Monday, August 29, 2011

Electric Car Sightings Update

Well, electric cars are starting to make it onto the roads, but it's still a trickle. As I drive my two hours a day around the central San Francisco Bay Area I am seeing a Nissan LEAF at least a couple of times a week (see photo). I've seen one Chevrolet Volt in the last month.

Last week, I saw two of the $100K + Tesla Roadsters on the same day -- one in the morning and one in the evening -- both with custom plates. I wrote down the first one: NIL CO2. Cute, huh? I also saw a gas-powered car with a bumper sticker that said, "My next car won't have one of these"--and there was an arrow pointing down to its exhaust pipe. The sticker had a Tesla logo on it. That car may turn out to be a Tesla Model S--due next year.

The fact is, it is going to take a while before you see a lot of electric cars on the road. The batteries are still expensive and the quantities of cars that the manufacturers can turn out and deliver is very limited. And, folks want a car that does everything, and electric vehicles still have limitations--mainly range issues.

Meanwhile, Costco is in the news for saying they plan to shut down their electric charging stations. I've heard a lot about this from a surprising number of people. From what I can tell, the stations need to be upgraded and Costco is balking at the cost--because they, rightfully or not, don't believe that there is much call for electric car charging at their locations.

I say, without knowing all the facts, that it is probably a good short-term business decision to shut them down. But, it's a terrible public relations move, and puts the company at the back, rather than at the front, of the wave of the future. I think that public charging availability is part of what will extend the functionality and acceptability of electric cars.

Also newsworthy: The Nissan LEAF all-electric car will have greater availability with its 2012 models. About 4,000 LEAFs have been delivered so far in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon, Texas, Washington (state) and Tennessee (Nissan is based there). Now, Nissan is expanding into Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Also, the new 2012 LEAF will come with a quick charging port (480 volts) and a cold weather package, which includes a battery warmer, heated seats and a heated steering wheel.

Stay tuned!

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