A moment…

It hit me today during what was a quick, routine interview with Mitch Albom. First well-known for his book Tuesdays with Morrie, he also has a Detroit-based radio show, and wanted to talk about the EVs currently on display at the North American International Auto Show. His first question was an understandably common one: “concepts are great, but when are we finally going to see these in showrooms?” (the implication being plug-ins from major automakers, at a semi-reasonable cost.) Without thinking, I responded “later this year” then promptly caught myself, thinking I’d mis-spoken. Nearly derailed the conversation with my own “no, wait- that’s not right…wait, no, it is!” mental conversation. Oops.

Later. This. Year. First time in many years I’ve been able to say that. Still lots of work to be done between now and then, but thanks to the work of many and the support of many more, we’re getting there.

Thank you.

11 thoughts on “A moment…

  1. I’m afraid not- I’m not sure if the shows are posted (seems only a few of the main guests are, and this was a quick, 10-min interview) but I never think to ask about links. Others have asked for it too though, so if I come across one I’ll post it.

  2. I totally agree this is an exciting period. Several car companies are making really serious sounding announcements. But– what’s the chance it will fail anyway? e.g. the current momentum is likely due to high oil prices in 2008 and the still-high oil prices today may not be high enough to keep the momentum going.. then what will happen?

    1. Good question, David…On one hand, there are a variety of factors contributing to the current momentum, and oil prices are certainly one of them- though in talking to consumers I’ve found that it’s not only about them being high, it’s about them being volatile. Many folks like electricity for its relative pricing stability; they feel less vulnerable to sudden change than with oil- and especially in this economic climate, predictability is an attractive thing. But increased environmental and energy security awareness, etc., all play a role. We have more international political support than ever. All of this is encouraging because it means that removal of any one factor is unlikely to single-handedly upset the apple cart.

      That said, the potential for complacency is a huge concern for me- so much so that it should probably be a post at some point. I’m already seeing folks who are “declaring victory” w/respect to this issue, thinking that plug-in cars are now inevitable. Having come from a place where we had cars on the road and still had it all go south, I’d hate to see us re-telling the same story in 5 or 10 years.

  3. The things that worries me are the people at auto dealerships who are either clueless, unprepared and hostile to EVs.

    At Autoline Detroit’s web site there’s a video interview with the president of AutoNation, the largest cain of auto dealers in the world. He mentioned that he will never sell cars like Hyundai and Kia, mostly because there is no way for dealers to make money: the cars are cheap to buy and require very little maintenance. He also sees EVs as a challenge to “overcome”. Weird.

    Most dealerships cannot provide basic information about the Leaf, Volt or the iMiev. And we’re counting on these guys to sell us cars?

    1. @Nick, it is a fact that the overall business model for EV’s will have to be different than for gas cars. Gas cars are so fragile and unreliable that they require maintenance every 3,000 miles or else the engine self destructs due to bad fluids. This makes for a big industry of replacement parts and service stations and extended warranties etc. A mass adoption of EV’s would threaten that ecosystem of businesses whose existence is based on the current model of “everybody” drives gas cars. That existing ecosystem isn’t going to go quietly into the night. They’ve been and will continue fighting anything which threatens them.

    2. @Nick, when I worked at the GM Technical Center in the late 1980’s, I heard stories about dealership’s hostility towards diesel engines (not sure if it was in the 1970’s or 1980’s), coercing / convincing customers to have them pulled and replaced with gasoline engines. It is a very real concern that dealerships may not want a vehicle that requires little to no maintenance, or services for which their is little to no profit. The diesel incident is THE example of such a thing.

  4. Chelsea, have you heard when exactly the Leaf will be available? I’m pretty sure there will be a limited release before the end of 2010, but have they announced when they will be in showrooms across the country?

    1. No, I haven’t heard other than the same “end of year” timing. Expect they’ll announce fairly soon, along w price and sign-up process.

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