With just five shopping days left until December 25, we’re guessing — if you’re celebrating Christmas in one way or another — that you’ve already done a fair bit of shopping for those near and dear to you, figured out what you’re going to eat on the big day, and perhaps even decorated your house from top to bottom in festive adornments.
But if like us, you’re still a little bit disorganized, there’s probably someone, somewhere you haven’t purchased a gift for yet. If you’re reading this site, there’s a good possibility that person is an EV owner. So, in order to help the season go smoothly, regardless of what you’ll be actually celebrating on the day, here are some last-minute gift ideas that any EV owner will love.
While some will be easy to buy right up until Christmas eve, some will require you to act fast — especially if you need it shipping any large distance. Oh, and we’ve also marked gifts that are specific to particular makes and models of cars, just to help avoid those embarrassing “it won’t work” moments!
ODBII bluetooth dongle and Leaf Spy App (Nissan LEAF Only)
As any Nissan LEAF owner will tell you, the LEAF’s twelve-segment on-board state of charge indicator — especially in pre-2013 models which lacked the ability to display state of charge as a percentage — isn’t all that useful. Worse still, the car’s ‘miles till empty’ gauge, affectionately known as the ‘guessometer’ by most LEAF drivers, is so inaccurate it can either lull a driver into a false sense of security or give them the worst case of range anxiety imaginable.
Here’s where LEAF Spy comes in, a great android OS app developed and designed by LEAF driver Jim Pollock.
Using an off-the shelf Bluetooth ODBII dongle (pretty much any one will work provided it uses the ELM327 chipset) plugged into a LEAF’s on-board ODBII diagnostics port, you can not only see the real state of charge of the car’s battery pack, but figure out just how many miles you have left remaining, how much power is left in the battery pack, and even monitor the battery pack’s state of health.
You’ll need to make sure the person you’re buying this for has an Android device — although we’re running a copy of this on a ‘rooted’ Amazon Kindle Fire HD — in order to use the app however: at the current time there’s now iPhone option for Apple fans.
Why we like it: It’s well-built, crammed full of information, and it’s helped us avoid a few low-battery and turtle modes! It’s also available for free (Leaf Spy Lite), standard paid (Leaf Spy) and advanced paid (Leaf Spy Pro) versions, with Leaf Spy Pro offering the highest functionality for really nerdy LEAF owners…
A decent cable bag
This one is more applicable to European EV owners than U.S. ones, since EV charging stations in Europe (except the powerful quick charger variety) don’t come with cables attached, meaning you have to carry your own cables with you.
Cable bags — normally available from camping outlet or RV-supplies stores — are a great way of keeping the rear of your EV clean and tidy, while still letting you carry the cables you need to charge when you’re out and about.
They’re ideal too if your EV gift recipient happens to be an adventurous type who likes to go off the beaten track with a host of charging adaptors and portable charging stations every time they make a long-distance trip.
Why we like it: Look, it doesn’t take too many times of getting your recently-valeted car muddy with a muddy charge cable for you to want to own one. We use them on a regular basis not only to keep the inside of our own cars clean, but also to keep cables organised and out of sight.
The EMW JuiceBox (U.S. Buyers) Zero Carbon World DIY Charging Station (Europe)
It’s available as a pre-made unit, or a do-it-yourself kit, but the 15 kilowatt EMW JuiceBox is one of the cheapest and most versatile electric car charging stations on the market today. Plus, you can put it in a box that looks like a giant AA battery.
Admittedly, the person you’re buying it for will need to be a little bit of a geek — and feel happy around high-voltage components — but an email telling them they’ve got one of these on the way should make their Christmas extra-special.
And unlike off-the-shelf charging stations, this one is completely open source, making it possible to program the charging station to do just what you want it to do when you want it to do it.
If you’re in Europe, but feel your EV recipient is good with electronics, there’s always the build-it-yourself DIY charging station kits from Zero Carbon World.
Why we like it: It’s a great way of getting a reliable charging station without shelling out thousands of dollars on an expensive piece of kit from a third-party manufacturer. Yes, you’ll need to have some basic electronics DIY skills to build your own JuiceBox from scratch, but it is possible to buy a fully-assembled one too. NOTE: This gift is unlikely to be something you can get in time for the big day, so a little bit of creative gift-giving might be in order!
Maybe it’s us, but we love it when people give us scale models of our electric cars to put on our desks at work. Then again, we are automotive journalists.
All jokes aside however, buying your favourite EV owner a scale model of their EV, complete with matching paint, is bound to make them chuckle on Christmas day. Plus they make great stocking fillers.
Over the years, we’ve seen scale models of everything from a Tesla Roadster to a Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt and even Mitsubishi i-Miev in toyshops and online stores. And as we told you yesterday, there are even remote-controlled replicas of certain plug-in cars out there right now that you can buy.
Why we like it: At the end of the day, pretty much every electric car owner we know wants to be a big kid. And there’s never a better time to let them be one than Christmas. Besides with some of the weather much of the U.S. and Europe gets at Christmas, we’re thinking they’d prefer to be inside playing with a toy than risking their big car in a snow storm. Don’t you agree?
Gran Turismo 6
Recently released in time for the holiday season, Gran Turismo 6 is one of the gaming industry’s definitive games for motorsport simulation. Available for PlayStation 3, it offers realistic gameplay, a great selection of tracks and of course, lots of cars.
Like previous version of the game, there are a number of plug-in cars represented in the game, including the Nissan LEAF and of course, the iconic Tesla Model S. Plus, as we told you a few weeks back, a very exciting looking Tesla Vision Gran Turismo Concept car.
Of course, if you’re buying this gift for that special EV owner, you’ll probably need to check they own a Playstation 3 before buying it. If they have, you’ll even be able to deliver a digital version for the game to their online account (if they have one) so you won’t have to worry about delivery times.
Why we like it: We’re a fan of any racing game which lets you combine adrenaline-filled fun without burning a drop of gasoline. Plus there are some really nifty EVs in it too!
A bigger wallet
No, we’re not kidding. At some point in the (not so) distant future, electric car drivers will be able to access any charging station in any country, simply by using their credit card — or perhaps even just for free.
For now, however, there are so many different competing charging station providers in the world that any EV owner who regularly charges away from home ends up having a wallet or purse full of different RFID ‘smart’ cards.
(At the last count, the Transport Evolved team had over 25 different cards!)
Carrying this many cards in your normal wallet is no fun at all, so why not buy your favourite EV lover a dedicated wallet just for RFID smart cards? Or perhaps just a bigger wallet?
Why we like it: If you live in a family with more than one EV — or perhaps more than one driver of that EV, keeping all of the necessary charging network cards in the car in an organised place is essential. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a charging point to discover that the card you need is sitting at home in your other bag!
Give us your ideas!
We’ve only given you a few ideas here today — but we know you’re a resourceful bunch. Leave your own EV gift ideas in the Comments below, or if you’re someone who wants a particular gift, why not tell us about it and why you’d like it?
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