Monday, March 12, 2012

EV News Update

By Joe Salimando
Salimando is a Fairfax, Virginia-based writer and contributor to, and
Reach him at

Items on electric vehicles (and what they might mean to electrical contractors):

GM halts Chevy Volts production for 5 weeks – GM had an oversupply; this is what smart makers of things do when things they make (from Captain Crunch cereal to refrigerators) aren’t been bought by the public.

See this Washington Post report. Lots of negatives in there; one biggie is the Volt’s price, $41,000 (after the $7,500 federal tax credit, we’re talking $33,500).

Note: I drive a GM car, a Saturn Ion. After a Zero down payment, it costs me $3,156/year (for six years). The thing gets 26 mpg city, 39 highway. Yes, it burns gasoline. But it doesn’t burn a hole in my pocket.

From an EC point-of-view: The Volt’s battery offers 40 miles of range; after using that, the car switches to a gasoline-powered “extender.” Volt owners might not be prime customers for residential EV charging stations; they might  never, ever use a commercial facility.

Personal observation – on 3/7, I flew to San Francisco, from Washington’s Dulles Airport, for our first vacation since 2010. After parking the car, the walk to the terminal (on floor 3 of parking garage A) took me by 5 EV charging stations, located right next to the handicapped parking.

Benefit for EV owners: Shorter walk to/from the gates.

Charging at the time: One of the 5 stations was in use.

Brain bother: I wondered if the one car that was charging was left there by a guy/gal/family who took a 1-day trip . . . or would be gone for 7 days. No rules were posted telling an EV owner “you can’t plug in and fly away for a long time.”




Above: A slice of

Upcoming EV events – if you live in or near Southern California, or you want to go there for business and a visit, two of the three upcoming EV events that I know about will be handy. The other’s in Texas.

April 18-19 – Plug In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure USA, San Diego.

May 6-9 – Electric Vehicle Symposium 26, Los Angeles.

July 23-26 – Plug-In 2012, San Antonio TX


Note: I’ve been to Plug-In 2009 and Plug-In 2011. I found attendance worthwhile and, in truth, there was no substitute for being there.

Two conference calls on 2/24 – a webinar (held by the sponsors of the April event) and a phone meeting (held by the Electric Drive Transportation Association) took place within hours of each other 2/24. I combined what I heard and produced two pieces for

Catching up with EVs – on the Leaf, the I-5 “Electric Highway,” the EV Project’s scoreboard, and more.

Where EVs are taking you – lessons learned, lessons not learned, and how a locale can make itself EV-friendly.

Stray notes:

  • EDTA has a website about itself and another one (“consumer-facing,” they called it) – A graphic from it is shown above.
  • EDTA also posted a file of the phone conversation referenced above.
  • DoE’s website now has 6 EV-related videos.
  • You can find a Powerpoint on “electric drive vehicle overview,” dated 10/11, on the DoE’s EERE website.
  • Go here to access archived DoE “Clean Cities” program webinars. The most recent: 2/27 – on Plug-In EV standards, upcoming PEVS and their features, and a charging system overview.

On that last bullet: If you page down to September 2011, you can listen to a web session that includes info on EV charging stations and electrical inspectors; you can also download a PDF of that piece of the presentation.

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