and the need to
speed is too strong. I find myself unable to resist the urge to punch it, to feel
the rush of the 147 pound-feet of torque in my 83 kW electric motor rocketing
me down the road. The Fiat’s 24 kWh, liquid-cooled and heated battery pack deliver
111 horsepower, which is more than enough to satisfy the little devil in me who
is now laughing his ass off with the sun roof open and wind whipping his bright
red hair.

The road disappears
beneath me as the little Fiat hugs the curves, and looking down, I suddenly
notice I am flying along at 65, leaving 45mph speed limit signs in a blur. The
power consumption gauge is fully red now and my angel is hopping mad. As I
reach a downhill, devil sated, I let off on the pedal, and the virtuous “regen”
blue reappears. My battery is charging and the fog of speed lifts.

I knew I would love
driving an electric car, waking up every morning with a full charge and gliding
silently past the gas stations. What I did not realize is just how powerful and
sporty this little car would be. When I find myself zooming above the speed
limit, I rehearse the line I will tell the police officer should I ever get
pulled over in the thrall of my little devil: “please don’t write me a ticket,
I’m speeding in an electric car.”

Doron Amiran is The Climate Center’s Electric Vehicle

the Program Manager. He can be reached at doron@theclimatecenter.org.