Share the road

Jeb Bateman and his family ditched the minivan in favor of eco-friendly options

Bateman and an employee at Allied Washoe Petroleum fill up Tom Miller’s Volkswagen with biodiesel.

Bateman and an employee at Allied Washoe Petroleum fill up Tom Miller’s Volkswagen with biodiesel.

Photo By ashley hennefer

Check out RelayRides at

It’s bitterly cold out while Jeb Bateman fills his friend Tom Miller’s 2004 Volkswagen Jetta with biodiesel at Allied Washoe Petroleum. Because of the frigid temperatures, his only option is to use B20 biodiesel, which consists of 80 percent petrodiesel and 20 percent biodiesel.

“B100 [100 percent biodiesel] turns to jelly in the cold,” he says.

As far as he knows, Allied Washoe Petroleum is the only place in Reno that offers biodiesel. A quick search on, which helps people find local biodiesel stations, reveals four options based on Reno’s zipcodes: Allied Washoe, Western Energetix in Sparks, Bentley Biofuels in Minden, and Simple Fuels Biodiesel in Chilcoot, Calif.

No matter. The standard VW, with around 97,000 miles on it, is the vehicle of the day for Bateman, an officer of the Electric Auto Association of Northern Nevada (EANN), who’s “carsitting” for Miller. Bateman and his wife, Karinn, use several modes of transportation—an electric car, a bioethanol car and electric bikes—to transport their three children around town and to travel to and from work. The Batemans own two cars—a red, all-electric Nissan LEAF called the “Spaceship,” which they got in April 2012, and a 2001 Dodge Durango dubbed the “Moonshine Guzzler.” The Durango, a four-wheel drive, runs on regular gas but can also take E85 bioethanol.

Both cars, along with the VW, are listed on RelayRides, a service in which car owners can list their vehicles for rent at cheaper rates than car rental companies. Bateman says the service was a great option for his family, which rarely uses the Durango for day-to-day tasks.

Despite his role as co-chair of the EANN, Bateman says it took him a while to embrace the available models of electric vehicles. Feeling disappointed after trying other EVs, the LEAF turned out to be a fun surprise—and happened to seat five, just big enough for his family. But while the Batemans get a lot of use out of their LEAF, and have put 10,000 miles on it so far, they often prefer their Optibike electric bicycles. The bikes have enough power to tow small trailers, and can be outfitted with studs to be winter-friendly. Bateman notes that, as avid cyclists, he and his wife enjoy the ride even when the weather is cold.

“My wife loves it because she gets to work feeling like she’s been outside, and is ready to start the day,” he says. “It’s great for people who like the outdoors. It’s like an adventure.”

Bateman acknowledges that relying on alternative vehicles in a city like Reno requires some sacrifice, but it’s not an impossible task. He says it took the family a while to figure out what worked best for them.

“It is a little bit inconvenient to give up the four-wheel drive,” he says. “But another couple can use it for skiing, and we don’t need it that bad.”

Bateman hopes to see more vehicle-sharing services, such as renting a car or bike for a couple hours at a time.

“Most people don’t use their car for 20 hours of the day,” he says. “I just want people to see that there are practical options for getting around in all weather.”