Sunday, May 5, 2013

Are You An Optimist Or A Pessimist?

Saturday, May 4th, 2013 in Lacey, WA was a near perfect day to have a gathering of EV enthusiasts and "green" thinkers and that is exactly what happened with the 16th Annual Lacey Alternative Fuel Fair and Electric Car Rally held in Huntamer Park.  A sunny day hitting 80ยบ helped to attract one of the larger crowds in my memory and since this was my 9th time here, I have a lot of memories! (mostly of cold, windy, drizzly days!)

Most of the plug ins were there including the rare Ford Focus EV and the slightly more common C-Max and Fusion Energi's. All three were making their first appearance at the annual event.

As always I had the opportunity to talk with several people who were anywhere from killing time to being within a few weeks of a purchase decision.  Now, this is where my role gets a bit tricky.  The people I talked with could be loosely categorized into three groups; non-believers, pessimists, and optimists. We will skip the non-believers simply because they won't convert until a close friend, neighbor or family member does it first.

Now the Optimists can also be categorized as "selective believers" having read the LEAF gets 100 miles on a charge and they are thinking about getting the LEAF for their 90 mile commute especially after being reinforced that it will work because a salesman had reassured them and off the wall stuff like that. Unfortunately, about half of them had unrealistic expectations and as much as it pained me to do it, I had to show them all the ways the LEAF would not work for them because one unhappy owner can poison the well for his entire community.

But, all was not lost. It was the perfect opportunity to pitch the RAV 4 EV, the unfairness of "Compliance Cars", effective grass roots campaigning methods (wish I knew a few of them!) and the utter lack of affordable EV options (Lets face facts. It will be 3 years when I turn in my LEAF next Jan and my options to replace it?? well, its LEAF and uh?.... see what I mean!)   WA needs to take California's lead on this and mandate the same. Do we have to wait until we can see colors in the air we breathe before we decide its time to take action?

Then we have the Pessimists (AKA fence sitters) who are interested in EVs, mostly drive Priuses and must be able to mathematically justify the purchase but tend to cherry pick reasons why it would not work for them.  In this arena, I had probably a half dozen that walked away smug in their beliefs that they were right and I was not but also had several who now had a LOT more things to think about.  Cant say that they were headed to the dealership to pull the trigger, but pretty sure I got a few to release the safety...

It is this group that really is my main purpose for being at the fair every year come rain or shine. I always start out with a tagline they have already heard which brings them in, then I shoot down that tagline with an explanation. Now, we have all heard the "$1999 down, 199 a month" but I tell them, get one with QC and pay the $230  with a map of the DCFCs for WA and OR in hand. Hard to shoot me down when I am armed with that much ammo!

Also long term degradation myths had to be dispelled. I have QC'd as much as 4 times a day. put over 100 miles on my LEAF at least 1-2 times a week and so on and I have seen 5% loss in my LEAF and Steve Marsh (who did pass 75,000 miles last week and will be borrowing my SOC meter to check his level on his 2nd anniversary May 15th) thinks he has lost 15% but still has all his CBs. (battery Capacity Bars)  Too bad I did not think to have him check a bit earlier to have hard #'s (well as hard as you can get using Nissan's measuring tools!) to present at the Fair but oh well.

They might have gone from medium interest to very strong interest. After all, its easy to find a way that works for one since there are really a lot of good things about EVs but we already knew that right!

I also met up with someone who had talked to me last year. He ended up getting a LEAF and a Volt.  He did say he almost wished he had gotten 2 LEAFs and admitted I was right in that it would have worked for him.  He also mentioned the gasser had only been used once in the last 6 months and the Volt never uses gas due to Wife's 20 mile RT commute. (since he got the Volt, not sure why he still has the gas car!)

Finally,  a father/son came by to say hi. The father "Glen" is not a Facebooker but was familiar with my blog and had a few questions about some of the topics discussed so I was pretty pleased about that. Both had leased and got great deals (after going out of the area) and both had concerns about the lack of support in their area. Glen lives in Grays Harbor County which is basically a well traveled area because it lies between Puget Sound and the WA Coast.  He lamented about his inability to get to Westport (a major launching point for deepsea fishing) or Ocean Shores (major beach area) and back on a single charge (there is virtually no public charging of any kind there) which really reinforces the idea that WA needs to step in to provide the stations as a way to support tourism. The two mentioned areas are VERY prone to fluctuations in our economy due to their high reliance on tourist dollars and the all but gone wood products industry.  The recent housing boom has actually created a few jobs as abandoned saw mills are coming back online to handle the increased demand for building supplies but that is most likely temporary and probably only good for a few years.

All in all, a great day for being outside and enjoying what WA has to offer which really reinforces the value of preserving the environment. Summer and Fair season is upon us and we must continue to be the informational conduit for the next wave of EV owners. I think we are now finally past the "bleeding edge" adopters and are now seeing the "Pioneers" which are not mainstream by any means but will be essential in getting the support that EVs need. After all, sales is just the beginning. Sustaining the value of EVs after they come home will be another challenge!

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