A Pine Mountain Valley couple’s decision to purchase an electric car after test driving one at Diverse Power’s Annual Meeting in May was a smart choice, according to Cornelius Willingham, electric vehicle strategy and business development manager for Nissan U.S.A.’s Southeast Region.

Willingham was on-hand at the Annual Meeting, where more than 2,000 co-op members and their families had opportunity to visit displays like one offered by LaGrange Nissan, which provided free test-drives for anyone interested in trying out an electric car. Diverse Power members Cornelius and Marilyn Wallace test drove a Nissan Leaf at the meeting and returned to LaGrange the next day to purchase one.

“They weren’t shopping for an electric car and it wasn’t until they had the opportunity to drive one that they learned just how economical they are to drive, how roomy and quiet they are, and how solid they feel,” says Willingham, noting that other advantages include substantial savings. “An electric car costs 80 percent less to operate than a gasoline-powered vehicle, has higher reliability and fits the driving needs of the vast majority of the population.” (The Nissan Leaf averages about 84 miles per charge, according to Willingham who says 70 percent of the population drives less than 29 miles a day.)

After driving their new car for a couple of months, the Wallaces are quick to dispel myths about electric vehicles:

Don’t they have slow takeoff? “It gets up and goes, no question about that,” says Mr. Wallace. “It rides beautifully and the handling is excellent.”

Aren’t electric cars too small? “It’s very comfortable and roomy,” says Mrs. Wallace.

Do you really save that much money? “We wave at the gas station every time we drive by,” says Mr. Wallace. “Estimates show that if you used it daily for five years, you’d save $8,000,” adds his wife.

The couple says the only drawback they’ve experienced is a need for more recharging stations in central west Georgia. Diverse Power is partnering with Nissan U.S.A. to help bring more recharging stations to the region, according to Willingham and Diverse Power Marketing Services Coordinator Scott Sawyer. The cooperative also is considering offering an EV (electric vehicle) rate to give members opportunity to take advantage of recharging during off-peak hours, Sawyer adds.

“Like the Smart Home, this is a coming technology that will continue to grow as more people are exposed, and the Wallaces are an example of that,” says Cornelius Willingham. “They looked at both gas and electric, put a pencil to it in terms of economics, and chose the electric. More and more people are going to do that over time.”


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