Greetings from 6,200 feet up here in Castle Rock, Colorado, county seat of Douglas County, situated about 30 miles south of Denver. It’s also about 1,000 ft higher elevation, so we’re up even higher than the Mile-High city.
Many people know that at high altitudes, combustion cars are less efficient and less powerful than they are at sea level, because there’s less air to feed the engine. In fact, internal combustion engines lose about 3% of their rated power for every 1,000 feet of altitude. So here in Castle Rock, gasoline and diesel cars are close to 20% less powerful and less efficient then their EPA rating would suggest.
However, that doesn’t apply to my all-electric 2016 Nissan LEAF. Electric motors don’t require oxygen for operation, which is also why they are used for propulsion on vehicles sent to the moon and Mars. Therefore, my LEAF performs as well here as it does at sea-level, which is just another reason to switch to electric if you live in Castle Rock.
I’ve had a long running interest in fuel efficient vehicles, going all the way back to a very young age. In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, my father was building a high mileage vehicle (HM Vehicles Freeway) that could get 100 MPG with a small three-wheel vehicle designed for a single passenger, and potentially a small second rider in back. In addition to the gas versions, he made about a dozen battery-powered vehicles as well. My grandfather also had a CitiCar that was a low speed neighborhood electric vehicle, and I remember him taking me for joy rides in it when I was about four years old. It was the coolest thing ever. I loved how quiet it was, and that it just plugged in at home to charge! My first real car I bought was a 2001 Honda Insight Hybrid, and later traded up to a 2003 Civic Hybrid which I drove till 2013 when I decided to go electric, and leased a 2013 Nissan LEAF.
Back then I had heard of the LEAF, but I didn’t know anyone with one, or any EV for that matter. I dreamed of having a Tesla since 2008 when the Roadster came out, but it was out of the budget. Before buying the LEAF, I had started researching electric vehicles a bit on the internet - mostly InsideEVs.com. I then test drove the Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota Prius V, and the LEAF to decide which one would serve my needs best. The final decision came down to the LEAF or Prius V, but after test driving the LEAF, internal combustion vehicles I drove just felt underpowered and loud, like antique technology in comparison to electric drive!
EV + PV lifestyle
We moved to a new home in Castle Rock in 2014, and installed solar panels shortly after, so I’ve been driving on sunshine ever since. I then traded in my 2013 LEAF for a 2016, also purchased two Tesla Powerwalls to store all the excess electricity from my rooftop solar array. Now we can use our solar production when the sun isn’t shining, and also during power outages. I’ve fully embraced the EV + PV lifestyle, and some of my favorite EV moments are watching the Tesla launch events.