This commentary was originally posted on the EDF Energy Exchange Blog.
As the Christmas season revs up and a New Year fast approaches, you may have noticed the sentimental commercials of couples giving each other new cars amidst snowy scenes and jolly music or well-choreographed salespeople urging you to shop thedealership as eager car companies showcase their new model year offerings. This happens every year around this time, some obviously more ridiculous than others. But with each year as more hybrid and electric vehicles join the marketplace, these companies are touting their environmental acumen as much as their sleek body styles and luxurious interiors. While there are still hurdles to overcome, the age of electric vehicles (EV) is beginning.
2012 will see the 100% gas-free Ford Focus, now taking reservations, Mitsubishi’s MiEV’s as the cheapest offering in the EV market, and the all electric Honda Fit, released initially as lease only until 2013. With a limited supply of Fits coming to the US, Engadget even suggests “you may want to add your local Honda dealer to the holiday card list — it certainly can't hurt your chances of getting Fit next summer.” One analyst believes by “model year 2015, the new car market will have 108 electric-drive models.” And a University of California at Berkeley study predicts that by 2030, 64% of light vehicle sales in the US will be EV.
All of this excitement and momentum begs many questions about the state of infrastructure for these new ways of driving. Will batteries evolve and will prices come down? Will the better buy be a car with gas back-up or will towns be equipped with adequate charging stations? What will emission profiles look like for those charging in the Northeast versus those out west in sunny, solar California? While this will be a dynamic process for many years, luckily there are some groundbreaking projects underway that are working to answer these questions and build the transportation revolution. And our own Pecan Street tops the list of the Top Five Electric Vehicle Initiatives of the Year! Greentech Media calls it “certainly the most ambitious EV-solar-smart-grid integration project in the United States.”
As we wrote back in September, Pecan Street announced that Chevy GM will be jumping onboard, making “102 Volts available to people living in the 172-home test area. The cars will come with double the current $7,500 federal rebate to try to boost sales. It will likely represent the largest non-fleet concentration of EVs in the country, which will offer valuable data regarding use, grid strain and even basic things like how long the wait will be at available charging stations. Combined with a push to optimize solar for the conflicting needs of EV charging, battery storage and regular old grid supply, the Pecan Street initiative will provide a number of valuable answers.”
As we reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one just around the corner, we are excited that Pecan Street’s EV ambitions have been recognized as #1! Of all the car commercials we will be bombarded with this December, perhaps the timeliest one of all is from the Nissan Leaf which puts gasoline and energy use in a whole new perspective. Here’s to a 2012 that uses less.