Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What's it gonna take?

It just might be up to us. 
Sales of plug-in cars are steady, but not overwhelming. The Volt has had to contend with the overblown battery fire incident and the production hiatus. Fisker is delivering the Karma, but not without glitches and its DOE loan is being questioned. Aptera went under. Bright Automotive went under. The press has not been kind. 
Gas prices are at historically high levels, and have become a political football, but haven’t led to a surge in EV purchases. Politicians hoping to exploit the moment spread the notion that American gasoline could flow bountifully, cheaply and forever were the boot heel of big government taken off the neck of poor oil companies. Technology has enabled access to petroleum previously unavailable, but at an unacknowledged high cost. 
This should be our moment. Many of us are driving past gas stations while others gripe and cling to false hopes. 
If we want to see more and more varied plug-in models offered, we’ve got to ensure that demand for plug-ins always exceeds supply.  That means the cars on offer have to be purchased as quickly as they are produced. If you’ve wanted a plug-in car - whether for environmental or political or practical reasons - now is the time. If you have one, it’s time to convince someone else. 
It may not be exactly the electric car you want - with more range, or more space, or more leather - but it is a pretty great car powered by electricity. With the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt, you get nameplate cars that have been well-received by the press and most importantly, their drivers. With the Mitsubish i, you get maximum efficiency and cute practicality. With the CODA, you get a bit more range in a plainer package. With the Fisker, you get flash. The least expensive, the Mitsu i, could be had in some places for less than $20,000 (with tax credits and rebates) while the Karma will set you back over $100K. 
What needs to happen in 2012 to keep things moving apace? We need about 25,000 Americans who don’t know it yet to buy a plug-in car.  The best thing to do is to expose people to the reality of plug-in cars. Give rides! Let people drive your LEAF or Volt or conversion or whatever you’ve got! Host an Electric Driveway party! (http://www.pluginamerica.org/ElectricDriveWay.)  
It’s up to us.