Today, car shoppers can pick from nearly 20 plug-in vehicle models made by more than a dozen brands. Yet, vast swaths of the general public are still surprised to know that EVs exist, let alone that some folks have owned highway-capable, production EVs for a decade or more—some of those packing their original batteries.
So, in honor of Plug In America’s 10th anniversary and the fifth iteration of National Drive Electric Week (this September) we decided to compile a list of pioneers who have owned these clean cars, trucks and motorcycles for at least 10 years.
Many early adopters were motivated by environmental concerns, so it’s not surprising to learn that nearly half drive their EVs “on sunshine,” charging up with renewable electricity generated by the sun. All on this list are from California, which is where production EVs first became available. And for comparison’s sake, we estimate that there were about 800 EVs on the road a decade ago (mostly RAV4 EVs), whereas we’re at more than 310,000 today. We still have a long way to go, but that’s nearly a 400-fold increase. Charge on--and let us know what kind of mileage you're been racking up.
Darell Dickey, Davis, CA
First: 1997 EV1
Latest: 2011 Nissan Leaf
“Started driving EV as our main car in 2001 with the EV1, and will never go back to a gasoline car. If you can’t ride a bike, you’d better be driving an EV. There is no more reason to burn liquid fuel.”
Darell’s daughter Kyra Lee, at 18 months, had the job of putting the charging paddle in the EV1 every evening. Diaper and all. Today, at 14, she hasn’t lost the touch.
Tom and Vera Dowling, Folsom, CA
First: 1997 EV1
Latest: 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV
“A photo of Vera and me, and our two 2002 RAV4 EVs, are on my MasterCard. Good for a question or two from the waiter or checkout person.”
Linda Nicholes, Huntington Beach, CA
First: 2001 Toyota RAV4 EV
Latest: 2013 Tesla Model S
“Since leasing my RAV4 EV in October of 2001, all of our electric cars have been powered by the sun. I am hopelessly addicted to the quiet, smooth, pollution-free ride as well as the fact that electric cars kick butt off the line. To drive a Tesla is to realize that the game has changed -- forever.”
Dency Nelson, Hermosa Beach, CA
First: 2002 Toyota RAV4EV
Latest: 2011 Nissan Leaf
We installed rooftop solar in 1999 and my family and I have driven over 180,000 emission-free and fossil fuel-free miles powered by the sun! It’s a no brainer! I will absolutely never consider a car without a plug. No Plug/No Deal! Rooftop solar plus battery electric vehicles equals healthy lives and a healthy planet! We have the cure for this cancer.”
Dency and his original RAV4EV.
Paul Scott, Santa Monica, CA
First: 2002 RAV4 EV
Latest: 2014 Zero motorcycle
“Solar-powered EVs allow me to drive without causing harm to others, without creating demand for an energy source over which we fight wars, and allows me to stop funding the oil, coal and natural gas industries. I use my savings to fund politicians who support causes I like and many other causes, such as sustainable population efforts and animal rescue.
Paul Scott and his custom-painted 2002 RAV4EV
J. Marvin Campbell, Culver City, CA
First: 1993 Ford EVcort
Latest: 2013 Nissan LEAF
“How you spend you money matters far more than how you vote. Driving an electric vehicle powered by the sun is probably the biggest paradigm shift the average American can easily undertake. Be the change you would like to see in the world.”
Marvin and his son, Price, now part of a two-LEAF family.
Sherry Boschert and Meg Newman, San Francisco, CA
First: 2002 Ford Th!nkCity
Latest: 2011 Nissan LEAF
“We first got an EV for environmental reasons and only then discovered the best thing about it: Driving on electricity is so much more fun! We'll never go back to gas cars.”
Alexandra Paul, Los Angeles, CA
First, in 1990: 1983 converted Datsun 280ZX
Latest: 2011 Chevy Volt
“It delights me to drive in such a quiet, smooth ride and to charge at home from the sun. I feel like I am part of the solution - the solution to peace, to clean air, to self-sufficiency."
Bruce Tucker, Thousand Oaks, CA
First: 2002 RAV4EV
Latest: Same car in 2015; 66,000 miles, original batteries
“We keep waiting for the RAV4 to die so we can buy another EV, but it just won’t! I expect our next car will be a Tesla Model III.”
Bruce and Bonnie Tucker’s daughter Molly helped convince Toyota to stop crushing RAV4 EVs when she was 8 at a 2005 Toyota dealership protest. Eight years later, she took our own RAV4 EV for her first time behind the wheel--ever.
Lisa Rosen, Pomona, CA
First: 1997 Honda EV-Plus (two of them)
Latest: January 2012 Chevy Volt
Rosen still owns her the 2003 Toyota RAV4 EV, which she purchased along with her late husband, Doug Korthof, and son, William, also sadly deceased. It has the most miles of any RAV on this list, more than 123,500—on its original batteries. She also owned or leased more EVs than anyone on the list—13—many of them used for her business, Sustainable Solutions Partners.
“No Tesla yet, but Doug's half-brother, who never seemed to pay any attention, just leased a BMW i3. Yeah, the Korthof family really loved EVs.”