Monday, November 15, 2010


I've never done a blatant ask of this kind in my blog before, but I'm making an exception.

As many of you know, Nissan has been taking a dozen LEAFs on tour through the west coast, and eventually across the country. At each stop, they are putting about 1500 people behind the wheel for a test drive. After the test drive, you are encouraged to stand in front of a camera for 30 seconds saying anything you want about the experience. The video that gets the most votes is the winner of a brand new LEAF.

As you can imagine, people are pulling out all the stops with clever and interesting spiels. I've even voted for a video or two for friends who did a very admirable job and who deserve a free LEAF (you know who you are:~).

However, my friend Stephen Johnsen, long time member of Seattle's large and vibrant electric vehicle association, has produced what I think is the winning spot. I apologize to my friends (you know who you are:~), but I'm sending Stephen's video out to 2,500 people and putting it on my blog.

Stephen is a great guy, he's done a lot for the movement. AND he'll be charging the LEAF on that squeaky clean grid mix in Seattle! Coal and natural gas combined are only two percent of the mix, all the rest is zero CO2. That's clean!

So go here to see Stephen's great 30 second LEAF spot. And spread it around to your friends.

Oh, and you might get a kick out of Stephen's description of his test drive. It's typical of how the LEAF makes you feel.

As for my LEAF test drive experience... My friend Chad and fellow SEVA member Ron Easley went down and test drove the LEAF Sunday. I was very pleased with the quality and all the thought put into the driver display and neat options like using your I-Phone to pre-select the cabin temperature and also having the car email you about charging conditions or if you forgot to plug it in! These are things that you don't even get with an infernal combustion vehicle! I'm a big fan of EV things that not only meet but exceed people's expectations.

Another thing I thought was cool was seeing the 6 Aerovironment Level 2 charging stations on their make-shift fence and the big Level 3 Fast Charger on the back of the Semi truck!
I also learned that you can negotiate with Nissan and Aerovironment to simply purchase a home Level 2 charging station for only $721 if you want to have your own electrician install it (It's really a simple 30A device)

As far as handling... the car has some spunk! It is quite fast and would do well for showing your friends that EVs can get up and go! I was able to really floor it and get some wheel slippage with the traction control ON and my friend Ron could burnout with the traction control off. I got to thinking, if I had gone so fast that I rolled the LEAF in the parking lot would I be "TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF" This vehicle is a real game changer and I believe Nissan deserves major Kudos for making a pure battery electric vehicle that people would actually want to drive.

Sincerely, Stephen Johnsen
P.S., If you Supercharge a LEAF do you use a "LEAF BLOWER" acha, cha, cha, cha I got a million of 'em...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Plug In America's Gas and Electric PSAs

Lauren de Long with Director, Eric Swenson's Roadster
Photo: Stefano Paris

This is a big week for Plug In America. For several months, we've been revamping our website, and this week it was made live. Well, I say "we", but it was really our IT director, Richard Kelly ably assisted by one of our hardest working volunteers, Colby Trudeau. The two of them have created a much more user-friendly site chock full of great information and featuring a couple of interesting and useful new items.

With the new wave of EVs about to break, most of the media's stories have shifted away from "whether the EVs will come" to stories about "where are we going to charge these cars". Consequently, questions about EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment, commonly known as charge stations) are everywhere. To help those who are about to become new EV owners, Plug In America has created the first ever EVSE tracking page. There are many good companies getting into the business of manufacturing the devices that will safely transfer the electrons from the grid to your battery, and since you'll need to get one eventually, we thought you might like to learn about your choices.

But what made the news this week, even more than the new website, was the debut of Plug In America's Public Service Announcements. Many of you might recall our plea for funds to help pay the hard costs of making these PSAs back in the spring. We were thrilled when our members stepped up and donated enough money to cover all the hard costs so that the voluntary cast and crew had all the tools (and food!) they needed to produce seven high quality PSAs to be used to educate the general public about plug-in cars.

Many people were involved in the project, but special thanks goes to Producer, Alexandra Paul for coming up with the idea and carrying it through; Director, Eric Swenson, a visual effects DP who now has some great spots for his directing reel; and our Editor, Jeff U'ren who glued it all together seamlessly and even took the time to create a fun 25 minute long "making of" video you don't want to miss.

We released the first two PSAs yesterday and will release another one every 2-3 weeks till all are available. Go to the Plug In America site to view them, and let us know what you think. We want them to get a lot of exposure, so please pass them around to your friends.

Last two photos: Zan Dubin Scott

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Honda is finally on board with plug-ins

Many people new to the EV world may not understand the importance of Honda's announcement about the inevitability of EVs. Honda's new CEO, Takanobu Ito, stated in an interview with Reuters, "It's starting to look like there will be a market for electric vehicles. We can't keep shooting down their potential, and we can't say there's no business case for it."

The story needs some context.

Back when the big six car makers, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan and Honda were told by California's Air Resources Board (CARB) that they would have to build zero emission vehicles if they wanted to do business in California, there were howls of protest, ultimately resulting in most of these companies pursuing fuel cell technology as the end game for zero emissions. It was this technology that was used to convince CARB to rescind the mandate for battery electrics in place of fuel cell cars.

Honda, along with Toyota and GM, were the leaders in the fuel cell race, but even though the Honda Clarity fuel cell is a beautiful car, it's clearly proving to be problematic to commercialize.

That's why Ito's announcement of the viability of plug in cars is so welcome. It follows closely the Toyota announcement of the resurrection of their fabulous RAV4 EV with a Tesla drive train.

Honda will be showing both a pure EV commuter car concept as well as a plug-in hybrid at the upcoming LA Auto Show. Ito will be there to introduce them himself. This underscores the importance of this announcement since it's the first time the CEO of Honda has come to this show for an announcement of any kind.

We'll have plug-in cars at this show from Honda, Toyota, Nissan, GM and Ford. This will be the last LA Auto Show to which the general public cannot drive in mass produced EV. In every subsequent auto show, the parking lot will boast of ever higher percentages of EVs to gas burners.

That's a good thing for our country's economy, our national security and our environment.