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Our Take on Important Recent Developments + Announcing DriveElectric
Jul 24, 2012 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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It's been a long time since we've posted to CalCars-News. Reasons include personal distractions for the main people involved, and our consideration about the evolving role of CalCars. Those discussions are continuing, but meanwhile, here are a few key points and important developments we'd like to share, including "DriveElectric," a very important new initiative from CalCars and plug-in advocates:

Here are some key developments:

  • EVERYTHING IS CHANGING IN THE PLUG-IN WORLD, as the cars arrive, as controversies continue and as more and more people starting talking about "PEVs," rather than making strong separations between plug-in hybrids, extended range electric vehicles, and plug-in electric vehicles. All the news and discussion sites reflect this change; we hope our readers are in the middle of many of them. It's an exciting and challenging time!
  • FINALLY, A PRIUS PLUGS IN! We've been delighted about the launch of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid (that's the way Toyota spells and capitalizes it). For those who are surprised about the strength of its sales, just remember how many people love their Priuses -- and how many were exposed to Prius conversions since 2004! It turns out many of these people are just fine with a car with a relatively limited electric-only range.
  • GM HAS STARTED TO "GET" HOW TO PROMOTE THE CHEVY VOLT. Ads started with strange themes and quirky people. Now on YouTube, seek out dozens of videos in the "Happy Volt Owners" series. Many are under 45 seconds showing a single owner talking about what they love. Longer ones cover Speed, Technology, Misconceptions, and other topics. Now, to start reaching mainstream audiences, we hope to see drivers not just standing in front of white backgrounds next to their trophy cars but instead INSIDE their cars, showing how they're part of commutes, shopping, families, etc.
  • BIG FIX CAMPAIGN: CalCars continues to promote conversions of internal combustion vehicles; in recent months, Via Motors­, including Bob Lutz as a spokesperson, and featuring moments with Jay Leno, has gotten much attention. And AMP Electric Jeep Cherokee SUV conversions are eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit!
  • IN-WHEEL MOTORS: A most positive long-term development for conversions is the renewed pursuit of a technology that will eventually make retrofits of millions of vehicles possible. When we have lightweight, affordable "hub motors" in the wheels of cars, conversions will have to find room mainly for batteries. One company, Protean Electric , familiar to some a few years ago as the British company PML Flightlink, has reorganized with better technology, new funding and great momentum!

DRIVING ELECTRIC IS GETTING STARTED; Meanwhile, advocates and the entire plug-in industry are starting to come to a consensus that there's no greater priority now than to find ways to ensure the success of the new plug-in vehicles by increasing demand for the cars! Therefore, we are happy to announce a new initiative. We don't want to encourage too much attention now, because it's still in the formative stages. But it's coming soon and we hope it will help! Here's how we describe it:

" is a nonprofit startup that will spark the widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) through personal engagement and the power of online networking. We'll connect current plug-in drivers with consumers who want to make informed decisions about their next vehicle. When it launches, it will provide an essential missing piece for the mass-market success of PEVs."

You can get a picture of what we're starting to build at . There w have a bare-bones preview of a home page showing "ways in" for drivers and for consumers. On our About page, you'll find information for gaining support. (As we develop, we will seek co-sponsors and other partners.) On our Get Involved page, you'll find "help wanted" ads for one paid and three volunteer positions.

AFTER YOU LOOK AT THESE THREE PAGES, feel free to send us comments, and to forward to other advocates and people who might help fill out the team.

AND YOU CAN SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS. DrivingElectric is jointly sponsored by three plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) driver/advocacy nonprofit organizations: Plug In America (PIA), The Electric Auto Association (EAA), and The California Cars Initiative (

As an organization, we are one of over 85 local and special chapters of the EAA­?page=Chapters . If you're not already a member of EAA, we STRONGLY encourage you to join. If you're already a member, you can add DrivingElectric as a chapter you support by donating $10. And if you want to make a tax-deducible contribution in any amount to DrivingElectric, you can do so with a credit card directly at . Thanks in advance!

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE: DrivingElectric is one of many projects seeking ways to reach the same goal: communicating beyond "Early Adopters" buying the first tens of thousands of PEVs. The "Early Mainstream" will be the buyers of hundreds of thousands and then millions. To reach them, DrivingElectric will work cooperatively with such efforts as the Electric Drive Transportation Association's GoElectricDrive, Rocky Mountain Institute's ProjectGetReady, the Electrification Coalition, the US Department of Energy's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, the PEV Collaborative, the Sierra Club's Go Electric Campaign, MissionElectric, and others.

One such effort currently getting startd is from EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE. Long-time plug-in advocate Chelsea Sexton invites you to share your perspective to help the utility industry expand its efforts. Here's what she wrote, plus a link to a survey that will take you 15 minutes to fill out, will help the EEI effort -- and help you think about how to communicate about PEVs!

I've been helping the Edison Electric Institute (EEI -- an association representing the shareholder-owned electric utilities in the US), plan a campaign to generate consumer interest about the benefits of plug-in vehicles and using electricity as a transportation fuel.

Specifically, the project aims to capture and convey the real-world, emotionally-connected experiences of driving plug-in vehicles -- the fun, cool, convenient aspects that have been missing from many of the ads and "educational campaigns" to date. It is incredibly community-focused, recognizing that the current users and enthusiasts are the "experts" both on the vehicles and in talking to other people about them. This campaign aims to amplify your efforts and provide additional support in getting the best messages out more broadly and --- to the extent needed -- creating tools for all of us to more easily talk to neighbors, friends, and the random curious folks we find lurking around our cars in parking lots.

Therefore, I'm hoping you'll join me in helping to make this project all it can be by sharing your experiences via this survey:­m4WrN . This is merely the first step in an ongoing engagement with this community, but it will help establish the earliest priorities. Bring your passion, and let me know if you have any questions!

A FINAL WORD: It's technically off-topic, but if you haven't been paying attention to "connecting the dots" about climate change, here's a really important new article by one of our most eloquent advocates for action to get the people, institutions, and nations of the world to start to face our greatest challenge: Bill McKibben on "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math"­politics/­news/­global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

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