Saturday, August 28, 2010

Selling Leafs in Santa Monica

My memorable trip in June to Yokohama to test drive the Nissan Leaf concluded with a private lunch with CEO, Carlos Ghosn.

After hearing Mr. Ghosn describe Nissan's plans for electrifying their fleet, and driving this remarkable car on their test track, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to personally help Nissan get the car into driver's hands. One by one, I want to replace those filthy internal combustion engines using 60% foreign oil, with clean, powerful motors using domestically-produced, renewable kWh generated from sunlight and wind.

Plug In America co-founder, Marc Geller, and I with Mr. Ghosn.

Since returning from Japan, I have been talking to various Nissan folks, and ultimately the very nice owner of Santa Monica Nissan. After being offered a position, I decided to go to work for Santa Monica Nissan exclusively selling the Leaf. I'm very excited since I'll still be selling solar PV systems for SolarCity, making me the first person on Earth to sell those two items together.

EV/PV. It has a nice ring.

Coincidentally, Dan Neil, the most talented auto writer in the English speaking world, finally got his turn behind the wheel of Nissan's Leaf. After describing the attributes of the Leaf, he states, "Such a car would have been science fiction five years ago."

Five years ago, Plug In America was deep into the fight with the auto industry to stop the crushing of EVs.

For almost eight years, I've known the day would arrive when well made, highway capable EVs would once again be available, and that when it happened, it would mark the beginning of the transition from oil to electricity as the energy source for our vehicle fleet. I have had the privilege of a front row seat to this amazing sequence of events, and now I want to do more than talk and write about it, I want to literally replace the dirty cars with clean ones.

If you live anywhere near southern California, and are interested in buying a leaf, I encourage you to contact Santa Monica Nissan and ask for me. If you haven't put down your deposit for the Leaf already, go to this Nissan site today and secure your place in line.

Neil makes the comment, "The Leaf also represents one of the most daring bids for market dominance I've ever seen in the car business because no one, and I mean no one, knows if the damned thing will sell."

Well, Dan, I know. I intend to be the number one Leaf salesman in the world. When you are ready for yours, look me up.


Friday, August 13, 2010


Those of you who listen to Ira Flatow's "Science Friday" on a regular basis know how good the show can be.
Tonight was especially good
as Ira had as guests, Mark Perry of Nissan and Tony Posawatz of GM. Both talked of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt respectively.

I urge you all to listen to this show. Intelligent questions were asked by Ira, along with several callers, and both Mark and Tony were spot on with their answers.

Best of all, they were collaborative.

Each car represents a different market niche, and both are needed. Twenty years from now, virtually all vehicles sold will be either fully-electric or some variation of plug-in hybrid.

Rather than trying to one up each other, they spoke of the relative merits of each car. I detected mutual admiration from both parties since they seemed to understand that this is more about electricity vs. gas than Nissan vs. GM.

The sleek Leaf knifes through the air.

The Volt holds Bruce Tucker's upright bass with room to spare.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

GM's Bright Idea

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from John Waters of Bright Automotive to talk about things. I'd heard he might be leaving the company he helped start and was pleasantly surprised to hear his upbeat tone. Turns out, the rumors of Bright's imminent demise were unfounded. He instead indicated there would be a big announcement soon.

This week's announcement of a $5 million investment by GM Ventures to buy a minority stake in Bright was the reason for John's great mood. Bright will now be able to get much closer to a production-ready model of their Bright "Idea".

According to Bright CEO, Reuben Munger, "... GM has taken a minority stake in our company, and will supply advanced powertrains and technology for the Bright plug-in hybrid IDEA vehicle. GM's investment puts us on the fast-track toward mass production of the IDEA as we ramp up development later this quarter."

As I wrote in a previous post, Bright was formed of some of the best EV engineers brought together from the likes of Rocky Mountain Institute, Aerovironment, GM and Andy Frank's UC Davis PHEV program.

Their creation is designed to be light weight and aerodynamic in order to use a minimum amount of energy to get the job done. Millions of fleet vehicles burn millions of gallons gas and diesel every day in the U.S. Keep in mind that 60% of our oil is imported, so anything that can double or triple efficiency is extremely beneficial.

Should the DOE follow through with the loan to get these vehicles into production, there will be thousands of Americans hired in Indiana, a state that could use the jobs.

As for the rest of us, our local post office can trade in their funky, inefficient vans for something that does the same job with a tiny fraction of the energy.

Good for GM. Good for Bright.