Gary Bulmer, a retired Captain of the NOAA Commissioned Corps, began considering renewable fuels in 1974, during the first gasoline shortage. From that point, he purchased his first hybrid vehicle in 2003. 

Q: What event in your past might have turned out differently if you had been driving an EV? 

A: I wouldn’t have accidentally put gasoline in my diesel Jeep!  What a bonehead!

Q: What was the year you started noticing EVs? 

A: I read a book about EV conversions in 2003 and re-read it several times.  I was a charter member of the Knoxville Electric Vehicle Association (KEVA) when Leslie Grossman started a chapter in 2009.  I joined hoping to find someone to help me do an EV conversion.  I did find someone to help me in 2010.  I put the conversion on the road in 2011.  It was a kit car that I gutted and rebuilt, with the help of David Gill at Gill Welding.

Q: What kind of EV do you drive? 

A: My first EV was a kit car conversion, a 1989 Blakely Bernardi.  I drove it from 2011 until 2018.  I now drive a 2018 Nissan Leaf.  It is light metallic green, and it has steering assist and adaptive cruise control.

Gary in his Bernardi EV leaving the 2011 Plug in Day event
next to Market Square, Knoxville, TN 

Q: Does your car have a nickname?

A: No, I’m boring I guess.  A friend called my Bernardi “Eva” for obvious reasons, but I never really adopted it.

Q: Did you have a unique experience with your EV that you can share? 

A: I took about 18 months to do my conversion (about 2 months of full-time work), and it gave me time to really think things through.  I’m very proud of the fact that it ran well on the first test drive and kept on running well for the seven years I operated it. 

Q: Why did you buy this particular EV?

  • I needed the federal tax credit and Tesla’s credits had already begun to phase out. 
  • It was reasonably priced. 
  • I wanted an OEM EV because it would be more practical than my Bernardi roadster. 

Q: Most EVs have one unique character. What is your favorite EV character?  

A: My favorite characteristic is silent power combined with instant max torque.  I know that’s actually 2 answers, but they go so well together.

Gary’s 2018 Nissan Leaf 

Q: Would you consider leasing an EV versus buying one? 

A: I’ve thought about it.  I’d rather own.  However, I must say it is a great way to try them out without making a long term commitment. 

Q: Does your partner love this EV as much as you do? 

A: My wife likes my Nissan Leaf better than her Toyota Prius.  I’m hoping to give her the Leaf and get something with better road trip capability.

Q: What is the most frequent, or outrageous comment you’ve been asked about owning an EV?  

A: Most frequent:  how far will it go?  Most outrageous:  why don’t you put generators on the wheels so you can get free energy?

Q: If the sky was the limit and you could design an EV, what would be your top five must-have features? 

A: I would have modest features, high reliability, low maintenance, and strive for a low price.  I also like the idea of making reproductions of classics with modern engineering and electromagnetic drive.

Q: Would you buy another EV? If so, which one? 

A: I would not go back to ICE unless I was under duress.  I’m very interested in the Tesla Models 3 and Y, but I’m also interested in the VW ID Buzz

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