Drive Electric Week (addendum)

A few weeks prior to Drive Electric week (see previous post), a few residents of the Maria Center (our independent senior living center) took a trip up to Mishawaka to visit Dave. I met Dave at an event last year. He built a “Passive House” from scratch and worked as his own general contractor. His goal is a fossil fuel-free life, and he has a room in his house specifically dedicated to teaching about sustainable living technologies. Now retired, he volunteers his time spreading this message.

A solar electric home. (The foundation isn’t crooked, it’s just my lack of photography skills).


The home is powered by 10KW of solar panels, which supplies fuel for his heating (geothermal + heat pumps), air conditioning, appliances, and vehicles. There is no natural gas hook up at all.

Our host models his induction stove, an efficient and all-electric way to cook with the speed and control of natural gas.


So – back to driving electric. In addition to the many features of the house (you’ll have to hear him for the full speech), his driving needs are electrified as well.

The Maria Center residents had fun learned about his Tesla Model S. The batteries which fuel the car are hidden across the entire bottom of the vehicle body. The electric motor (not an engine) is, I believe, somewhere below the rear seats. That leaves a gap in the front of the driver where we are used to putting gasoline engines. Now you can put luggage there.

The Tesla “Frunk” (front trunk) gets a thumbs up!

The concept of re-fueling is simple: you just constantly top off the vehicle at home. The Tesla Model S has a large battery, thus eliminating any daily need to visit any local fueling station, of any sort, ever. Long regional or cross-country trips are handled by Tesla’s nationwide network of supercharging stations located strategically on the freeways.

It’s a bit counterintuitive to how we usually expect to refuel with gas, which we can’t refuel at home. But what it ultimately means is we’re always “topping off” our car each day. We won’t have to replicate the current gasoline fueling infrastructure in its entirety, since the majority of us have fueling infrastructure in our home (electricity).

Upgrades will be needed, however. We’re keeping an eye on VW’s $2 billion infusion into America’s charging infrastructure, called “Electrify America.” It’s the cost the courts forced them to pay for lying to the public about how much their diesel cars were polluting. The emissions cheating scheme is thought to be responsible for some 5,000 premature deaths in Europe.

Our host explains car charging. He almost never needs to charge in public. No more gas station visits.

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