Category Archives: PIA

From Sea to Shining Sea- At the Speed of a Good Idea

cadillac-mountain-sunrise-chad-tracyIf the Earth spun according to the laws of social change, and electric vehicle deployment, dawn would rise in the West and set in the East. With California creating its own Federally sanctioned zero-emission vehicle program and drafting some of the most forward leaning PEV policies in the U.S., it now accounts for the sale of one out of every three vehicle sales. In 2013, Washington State became home to more Tesla S sales per capita than even California, and the highest percentage of domestic PEV sales (1.6%).  Not to be out done in 2013, Hawai’i bumped California to third, tying Washington’s sales percentage.  Oregon consistently has the most public charging stations of any state and is in the top five domestic sales markets.  Collectively, California, Oregon and Washington have electrified their respective sections of Interstate Five– the West Coast Green Highway.  It’s easy to see why, then, when I leave my neighborhood in a suburb north of Portland, I usually stop counting Nissan LEAFs and feel twinges of pride at how far in the past four years our region has pushed this technology to the forefront of our neighbor’s consciousnesses.

And now, the West casts its dawn light far to the East, illuminating for others the virtues of this amazing technology, the plug-in electric vehicle.

In September, Massachusetts convened the first meeting of the Massachusetts EV Initiative Task Force (“MEVI”), in Boston, comprised of utilities, auto manufacturers like Nissan and Toyota, charging station providers, local governments, NGO’s like the Sierra Club, Plug In America, and Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Northeast and critical state agencies.  Working to make the Bay State a fast follower, MEVI’s work groups have drafted recommendations for three critical areas of public policy- Outreach, Infrastructure and Incentives.  At the same time, the Mass Department of Public Utilities has opened an EV Docket designed to address a litany of familiar consumer and electric utility issues associated with charging- such as whether public charging station providers should be regulated like utilities, will utilities be allowed to play in the infrastructure field, will EV charging be required to have separate meters- issues which western states have resolved with mixed success.  Indeed, as proof of its appetite to lead New England’s efforts to electrify, Massachusetts celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its first DCQC– February 18th at the UMass-Amherst campus and announced a state-based $2500 point of sale rebate for PEVs.

Even in Maine, (at Cadillac Mountain) where dawn officially first arrives each day in the United States, charging stations are springing up.   A coalition of diverse stakeholders, including Plug In America, the American Lung Association of the Northeast, the Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Northeast, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Nissan USA and the state’s largest utility, Central Maine Power, has embarked on an EV Pilot with grant funding to install infrastructure and provide vehicles to qualifying local communities, organization and businesses. The “other” Portland’s DCQC will be installed downtown at the Fore Street Garage in April, soon to be followed by the City of South Portland’s placement of a Nissan DCQC at its Community Center. At the same time, matching grants are being provided to Greater Portland businesses and local governments to help purchase vehicles and hasten public awareness of the viability of PEVs.  Workplace charging is scheduled at IDEXX, one of the area’s largest employers.

Traditionally dependent on oil for heating and transportation, New England is poised to learn from the lessons to the West.  And now we can truly say the EV’s cast a light from sea to shining sea.

ThinkCity- A Consumer No Brainer

Yesterday was a truly great day along the chronologic line of EV infiltration into popular transportation culture- along with some bittersweet aftertaste. Ten ThinkCity vehicles arrived from the now bankrupt Elkhart, Indiana company bound for Portland-Area owners, making our total allotment of cars at 100. This connection was fused through the efforts of PGE and its Business Development Director, Charlie Allcock, who convinced ThinkCity we could provide them all the buyers they needed- a prophesy borne out.  I enjoyed the chance to mingle with Jim & Liz Houser at their Hawthorne Auto Clinic, who has taken on the warranty and serving responsibility for the owners and wanted to host a special meeting with them.  My best estimate was that twenty of more arrived to visit and discuss the vehicle, plus others who were there to just check it out and see what they thought of it.

The ThinkCity is a two door hatchback with a range of 100 miles using an advanced lithium ion battery of 24kWh (the same size as the Nissan Leaf’s).  It has body panels and interior trim components made of 100% recyclable plastic parts whose color is molded into the material eliminating harmful paint emissions.  It costs 2-3 cents per mile to operate and comes with a three year warranty.  It has a maximum power of 45 hp and a highway capable speed of 70 mph.  It comes with ABS and airbags and has undergone and met all applicable US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and has a three year warranty.

Oregonians can purchase it (after applying the federal tax credit) for $8500.  Yes.  You read that right. $8500.  Of course there is a sad part of this story fueling this pricing- bankruptcy.

The ThinkCity has been available for several months here, and has thus far shipped forty units, and with these additional shipments coming to the area, they will boost our PEV residential fleet by nearly one percent!  I also like their distinctiveness as advertising for electric drive technology needs to be made more conspicuous for the public to become aware of its burgeoning use.

My company, ClipperCreek, has provided the portable charging unit for many of these vehicles and, out of enthusiasm for their dispersement, I have offered a 15% discount on our residential Level 2 charger- the LCS-25 to those buyers who want one.  A recent California consumer study released this week, shows, among other interesting data, that over 90% of PEV owners opt to have home charging stations put in.  For an all battery electric vehicle (BEV), such as the ThinkCity, it is more likely necessary to have a level 2 charger.  A common question I have heard is whether it is necessary for the proper maintenance of the battery.  Speaking to some of the ThinkCity sales folks, I was told that they prefer that owners use a level two charger for baseline charging and reserve the level one for emergencies; this is actually referenced in the Owner’s Manual. I certainly suggest folks with this battery concern flesh it out more directly with the manufacturer.  I do believe, from my own experience, that most drivers will find that level 1 charging is too slow to handle normal usage (18 hours of charging time) and a level two charger allows the vehicle to charge at its fastest rate of 3.3 kw/per hour- nearly double the rate of a level one charger.

So, if you have purchased a ThinkCity and are interested in getting our ClipperCreek unit, call or email me, Barry@clippercreek.net, and I can get you a promotional code that can be entered during the purchasing process from our online store at www.clippercreek.com.  This brings the cost down from $795 to $675.75 and you get the best residential charger on the market!

Enjoy the celebrations of National Plug In Day-2012!  Get out and test drive an EV! And consider how an electric vehicle can meet your transportation needs and budget!

(Special Thanks to Joe Mayer for the Photo used of the Car Transporter)