If there were a sudden fuel shortage and we needed to ration gas or if gas was really hard to come by, there is certain equipment that most of us would want to keep going on the island: ferries and working boats, dump trucks, tractors, backhoes, delivery vehicles, shuttles, and working vehicles of all type including contractors pickups. Priority should be given to people making a living or providing services to the rest of the island. I can’t visualize a situation with no fuel but I can imagine conditions where fuel is hard to get. (I still suffer from PTSS caused by the fuel rationing in 1973-1974 when I had a 60 mile round trip to work).
One way to avoid having to worry about this potential problem is to use an NEV as an island car. These come in a variety of manifestations from golf carts to passenger type vehicles to trucks. Most people could look in their driveway and replace one of their vehicles with something electric. Even if there were no gas shortage an electric vehicle would be beneficial to one’s life on the island simply because there is no need to put it on the ferry to go get fuel. As long as there is electricity or a generator you can recharge the vehicle.
This island is a perfect crucible for an NEV experiment because of 1) a 25mph speed limit throughout, 2) no on-island source of petroleum fuel, 3) only 18 miles of road and a 30-60 mile range on NEVs, 4) a fairly reliable source of electricity from NW hydro-electric power and a significant number of generators on the island, 5) no difficult terrain or severe elevation gain.
The NEV is a niche product. It has limited range and limited speed and isn’t a fit for a lot of communities. Surveying the internet I can see that the marketing emphasis is toward resorts, college campuses, military bases and other locations where range and speed isn’t a problem. Small islands are obviously a good match for the NEV. Range is adequate as is speed. The only concerns are comfort and carrying capacity. Since the average trip on Lummi is probably no more than a couple of miles I’m guessing that even an open golf cart could work for most of the year.
There is really no question that NEVs can serve the island effectively. The big objection to electric cars has been range. It’s hard to rationalize the cost of having an island only vehicle. To get an electric car like the Nissan Leaf that will take you to Bellingham and back you have to spend full-size car dollars. However, the NEV as an island car will actually extend the range of your gas powered vehicle by allowing you to save gas on the island. An increase in the number of NEVs would make the island a more pleasant place as would increase use of scooters, bicycles and electric assist bikes. And, if we ever reach the point of a passenger ferry and limited car ferry service an NEV would relieve you of a great deal of stress and allow you to continue Happy Motoring all over the island.
For the record, this would be my ideal island car when we get approved as a golf cart zone: a golf cart with a dump bed that I could use for chores around the property as well as drive on island roads.
As a point of interest Tesla has exciting plans for increasing the range of electric autos—a network of free charging stations already under construction announced this past week.