Zingerman’s IT Department chooses a Nissan Leaf

The IT department has leased an all-electric car. A Nissan Leaf 4-door hatchback. Why did we do it and how are we using it?

The IT department has always been excited by sustainability where technology can have a role. We’ve been monitoring the electric vehicle field for a couple of years and watching the cars improve. The vehicles available today have hit maturity and are reliable, safe, and reasonably priced to lease. We’ve looked at other forms of sustainable vehicles but an all-electric vehicle seems the best fit for us for our driving around town.

We drive a lot. Currently we drive our own cars, quite extensively, on work related errands all week, and in the case of the on-call person potentially nights and weekends as well. Or we ride bikes to be sustainable and that comes with its own set of issues. An all-electric vehicle promises to be a great demonstration of sustainable technology that would help us get around town.

We recognize that the all-electric vehicle we choose may not be the absolute cleanest option (ie, coal burning power plants) but will be balanced by other factors like reliability, durability, and cost. We also believe in our role as a consumer in pushing the market in a certain direction with our buying choices and believe all-electric to be a long term appropriate direction. If the vehicle proves successful we would like to invest in solar power for offsetting electrical use and we’d love to see all-electric vehicles adapted for other uses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses! We would have loved to lease an American-made all-electric vehicle but there are none available for lease at this time – we’re hoping there are more choices on the market in 2 years when our lease ends.

We had a challenge figuring out how to share one car among four people but hit upon an elegant solution involving our on-call commitment. Each one of us volunteers one week a month to be on-call to respond to IT help requests at all hours for the 7 days. The geek who is on-call will have the car for that week. We have a charging station in the back of our building near the garage door where we can top it up during the day. And it has a portable charger in the trunk. The Nissan Leaf seats 5 and has plenty of room in the hatchback for us to haul computers and gear around town. The car has a range of about 100 miles in around the town driving or 50 miles in full-out interstate driving.

Since we see this as a demonstration technology we hope Zingernauts will ask us about it and schedule a time for us to show them how it works. We think it’s pretty cool.