David and Kim Griffin.

David and Kim Griffin.

Powering up the Rock

  • Sat Mar 7th, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

David Griffin has a dream, a lofty goal of converting the island to electric car power, one used Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt at a time. And his starting point is Island eCars on Mount Baker Road, the former site of Gordy’s Garage.

“I believe in the future of electric vehicles,” David said three weeks after opening his used electric car business. “They’re good for the island, for the state and for the planet.”

Island eCars opened its remodeled doors Jan. 19 with a baker’s dozen of all-electric used cars. Since then, he’s bringing in new inventory as quickly as he can, recently taking delivery of eight all-electric vehicles that made the ferry trip from Anacortes aboard a two-trailer, double-decker auto transporter.

“I’d like to put as many people as possible behind the wheel of one of these cars. I think they might be surprised at how comfortable they are and how much fun they are to operate. I encourage anyone who’s even the least bit curious to stop by and take one for a drive,” David said.

In what may be the first used car dealership on Orcas, David intends to make the anomaly work for the community. He’s been in talks with several resorts on the island about making a few ecars available for guests and, in the process, setting up a few more charging stations on the island.

“The availability of electric car rentals could encourage more visitors to leave their vehicles on the mainland, thus decreasing the number of cars on the island during heavy tourist season while contributing to cleaner air quality,” he said.

David acknowledges that some of the resistance to ecars is the availability of charge stations — a concern he and Island eCars is addressing. Currently, electric car drivers generally have two charging options: Level 1 and Level 2, or the difference between an overnight home charge with two to five miles of driving range per hour of charging (Level 1) or a 10 to 60-mile driving range after a charge of as little as two hours (Level 2). The island has several Level 2 chargers available.

“A Level 3 charging station, on the other hand, has the capability of completely charging a car in just 20 minutes,” David explained, adding that while no such charging stations currently exist anywhere on the San Juans, there is “some discussion about the possibility of getting at least one on Orcas.”

The tall, silver-haired retired car salesman arrived on Orcas in July 2017 with his wife Kim after nearly three years at sea.

“The minute we got off the ferry it felt like home,” offered Kim, a serious horse-woman. Currently, she has two horses on the island and when she’s not tending to them, she’s helping David in the office and “getting her land legs back!”

So, why come out of retirement now?

“It was time,” the new owner of ecars explained. “I’d been retired 15 years. Kim and I spent many of those years sailing and dropping anchor in beautiful places throughout the Mediterranean. It was lovely, but I needed a purpose again.”

Since he’s opened his doors pursuing that purpose, business has been brisk.

“I’ve been selling an ecar every three days,” David offered, adding that soon rentals will also be available. And while he recognizes that it will take time to get people to switch from gas-powered to electric-powered cars, he also knows it’s not going to be easy.

“For so many of us, going electric means stepping outside of our comfort zone. But times are changing, climate change is real and the sooner we relinquish our dependence on fossil fuels, the better,” he said.

Island eCars is at 1551 Mount Baker Road. Winter hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information call 360- 375-5423 or email islandecars@gmail.com