Susie Kukkonen loves her Leaf and thinks its fun to drive!

Interview: Electric vehicle owner Susie Kukkonen of Saint Paul loves driving with less impact

More and more electric vehicles (EVs) are entering the national marketplace and hitting Minnesota roads. CERTs is doing a series of interviews with EV drivers to learn about their experiences.

Meet Susie & Fam: Susie Kukkonen of Saint Paul drives an EV (Nissan Leaf 2012) because her husband works as an EV consultant and advocate—and because she loves it. Plus, they’re both concerned about the environment and wanted to find ways to reduce their impact.

Joel Haskard: Why do you drive an EV?

Susie Kukkonen: Because my husband works as an EV consultant and advocate, and we’re both concerned about the environment and wanted to find a way to shrink our impact on the environment.

Joel: What do your friends and family think?

Susie: They think it’s cool. Most people seem to be concerned about the range, because that’s always the first question I get. When I tell them that I drive an average of 35 miles a day and the range is about 90 miles in the summer (less in the winter), they seem surprised.

Joel: What has been your driving experience so far?

Susie: Very positive. I love my Leaf. It’s fun to drive, and it’s amazing to never have to visit the gas station.

Joel: What is your typical charging routine, and who is your electric utility?

Susie: I charge with a Level 2 charger at my home every night. Recently we changed to an electrical plan where we pay less for nights and weekends, and I think we’re currently spending about $15/month (summer) to charge the car. Xcel Energy is our electric utility. When I tell people how little it costs to charge, they are amazed. There is also no maintenance to speak of. We have to bring it in for a battery check once a year. No oil changes, no spark plugs, no other maintenance items that you need with an ICE (internal combustion engine). I’m expecting that the brakes will last a long time as well, as they have regenerative braking that saves on wear and tear.

Joel: Have you changed your driving routine any?

Susie: Not really. In the winter, I had to make a few adjustments at times or take our second car (a Prius) if it looked like I was going to go beyond the range. I use the Leaf for my daily commute (30 miles round trip), and we use it as our primary car on weekends as well. We use the Prius for longer road trips.

Joel: What would you say to anyone interested in purchasing an EV?

Susie: I can wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who uses their car primarily for commuting, especially if they have a second car for longer road trips or only use it around town. It is a kick to drive, looks cool, saves money, and the environment. We’ll be driving EVs for the foreseeable future—when my lease is up, I’ll either buy the car or will get a new Leaf, and we’re looking forward to 2016 when we may be able to afford a Tesla! It would be great to have two EVs.

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