Piedmont Climate Challenge: Why I … leased an electric vehicle (EV)

Julie Reichle

Matt Disco and Sandy Rappaport have been having lots of fun zipping around in their new KIA Niro EV, which they were inspired to lease as a result of the Piedmont Climate Challenge.

Just over four months ago, our city embarked on the Piedmont Climate Challenge.  Over 250 Piedmont households are currently participating and have already collectively reduced emissions by 131 metric tons of CO2 since October. But we still are only about one-third of the way to our first-six month goal. (Haven’t joined yet? There’s still plenty of time. Click here to learn more.)

In this new “Why I” series in the Exedra, Piedmont Connect, a local environmental nonprofit, is highlighting the 10 most impactful actions in the Challenge — and a Piedmont family who is taking each action. Last month we focused on diet; this month we’re shifting gears to transportation.

Did you know that buying or leasing an electric vehicle (EV) is one of the most impactful ways to reduce your direct contributions to climate-warming emissions and air pollution? About 40 percent of Piedmont’s local emissions come from driving gas-powered cars, making up the largest portion of our city’s total emissions, according to Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan

As a result, city staff are exploring whether it makes sense to require residents to make their garages EV-ready during a garage remodeling project as part of an initiative to develop “reach codes” — new building codes to promote decarbonization. (Learn more at a reach code workshop.)

As ever more renewable sources power our California electricity grid (and our homes if we have rooftop solar, another leading Climate Challenge action), the positive impact of EVs continues to grow. Driving an EV also reduces our dependence on foreign oil, in favor of domestic electricity. 

EV prices have come down and substantial federal and state rebates are available, making them comparable to traditional cars in upfront cost. EVs are also hassle-free to own and drive, saving an estimated 50 percent, or $1,000+ per year for the average driver, on fuel and maintenance costs. They are zippy and fun to drive — most drivers never want to go back to stodgy combustion engines. Many models offer drive ranges of over 200 miles, mitigating the “range anxiety” of the past. Qualifying EVs can also drive in carpool lanes if you buy a $22 sticker from the DMV.

Join the Piedmont Climate Challenge to find resources to steer you to the right EV for your needs.

Disco-Rappoport family ditches the gas pump

Participating in the Piedmont Climate Challenge inspired Matt Disco and Sandy Rappaport, who live near Dracena Park, to lease a new KIA Niro EV.

Recruited by friend John McWeeny across town to join “Team Wildwood” (in the spirit of friendly competition and collaboration), Matt likes that the Challenge empowers residents to make personal choices which fit their preferences and budget, rather than mandating change. Matt and Sandy were immediately struck by the enormous beneficial environmental impact of EVs, not to mention the 13,000 points they could earn for their team!

It was kismet when the clutch went out on their 2007 BMW 328i shortly after they joined the Challenge. Matt and Sandy started the hunt for an EV, finding a wide selection of cars with ranges over 200 miles. They were also happy to realize that they could use the provided “trickle charger” with their existing 120 volt household outlets (although some homeowners choose to upgrade to a faster 240 volt charger or visit pay-per-use charging stations at locations like Whole Foods). 

It was love at first sight with the Niro EV at the local Oakland Kia Mitsubishi dealership, owned by Piedmont residents Chris and Eileen Kwei. 

“We love that the car feels so solid, and is exceptionally responsive and fun to drive,” raves Matt. Sandy adds, “I feel safer when driving on the highway in the Niro, because I use the adaptive cruise control feature and the car slows down so nimbly in stop-and-go traffic.” 

Both enjoy the incredibly quiet ride, the “clean” feeling of not having a tailpipe, and the convenience of skipping the gas station. They also get a kick out of the dashboard graphic showing the EV battery recharging itself while braking — the ultimate in renewable energy!

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