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What If Or What For?

April 10, 2013

Curiosity is not enough. Sometimes, you have to ask the right question.

The recent kerfuffle concerning the use of electric vehicles for long-range transportation between an EV manufacturer and a major newspaper has me thinking again about an issue we faced when my family and I were deciding whether or not to purchase an electric vehicle.

The fail-safe question to ask was, What If? What if we wanted to take it on a long-distance trip? What if we wanted to transport bulky materials, or more than three passengers (four including myself)? What if we needed to travel more miles than an EV could travel during the day? What if…whatever arose, it could handle…As if.

The question we asked and forced ourselves to answer was, What For? What did we want to use the vehicle for? And, What were we willing to pay for this car? Once we answered these, we could consider the What Ifs? But, this was not necessarily to eliminate or override what we were going to use the vehicle for. Another question – why? Because we are subjective. We can always convince ourselves of something. We can posit numerous reasons why we don’t want to do something. And, we can propose multiple rationalizations for why we should do what we want to do. Neither situation is optimal.

So, we needed a car for which the range of a plug-in electric vehicle was adequate. It could be economical. If I needed to transport nouns to other nouns (people, things -> places), I would use our other vehicle. Same with long-distance trips. You see, we were following the approach that FedEx Express uses for acquiring vehicles – choosing the right vehicle for the right application or usage. In this particular case, an EV would work – it would fulfill the duty cycle we planned for it. It fulfilled our desire to minimize our environmental impact. It fulfilled our efforts to be more economical in our daily commute. And, it acknowledged that no specific vehicle type would ideally satisfy every requirement we might encounter. Because of this, we were able to find our answer by asking the right question.

Here’s more on FedEx’s vehicle approach (moving backwards in time):

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    MayLyn says:

    I agree to the question on this post, and I’m asking that same question, so thank you for posting this!

    jcuellar says:

    It’s great that FedEx is walking the walking and making strides on important sustainability issues. Where would one be able to find information the type of EVs in use, the cities they are in, their average range, and battery life? I would love to incorporate FedEx’s progress into a report on EVs. Thanks.

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