Electric Feel

USD Health & Wellness staff member Echo Gaffney showcases her pride and joy in the USD Law parking lot.

Turning more law student heads than an undergraduate female, it’s clear that the law school parking lot has a new celebrity—a funny little electric car.  If you haven’t seen it, swing by the motorcycle parking area in the USD Law lot and look for the motorcycle with an extra wheel and roof.   

Yes, that’s right—the state of California seems to qualify the Myers Motors NmG (“No more Gas”) as a motorcycle.  Cal. Vehicle Code section 400(a) defines a motorcycle as “a motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground.”  Of course, there are two specific exemptions from this definition: farm tractors and a “three-wheeled motor vehicle . . . used by local public agencies for the enforcement of parking control provisions.”  I guess law enforcement doesn’t have a concise name for those devilish monstrosities either, but I digress.

The owner of the car is first year USD staff member Echo Gaffney, who works at the Center for Health & Wellness Promotion and helps counsel students with drug and alcohol addictions on campus.  But what prompted Echo’s purchase of the vehicle was a different addiction: oil.  After watching Who Killed the Electric Car?, a 2006 documentary chronicling the rise, fall, and systematic dismantling of GM’s EV1 electric car, Gaffney thought to herself, “Here we are in the free world . . . and yet they’ve taken away and crushed these very useable vehicles that consumers wanted.”  Alluding also to American imperialism and wars started for oil, Gaffney was determined to stop participating in the oil economy.  She bought the car almost four years ago and hasn’t looked back.  Though, the lack of a rearview mirror may play a role.

Giving a tour of the auto, Gaffney points out that most NmGs have a rearview mirror and a rear-windshield, but that this model has, in her words, “a pizza butt.”

The Noid

Apparently “this car was supposed to be a delivery car for Domino’s,” said Echo, “so the ‘trunk’ is big enough to hold several pizza boxes.”  Why didn’t they go with this cute little auto?  My suspicion: The Noid.  (Not convinced? Google: dominos noid bilderberg pepperoni conspiracy.)

What about maintenance and charging?  Does it run up the bills?  “Some landlords have been skeptical,” says Gaffney, “but they’ve changed their tune.”  According to Gaffney, the cost to recharge the NmG’s batteries “might be $5 a month if you’re charging all the time,” but she has yet to detect a significant surge in her power bill.  Regarding maintenance, “Owning this car makes you geeky,” says Gaffney.  “You learn a lot about electricity, but you have to rely on hobbyists” when the electrical system has issues.

While it may look more “escape pod” than full-sized vehicle, its owner is happy to point out that it packs some serious acceleration.  Race her off the line on Linda Vista Road at your ego’s peril.  With a 30-mile effective range, though, a long-distance race is still a good bet.  Just watch out for those banana peels and red turtle shells (also, powerslide like a boss).

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