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Life With an Electric Car Paperback – August 30, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 217 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books; Reprint edition (August 30, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871564971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871564979
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 1997
Format: Paperback
Noel Perrin is a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College. He had a moment of enlightenment when a student asked him how he traveled the thirteen miles to class that morning. "I drove in, in my gas-guzzling, air polluting farm truck," he admitted. Then began his quest to find a vehicle more consistent with his beliefs and his profession. He acquired Solo, a Ford Escort converted into a battery-powered, solar-panel-assisted electric car with a range of nearly sixty miles (on level ground on a warm day).

Perrin's adventures with Solo are in the best tradition of the "travelin' across America" genre. We share his frustration as he realizes that he can't make it up and over Donner Pass, and abandons his coast-to-coast drive to bring Solo home from California. (He buys a pickup truck to tow "him" - Solo is male.) We watch his chagrin as he realizes that his new truck/car caravan can't back up - not even a few feet - and he has to select motels, restaurants, and gas stops based on the shape of their parking spaces. We worry with him the first time he drives after dark; how fast will his headlights drain the batteries? Back at home, we cheer as the college gives him his own personal outlet next to a reserved parking space.

Perrin's attention to detail adds to the pleasure. He doesn't just state Solo's mileage range and charging time; he spells out the cost in time, worry, and inconvenience. School is thirteen miles away, and he can recharge the car during classes. His wife has her own separate home forty-six miles away - a little too far for comfort, especially with hills and cold weather making extra demands on his seventeen batteries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bladerunner B26354 on February 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first found this book in the library, and after returning it three weeks later, I was drawn back to check it out again. This is the only book of its kind, and made me want to immediately take a vacation--whether in an electric car or not! Perrin's journey takes him across America with Solo, his converted Ford Escort wagon, and he writes about a good portion of American culture, right down to his thrill to spend only $21 for a night in a hotel in Utah. He writes about all the questions posed him, the curiosities that were too irresistible to pass up, such as how expensive are the solar panels, what is the car's range, is it expensive to convert a regular car, and so on. Although Perrin's book is already over eight years old (and I was saddened to see that it is out of print), it is clear there has been some progress since the electric cars that basically had only one power source that was cheap, reliable and had a reasonable life expectancy, albeit a dangerous one: lead-acid batteries. I would feel uncomfortable sitting on top of (or near) 800 pounds of sulfuric acid. Solo has a limited range, only 150 miles a day and can only get up to about 65 MPH. The drawbacks come when accessories must be used: heater, lights, and defogger. I wouldn't have the patience to drive such a car, but maybe driving such a car would teach me patience.
I loved this book! Perrin makes nonfiction as literature an art, and breathes new life into travel writing. His book is very helpful in itself about a good, consistent writing style, and I love it when the writer takes me to the places he visits: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and so on. In that sense, "Life With an Electric Car" has no equal yet, and the author knows it. If you can find this book, buy it and keep it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. Noel Perrin lets us ride along with him in his unprotected and brave attempt to buy and drive an electric car from California back to Hanover, NH where he taught at Dartmouth. I was interested in owning an early EV and wondering why people weren't making and buying them. After reading this book, I admired Noel, but lost interest in buying an EV for the next decade or so. It's a fun book.
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