I talk to a lot of people about electric cars. Many of which are complete strangers that see me with my ActiveE, others are customers of my business that see my car plugged in and charging all the time, and still others are friends, family members and various acquaintances. Some people are really in to them. They know the current models, understand the benefits and the disadvantages and have obviously done a lot of research into electric drive, but that's the overwhelming minority. Most of the people I come across know very little to nothing about EV's, yet they seem to have a preconceived notion that they aren't really viable, and some actually believe they are worse for the environment than gas cars. I've even talked to people that claim EV's are some grand scheme by the liberal left to scam us into believing the "hoax" of global warming and take away our freedoms. To what end I don't know, but yes I have met people that have made that claim and actually believe it. I often wonder why so many people seem to have such negative thoughts about electric vehicles. Is it simply because they are different? I know we are creatures of habit and tend to prefer familiarity, but who actually likes going to gas stations? Nobody I know, yet many seem disinterested in considering an alternative that is available and has already proven to be viable option.
|Tesla Model S is a top-of-class performer|
Here's why I think people will eventually overcome the inertia of the status quo and transition to electric drive:
1) Electric vehicles ARE better for the environment. The long tailpipe theory doesn't hold water. For anyone that doesn't know what the long tailpipe theory is, it's the argument that because EV's don't have tailpipe emissions, you need to extend an imaginary tailpipe all the way to the power plant that made the electricity that powered the car, and count the emissions there as 'tailpipe emissions". This does have some truth. Grid powered electricity didn't come out of thin air and there are nasty emissions from coal powered power plants. This is an argument I hear a lot. Someone will say "You aren't accomplishing anything. Your electricity causes more greenhouse gas than my gasoline does." Of course they can't back up that claim, and they certainly don't want to hear that I power my car with renewable energy made by my solar array, they just want to blurt out something they heard somewhere and assumed it was true. However if I didn't have solar electric and plugged into the grid for all my electricity, driving my ActiveE would still be better for the environment than driving any gas car. Yes, depending on where you live in the US it makes a difference based on what fuel mix is used for electricity generation. However regardless of where, even if you use electricity that is made 100% from coal, an electric vehicle always generates less emissions than any gas car does. The US Department of Energy has a great site that lets you plug in your zip code and it calculates your emissions based on the fuel mix of the electricity provided to your area. You can clearly see than in any case, driving electric emits less toxins into the air we breathe and that is better for us all. Of course if you charge your car with solar electricity, then you do truly have a zero emission vehicle.
|I'd rather give him my money!|
3) Plugging in is more convenient than driving to a gas station. This is difficult for people that haven't lived with an EV to grasp, but it's true. When I plug my car in, I am usually home in my garage or at work and have just parked my car. I didn't need to go somewhere to refuel, it came to me. I was already going home or to work, I didn't go there to refuel. I simply take about 5 seconds to plug in once I arrived at my destination. Yes, I need to do it more frequently than you have to buy gas because the cars don't have as far a range as gas cars do - not yet at least, but it's so simple and quick it isn't a problem at all and I didn't have to go out of my way to refuel because it was already at the destination I was going to. Many people that have never driven electric can't get their hands around this because they have become so conditioned by the refueling process of gasoline because that's all they know. They assume you'll spend so much time worrying about where you can find a charger, whether or not it will be available and working, and how long you'll have to sit there and wait for your car to charge. That's just not how it works 99% of the time. The vast majority of the time you'll simply charge at home and that will be enough for your daily duty. If you need to drive a lot of miles every day, then perhaps an electric vehicle isn't the right choice for you just yet. Give it a couple years and there will be longer range EV's, EV's with range extenders, there will be quick charge stations that charge your battery to 80% in less than 30 minutes, all this will make electric vehicles a viable choice for even more people than they are today.
4) It's better. This is really the knockout punch. Even if there were no other reason to drive electric, the simple fact that it's a better driving experience is going to be enough to change the industry and the world. The silky-smooth linear acceleration, the instant torque, the quiet and vibration-less cockpit experience simply cannot be matched by an internal combustion engine car- any of them. When you hear someone talking about how they would never want to drive an electric car it's probably because they have never indeed driven one. Just about everyone that is open minded enough to give an EV a try walks away from it smiling and thinking "Yeah, that was pretty cool". I have let hundreds of people drive my MINI-E and ActiveE over the past four years and I can't remember a single one of them that didn't like it. Yes, there are still hurdles for mass adoption, quite a few of them in fact. The lithium-ion batteries are still expensive so that keeps the initial cost of the cars a little higher than a comparable gas car, although prices continue to drop at a rate of approximately 8% per year. This of course is off set by the lower refueling and maintenance costs but people have a difficult time looking at the long term cost of a car when they are buying it. They tend to look only at the purchase price and not the fuel and maintenance they will have to pay for. I think BMW should spend some time and make it a point to demonstrate the total cost of ownership when perspective customers are shopping for an i3. Show them that they may be paying a little more up front, but overall the car will cost them much less than comparable gas cars would. The best tool to selling them however is to let them take one for a drive, the longer the better. It doesn't take much to get hooked on electric drive.