Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The emblems make a BIG difference

I was planning on taking a few weeks to see if the new emblems I put on the car made more people notice before I commented but that won't be necessary. In less than two weeks I have had about ten people ask me about the car or wave and give a thumbs up while driving. Just this morning as I drove around the "Green" in Morristown center, I had a nice encounter with a gentleman in a Volvo as we drove and stopped at three consecutive traffic lights next to each other. He started of with the usual "Is that a hybrid or all electric?" After I told him, he immediately followed with, "Where can I get one?" I hate to have to be the one to tell people that they can't buy one. They seem so excited when they see a 100% electric car on the road, no less a "cool" MINI Cooper, and then I have to hit them with, "They are not for sale, sorry, it's a pilot program." Our conversation continued as we were stuck in morning rush hour traffic and our cars were side by side creeping along. "How do you like it?  How far can it go? How long does it take to charge? How much does it cost in electric to charge it?" We talked for a bit and then he asked a question that nobody has asked me yet, and it caught me off guard a little. He said, "You know they could have been building electric cars for a long time now, why do you think they'll ever really commit to producing these when we've been asking for them for years now?" He was right. Auto manufacturers could have been building electric cars for a long time now. There were electric Model Ts in the 20s for God's sake. Why now, why after all this time will the auto manufacturers decide to invest in the greatest change the industry has ever faced? Well I think they will, and here's why: First, battery technology is getting better and better at a faster rate than it ever has in the past. You can thank laptop computers and other PEDs for that. Second, nobody likes to be beaten at their own game and the auto manufacturers saw new upstart car companies like Tesla, Fisker, Aptera and others on the verge of putting electric vehicles on the road and the huge public interest they were generating. They may not have wanted to get into the BEV business, but now they HAVE to, or lose market share. Thirdly, last year's outrageously high oil prices were painful, but they helped to raise awareness about just how dependent we are on foreign oil and how the giant oil cartels can cripple our economy if they choose to do so. OPEC is no friend to the United States and more and more people are realizing that and want to do something about it. Even if that means paying a premium for an electric car and living with a limited driving range, more people are willing to make concessions now than ever before. I've had this car for three months now and yes, I've had to make adjustments. I previously never had to think about where I was going the next day to make sure it was within my range. With my other cars that thought never crossed my mind, but now it does. I have only had to take my other car twice so far because I knew I'd be traveling over 120 miles the next day so it's not often, but if it were my only car it would be a problem. There are still a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I do think the genie is finally out of the bottle. Nissan has announced they plan to mass produce an electric vehicle, the LEAF, starting next year, Tesla has their second model, the Type S in early production, Chevy will have its plug-in hybrid, the Volt on the road next year and many other manufacturers have announced they will release an EV in the next few years. Once the public gets a chance to drive these cars as I have they will be hooked, I guarantee it. Hopefully they will have emblems that proudly announce "Electric" on the cars, it would be a shame if they made the same mistake that MINI did.

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