Plug-in electric vehicle supporter,
Excitement about the coming crop of new electric vehicles is building rapidly across our nation. As we get closer to actual deliveries, it's getting difficult at Plug In America just keeping track of all the conferences, meetings and events that we learn about or are a part of. Over the span of just a few weeks this fall, I and my fellow board members will have represented our organization in venues from Hawaii to Rhode Island, from California to Washington state.
At a recent seminar in Honolulu, someone in the audience asked about EV performance in the snow (of all things). Of course, I was able to share firsthand experience with the "snow mode" switch in my RAV4 EV in heavy Seattle snow. Admittedly, I have an edge on the islanders, because they don't get much snow, and they certainly don't have experience driving an EV in the white stuff.
I share this vignette, just to show that no matter where the need for knowledge about EVs arises, those of us at Plug in America are equipped to advocate, educate, and facilitate the coming shift in transportation. We're happy to help where we can. We're also ready to throw another great party, as announced below. I am pleased to send you this month a diverse set of newsletter items for your enjoyment.
Save the Date: The Party of the Year
With the world's first mass market EV set to debut in just a few months, Plug In America's next big bash will be historic. Indeed, plans call for the appearance of a Nissan Leaf and a GM Chevy Volt at our biannual Southern California fundraiser, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010. So save that date! Details will be emailed soon.
This year's illustrious event, From Protests to Plug-Ins: Party for Plug In America's Five Year Anniversary! will once again take place at the bluff top, solar-powered Marrakesh House, the Culver City home owned by Chris Paine of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" As many will recall, Plug In America held its 2008 gala at this stunning venue-before its sweeping Moroccan-style remodel was even complete.
We expect our party to sell out swiftly and to draw attention to the environmental, national security and economic benefits of EVs. Media will be invited!
Breathtaking views, award-winning wines, fresh and local organic cuisine, and a lively auction are among the party's highlights, so don't be left without a ticket. Your support will help Plug In America continue to spread the EV gospel to consumers and policymakers. Over the past two years, our supporter base has grown four-fold and we are planning to launch many new initiatives in 2011. So come be part of the fun.
Catching the Plug-in Wave in Paradise
If you would guess that an island-driving environment is ideal for electric vehicles, you'd be correct. High gas prices, shorter driving distances, and a moderate climate combine to make Hawaii, for instance, an excellent location for EVs. Over the past month or so, automakers Coda, Nissan and Wheego all announced plans to begin delivering EVs to the Aloha State before the end of 2010, and Plug In America was there to hear the news and participate in a series of EV readiness workshops.
Nissan's announcement was actually an expansion of its earlier commitment to market the all-electric Leaf in Hawaii. The plan includes working with the state to educate the public about the advantages of electric drive. With more than 300 Leafs on order, Hawaii is the highest per-capita sales penetration seen so far by Nissan. Wheego expects to have its highway-capable LiFe on the road in October, with Coda saying they'll bring their EV to Hawaii showrooms in 2011.
Plug In America president and part-time Hawaii resident Dan Davids has been singing the praises of EVs in Hawaii for several years. Dan has shown his RAV4 EV at numerous public events there.
"With its 100-mile range, my EV is perfect for Oahu," Dan says, "and running the air conditioning hardly impacts range at all." Dan reports that he rarely goes anywhere without people inquiring about his electric car. "The people of Hawaii ask all the right questions. They're definitely ready and willing to give EVs a try."
Nissan brought a pre-production Leaf to Honolulu earlier this month for the Asia-Pacific Energy Conference and Dan got to put the car through its paces on his home turf accompanied by design engineer Paul Hawson. Dan says the car is "extremely quiet" on the inside, and full of all the pep one could want.
Paul didn't mind hearing Dan call the Leaf's suspension well-engineered, sharing that he formerly worked on Nissan's sports car programs and put extra emphasis on the Leaf's handling characteristics.
Before returning the car to Nissan, Dan just had to check out the waves at a favorite surfing spot.
Our Public Service Announcements: An Update
Plug In America's Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are now in the editing process. We look forward to launching them this fall and thank every one of you who has supported this exciting project. Stay tuned for another update!
Focus Group Insights: An Electrified Fiat
What's it like to participate in an EV focus group? Below, Plug In America's Alexandra Paul and Linda Nicholes give their impressions after recently taking part in an AutoPacific focus group about the planned Fiat-Chrysler EV. It's followed by AutoPacific president George Peterson's rave about the group's feedback.
Plans call for the Fiat 500 EV to arrive in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Alexandra Paul, a Plug In America founding board member:
When I called AutoPacific to say I would like to be included in their focus group for an unidentified EV company from Michigan, I took the option of a home visit, which resulted in three hours with an interviewer, a cameraperson and 2 others.
First, I sat down for a 45-minute interview in my Los Angeles living room, where I answered a lot of questions about my lifestyle ("describe a typical day," "do you have any hobbies?") and some whys and hows of my EV experience. Next came a tour of my home, with the cameraman traipsing behind as I chattered on about aspects that were important to me, like the 1994 South African ballot signed by Nelson Mandela on my wall (my favorite possession).
Then we went down to the garage where they asked me to talk about my Toyota RAV EV to the camera, demonstrate how it charges, and drive 50 meters, also for the cameraman to film. Another interview ensued: what I like about the car, what changes I would make, my charging and driving habits, etc.
All that footage will be edited, then scrutinized by researchers in Detroit, to glean what makes an EV driver tick. They wouldn't tell me what company this was for, because they knew how close knit a community we are and they didn't want me to spill the beans to others who were scheduled for interviews a few days later.
Linda Nicholes, board member, Plug In America:
I spent two hours in the AutoPacific Focus Group on August 21 in Tustin, Calif. Eight experienced EV drivers gathered around a conference table and told the mysterious strangers behind the expansive one-way mirror what features just might make an electric car cool to own or lease and convenient to drive.
The group's combined 50-year EV driving experience hopefully enlightened Chrysler-Fiat in unexpected ways. The ever-respectful facilitator asked probing questions and listened carefully to our opinions for an hour or so before pushing a wall-mounted button that opened a huge roll-up door to reveal a small black Fiat 500 EV.
Each of us then took turns sitting in the resplendent little car and commenting on various dashboard instrument gauges and smart phone communication features. We also had the chance to plug the car in and discuss the car's charging apparatus. The focus group afforded a wonderful opportunity to share the practical wisdom acquired over the group's many collective years of driving electric. As Plug In America member Greg Brewsaugh said: "It's refreshing to be given a voice in our corporate culture."
And here's a note from AutoPacific President George C. Peterson:
Thanks very much for participating in the discussion groups at AutoPacific this past weekend. We have never seen such a group of passionate advocates for a product in over 25 years of conducting automotive research all over the world. Your insights are invaluable in helping the industry provide electric vehicles in the future that meet or exceed your expectations. Your knowledge of what is possible and what can be possible was eye-opening to those of us at AutoPacific and for our clients as well. You are a very special group of people - passionate, knowledgeable, articulate and fun to talk with.
Again, thanks for your help. I hope we can work together again in the near future.
Free Admission to San Francisco Bay Area Eco-Car Event
Plug In America supporters will receive free admission to the San Francisco Bay Area's first consumer eco-car event, Green Drive Expo. This exciting, hands-on event is taking place on Saturday, Oct. 9 in the city of Richmond's marina district at the waterfront Craneway Pavilion, a renovated 1931 Ford Motor Company assembly plant.
Activities will include test drives of such new vehicles as the Plug-in Prius and speakers including long-time Plug In America member, Earl Cox. Earl will drive his Tesla Roadster to the expo from LA and share details about juicing up along Highway 101 at solar-powered chargers. Plug In America co-founder Marc Geller will moderate a panel titled "Real-Life Experiences of EV Drivers." Other panels will explore green-car conversions, consumer incentives, and major automakers' future visions. Keynote speaker Lisa Margonelli, author of "Oil on the Brain," will have a dialogue with Chelsea Sexton, whom we all know from "Who Killed the Electric Car?"
A great variety of green vehicles of all fuel-sorts will be on display during the day-long event, and an owners showcase will allow for plenty of shoptalk.
Tickets to Green Drive Expo are $10 for adults, but as a Plug in America supporter, you will receive free admission. Simply visit www.GreenDriveExpo.com and print your free pass using this coupon code: GDEPIA.
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