Friday, April 19, 2013

Marketing EVs; Looking For An Edge, More Battery Or Just A Charging Station That Works

Once again it seems we are just on the edge of an EV explosion. Fiat has announced great new lease pricing on its 500e. Ford has great discounts on the Focus EV. Nissan cut the price on the LEAF while adding several much requested features. The options are really starting to pile up. If you live in California, you can now get a RAV 4 EV for slightly more than what a LEAF cost last year.

Add to that record breaking sales from Tesla and Nissan and yes, both are targeting completely separate market segments but for every EV that hits the street that is another dozen people that will get direct contact with the owner which will see another 100 indirectly exposed to "EV Fever".

Which means the competition will starting ratcheting up soon. Tesla has the luxury EV market locked up for now with no challengers in sight but a logjam is already starting to form in the $25,000-$40,000 market and at a price many still feel is too high considering the drawbacks that limited range EVs come with so getting an early advantage in the market is going to help but sales incentives can only go so far.

And price is not the only consideration. It is a car after all, so range has to be a top priority.  But bigger batteries and lower price dont go together unless we are talking oxymorons.  So getting the range without the price is the real challenge. Charging at work is the best way. Not having to drive out of your way or spending any extra time to charge is the ultimate way to get it done. The LEAF mileage champ, Steve Marsh could not have amassed his estimated 75,000 miles in such a short period of time if his employer had not put in a station for his use less than 50 feet from his office. But most of us are not so lucky.

Nissan announced a few months ago that they were putting in 500 quick charge stations at Nissan Dealerships across the country and we would see "significant" progress within a few months. When I first heard this, I thought it was a brilliant tactical move on Nissan's part. Getting these stations out quickly was sure to spur sales since only the LEAF and the nearly non-existent Mitsubishi MiEV used Chademo. Add to that a big push from the Smyrna Plant and that would give Nissan a big psychological edge over fence sitters considering other EVs that lacked Chademo support.

 Earth Day this weekend would have seemed a perfect date to have grand opening celebrations at DCFCs all across the country and that is exactly what is going to happen at about....2 or 3 of them.  Despite Nissan's grand announcement, the rollout has been sluggish at best.  Granted, 2 months was a very ambitious goal to begin with and I would have been happy to see a dozen in WA by the end of Summer but there seems to be little news of any stations anywhere near here. has several members scattered across the country and reports of ground breaking for stations has been very thin so far. Less than a dozen and all seem to be in CA mostly.  Like WA and OR, CA is part of two different projects to install quick charge stations and despite having the greatest number of LEAFs, they have seen the least amount of activity from either the EV Highway Project  or the West Coast Green Highway Project .  So if Nissan was looking to address the neediest, I guess CA would definitely fit that profile which also happens to be in the area of the greatest expected number of new LEAF sales.

Is this  "compliance" charging distribution?  Putting most of them in CA and ignoring most of the rest of the country? With only 500 stations going in, I did not expect to see a charger in little town WA has to offer but the Seattle Market is near to the top in LEAF sales along with EV sales and hybrid sales in general so the right mindset abounds in the Pacific Northwest.

Now Nissan is not getting all the blame here. Oregon is smaller, less populated and has less money than WA does but has outdone WA in the installation of public quick chargers and has plans to install many more in the near future. WA! you need to get motivated here. Every mile driven in an EV is a mile that takes advantage of the abundant locally produced electricity and is another mile we dont have buy gas!

One good thing to report;  SB 5849 providing fines for "ICE'ing" charging stations has passed both arms of Congress and was sent to the Governor on April 17th.  Its pretty much a done deal.  Governor Jay Inslee has been an EV supporter for years. Hopefully getting this signed will provide the momentum for more EV support and soon!

**Edit** Well that did not take long! Thanks to Brian for posting this link about Inslee and WA committing another 9 Million to getting more QC stations out for the West Coast Green Highway Project !!


  1. you missed the 1000hp electric super car, Rimac Concept_One: for those with a cool $1M to drop. Granted, I have yet to see one in the US let alone the northwest but one can dream.

  2. Anon; didnt miss it exactly. Tesla has already impacted the luxury car market and that I think they will continue to do so. I think Tesla will settle in to become #1 or 2 so Mercedes, BMW and Lexus have a real battle on their hands. Now the Rimac is more of an "exotic" car where the key characteristic is a price tag that exceeds the value of most homes and is a car you dont buy on payments

  3. Hang in there… good news is there will soon be over 1200 DC Quick Chargers in the U.S., up from 260 now.

    Did you see the Washington governor's commitment to West-coast Electric Highway?
    The WC e-Highway map shows 25 quick chargers planned for Washington & 30 for Oregon.
    This may not help many of the 2500+ LEAF owners in King County (around the I-5 / 405 loop) having to share only 5 QC'ers.

    Oregon is leading west-coast state with 42 quick chargers now, and adding 11 DCQC more this summer!

    The e-Highway will reach north of the boarder this summer with 13 new quick charges in British Columbia. Just think, can soon drive a LEAF to Whisler to go zip-lining, or skiing!

    California's settlement with NRG means 200+ quick chargers; mostly LA & Bay Area (see map): –
    Hopefully California will also get up to e-highway speed & add quick chargers along I-5 from Sacramento to Mt Shasta.

    As of January the EV Project had installed 55 quick chargers with total goal of 200-250 by January 2014. Some of these to be installed Oregon, and hopefully few more in Washington. This in addition to 500 quick chargers Nissan plans to add by next July.


    1. Thanks for the link Brian! I had not seen that article and it is exactly what this post is about. We need to move on the Chademo's and fast. Already I have had to be 3rd in line to use the Tumwater Station. Before Fife, it was one of the busiest in the network being the first QC headed South for 50+miles (or last one headed North!)

  4. btw: See for hint of Nissan CHAdeMO units coming to local Seattle dealers. Actual photos of units posted. :)


    1. Brian I am a member of the Seattle FB group. I dont see a lot of chargers installed by Nissan though. Blink has a few promised but only 2 of a half dozen have been turned on. Anxiously awaiting more.

      An MNL'er is creating a map of the 500 Nissan Chargers. When you hear of groundbreaking post it on FB and on the map as well.,-120.882277&spn=4.360733,7.064209&t=m&z=7

      not sure if map is public but you can message "drees" on the MNL board.