Environment Forum

Survey finds electric car buyers motivated by environmental concerns, technology

RTXVC88.jpgWith the first mass-market electric cars hitting the streets this month in the United States, one question looms: Who will buy these cutting-edge vehicles?

General Electric commissioned a survey to find out and the results shed some light on what is likely to motivate different kinds of potential electric car buyers.

The global conglomerate, of course, has a vested interest in promoting the electric car market. GE has its corporate hands in everything from batteries to charging stations to smart grid technology that will be crucial to managing electric cars interaction with utilities.

A research firm surveyed 1,000 people about their thoughts on electric cars. Half were drivers of gasoline-powered cars and the other half drove hybrid or electric cars.

Three types of buyers emerged – the environmentally conscious, tech-loving gearheads and the frugal.

Fabio goes green in electric car vs gas ads

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Fabio has gone electric?

The long-maned Italian model appears in a new commercial promoting electric cars that spoofs Apple’s Mac v. PC ads of years past.

“Hello, I’m an electric,” says a hip young actor in the spot made by Plug In America, a Southern California non-profit.

“And I’m socially responsible gasoline,” says his smarmy counterpart, who is surrounded by a film crew.

Detroit vs. Silicon Valley as green auto hub

Composite image shows an aerial view of downtown Detroit (left) October 16, 2006 REUTERS/Molly Riley, and a view of a rainbow over San Jose City, California, Feb. 5, 2009 REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

There’s a debate touring its way around the blogosphere these days: should the new green auto industry be based in Motor City Detroit or shiny, happy Silicon Valley?

The Valley in southern San Fransisco Bay area is already a hub for electronics expertise – certainly a cornerstone in the pursuit for innovative design and engineering. The world’s largest high-tech companies, including Apple, Google, Facebook, and Intel are headquartered there.

The culture of the region, a recent NPR series pointed out, is “where people are used to taking a chip, a cell or an idea and working on it until it becomes something big.”

How I overcame range anxiety in Mitsubishi’s new electric car

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By Kwok W. Wan

I’m perhaps not the best person to test drive a car around London, as I consider these metal boxes only as machines to take me from place A to place B, and not vehicles of pleasure.

I did once have a very enjoyable road trip from New York to Los Angles, but someone else was driving, and I just looked out the window.  I’ve never even owned my own car, so approached Mitsubishi’s new electric car with trepidation.

“Here’s the car charger,” the Mitsubishi man who handed over the i-MiEV car said, pointing to a yellow springy cord with an ordinary three-pin plug at one end and round black socket to attach to the car at the other.  He also told me not to use the heating too much, as it drained more power than any other dashboard function, and to call him if I encountered any flat battery problems.

Gaze into clean technology’s crystal ball for 2010

Clean technology investors who have suffered through 2009 can find cheer in a new report by the Cleantech Group that gives its top ten predictions for 2010.

The number one prediction: Private capital growth will recover, the research group said.

The group believes that the amount of money from global venture capital and private equity in clean technology in 2010 will surpass that in 2009 “by a healthy margin” and could be a record year. The group also is watching for major investments like Khosla Ventures’ raising $1 billion for renewable energy and clean technology funds, more capital in Asia and innovative fund strategies.

MINI leases not good enough for some electric car champions

Sometimes, even electric vehicles aren’t good enough for the die-hard green car set.

An electric car advocacy group on Tuesday criticized California’s influential air quality regulator, the California Air Resources Board, for allowing BMW’s one-year pilot program of electric Mini Coopers to earn the same credit towards the state’s clean vehicle program as standard production cars.

California is requiring that automakers, collectively, put 7,500 zero-emissions vehicles, or ZEVs, on its roads.

from DealZone:

Tesla sticker shock?

Elon Musk

With highly touted plans for a new electric car in jeopardy, an overseas investor steps in to provide new capital and a much-needed endorsement.

GM? No, Tesla.

Remarkably, the terms of German automaker Daimler AG's 10-percent stake in Tesla may have also helped the Silicon Valley electric-car start-up inch closer to GM in value.

Daimler's vague disclosure of its purchase price as  "double digit million dollar" means Tesla is valued at a minimum of $100 million.
That would make Tesla, which was founded nearly six years ago, about one-eighth the size of 100-year-old GM.

Beyond hybrid green technology – tribrids, quadbrids next?

This portable electric recharging device could be a lifesaver if you break you leg on a windswept mountaintop in the middle of the night and find that your mobile phone battery is dead when you try to call for help.

Of course that’s vanishingly unlikely (and not part of the official sales pitch) but the K3 is an interesting example of “tribrid” technology - using three sources of power. You can plug it into the mains electricity, it has tiny solar panels and a micro wind turbine … Going on sale in June for $99.95, it can charge cell phones, iPods or other electronic devices.

“The K3 allows anyone to charge their devices at any time, anywhere in the world,” said Tod Wagenhals, president of makers Kinesis Industries in Arizona.

Electric cars to help solve riddle of storing power

Since the days of Thomas Edison, finding a way to effectively store electricity has been one of the “Holy Grails” for power companies.

While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.

Edison International is the parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), which is the biggest utilty in the United States in terms of power delivered to customers.

VW on electric cars: “Please, lower your expectations”

Volkswagen’s U.S. chief ruffled some entrepreneurial feathers on Thursday when he told a group of business school students at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management that  it will be 35 years before electric cars make up a significant portion of the world’s auto market.

During his prepared remarks, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Stefan Jacoby outlined the German automaker’s view that fossil fuels and traditional combustion engines will be with us for many years to come. VW, however, is committed to making them vastly more fuel efficient. The company is also investing heavily in so-called clean diesel technology, which reduces tailpipe emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases while still giving cars their “fun-to-drive” pep.

“At Volkswagen we are taking a long-term and a short-term approach, and the short-term approach is not electric vehicles,” Jacoby said. “We can have cars on the road that have fuel consumption of 50, 60, 70 miles per gallon. That can happen in the next ten years.”

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