How An Electric Vehicle Re-Wired My Brain

How an Electric Vehicle Re-Wired my Brain

This post, written by Craig Lawrence, originally appeared on Realization Ventures.

There are technologies that come along every so often and completely change your experience with a product. And change your baseline for what is normal, despite a mental resiliency built from years of habit and repetitive experience.

One example of this was Tivo, which transformed the way we consume media, with the ability to time-shift content seamlessly and pause live TV. I knew my reality had been altered by Tivo when, after having the service for about a month, I found myself unconsciously trying to pause my car radio and realizing that, unfortunately, not everything worked like that. But, it should.  Another technology that had a similar effect on me is the “Smart Key” technology on my Toyota Prius. No need to press a clicker to unlock your door – as long as your key-fob is on you, it just unlocks when you grab the handle. I recognized the effect this had on me when I walked up to the front door of my house one day and expected it to unlock when I touched the knob. And again realized that, unfortunately, not everything worked like that. But, it should. These transformative technologies “re-wire” your brain, and change what you accept as normal behavior for a product interaction.

My EV has re-wired my brain. And, I’m convinced it will happen to everyone.

A year ago, I purchased a Chevy Volt (2nd gen), technically a plug-in hybrid, with a 50-60 mile all-electric range, and a 9 gallon gas tank that gives you about an additional 400 miles of gas-powered range when you run out of juice.

I did have reservations about this purchase –  would I be able to find places to plug it in? Would it actually save me any money? I hedged my bets with the Volt – not going all-in EV, and was comforted by the fact that I could rely on gas in a pinch.

Over the last year, I’ve been to the gas station a total of two times. 95%+ of my miles have been all-electric. And 95%+ of my charging has been done at home or work, when my car is sitting idle and I’m off doing something else. What I imagined being the biggest inconvenience – where can I find a charger? – has been by far the biggest benefit. I don’t think about fueling my car – it’s no longer a conscious action I need to take – I plug it in when I get home, and it’s “full” when I wake up in the morning. It requires minimum effort and has become a part of my fabric.

I experienced my altered baseline the other day on a business trip. I had a gas-powered rental car, and every night when I got back to my hotel, I instinctively wanted to plug it in. Unfortunately, not everything works like that. But, it should. I was doing quite a bit of driving, so had to fill up on my trip. I had a visceral, negative reaction as soon as I pulled into the gas station. It was dirty, ugly, smelly, and I had to go out of my way, waste about 15 minutes of my life, swipe a credit card, punch in my zip code, decide what octane gas I wanted, and of course, it dripped on my foot as I went to put the nozzle back. It just felt wrong. And outdated. And dying.

I’m saving money with my EV – I estimate about $750 a year. But, I am also saving time – I calculate that I used to spend 16-20 hours a year fueling my car. That’s 2 full 8-hour work days wasted. Now I basically spend zero. Multiply that by 200+ million drivers in the US, and we are wasting over 1 million person-years every year at gas stations.

But, more significantly, I can’t stand operating anything other than an EV. It just feels wrong. Like not being able to fast forward through a commercial.

My brain is re-wired for EVs.