Sunday, September 23, 2012

EV Support

Yesterday, I had the honor of being invited to help man the Tacoma Electric Vehicle booth at the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup, WA.  Despite being located in a sleepy town at the base of Mt. Rainier, The Western WA State Fair rated as being in the top 10 for largest state fairs in the country (we bounce from 6 to 8th) so a VERY big deal here. At 17 days, its also one of the longest.

I love doing these kinds of things because I want to see EVs all over the place simply because they are right in so many different ways but at the same time, initial response has been much less than I had hoped and getting out to talk to the people helps me understand what needs to be done to increase interest.

There was a TON of people there despite the overcast skies threatening rain making it one of the dreariest mornings in several weeks. As luck would have it, the afternoon burned off the fog and the clouds and it turned out to be a very pleasant sunny day but from the several dozen people I talked a few things became clear.

Range,  NOT an issue??.

This was the biggest surprise. Only had 2 people who were concerned about range. A dozen had drives that would have taxed the range of the LEAF but were ok with using public charging. In fact, many stopped by because they had seen the charging stations at Kohl's, Sears or Walgreens. I emphasized the shorter range in winter plus the degradation of batteries meaning that you want to have an extra 10-15 miles on your longest commute you want to do without charging to be comfortable. Most felt that charging stations were becoming so plentiful that it would not be a problem to stop at one for a boost every now and then. That signifies a big big change in perceptions concerning EVs.  But also shows that EV exposure, even at the low levels most have experienced so far is starting to make an impact for people other than the early adopters which brings up the next point

EV Exposure

Several people had already known someone who had either a LEAF, Volt or some other plug in. Having exposure to someone who had one or even just being in a position to see them regularly on the streets has started to generate interest in people who were for the most part, unaware that EVs existed or were so readily available.

As I was leaving the parking lot at the Fair, I was moving slowly negotiating the large scattered pedestrian traffic and heard a young boy talking to his father. "What kind of car is that, Daddy?".  "That car is a Nissan LEAF".  "Wow, that car is so quiet!"  "Yes Son, it is. but its set to make a whole lot of noise in the news pretty soon"   ah Nissan!! I think your advertising dept needs a talking to!!


Nearly all the people above who knew someone who had an EV was either actively shopping for EVs or in the stage of serious research and fact finding but the main stopping point was the price. Lots of questions on the Federal tax rebate and how best to take advantage.  Although the average new car selling price is just over $30,000, Both the LEAF and MiEV after tax rebate AND sales tax waiver for WA State residents (thats 9% you DONT have to pay) both are significantly under that figure.  Oh course, just because the average selling price of a regular car is $30k does not mean those people were happy paying that much.

EV Support.

Finally the next most shocking revelation was that non EV'ers had noticed that EVs have no support. I  probably had at least a half dozen people ask me what I did when I went up to a charging station to see a gas car already parked there.

This is also a major paradigm shift in public thinking. Others are starting to have concerns. This support will be what is needed to start instituting fines for using EV charging parking in a regular car. It is only then we can expect only EVs to be parked there.

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