Saturday, October 20, 2018

Be Green & Save Some Green on Electric Vehicle Modo Bookings

With a folding bike, there are literally DOZENS of Modo vehicles within 10 minutes of home
Confession time: I've been a Modo member for over 15 years now, but I've never actually tried one of the plug-in electric vehicles in the fleet. I've driven hybrids over the years & a vast array of the gas-powered vehicles in the Modo fleet, but never an actual, proper EV. So when I heard that I can save 10% on booking Modo electric vehicles (EVs) until end of this year (December 31), I figured it was as good a time as any!

The kids are excited to try out an EV for the first time
I popped over to the Modo website & searched for EVs using the 'required features' filter. The City Hall Nissan Leaf was available--perfect--it's an 8-minute bike ride from home. We booked the car to go to our family's Thanksgiving gathering at a restaurant in Burnaby. Not impossible to bus or bike to, but a lot faster & more comfortable in a car, plus we could run a (heavy) errand on our way home.

In a flurry of getting all four of us dressed & presentable, I forgot to do any research on the car. After a decade & a half of driving literally dozens of different types of cars, I'm pretty comfortable with the quirks of each vehicle, like which side the gas flap is on, where the emergency brake is, how to get the trunk/back hatch open or if it needs to be manually unlocked, etc.

Family selfie time! 
When I arrived at the Leaf on my Brompton, I quickly fobbed into the car, folded up my bike & stashed it in the back. Next, to unplug the car. I pushed the button on the beefy EV plug & stuck it back into the charging station. The charging hatch latches closed automatically... but I wasn't sure how I'd get it open again. Decided to deal with that later.

I hopped into the car & yep, it still throws me off that there's no key, but a button to turn the car on. After poking that a few times & fiddling with what I realized was the e-brake in the console, I double checked the display on the dash to make sure the e-brake was off (it was) & the little nub of a "gear shifter" had me in drive mode (it did). I headed back to the house to load up the booster seats & children.

Lots of space for toting large, festive vegetables around!
Driving a hybrid is an experience the first time--the vehicle seems so quiet as you're leaving the parking space, but it still feels more like a regular fossil-fuel-burning car than an EV. With the Leaf, it took me most of the drive home to get used to the silent gliding feeling. Driving this EV reminded me of one of the things I love most about biking at night or in quiet trails. The silence, that feeling of slipping unnoticed through your environment. Driving the Leaf was the closest I've come to that feeling in a car.

When I got home & the kids came out of the house to see which Modo we were driving that day, they were impressed that it was all electric. After setting up their booster seats, we realized the back of the car is actually roomier than you'd expect for a family of four.

One thing of note about this Leaf, which is a 2011, is that it has a relatively small range. When I started the car, it showed a 99km, which was more than enough, as we were only going about 30km.  However, the range started dropping fairly fast as we were driving through the city & read 55km at one point. It does go back up a little from regenerative braking, but we seemed to be using battery capacity at faster than the distance we were actually driving.

Plugging in an EV is easier than getting gas!
After our dinner we headed to pick up some pumpkins for Halloween, then home. The little Leaf is super easy to park. Once we unloaded the children, pumpkins, & booster seats at home, I headed off with my Brompton to return the car. When I arrived at the parking spot, I pulled open the car details on the Modo app & took a look at this blog post for details on getting the charger flap open, using the charging account card (logically, this is stored where the gas card usually is). It took me maybe three minutes to sort it all out.

If you want to be more organized than I was & read up on some tips to using a Modo EV before you arrive at the vehicle, check out this video, or the aforementioned blog post.

Overall, I liked driving the Leaf & I'd be interested to try out one of the other EVs in the Modo fleet too, like the Prius at the Vancouver School Board location. By the way, Victoria & Kelowna also have EVs, a Kia Soul & another Leaf. All of them are 10% off until December 31. Check them out & save some green!

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