Home » Thousands Of Anti-EV Extremists Are Using My $2000 Nissan Leaf As Proof Electric Cars Are Bad

Thousands Of Anti-EV Extremists Are Using My $2000 Nissan Leaf As Proof Electric Cars Are Bad

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Over one million people have viewed the Instagram video I made while stranded at a broken Electrify America charging station in my $2000 Nissan Leaf, whose range after 12 years is down to just 20 miles due to battery degradation. A huge portion of those 1 million people are electric vehicle skeptics, and the things many of them are saying in the over 10,000 comments are wild.

In addition, the U.S. arm of the British tabloid The Sun even wrote an article about my situation. It seems I’ve somehow found myself in the middle of a massive culture war. Behold some of the jaw-dropping comments that make it clear just how divided America is when it comes to electric cars.

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Let’s show the reel that started this whole thing, and try to imagine you don’t have the context of having read about the car here first:

 

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This video depicts me frustrated that three Electrify America charging stations are broken at the same time that my 2011 Nissan Leaf — a vehicle that I bought for just $2000 and that will end up being $1000 after a rebate from my power company — had pretty much no juice left. This shouldn’t be surprising to a regular follower, since I’d previously noted that the vehicle’s battery had degraded to about 40 percent capacity, meaning it will power the vehicle only about 20-ish miles on flat ground.

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The video ends with me stating that I’m likely going to have to ditch the nearly-dead Leaf in that parking lot and take an Uber to my destination, though I actually managed to find a Level 2 charger nearby, and later I drove the Leaf home; I state in the video’s caption that America’s charging infrastructure still needs work.

It’s OK To Be An EV Skeptic

This was enough for anti-EV extremists to go wild and to use my clip as ammo to promote an anti-EV agenda. I want to make clear before I go further: I don’t use the term “extremist” in the headline lightly (also it’s worth noting that there are just as many extremists on the other side, obsessed with Tesla to a degree that’s almost cult-like). It is OK if you don’t like how the government is forcing EVs upon everyone (I myself am not 100% onboard with it), and it’s even OK to hate EVs themselves (though I find that objectively weird given how technologically impressive electric cars are) — if people did just those two things, I would not use the term “extremist.”

It is totally OK to be an EV skeptic given relatively long charge times, significant infrastructure issues (including the grid’s inability to handle it all), high average EV cost (a huge player in dividing EV fans from EV skeptics, as price makes it a class issue), battery degradation concerns (especially not knowing the battery condition when buying used), range anxiety (especially in winter or when towing), concerns about mining of minerals in batteries, road/bridge concerns related to high weight of EVs, concerns over how violently EVs can burn in a crash, and on and on. Some of my closest friends hate that Americans are being forced to buy EVs when we so love our gas cars. I don’t hold that against my friends. That’s totally fine.

But people in the comments of my Instagram reel did not just voice their displeasure over America’s EV push or with EVs themselves or with any of the other issues I mentioned; instead, they went overboard, calling me a “sheep,” frequently mentioning “virtue signaling,” implying that I’m somehow a “sucker” who bought into some kind of government trickery, and bullying me. Hard.

America Is Intensely Divided On Electric Cars

I’ve been in the media limelight for nearly a decade, so this stuff truly does not affect me one bit, but for those of you who are maybe having a tough day, I’d recommend you stop reading. Some of this is tough to see, but it’s indicative of the incredibly volatile place America’s EV transition finds itself in socially — this is a culture war, make no mistake about it:

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dave_chungus_connery went absolutely wild with his comment above, stating:

If your dumb enough to buy an EV, you deserve worse than this. I hope your life becomes so miserable that you move to a red state specifically so that you can purchase a firearm and then blast a tunnel through your brain with it.

Instagram user hprosr hopped in on the ridiculing, writing:
Yes it is you FUCKING LOSER ! IT’S ALL A BIG SCAM ! WAKE UP YOU FUCKING LOSERS ! ELECTRIC WILL NEVER WORK, PERIOD. END OF STORY ! ????????????????????????????????????????
Instagrammer larusstuart had this profound bit of commentary to impart upon me:

I can’t get over the fact someone can be so ugly ?

Not to be outdone, fellowbelleauwoodsman, chimed in:
Or you can work on that double chin and walk
Yikes. But it doesn’t stop there.

Misogynistic Views Towards EVs

Quite a few people, including rgr_duro_375, implied that, because I drive an EV, I’m not a real man. It seems, to many Americans, masculinity and EV ownership are mutually exclusive. From rgr_duro_375:
This lady needs to call a man
Instagram user shanedizzle24 jumped in to hit me with a classic:
Libtard!!! Lol. Ha ha!!!
Instagrammer negan8u wrote:
Sell car, buy testicles.
These types of comments are not uncommon on the web; my brother just the other day sent me this message about how he keeps running into these types of memes:
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The association between EV ownership and femininity is totally absurd, and as someone who lives in California and is surrounded by macho men in matte-black-wrapped Teslas, it also seems inaccurate.

Politics And EV Ownership

What does the bullying and the misogyny tell us about the state of Americans’ EV transition? I think it highlights just how vehemently a significant portion of the population detests electric cars; they hate EVs so much that anyone who drives one is no longer an “us,” but rather a “them,” and a cursed, emasculated “them,” at that. Many folks made assumptions about my political preferences, too, and all because I drive a $1000 Nissan Leaf:

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“Typical liberal,” writes Instagrammer t1_jossh. “But your being a good little Democrat. Stop complaining and do your part. It’s not supposed to make sense,” saintcloud69 writes, implying here that I’m under some kind of government trance.

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“I think these are the same people that voted for you know who, hows that all working out…Trump and gasoline 2024,” writes Instagram-user yorkie_sydney. “It must be hard to be a liberal, like if you get stranded but you also voted for no guns so your’e just going to have to sit there if anything happens,” chimes in Instrammer kev_the_truth.

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“This guy probably voted for Biden too …” wrote scooter_diablo_dffd. “You people support lithium and cobalt mines that basically enslave children,” states damniel_gets_lost. That latter comment about mining is echoed throughout that comment chain, as are assertions that electric cars are, in fact, no cleaner than gasoline cars (the best research out there has found that new EVs are, in fact, cleaner than new gas cars).

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Instagrammer stupidweekends asks: “do you get to keep your woke patch?” Instagram-user 23_whiteboy_summer_23 says something similar: “The consequences of your choices. Stay woke cornhole.”

Here’s my video-response to these comments:

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Skeptics Circulate Claims That EVs Are Dirtier Than Gas Cars

There also appears to be quite a bit of skepticism over the notion that EVs are better for the environment than gas cars. Here’s cluedintocrafting’s thoughts on EV environmental cleanliness:

Electric vehicles should not exist. Their footprint on our planet is SOOOO much more toxic than fossil fuels.

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Instagram user cuetlachtli_ writes:

Electric vehicles are a scam and are worse for our environment. People need to stop buying…into this

User ant7t2 follows up with:

Go back to petrol & be normal. you ain’t saving no environment bro.

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Then there’s el_chabelo73 who says:

It looks that you didn’t research anything about those cars and the damage that they cause to extraction of lithium WAKE UP

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Instagrammer tat2rob73 tells me to stop being a sheep, before claiming that EVs put out more carbon than gas cars (a largely inaccurate claim for new cars when evaluated over lifetime-use, though this article isn’t meant to debunk all these claims, but rather to highlight the extent to which many Americans are critical of America’s EV path). Here’s the full comment:

Quit being a sheep and follow along just a start they will shut off electric at anytime they want to that’s what they won’t so they can control you and besides to make that car puts out more carbon ruins the earth than a gas vehicle for its life of being on the road and that have ass car is going to ruin roads faster so there’s more money out you’re pocket to pay higher taxes to fix the road its going get with it sheep

It’s worth noting the beginning of that comment, “follow along just a start they will shut off electric at anytime they want to that’s what they won’t so they can control you,” because this idea that EVs are a way for the government to control your movement is, by far, the biggest concern that people in the comments of this reel have voiced.

The Biggest Concern By Far: EVs Are A Tool That The Government Is Using To Limit Your Motion

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Without question, the most commonly-mentioned concern in the 10,500+ comments is that the U.S. government is using EVs to control its citizens’ movements. It goes without saying that there’s no proof of this, but nonetheless, it’s something that worries thousands of Americans.

“Non reliable energy will make you reliant on those who control it (government). This is how they will imprison and enslave us,” writes Instagram user 81ronin41 in the comment above.

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“All by design – a means to control our movements,” shares shane1122469 in the comment above. Instagram user g_mabev1957 wrote something similar, saying “It’s all about control, all they have to do is turn off the electricity. Wake up people.”

 

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Instagram user ronin_skater_138 (a similar username to the other 81ronin41, curiously), writes in the comment above:

It’s by design. They want you to get so frustrated you just give up, move into the pod in your nearet 15 minute city, eat the bugs, own nothing, and like it. It’s the progressive agenda in a nutshell.

Then there’s this comment from Instagrammer phiyaatv, in which they refer to me as a zombie and liken EV ownership to a “plandemic”:

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Sorry but I feel no sympathy for any of these zombies. Maybe he should’ve done his due diligence and he wouldn’t be in this situation. Evs and the climate crisis are as big of a scam as the covaids plandemic ????
Instagrammer candaceann46 wrote:
Writing on the wall. Read it, believe it. ‘They’ want us helpless.
Instagram user traci_dyna_hd15_ also wrote that EVs are a way for the U.S. government to trap its citizens, saying:
That is the Democratic Communist Swamp terrorists plan by pushing electric garbage has zero to do with emissions and climate change political hoax its about control. They can cut the power and boom nobody is going anywhere. Vote Red
Here are similar thoughts from don_vito_04:

That’s their whole plan to keep people from moving around. You think if everyone drive those things. They would be able to move around freely. hell no, all they have to do is turn of your charging stations at your not going anywhere, ANYTIME

And more from arteims21:

FYI EV”s Are For MICRO CITIES!! WHERE YOUR EVERY MOVE IS MONITORED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THIS TYRANNICAL GOVERNMENT REGIME
josh_weiland
Instagrammer vencarter thinks the government will shut off your power if you don’t have a good “social credit score”:
Wait til they shut your shit down bec your social credit score was low in 2023
There’s this from japerri79

Welcome the dystopia of electric car control. Thank your local government, electrical supply company and the owner of that site.

And Instagrammer planet.of.the.apez says:
“They don’t want you traveling.”

Jeremy.forget.90 wrote:

Hahahahaha..you drank the kool aid. Obviously you believe what you hear and do no homework. Thinking this was all a good idea until now lol good luck with that electric toilet @davidntracy
tdbt309 had this to say:
Battery cars are the biggest hoax since the election of Pappy Bi-duh-n. Zero market demand and zilch infrastructure support. I dare ya to take one of these ???? piles across the country. And don’t dare take the family with you. Your odds of making it look to be about the same as going west with a wagon train. Farce. Scam. Joke. Swindle. Brought to you by the US govt. Figures.
And felixs_automotive_detailing says the government lied to me:
Almost like your Government lied to you about all the false information making it better than when it’s actually about to offer? Nahhh your Government wouldn’t lie to you…

There’s A Class Component To All Of This

It’s worth noting that there is likely a bit of “class warfare” (so to speak) going on here. The truth is that, despite the numerous rebates, electric cars are significantly more expensive, on average, than gas cars. And this has left a number of folks feeling like they’re on the outside looking in. There are small signs of class-related resentment among these 10,500 comments, including this one from braddishv:
America isn’t awful – you’re just a mindless sheep with more money than sense. Enjoy your uber – fucking tool hahaha.
(It’s worth noting that I say in the Instagram reel that Electrify America is awful, and a number of folks took that as me saying that “America is awful.” I’m an army brat, so I feel very much the opposite). Here’s brendangtx69 assuming that my $1000 Nissan Leaf was somehow 100 times more expensive than it really was:
Spend 100k on a car that doesn’t even work. Liberal logic. Mean while rednecks have a 40 year old pickup that’s half rusted out flyin down the road breathing air and sending fuel while the old degenerate laughs at you liberals stranded with a charger handle in your hand.

It’s also worth noting in response to the above comment that I own a bench seat-having, stamped tailgate-equipped, long bed, regular cab, gun rack-equipped, carbureted, straight six, four-speed manual-having 1985 Jeep J10, and I bought my coworker Jason a 1989 Ford F-150 with a 300-inline six and a T18 four-speed stick. So these assumptions folks are making about me couldn’t be more wrong. I address this in the Instagram reel I made yesterday (the same one I posted earlier).

The Sun Article

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The article on The Sun is not inaccurate, but it highlights one element of the modern media that I am very careful about when it comes to running this website: Just because stories are accurate does not mean they’re not unfair/biased. The Sun‘s piece is a great example. The basic facts of this story are true:

He said he planned to head to Pasadena and hoped he would reach his destination with enough charge.

David had only traveled 15 miles but the battery’s range was down to nine.

The driver had to pull over as the battery had reached a “dangerously low level,” but he was met with a long line of electric car drivers waiting to charge their respective vehicles.

I ran out of charge because my EV’s range had depleted. That happened.

But I often see websites hide behind excuses like “The facts are true and from primary sources,” when the reality is that editorial fairness goes well beyond that. Media bias is so much more than just about whether you write a true story, it’s about which stories you decide to cover in the first place. I noticed this at a previous employer; our site was running anti-Elon Musk stories far too frequently, in my opinion (and I’m not a Musk fanboy at all). Every time an Autopilot failure happened we wrote a story. Every time Elon tweeted something dumb, we wrote a story. Were these things real? Yes. Were they technically newsworthy? Sure. But every now and then you have to step back and question whether the whole of your coverage fairly represents a situation, and at the old shop it seemed like the whole of our coverage implied that Elon was a dingus and that Autopilot was useless garbage — neither of which are true.

As for the Sun, the whole of its coverage would lead one to surmise that electric cars are awful, and as a regular EV user and car journalist who covers EVs, I can tell you: This is so far from true. Here are some of the stories The Sun has written recently:

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Again, these stories may be 100 percent accurate (I doubt it, but let’s roll with it), but that still doesn’t mean the coverage isn’t deeply biased. Again, it’s not just about whether a publication writes a true story, it’s about what they choose to cover in the first place. 

It’s also about providing context, and that’s what both The Sun and the reel commenters seem to be lacking.

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My Nissan Leaf Situation Is Hardly A Microcosm For EV Ownership At Large

My Nissan Leaf does not in any way represent a typical EV ownership experience, and in truth, I could have easily avoided being stranded. My reel was meant mostly to criticize Electrify America, a company whose chargers are known for being dodgy. For me to arrive at a station and see three out of four chargers broken, and two cars waiting to juice up, was frustrating. I think anyone would have been a bit annoyed in that situation.

But not only did I get out of that situation unscathed thanks to a local charger that worked just fine (but was a bit slow, partly because the Leaf’s Level 2 charging is limited to 3.3kW), but I could have avoided that conundrum quite easily.

First off, I knew that my Nissan Leaf’s range was severely limited. I should have planned accordingly, and there are a number of apps out there to help me do that. EV Navigation, for example, accounts for elevation change, which was a factor in depleting my Nissan Leaf’s severely degraded battery pack perhaps a bit more quickly than I’d anticipated. PlugShare is a very common app that, had I been more used to charging on the road (I generally charge at home and at work), I’d have already had in my arsenal, and that would have told me that the three Electrify America plugs were broken.

In large part, me being stranded was my own doing. Were there some chargers broken? Yes. Does my EV only have 15 miles of range due to severe degradation? Yes. And if you just reported these facts without context, as The Sun did (for the most part), then sure, EVs would seem like a pretty bad proposition.

 

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But the car cost me $1000 (after a rebate). That’s dirt cheap. And its battery degradation is due largely to poor thermal management, and is not at all indicative of the degradation you can expect from most modern EVs (earlier EVs like my BMW i3 also had issues on this front, to be sure).

The truth is that I got stranded not because EV batteries are crap (modern EV batteries have been shown to last much longer with minimal degradation) and not because our infrastructure is that awful here in California, but because my car is a dirt cheap junker, I did not plan properly, and this particular Electrify America station wasn’t well maintained.

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A $1000 Nissan Leaf at one faulty Electrify America charging station does not represent EV ownership as a whole. Not by far. So Instagrammer cwhiten11, you can relax with your comment:

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Ya’ll better share TF out of this video before they delete it. This is EXACTLY what we all been saying.

I’m not deleting that clip, as it did happen, though I know it’s being unfairly weaponized to push an anti-EV agenda.

What’s The Takeaway, Here?

I want to be clear that, hidden in some of the rather alarming language, there are some valid criticisms of EV ownership in these comments.

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If you get past the bits about liberals drinking “kool-Aid,” you’ll see that gerg_not_greg has some concerns about infrastructure and lithium mining. That’s fair.
And my_crazy_quinners has concerns about EV viability in parts of the country that require extended-range commuting:
Regardless of what these “experts” are telling the sheep, EV’s are basically only good for shorter commutes… dependable extended range commuting is not a valid option at this time and this happens more frequently than most people realize. I drive by a large charging station a couple times per week and it is full of vehicles without anyone near by… where are the drivers of these vehicles at at 5a??? They are not eating or shopping while the cars are charging…
Another Instagrammer has concerns about charging time:
Electric cars or one of the biggest . You’re not saving any money 25 $30 to charge your car takes an hour I’m gonna blow right past you in my fossil breathing dragon. Under five minutes to put gas in it at the end of the night. I’m home with my family and you’re out there Dicken around. Looking for a charger. Congratulations she just became a statistic of the government.
You are now a puppet.
But the only people who responded correctly to the video of me getting myself stranded and relying on a notoriously unreliable EV charging company are no_its_not_a_jeep and burnssindy:
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Fair enough.
I honestly don’t know how I became the face of America’s EV push. I am the most gasoline-loving person on earth who just happens to be an engineer who likes EV tech, and here I am caught in the crossfire of a tense clash between vehement EV skeptics and America’s push towards electrification. What a time to be alive.

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John Burkhart
John Burkhart
6 months ago

Addressing the issue of the Sun and it’s ilk (on both sides), I THINK what these outlets are really doing is feeding readers desire to feel moral outrage, superiority, and and group association. It’s not really about information. One of the things I really like about Autopian is I feel like I am reading stuff written by people who really enjoy sharing the stuff they are writing about with the readers. Maybe it’s just me.

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