Plug In America's third annual consumer guide to plug-in cars is now
out in print and digital media. You're sure to discover treasures in
this 64-page glossy magazine-style publication -- table of contents
and press release follow. Plus, as a teaser, we include Felix
Kramer's chapter describing his thoughts and experience on the Volt,
the Leaf, the campaign, and the industry.
(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be
viewable at http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html
-- there you can
add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)
A GREAT RESOURCE: Bigger and better this year, it's ideal for EV
advocates and for potential buyers of the cars coming to market. It's
now priced at only $5 -- so buy a few and give them away! Take them
to your local car dealer and sell them a few to give to likely
customers. Promote bulk orders! All at http://bit.ly/yTJfMo
Join Plug In America and get a free digital copy to download (20MB):
carry it around on your tablet, ebook, or ultrabook so you can whip
it out anytime....
In addition to the table of contents described in the press release
that follows, it's notable that eight major automakers are among the
21 advertisers. And we promise that the five pages of resources will
introduce you to info sources you've never seen before -- up-to-date,
including smartphone apps to download and Twitter handles to follow.)
PRESS RELEASE: PLUG IN AMERICA RELEASES THIRD ANNUAL CONSUMER?S GUIDE
TO PLUG-IN VEHICLES
Plug In America, which has led the nation's effort to speed adoption
of plug-in vehicles since 2005, has released its third annual
consumer handbook, "Charged Up & Ready to Roll: The Definitive Guide
to Plug-in Electric Vehicles." A full table of contents is below and
full access to the Guide is available for media by contacting Zan
Dubin Scott http://www.zdscommunications.com
Print copies of the Guide are available for $5 plus shipping on Plug
In America's website: http://bit.ly/yTJfMo
. Digital copies are free
with a Plug In America membership ($25 or more).
Says Plug In America president Chad Schwitters: "Plug In America's
2012 version of "Charged Up and Ready to Roll," tells you, often in
first-hand accounts from owners, how to determine fuel savings, what
cars are available, incentives, charging -- everything you need to
become another plug-in owner wondering why everybody doesn't drive
one of these."
GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS:
* 5 Welcome by Dan Davids
* 6 The Big Pushback by Chris Paine: The director of "Who Killed the
Electric Car?" and "Revenge of the Electric Car" speaks out on the
state of the industry.
* 8 Reflecting on Success by Felix Kramer: EV driver and advocate
Felix Kramer offers his thoughts on the industry and where this year
might take us. [SEE TEXT BELOW]
* 12 2012 EV Lineup: More EVs will hit the road this year. We give
you the highlights.
* 20 Cutting Through Social Media Noise by Remy Tennant: Why social
media is good for EVs and what consumers should watch out for.
* 24 Inside Garage 2.0: Luscious Garage redefines your friendly
neighborhood auto shop.
* 27 Get Your Charge: These ideas will have you headed in the right
* 29 Curing Range Anxiety by Paul Scott: Popular ways to improve your
driving so you can extend your range.
* 30 Your New Electric Bill by Tom Moloughney: Calculate the impact
of your EV on your electricity bill.
* 34 A Vet for Green Jobs by Catherine Pickavet: Back from Iraq,
Retired Marine Sergeant Jarom Vahai gets vets working to get us off oil.
* 36 From Active to Green Duty by Tim Goodrich: The true cost of
filling up with gas and what one veteran chose to do about it.
* 40 What's Up With Norway? by Leif Richard Bones Egge: Two decades
of effort pay off as an electric car outsells its gasoline competition.
* 44 E-Trikes for the Masses: by Shannon Arvizu, PhD: A new global EV
movement is dedicated to building an electric future in places like
* 54 National Plug In Day by Catherine Pickavet: Thousands descended
on sites throughout the country last fall to celebrate electric cars.
* 46 Roadster Rules by Brian Town
* 48 My LEAF's First 15K by Jim Hamilton
* 49 High-tech Money Savings by Andrew and Amy Sinclair
* 50 Canadian Conversion by Andrew Bell
* 51 A Volt That Fits by Jules Mitchell
* 52 The 200K Runner by Jeff Finn
* 55 Electric Cowboys by Harlan Flagg
* 38 Incentives
* 57 Glossary
* 59 Resources
Plug In America is leading the nation's plug-in vehicle movement. The
nonprofit organization works to accelerate the shift to plug-in
vehicles powered by clean, affordable, domestic electricity to reduce
our nation's dependence on petroleum and improve the global
environment. We drive electric. You can, too.
[END PRESS RELEASE]
CHAPTER BY FELIX KRAMER: "Reflecting on Success"
EV DRIVER AND ADVOCATE FELIX KRAMER OFFERS HIS THOUGHTS ON THE
INDUSTRY AND WHERE THIS YEAR MIGHT TAKE US.
One year ago, the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt reached dealer
showrooms. How did this near-miracle come about? How good are the
cars? And what's next for electric vehicles?
Beginning in 1996, after an entire century when cars meant oil,
automakers sold and leased several thousand EVs. Chris Paine's movie
"Who Killed the Electric Car?" tells why they never made it into
production. These cars inspired an unprecedented campaign. The
Electric Auto Association, Plug In America, the California Cars
Initiative, and other groups enlisted allies of every flavor and
helped spark the transformation of the auto industry. Paine's sequel,
"Revenge of the Electric Car," as well as the book "Plug-In Hybrids,
The Cars That Will Recharge America" by Sherry Boschert, tells that
Being a part of this type of success in a grass-roots campaign feels
great and fuels aspirations to change the world. But if EVs remain
only a niche option in a sea of gas guzzlers, we'll have won the
battle but lost the war. Until we get many tens of millions of EVs on
the roads, their impact on oil use and climate change will be minimal.
These extraordinary cars won't automatically win in the marketplace.
That's where the early owners and drivers come in. Their experiences
and stories can help shape future products and markets. They can
inspire new buyers, bolster pro-EV public policies, correct
misconceptions, and give carmakers invaluable ideas for features and
My family's choice
I'll never forget December 22, 2010. That day, Andy Frank, the
inventor of the modern plug-in hybrid (PHEV), Ron Gremban,
CalCars.org's technology lead, and I were among the first to pick up
our Chevy Volts. (Mine was the ninth off the line.)
CAPTION: Ron Gremban and Felix Kramer of CalCars.org along with Dr.
Andy Frank, the "father of the plug-in hybrid," celebrated the
arrival of their Volts and the achievement of their hopes for
mass-market plug-in hybrids at Novato Chevrolet on December 22, 2010.
They're holding the GM cable that connects the car to any household
outlet. (Photo Credit: CalCars.org)
Without the promise of this PHEV, which the company calls an extended
range electric vehicle (EREV), industry observers say GM would never
have received the federal support that helped it survive and revive.
Chevy ads tout the benefits of its "best of both worlds" car:
"Electric when you want it. Gas when you need it." That means 35+
miles EV range with full performance, then 300+ miles at 37+ MPG as a
hybrid on gasoline.
On January 24, 2011, I picked up our Nissan LEAF. This one's easier
to explain: a pure EV that gets 70+ miles at highway speeds. My
family (wife Rochelle Lefkowitz and mostly-East Coast son Josh)
became one of the first households with both a Volt and a LEAF. Which
do we prefer? Rochelle will tell you that's like asking parents which
of their children they love best.
The way we use them in the San Francisco Bay Area is telling. We both
work at home (offsetting our electric use with rooftop
photovoltaics). Because the LEAF is a bit more efficient, with a
longer EV range, it's usually first out of the driveway for local
trips. After 10 months, our LEAF has logged 5,000 miles. As a two-car
family, the much-hyped range anxiety is a non-issue. For tens of
millions of households that can easily plug in every night at home,
the EV, which was initially considered the second car, is quickly
becoming the preferred car -- the first out of the garage. Ours is
one of those households.
We drive the Volt when we go out separately or when crossing the Bay
for an 85-mile round trip if we know we won't be able to plug in
before returning. Five thousand of our 13,000 miles so far have come
from 10 round trips to Lake Tahoe. The key takeaway: Prospective EV
customers will select vehicle types and desired EV ranges based on
their driving patterns and access to plugs where they go.
The EV driving experience
The Tesla Roadster should have ended the caricature of EVs as flimsy,
underpowered golf carts, but the myth still permeates our culture.
That's why our first reactions (shared by many when we showed the
cars) started with a "duh" moment: "These are real cars!" They feel
solid, rock-steady, and powerful. Months later, we still haven't
gotten over the novelty of driving a plug-in vehicle after decades of
ICEs -- especially when we drive by a gas station.
Both cars are triumphs of automotive engineering and design. Electric
motors offer full torque instantly, so they offer the pep of a sports
car, as well as excellent handling due to the batteries' low centers
of gravity. And now we notice the noise of the tires and other cars
idling because they're blissfully quiet. Every day, our growing
freedom from the fossil fuel economy and from volatile oil prices
cheers us as we push the start button.
Can EVs get even better?
As good as these magnificent machines are already, they're still
first generation. Their school report cards would read, "needs
improvement." Nissan sold almost 20,000 LEAFs worldwide in its first
year, while Chevy delivered nearly 9,000 Volts in North America.
Second-year sales will more than double, and as production volumes
ramp up, the cars will evolve.
They've emerged from an auto industry with a mindset shaped by a
century of internal combustion engine technology. Their shortcomings
show up most in what Silicon Valley calls "usability." Way more than
ICEs, EVs are computers on wheels. They're about as far along as the
early Macintosh or Windows 3.0.
It takes time and retooling to change machines. Eventually, the Volt
will get an optimized ICE, raising its MPG as a hybrid. The LEAF will
get higher amperage (faster) 240V charging and, we hope, backseat
headrests that don't block the rear-view mirror. We expect other
Software can be updated more easily. Owners and drivers have been
giving feedback directly to carmakers and publicly at
mynissanleaf.com, gm-volt.com, plugincars.com, and dozens of other
forums. It's an unfortunate measure of their misplaced
self-confidence that after 11 months, neither GM nor Nissan had
delivered a software upgrade to address obvious shortcomings. My top
examples: Both vehicles lack numerical state-of-charge information;
Chevy dropped the ball with frustrating links between the
radio/volume/display controls; and the LEAF failed to include an
automatic reset to show miles driven since the last full charge.
It's an interactive world. Will automakers come to appreciate the
contributions of their drivers as sources of information and as
promoters of their vehicles? For EVs to reach high market-penetration
levels, the transformation now under way in the design, engineering,
and production departments calls for a parallel evolution in consumer
research, marketing and corporate planning. Companies that devote
more attention and resources to their users' experiences will get a
great return on that investment.
What could undermine success?
Every EV's higher first costs are now partly offset by a federal tax
credit of $2,500-$7,500 (depending on battery capacity). This applies
to the first 200,000 EVs built by each manufacturer, so credits will
be available for years. This is no gift: It eases the burden of the
higher cost of a vehicle that provides broad social benefits, which
could help boost volume, thus decreasing prices. Plug-in advocates
and drivers may be called on to defend federal (and other state)
incentives against efforts to defund them.
Public confusion may begin to dissipate now that GM and Nissan, which
initially criticized each others' cars, have realized that the real
competition of the LEAF and Volt is the ICE. Now GM is developing EVs
and Nissan will produce a plug-in hybrid EV. And though EVs have
received top safety ratings, publicity about any accidents could
threaten their image as reliable.
CAPTION: Joshua Kramer, Felix Kramer, and Rochelle Lefkowitz in front
of their Redwood City, CA, home with their Chevy Volt and Nissan
LEAF. Their personal fleet also includes a folding bicycle and an
adult tricycle. (Photo Credit: CalCars.org)
Will your next car plug in?
This year will see more than a dozen new EVs in production, so you
can shop now. Plan ahead; waiting lists may remain long. Start with a
visit to a showroom and take one for a test drive. Consider
connecting with one of the lucky thousands already driving one: Their
enthusiasm is based on real-life experience. Find them through an EV
dealer or an Electric Auto Association chapter. Try an EV from a
car-rental company, car-sharing service, or peer- to-peer car-rental
service. (GetAround.com has numerous plug-in cars available, for example.)
A few SUVs are coming, but you may have to wait longer for a larger
EV. Vans and trucks are still a ways off; one-off conversions are
expensive, and the companies planning to retrofit pick-ups to EVs
will first cater to fleets, not individual consumers. Several
automakers are delaying bringing any four-wheel drive EVs to the U.S.
for years, thereby forgoing a receptive market.
Don't wait on the sidelines
If you jump in now, the current crop of vehicles is already so good,
you won't regret your purchase. If you can afford it, buy sooner with
the thought that you might trade up. Low-maintenance EVs will have
high resale values, little affected by the much lower cost eight or
more years from now if it's necessary to replace batteries. Tempted
to wait? There's no better time than now to take the plunge. Like
computers and cameras, each EV generation will improve. Don't miss
out on years of EV benefits.
Felix Kramer, a San Francisco Bay Area cleantech entrepreneur and
advocate, founded The California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org) in 2002.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --