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Apr 2, 2012

Voicing Support for Electric Vehicles Despite Struggles and Criticism


Do you support electric cars? If you do, these could be discouraging times. Sales have slowed in early 2012, critics are legion, and startup businesses are scuffling for traction. The struggles are real, and any added bump prompts headlines that build on a well-documented flawed narrative.

So RMI today is kicking off a solution-oriented forum. We know the problems (some of them exaggerated) that others are writing and talking about a lot. As gas prices spike again—as they are certain to do periodically as long as we rely on oil for transportation—how can we offer encouragement and perspective amid these setbacks?

At RMI, we believe a transition to a clean energy future is critical. But we don’t expect that change to be easy or quick, or the path to a brighter future to be straight. And we believe that electric vehicles hold the single greatest promise to address America’s dependence on oil, a challenge identified by every president since Richard Nixon, but one that remains unsolved and dangerous.

Oil use endangers our country’s economy, health, security, and natural environment. This country uses 13 million barrels of oil a day on transportation at a direct cost of $2 billion. Our oil dependence also incurs hidden costs totaling roughly $1.5 trillion a year, or 12 percent of GDP—more than our annual budget deficit—plus untold costs to human health and the environment.

None of the headlines or setbacks involving electric vehicles changes these facts, dismisses the need to change, or disproves the potential of EVs to address these risks.

Reinventing Fire, Rocky Mountain Institute’s blueprint for a business-led transition from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewable energy by 2050, shows how electric vehicles made from ultralight, ultrastrong materials can provide radically improved fuel efficiency without compromising performance and safety. It shows their potential to store energy and feed it back to the electric grid to help equalize power generation from renewable sources, further moving us away from fossil fuels toward a cleaner environment.

Progress is being made. We are heartened by California’s new Advanced Clean Car rules, which will help accelerate adoption of EVs and plug-in hybrids. We are encouraged that major automakers continue to add electric offerings to their lineups. We are encouraged by the military’s commitment on alternative fuels and reduced energy use, and by the U.S. Department of Energy’s move last month to invest $14 million in accelerating adoption of lightweight automotive materials.

We believe EVs are too good an idea to not catch on. Sticker prices remain high, but research shows that 40 percent of Americans are extremely or very interested in buying an EV. Early adopters are extremely satisfied.

We believe manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and our leaders will find solutions, improve battery range, and bring down costs. We think EVs are a key part of the way to build a cleaner, safer world as they help reignite America’s innovation machine, reinvigorate our economy, help transform our aging electricity system, and enable us to rethink and rebuild our communities.

How about you?

Join our discussion in comments below, on our Facebook timeline, or on Twitter using the hashtag #EVsupport


Showing 1-10 of 22 comments

April 2, 2012

I have had a Chevy Volt for 2+ months and I Love it. My wife was skeptical but has been easily convinced by the car itself. We both love it. I think that one of the biggest challenges is getting the general public to actually see what an EV can do. A simple test ride/ drive can make a huge impression. Bringing the entry level price down with improved battery technologies to compete with gas cars is going to be a challenge. Charging infrastrucutre and relationships with power companies presents challenges and opportunities.
I can't wait for Tesla's Model S!

April 2, 2012

My company needs funding for city based EV. EcoV is perfect for city/unban area fleets and then later we enter the private use market. We have production prototype and for $5M in capital we could be in production in 9 months. EcoV represents a new and emerging market for affordable ($11,999), safe, versatile & will save 70 percent in operating costs over small ga car. EcoV does not meet all needs, but where missions are short and at lower speeds, EcoV is a perfect solution. INTERESTED in learning more?
PS EcoV is designed, sourced,and built in USA with over 200 years of ex-auto OEM experience in our team. Www.EcoVElectric.com

April 2, 2012

I have now owned my Nissan LEAF for a little over two months. I really like the car and feel that Nissan did an excellent job in designing it. I bought the LEAF for in-town use, and it fulfills that need for me extremely well. I am lucky that I am retired and live in a relatively warm climate, which means that I have neither a long commute nor cold winter days to deal with. Because the LEAF’s range is limited (60 to 75 miles per charge), and the car further loses range in cold weather, either of those conditions could make the LEAF less desirable. For me, it is normally sufficient to charge the car to 80% charge only every other day. That level of charging appears to raise my electric bill about $15 per month. It’s also a huge plus that electricity prices are quite stable as compared to gasoline prices, which can vary greatly from day to day.

In summary, I hardily recommend the LEAF, provided it meets your specific in-town driving needs. So far, I have driven the LEAF over 2,000 miles with a fuel cost of about $30, and I have greatly reduced my carbon footprint.

One of the most enjoyable things about owning the car is when someone stops me in a parking lot and asks “how do you like you LEAF?”

April 3, 2012

Tried a few electric vehicles at a show a few months ago - Tesla sports car was, of course, very impressive. The Nissan Leaf also - actually was really impressed with it, a full-featured car and great to drive. Very nice. As Sam says, once you actually drive an electric vehicle and see for yourself how responsive they are, how quiet, and how little the running costs are (not just fuel/power but all the rest too), you quickly realise that they're so much better than what we currently drive.

April 3, 2012

One of the trends that is helping to build awareness and to showcase the advantages of the EV here in Portland, OR is the emerging car sharing concept. Start up companies such as Getaround provide a clearing house for people to rent their personal cars to others. Most of the cars available are ICEs, but there is a Tesla and more than one Prius available now, and hopefully the Volt, Leaf, iMiev and other EVs will be available for rent in the future.

Also Enterprise has several Leafs available for rent from their West Burnside location.

So now it is possible for someone to live with an EV for hours, days or weeks to help them decide if the EV fits into their lifestyle.

Also I see that Zipcar Chicago has added Chevrolet Volts to its fleet in that city.

Getting people behind the wheel of an EV for an extended length of time is a great way to convert an ICE owner to an EV owner, and it is encouraging to see that the ability to do this is becoming more prevalent.

April 4, 2012

We've had a LEAF for just over a year now and get 5.4 miles / KwH so it's 5060 miles for $1 of US electicity.
We make our electric from our GRID Tied solar system that runs our house, car and still helps the utiltiy and we get paid each year since use make more than we use.
Our LEAF have been on the top 25 LEAFS in the world for going the farthest on the lest energy since we drive smart.
We use our bicycles as much as possible since it's good for us and our health along with the economy and environment.

April 4, 2012

My dream car is a Toyota Prius. I have seen them around my neighborhood and I notice that they are super quiet when they run on their electric motor. My driving is both highway and around the neighborhood. I would love to have a quiet car that emits way less CO2 than my current 2003 Honda Accord. I love the Accord, but I want 52 mpg!! I also noticed that Dr. Temperence Brennan on the TV program, Bones, drives a Prius -- way to go Bones!!

April 4, 2012

An electric car is just a fossil fuel powered car with the pollution being shifted from the car to the power plant. Until the cost of green energy comes down significantly they do not make economic sense for the masses. While they could be cost effectively powered by nuclear or hydro-electric power sources, there are significant problems with both, especially if needing to massively expand capacity to power millions of electric cars.

If transportation is going to have a paradigm shift, power plants must have one too.

Other than a fusion reactor, the holy grail in achievable nuclear power is a thorium reactor. Thorium is much more plentiful than uranium, is much easier and safer to process, can't go critical, and can't be made into a bomb - the "boom" or dirty kind. Additionally, the reactor is much more cost effective as it doesn't need to have a massive containment building.

Thorium enables much cheaper and safer nuclear power. India already has a prototype thorium reactor up and operating. Early last year, China announced they'd be building them too.

India has the largest thorium reserves in the world. The second largest? The USA.

What is the U.S. doing with thorium? Diddly-squat. Maybe because it doesn't involve GE?

April 4, 2012

My husband and I drive an electric car. Our Leaf is powered by the 5.6k solar panels on our home. Last month our electric bill for 4500 sq ft and two people was $86--- including the power for our car! The cost was not something that can be ignored but with federal assistance, it's quite a "doable" thing for the average American. We MUST have that federal incentive however! Why would you not make it easier for Americans to live intelligently and with less carbon impact?

April 5, 2012

For the nex several years conversion of used modern cars is more marketable than new manufacturing and half of the cost or less, so a conversion can be done for $10K and that will fill the gap until used EV become available (This would be a GREAT colaboration for a used car dealer and a conversion shop. Service and repairs are dificult to get except at dealers. no one is teaching EV repair. I am ready to start a school called " elecrtic vehicle technical institute inc. com" and I am seeking a partner to help with promotion and finding funding. we would train auto mechanics and hobbyists to service and repair EV and do conversions to EV and Conversions to Hybrid.

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