Growing the Grid

Nissan Looks Back at Developing Highways, Fueling Stations and Similarities to Today

Charlie Yaeger is 97 years old. He has been driving for more than 80 years. He has driven everything from a Ford Model T to Nissan Maxima to a 1916 Baker Electric.

He is a testament to how history repeats itself. And how all change takes time. Charlie remembers when roads were hard to come by and gas stations even more sparse.

“You had to pretty well memorize where the gas stations were and where you could get off the road and have a chance of getting back on after you repaired a tire,” said Yaeger.

It took decades before U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower made it a priority to finish building infrastructure before World War II. Fast forward about 60 years to the present. Here is where history happens again.

Nissan has sold more than 50-thousand pure-electric LEAFs. The sales signal a growing need for more EV charging infrastructure. This evolution has fewer hardships though. Instead of memorizing gas station locations like Yaeger did, Nissan LEAF drivers can use an app on a smart phone to find the nearest charger. And instead getting slowed down struggling to change torn tires like Charlie did, LEAF drivers in some states get a fast-pass to drive in the HOV lane.

“Change always takes time. Change also requires the right convergence of things,” said MIT Professor Alex Pentland, director, Human Dynamics Lab.

Electric cars are almost a century old to Yaeger; but, he says this latest electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, takes driving electric to a new level. “It will be another infrastructure evolution,” said Yaeger.

This is the first in a series of video reports under the heading of “Growing the Grid.” It examines what is happening today with the U.S. plug-in charging infrastructure that will lead to mass market acceptance of EV technology.

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