Friday, September 6, 2013

Acquiring the Car of the Year

"Uh, this is Arnold, I’m at the airport. I can’t seem to find you. Please call me as soon as you get this.”

The writer he hired was nowhere in sight. The plane ticket to Portland, Oregon that Arnold purchased for the fellow, whom he met only once in his life, was burning a hole in his pocket–and likely his bank account. I should have had him buy his own ticket, he thought.

Arnie, as he is casually known by friends, is an investment guy with a passion for cars. Two weeks earlier he conducted a series of interviews in search of someone to document his latest adventure: driving an electric car cross-country and becoming one of the first to blaze an emission-free trail from the Pacific to the Atlantic. With no gasoline and limited places to charge the machine, his plan was risky. Running out of battery power and being stranded on the side of the road was a real possibility. Who could be crazy enough to join him?

Reggie arrived at the airport five-and-a-half hours before his flight. The owner of the cafe he worked offered him a lift. Excited to embark on the journey and expand his freelance writing resume, he shaved chapters from the cowgirl novel he was reading, while trying to ignore the rambunctious children swarming the seats around him. Little did he know, the cell phone in his pocket had no service.

“There you are!” Arnie’s sigh nearly blew the jacket from Reggie’s shoulders. “Thank God, I was getting a little worried there. Come meet my wife. She’s interested in meeting you.” They exchanged pleasantries, shot a photograph, hugged and were on their way.

Their flight to Portland laid over in Chicago. As they sat in the plane waiting for passengers to arrive from a connecting flight, Arnie revealed that this is not his first adventure to acquire a new car.

“I flew to Sweden with my wife in 2006 to buy a Volvo,” Arnie said in a voice that reminded Reggie of the late actor Jimmy Stewart. “We saved about $1500.” He used the savings to drive around the Scandinavian Peninsula on his new wheels before having the vehicle shipped to the States. But Arnie won’t have to wait for his latest purchase to arrive six weeks later on a ship.  His plan was to do the shipping himself.

Arnie is no stranger with hybrid vehicles—cars that run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. He purchased a Chevy Volt and a Nissan Leaf. His new purchase trumped them both in the eyes of Motor Trend Magazine, who named the Tesla Model S the 2013 Car of the Year.

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