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  1. #1
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    John Voelcker lists those EV offerings which appear intended only to meet California's ZEV mandate. The ethics / wisdom of this strategy is, to me, moot, now that it appears the sales of Nissan LEAFs are plummeting. I am worried that there currently isn't a sustainable market for EV's now for the same reasons as when the EV1 was offered:

    1) the current costs are too high for most of the market (and too low for automakers to make money)
    2) energy / power density of batteries is too low for the performance, utility and range for the market
    3) the charging infrastructure is still insufficient

    I am worried that our current regulations (ZEV mandates) are forcing automakers into the wrong strategies. If the market doesn't want it, no amount of regulation will make people buy it. I am recommending the following changes / allowances to the ZEV mandates:

    1) Broaden the vehicle classifications that count towards the ZEV mandate - quadracycles, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, Segweys, personal electric wheelchairs, etc. Where micro EV's are failing, quadracycles, motorcycles, scooters, etc. are succeeding, because they are cheap enough, with just enough utility for city dwellers and other folks with short commutes (like me).

    2) Allow major automakers to buy credits from these manufacturers, so that they can reduce their prices, and continue mainstreaming these simpler / cheaper vehicles.

    3) Broaden the subsidies to include quadracycles, motorcycles, scooters, etc., so that they become more affordable, and reinforce the trends for these vehicle sales to increase.

    I believe this will lead automakers to partner with these alternative vehicle manufacturers and offer a range of vehicles that is obtaining a toe-hold in the American market. BEV's need more time to gestate.
    Last edited by Jason M. Hendler; 05-04-2012 at 10:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason M. Hendler View Post
    Compliance Cars:

    Link

    John Voelcker lists those EV offerings which appear intended only to meet California's ZEV mandate. The ethics / wisdom of this strategy is, to me, moot, now that it appears the sales of Nissan LEAFs are plummeting. I am worried that there currently isn't a sustainable market for EV's now for the same reasons as when the EV1 was offered:

    1) the current costs are too high for most of the market (and too low for automakers to make money)
    2) energy / power density of batteries is too low for the performance, utility and range for the market
    3) the charging infrastructure is still insufficient

    I am worried that our current regulations (ZEV mandates) are forcing automakers into the wrong strategies. If the market doesn't want it, no amount of regulation will make people buy it. I am recommending the following changes / allowances to the ZEV mandates:

    1) Broaden the vehicle classifications that count towards the ZEV mandate - quadracycles, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, Segweys, personal electric wheelchairs, etc. Where micro EV's are failing, quadracycles, motorcycles, scooters, etc. are succeeding, because they are cheap enough, with just enough utility for city dwellers and other folks with short commutes (like me).

    2) Allow major automakers to buy credits from these manufacturers, so that they can reduce their prices, and continue mainstreaming these simpler / cheaper vehicles.

    3) Broaden the subsidies to include quadracycles, motorcycles, scooters, etc., so that they become more affordable, and reinforce the trends for these vehicle sales to increase.

    I believe this will lead automakers to partner with these alternative vehicle manufacturers and offer a range of vehicles that is obtaining a toe-hold in the American market. BEV's need more time to gestate.
    Although I believe you might be just a bit premature in some of your statements JHM, I like and agree with most everything you have said.
    Let's give it a year, or even TWO and reassess...
    WOT
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    Follow the Chevy Volt on Twitter! @WopOnTour

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    Quote Originally Posted by WopOnTour View Post
    Although I believe you might be just a bit premature in some of your statements JHM, I like and agree with most everything you have said.
    Let's give it a year, or even TWO and reassess...
    WOT
    Thanks for the positive words. When it comes to product development and market positioning, I am Rommel.

    Normally, I am a "wait and see" kinda guy, but the political ramifications of inaction could really set things back if the current policies fail to generate sales (Volt is succeeding, but almost got scuttled by political subversion). Broadening the current rules still allows for the uptake of the current offerings of BEV's (LEAF, FFE, Coda), should customers want them, but provides the safety net of including vehicles that are rapidly improving in performance / range / utility and sales (quadracycles, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles).

    Realisticly, I know the policies won't change until we see they are failing, and I at least want to plant the seeds of a solution in people's minds now, so that they calmly head towards the exit, instead of panicking and trampling the innocent.

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    From a macro/policy standpoint, I actually think this is pretty close to "working as intended". The idea of the mandate is to reduce the opportunity cost of putting real R&D and production and marketing and etc. behind EVs, as opposed to continuing to concentrate only on conventional ICE cars. (In other words, it makes the choice more like "eat the required small blind on EV, or call the bet and raise?" instead of "bet on EVs, or bet anti-EV?".) If you don't actually make the most of the opportunity, well, you still have to eat the real cost of putting out a token effort. And I think most manufacturers have at least put in enough extra effort to take them to the 'hedge' level, in case of something like an oil spike where ICE sales might really start to collapse relative to EV sales.

    As a side benefit, it also takes a lot of teeth out of any PR efforts framed in terms of "ICE vs. EV". If you think the anti-EV propaganda is bad now, imagine if there were manufacturers whose business plan was to actively avoid EVs (because they're at a competitive disadvantage), and instead of putting all those dollars into EV R&D, they started putting serious marketing dollars against EVs to protect their products' market positions?

    (Sorry if I screwed up the poker analogy; I don't really know poker. )
    Last edited by AySz88; 05-05-2012 at 02:41 AM.
    2012 Volt (#3859) - Delivered 2011-10-06
    Computer programmer, science and engineering wonk, and habitual over-analyzer.

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    AySz88,

    To expand on your analogy, I believe my suggestion allows automakers a wider range of better bets. Perhaps an automaker is at a severe disadvantage now, but they could make a relatively cheap investment in a fledgling electric motorcycle or scooter manufacturer, who could then develop a viable NEV or quadracycle in a couple years.

    I believe only Tesla Motors is hitting the right combination of performance / range / utility, price and production volume to make money. At the opposite end of the transporation spectrum, first the electric bicycle manufacturers, and only recently, the electric scooter and motorcycle manufacturers, are hitting the right combination of performance / range / utility, price and production volume to make money. Automakers should pair up with electric scooter and motorcycle manufacturers to bridge the wave of acceptance from electric bicycles to cars and trucks. BMW is already showing off a cool electric scooter, but I suspect it is too expensive compaired to offerings from Asian manufacturers.

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