EV World Odds & Ends
20 MPH in Los Angeles
The morning after my keynote presentation at the Interbike E-Bike Media Event in Los Angeles, I planned to get together with my EV World & Associates business partners in Santa Monica for breakfast. We arranged to meet at 10 AM at The Shutters.
Knowing how tough the traffic during morning rush hour could be, our managing partner, Sam Smith, said he'd pick me up at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verde at 7:30 AM. To do that, he'd have to set out, he told me, at 6:30 AM from his home in Santa Fe Springs, in the heart of Orange County.
7:30 came and went as I sat by the fire in the lobby of the resort reading the New York Times on my iPad. 8 AM came and went. 8:15 came and went. Finally, as the clock neared 8:30 I gave Sam a call. He was just couple minutes away, he informed me. Finally, nearly an hour behind schedule, he pulled into the courtyard. It had taken him almost 2 hours to drive 43 miles from his home to the resort, making his average speed about 20 mph.
Fortunately, he pointed out, he didn't waste that much gasoline stuck in the creeping lines of traffic. He drives a Toyota Camry Hybrid that rolled quietly along much of the time in electric mode.
Another Happy Volt Owner
Recently, Grants Pass, OR resident and EV World reader Barry Russell [photo below] emailed to comment on Dr. Frank Jamerson's "Happy Volt Owners" article. He wrote:
As a longtime reader of evworld and a hybrid geek for the past 9 years (Ford Escape, Toyota Prius gen II, Lexus RX400h), I'm now a Volt driver. I have some thoughts to add about the Volt.
1) Having "done my time" for 6 years in a Prius, appreciating its modest capabilities while suffering the physical pain from Toyota's lack of consideration for drivers who are 6' 3" tall, I thought I was serving a life sentence of aching knees, posterior and lower back. Then along came the Chevy Volt, which fits me like a glove. My twice-monthly 700-mile drive is now a luxurious pleasure.
2) Test driving the Plug-In Prius versus the Volt was the most eye-opening comparison I've had in over 40 years of driving. Similar in price (for the trim levels selected), the sluggish and sloppy-handling Prius nearly ran out of battery before the end of the short test drive, and labored to keep up with traffic. The brand new Prius seemed even weaker than my 6-year-old Gen II Prius with over 100K miles on it. By the most extreme contrast, the Volt's vehicular velocity vaulted me vivaciously toward the vanishing point, vying for my vehicular vacancy in a velvety vanquishing of its vincible foe, the P.I.Prius. Translation: this is a real car.
3) So how about the gas mileage? After 9,000 miles, most of it on my long trips between Oregon and Los Angeles, my lifetime average is 49 mpg, an accomplishment that would not have been possible in the Prius under similar driving conditions (Winter, mountains), even babying the accelerator (which I always did). The fact I'm now comfortable, and not a hazard for other drivers on long, steep hills only deepens the contrast.
4) Around town, where I'm sure to have more electric range than I need, I finally have access to a guilty pleasure; put the Volt in Sport mode and feel the blissful acceleration and handling of the Volt team's engineering marvel. As much as anything else, this is why I absolutely love this car.
Quibbles, what would life be without 'em? The back-up camera suffers from too much, or too little light sensitivity. Its not often that the light is 'just right' for a good look at what's behind when in reverse.
The OnStar mobile app is also very cool. So much capability.
Too Many Electric Cars?
Finally, I couldn't pass this one up - and thanks to Brad Berman at Plugincars for the heads up on this doosie.
For months we've been suffering the constant flak attack of EV critiques screaming about how poor electric car sales are and that is a disaster for the President. Now comes this little gem from Anton Wahlman over at TheStreet.com, that there are now too many electric cars on the road.
Too many? That's right, too many, at least in terms of the number of available public charging stations. He worries that since there are, at the end of 2012, some 70,000 electric cars in America and another 100,000-125,000 expected to be sold in 2013, that we are not going to have enough places to recharge them, leading to charger 'congestion.'
Are there any good, solid statistics to back up his assertion? Are there scores of angry, frustrated electric car owners demanding the installation of more chargers? Maybe I missed those protests, but I certainly am not aware of any. Sure, there's a odd story every now and then, usually about some gasoline car parked in a slot reserved for electric cars, but what I read more of is how seldom public chargers are being used.
Take for example the story I just linked to today about the first year of operation of Elk Grove, Oregon's six public charging stations. They were used, in their first 12 months, a total of 72 times. Usually, the stories that make the news are the ones were people complain that the chargers aren't being used and what a waste of taxpayer money the are.
People need to understand two things about public chargers. First of all, they are there primarily as confidence builders, not a regular places to recharge. Secondly, experience shows that most people prefer to charge at home, generally overnight. They will use a public charger only when they make trips outside their normal commute range.
Now I don't disagree with Wahlman that we can always use more public chargers, but I seriously doubt we'll see anything like what he envisions. In fact, the U.S. Energy Department is partnering with major corporations to promote allowing employees to charge at their workplace, which can go a long way to not only building confidence in owning or operating an EV, but head-off any future charger congestion because, "Saints be praised," we see a million EVs on the roads of America.
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