"I recently attended the Plug-In 2011 conference in Raleigh, NC and I wanted to give you an update and highlights.
1) Plug in electric vehicles are here and they are terrific cars! A test drive in the Leaf or the Volt will dispel any doubts about the quality of these cars. The vehicles are pulling well ahead of EV planning.
2) There is a wide discrepancy between utilities in EV planning and preparation: some of which are key players/leaders in this area and others which seem oblivious to the gradual electrification of the automobile.
3) The charging equipment market is the Wild West! Dozens of companies making scores of products with new ones coming out or soon to arrive any day. Interesting partnerships are forming: Ford/Leviton charging equipment offered through Best Buy (installers) and GE equipment being sold through Lowe's. GM is partnered with SPX, Nissan with AeroVironment.
4) There is a LOT of EV planning to do that hasn't been done and a lot that we don't know yet: uniform signage, ADA compliance, training first responders, encouraging off peak charging, EV friendly codes and regulations, expedited permitting/inspection, etc. This is a nascent market with huge potential and pitfalls.
5) The batteries for EVs are good, getting better, but the major advances will be cost reductions through economies of scale. As battery prices drop more vehicles will get electrified and convenience charging will become more common.
Chevy Volt: production ramping up to 60,000 vehicles/year by end of 2011. Over 4 million miles driven in Volts already, 2/3 of which are electric. People are going 1,000 miles on one tank of gas, filling up once a month on average. Customers prefer Level II charging, but
are ok with Level I, which over half of people are using. Customers are classic early tech adopters, 90% men. Much higher customer satisfaction rates than normal, GM surprised by luxury buyers choosing the Volt.
Nissan Leaf: 4,400 deliveries in the US, 10,000 globally so far. Tennessee plant online by end of 2012 with 150,000/year capacity and 200,000 batteries/year. MA/CT orders begin this fall, RI orders begin this winter. 82% of Leaf owners are new to Nissan, primary "conquest" is Prius owners. Almost all drive less than 60 miles/day, average 30 miles/day, 7 mile average trip. Average charge is 3 hours. Most buyers are well educated, tech savvy, high income. Nissan surprised by how many buyers are single car owners."
From a business side of green, there are some very salient, positive points in Al's recap:
1. Any car that is averaging 1000 miles on a tank of gas is great with me, and is turning out a terrific ROI.
2. Getting retailers like Lowe's and Best Buy into the marketing and sales of chargers will bring EV's very quickly into the mainstream.
3. Any commercial product that generates positive customer reviews and reactions, as these cars are, is destined for greatness.
Now, we need to broaden the customer base past 90 % men who are techies to drivers of all types. However, with these kinds of results, that should be easy.