For Eric Smith, Director of Strategic Development at SemaConnect, driving an electric vehicle (EV) isn’t just about improving the environment – it’s about embracing technology and reducing our reliance on oil. The EV revolution is beginning to answer the question that he asked himself many years earlier: “What would the world look like if we all weren’t so dependent on oil?” The issue is personal for Eric.
After the Kuwait oil well fires in 1991, a friend’s husband traveled to work on repairing the wells damaged at the end of the war. There, he was tragically killed in random street violence. Eric distinctly remembers his friend saying, “If we weren’t so dependent on oil, my husband would still be alive, and I’m sure many others would be, too.” In addition to seeing his friend’s grief, he watched the stock market descend into chaos with the fuel supply shock. He realized that he wanted to live in a world where the state of oil fields didn’t matter.
Finding an Alternative
Eric leased his first Nissan Leaf in 2012, with a battery range of only 85 miles. Despite the limited range at the time, he knew that with a little extra planning he could travel the same distances as he did with his gas-powered car. “I’ve driven four leased EVs over nine years,” he explained, “and I’ve never once run out of fuel.” Since his initial Leaf, Eric has leased three other Nissans, which now have a range of up to 225 miles in a single charge.
The same year, to the surprise of his friends and colleagues, he left his lucrative position at Salesforce.com to work for a small startup company called SemaConnect that built EV charging service equipment. “Everyone told me I was crazy,” he recalled, “but this was something I truly believed would take off, and it has. Past coworkers have called me to congratulate me on my forward vision and passionate, successful efforts.”
The electric car industry is growing exponentially with a predicted 500% growth rate over the next five years in the United States alone. In fact, several of the coworkers who initially doubted him now drive Teslas and other EVs. Outside of his professional life, Eric is a huge proponent of EV adoption. He regularly attends EV Ride and Drive events to connect with other EV drivers and people who are thinking about making the switch.
“The most common thing people say to me,” he expressed, “is that they want to switch to electric, but they can’t afford it.” According to Eric, that usually isn’t the reality. “There is a perception that EVs are very expensive, but there are so many models now that are the same price as gas-powered cars. When you factor in no longer paying for gas and lower maintenance costs, an EV actually costs less in most cases.”
Regardless of finances, Eric recommends that people lease their electric cars rather than buy them. “You should lease evolving technology and buy mature technology so that you can switch out easily for an upgraded EV with newer features,” he explained. Battery technology is rapidly improving, and like cell phones, a few years can make a large difference in functionality.
“This is such an exciting time for this industry,” Eric expressed, “I can’t wait to see where it goes!”