My personal fight for fuel freedom

Being part of Fuel Freedom’s mission to end the oil monopoly on our transportation fuels is both humbling and rewarding. After all, we’re making a significant impact on the lives of millions, both here and abroad.

But at the personal level, I also make a difference every day by driving an all-electric Fiat 500e. And the best part is that I love it!


Now just so you know, I can generally be described as a car gal. I love powerful, fast cars that hug the road and let me feel free and on top of the world (that is, when I’m not trying to hide from all those speed traps). Give me a noisy V-8 engine any day!

So when the first electric Fiats came out a few years ago, I was, needless to say, quite skeptical. But I wanted to do my bit for our cause, and I absolutely loved the Italian design features throughout (not to mention the hot orange color, which happens to be my favorite). Then of course there was the nostalgia factor, since the original Fiat 500 was my husband’s first car.

Fast-forward 5 years, and two Fiats under my belt (or seat if you will), and all I can say is that I’m hooked! And here’s why:

1) The car is practically free to drive (in fact, I may even be ahead financially).

  • My 36-month lease is just over $100 a month; think about it, your cell phone plan likely costs more than that!
  • My down payment of $2,500 was covered by the rebates I received from the state of California and our electric utility for driving an electric vehicle.
  • I save nearly $200 a month on gasoline, which I no longer need, while my average electric bill at home has only gone up by around $50 a month.
  • I no longer have to use the toll road as a way to avoid traffic during my commute, since I can now use the carpool lane (and trust me, there are few more pleasurable experiences than zooming along in the carpool lane looking at all those poor souls stuck in traffic). That alone has saved me more than $200 a month.

2) The car is really fun to drive. The small body, combined with the powerful electric engine, means it practically leaps as soon as you hit the accelerator. It zooms by with little effort, easily reaching speeds of 80 mph.

3) I no longer have to waste precious time at gas stations. I simply plug the car into a charger when I get home at night (or the ones provided at my office parking garage), just like you would plug your phone in.

4) There is practically no maintenance work required on this car (things like replacing engine or transmission oil). Even the brakes get a lot less wear, given the regeneration feature of EVs. So farewell, frequent visits to the dealer.

You’re probably saying now, Sure, but what about the limited battery range? How can you manage with only 85 miles per charge? My answer to that is: I manage very well! My daily work commute is 50 miles, which leaves me ample room for errands, a quick lunch trip and I even my yoga class at the end of the day. And this is only getting better as battery technology is improving daily.  Many new EV models, like the Hyundai Kona, now come with ranges of well over 200 miles. (Here is What Car’s list of the top 10 EVs for “real world” battery range.)

You might also assume my example is not a typical one, or perhaps you don’t have easy ways to charge your car. That’s OK, because you can contribute to the cause and help reduce our oil dependence by buying other alternative fuel vehicles, of which there are many to choose from.

Either way, I can promise you this — once you become free of this heavy burden called oil, you’ll never go back!

(Ilana Meirovitch is chief operating officer of Fuel Freedom Foundation.)

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