News Article

Plug-in NC Ambassador Spotlight: Carmalee Scarpitti

May 23, 2018
By Lindsay Brecheisen

Have you heard about how awesome our Plug-in NC ambassadors are? With their knowledge and enthusiasm, they are Plug-in NC’s go-to advocates for electric vehicles (EVs). This year, we will be highlighting several of our ambassadors to learn more about them and share their stories. First up is Carmalee Scarpitti!

Carmalee (middle) with her husband (right) and son (left) at Plug-in NC’s North Hills electric vehicle event in 2012.

Carmalee grew up in rural Ohio. As an environmentalist and active member in her high school’s ecology club, she can tell you exactly what she was doing on April 22, 1970, the initial celebration of Earth Day.

On her first day at Ohio State University, she met her future husband, Rick. They married in 1981 and moved to North Carolina four years later. Carmalee and Rick currently reside in Willow Spring with their son, Dominic, and eclectic parrot, Howard. Since 2000, they have hosted six high school exchange students from Mexico, China, Germany, Poland, South Korea and Indonesia.

Unfortunately, a bad wreck with a drunk driver in 2003 left Carmalee permanently on crutches. Through therapeutic horseback riding, she was able to learn to walk again, and she now owns two horses that she rides several times a week. Carmalee recently retired after 31 years working with the City of Raleigh. Given her life-changing experience with therapeutic horseback riding, she is now a volunteer at Horses for Hope, where she originally began to ride, and leads the 4-H club there. She also enjoys playing flute with her church’s worship team, reading and learning about technology and tech toys.

How long have you been a Plug-in NC ambassador and how did you find us?
We were part of the Advanced Energy EV usage study back in 2012 and have been ambassadors since then. I’ve attended several events as an ambassador. I can recall ones at Fayetteville Street, North Hills, Bond Park in Cary, Biogen in RTP, the McDonald’s in Cary, and the Triangle J Council of Governments.

How long have you been driving electric and what led you to that decision?
We got our first Leaf at the end of 2011 and have been driving electric ever since. I’ve always been interested in the environment and our role in protecting it. If driving a cool, cutting-edge vehicle helps reduce my carbon footprint, then what’s not to like?

How did you make the decision to buy your Leaf, and what stood out to you?
In 2011, my choice was between a Leaf and a Tesla, and I couldn’t afford the Tesla. Before we bought our Leaf, I was really taken by Nissan’s commercial with the polar bear, and there’s actually a stuffed polar bear in the back window of my Leaf. In 2017, a freak hail storm destroyed our first Leaf. We looked at all the options and decided that the Leaf still gave us the best bang for our buck, so we got another one.

What is your favorite thing about driving electric?
How quiet it is!

What kind of trips have you taken in your EV?
We didn’t buy an EV to make road trips in, but I made a 95-mile round trip in the 2012 Leaf on a single charge when it was new. A couple of years later, I made an overnight 150-mile round trip. We drove the new 2016 Leaf home to Willow Spring from Washington, D.C., and were able to hit two DC Fast Chargers in the first 75 miles. However, there was a stretch of 100 miles where one wasn’t available. We stopped at a Level 2 charger that was a half-hour away from the home of some friends and met them for dinner. The couple of hours of charging gave us the range to make it to the next DC Fast Charger. That was fine because we were socializing, but it would have been a pain if we’d had to just sit in the car and wait.

How and where do you charge?
I am an opportunistic charger, so it’s not unusual to see me using a public charging station. The availability of public charging influences my decisions on where to shop, eat and do business. When my car is connected to a public charger, people often ask about driving electric, and it is great being able to talk to them and tell them how much I love my EV. That being said, we still do most of our charging at home.

How much would you estimate you are saving on gas?
When I got my first Leaf, I was driving an SUV and spending $300 per month on gas. I’ve learned to drive very efficiently, and the Leaf costs about $40 per month to charge for the 1,000 to 1,200 miles we put on it.

How do you spread the word about EVs?
I often talk to people who see me charging. Additionally, I was a transit planner for the City of Raleigh. I’ve been advocating for electric buses for five years. They would be perfect on the R-Line.

Have you converted anyone else to driving electric?
At least one family friend has purchased an EV due to our experience. Before we bought our first Leaf, our son discouraged us from getting it, but now he loves to drive it.

Has anything surprised you about driving electric?
Yes – how fascinated yet fearful other people are of EVs. The media has hyped range anxiety up so much that ICE drivers really believe that EV drivers actually worry about it.

What are some challenges that come along with driving electric?
Finding an open EV charging station. I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to be able to charge and had to drive around looking for an open station downtown.

What’s one thing you think people should know about driving electric?
Range anxiety is something made up by the media. I no more worry about running out of electricity than I do running out of gas.

Thank you to Carmalee for sharing a bit about herself and her experience driving electric! Look out for future Plug-in NC ambassador highlights in the months ahead.