Cambrian: Opinion

EV cars could start going like gangbusters if gas prices keep rising

Water is of great concern to Cambrians right now as we “count down” to the fall and hope that a brackish water recycling system is in place before the town literally runs out of the precious liquid.

I’ve promised the editor I would address water issues in this column, but I don’t visualize the column as exclusively water-oriented, as I’m sure many have heard enough!

However, I do want to report on the results of my May 31 rainwater harvesting demonstration, which attracted 40 to 50 people to my home. This was the third, and probably last, such event I’ve held — and it always surprises me that it’s not even more packed — but, hey, it was on a weekend. (Actually, there was barely room for all who came, and they seemed appreciative of the knowledge gained.)

My own family’s system consists of a variety of storage tanks and various Rube Goldberg-engineered connections to gutters and downspouts from a relatively small percentage of our house roof.

We can store up to 2,500 gallons in everything from a 1,100-gallon poly tank to 32-gallon trash barrels, and cheap storage is the key as, when it rains, you wouldn’t believe how much rainwater you can collect. (For information on rainwater harvesting in general, which gives calculations on how much you can generate, send a forever stamp to P.O. Box 1681, Cambria, CA 93428.)

One of our participants, Bob Fountain, was particularly helpful in describing his downspout diversion assemblages, and his cheap source of clear 275-gallon tanks, which many of you have seen locally in the backs of pickups.

There may not be any rain until at least October, but there’s no time like the present to plan ahead. You should be able to store a few hundred gallons at a quite reasonable cost if you do it yourself.

Now, I’d like to turn to the subject of “green cars.”

Personally, we don’t have an EV or plug-in hybrid, but we were among the first to get a Honda Accord Hybrid in 2006. It gets well over 37 mpg at highway speeds.

Hybrids are getting better and better, but did you know there are now 21 EVs and/or plug-in hybrids on the market from nearly every manufacturer? There are nine “pure” EVs with ranges from 62 miles (Mitsubishi 1-MiEV) to 265 miles for the Tesla Model S. The former vehicle sells for as little as $16,345, with federal rebates and leases for as low as $69 a month with a $2,100 down payment. Several other models lease in the $100-$200 range, and this may well be the way to go if you want an EV or plug-in hybrid. Go to or (locally published) for the specs.

Most of these vehicles can cost as little as $1,000 a year for the cost of “fuel” (mostly electricity), and with gasoline prices in the $4-$5 gallon range, they are certainly beginning to make sense.If gas prices go up even a third, a lot of these cars will start flying off dealership lots.

The Nissan Leaf is now the world’s most popular EV, especially in Norway where more than 10 percent of the cars are now EVs despite the fact that the country has huge oil reserves in its North Sea. The Leaf has a range of 75-100 miles on a charge. Quite a few SLO County residents own them.

FYI, I have an old Honda Accord that’s still a quite viable transportation vehicle, and a few years ago I figured out how to “hyper-mile” it, increasing its normal 22-or-so mpg by 10 to 25 percent! For the special report on how I do/did it, send a forever stamp to the above P.O. box.

This dependable and efficient car is probably the only reason I don’t invest in an EV at this point (plus it’s paid for).

In my next column in late October, I’ll talk about “cheap” solar power ... and I mean cheap.