Silver Spring resident leases country& s first electric smart car

26 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Silver Spring resident leases country& s first electric smart car отключены
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Mindy Kimball of Silver Spring turned the ignition in her new car, backed out of her driveway and continued down the street.

All was quiet except for a gentle whirring beneath her feet. When she halted at a stop sign, there was total silence.

It s really a smooth ride, Kimball said. It feels very stable.

The Silver Spring resident was the first person in the U.S. to receive an all-electric-drive smart car, smart USA said.

The tiny vehicle, called smart fortwo electric drive, runs on electricity and is charged with a plug connected to a home outlet she keeps in her driveway. The car is roughly 5 feet wide, 9 feet long and 5 feet tall. Smart USA has leased 250 cars to people around the country as part of a limited-release program.

This is the second phase in smart s release of the electric car. In its first phase, smart released 100 test vehicles in England in 2007. This second phase focuses on the U.S. market, as well as other countries, releasing 1,500 cars worldwide, and Kimball received her car two weeks ago.

After improvements are made, the third generation of the car will be available to the general public for purchase in 2012.

Only a few other companies sell electric cars in the U.S. Tesla Motors, a California-based company, sells an electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. Mitsubishi is set to release an electric hatchback car in the U.S. in late 2011 called the i MiEV.

The Nissan Leaf, a five-door midsize hatchback electric car, became available in the U.S. in December.

Kimball has been interested in purchasing an electric car since 2003. She was born in Napa Valley, Calif. and caught on to the electric car trend in the stereotypically green state.

Kimball is a major in the Army and returned from a deployment in Iraq a year ago. She moved to Silver Spring with her husband Ray and 8-year-old son soon after.

Kimball immediately joined the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Electric Vehicle Association, in which members share information about electric cars. Kimball met representatives from smart USA during a club gathering at a smart USA dealership in the fall. Kimball talked to representatives at the dealership about getting the smart fortwo.

She is really a great fit, said Rick Bourgoise, Director of Communications at smart USA. She is very active in the electric drive community there in Washington.

The two-person car looks like an average smart car, with a driver and passenger seat and a small trunk behind. Kimball s is white and light green.

Her car arrived on Jan. 27, during one of the season s snow storms. Kimball took the car to the Washington Auto Show that day, but after the inches of snow piled up on the ground, she left her pint-size electric car behind and took the Metro home.

The car hooks up to an electric generator next to her driveway, which is connected to Kimball s house. Kimball charges her car overnight and then drives it to her job in Fairfax, Va. and back home again, which is 52 miles round trip per day. The generator was installed in Kimball s driveway after she received the car.

Coulomb Technologies, which has set up a network of electric vehicle charging stations around the Washington, D.C. area, installed the charger. Kimball only had to pay for the installation and the charger was paid for through a Department of Energy grant.

I feel very strongly about doing whatever I can that I can fit into my lifestyle to reduce my footprint, Kimball said.

The vehicle can be charged through the generator or a standard outlet.

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Kimball and her husband, Ray Kimball, who is an Army strategist, try to keep their home and life environmentally friendly. The smart car was just the next step, they said.

I m terribly excited about it, Ray Kimball said. For me, it s really neat to see her living out her values and our values.

She can t take any detours or unplanned trips, she said, in case the car runs of out electricity. She usually travels in the right lane on the freeway, too, she said, just in case. The car slows a bit when it gets into the 55 to 60 mph range, she said.

The car can travel between 63 to 98 miles before needing to charge again.

It s fun, Kimball said. It s really quiet. The first time I drove it, I stopped at a stop sign and I had a little panic … because I thought the car shut off.

Kimball pays $599 per month for the car. Her lease lasts four years. Once the third generation is mass released next year, smart USA will replace her current car with the new version with a $2,500 down payment, Bourgoise said. Kimball only spends about $1 per day on electricity to power the car, she said.

She used to drive a Chrysler PT Cruiser, which she filled up with gas for $45 once a week.


It saves me a trip to the gas station, Kimball said.

Mindy and Ray hope that the new car as well as other conservation efforts they make around the house will not only help the environment, but also instill environmentally-friendly values in their son. The Kimballs use energy-conserving light bulbs and power strips. They have insulated their attic and basement, as well as their chimney.

They show their son how to recycle. He even has a remote-control smart car that came with Mindy s real one. He has taken photos of his mom s car to show his class at school.

Living a lifestyle that is sustainable is really important to us, Ray said. It is really neat for her to be able to take this big step.

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