Oklahoma is not OK

Oklahoma!Ooook-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev’ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin’ lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say 
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

(from “Oklahoma” by Rodgers & Hammerstein)

The news out of Oklahoma is dismal. Last Monday, the Oklahoma legislature passed S.B. 1456, creating a fee for utility customers who install solar panels or wind turbines and sell their excess energy back to the utility companies. In effect, it sets up a fee for customers implementing solar panels or wind turbines at their residence. Although the title of the bill does not specifically mention solar or wind power, it does mentions “customers utilizing certain distributed generation.” In the ClimateProgress article, about this bill, the owner of Sun City Oklahoma stated the bill was an amendment “attached to some other bill.” and “It just appeared out of nowhere.” A reading of the bill seems to show this does not appear to be the case. Rather, there were active opponents of the legislation as well as proponents such as Oklahoma’s major utilities. So someone knew what was happening. This concerns me. If “energy advocates, environmental groups” and others were opposing the bill, why didn’t they marshal their constituency? How on Earth did an owner of a solar power company not seem to be aware of a bill that had its first reading back on February 3rd, especially since this bill is positioned to have a disrupting affect on his business? I’ve mentioned before, I wonder how fragile the solar energy industry is, at least the residential side of it. Those of us who believe that climate change is happening and mankind is a primary contributor to it, have to be made aware of governmental efforts to put up roadblocks to the adoption of distributed, renewable energy generation. It is the duty of the renewable energy advocacy groups to spread the word loudly and repeatedly when activity of this kind rears its head. Otherwise, why do they exists?

The language of the bill uses the old tactic of pitting citizens against one another by stating, “No retail electric supplier shall allow customers with distributed generation installed after the effective date of this act to be subsidized by customers in the same class of service who do not have distributed generation.” This is simply a strategy of divide and conquer. We are at war. The utility companies know this but oddly enough, environmental groups act as if we are not.

I find it odd that a state government that subsidizes distributed, renewable energy generation, at the same time, attaches fees to it. As in earlier discussions on this blog about the ridiculous nature of taxing different types of vehicular fuel differently, to raise funds for road maintenance, this seems ludicrous!

At a time when major oil companies are receiving billions of dollars in subsidies, while contributing to the pollution of our environment and global climate change, we absolutely should be helping the fledgling solar industry to get off the ground. Free market economics alone won’t work here. Recently, solar panel manufacturing costs have started to drop and panel efficiency has been increasing. If the free market had been the only way this industry could compete, who would have invested years and tons of money to reach this point? Heck, we wouldn’t have ever gotten to this point where solar panels are becoming an affordable alternative for residential customers!

Many urban areas in the South and Southwest U.S. have experienced rolling brownouts in the Summer, as heat waves have everyone running air conditioners almost constantly. A sensible utility company should see the distributed generation of energy as an additional source of power that does not require the construction of a new power plant (or maintenance of said plant). Are there costs involved? Absolutely. The transmission of electricity in Texas is, by law, a separate function from generation of said energy or retail sales of same. Someone has to pay to erect power lines, maintain them and react to restore power after natural calamities. The transmission fees are for this purpose. Retail electric customers here pay a transmission fee, per kilowatt hour transmitted, as part of their electric bill. If a customer sells excess energy back to the grid, someone has to pay for the transmission of that electricity back to the grid. In my opinion, this is a cost that should be paid by the electric utilities, as they are the customer in that transaction. There should not be a fee charged to the residential customer for becoming a mini electric utility.

Corporations, as I’ve said before, are like living creatures. In this case, the utilities seem to feel threatened by distributed energy generation. Should we force them to purchase excess energy generated by residential energy generation? That is something that should be discussed, openly. In my opinion, for now at least, the answer is yes, because our national (if not global) security is involved. Should we make them pay retail prices? Of course not. If utility companies perceived distributed renewable energy as a resource they could tap, at a reasonable cost when there is demand to sell it, perhaps they’d be more on-board with it. However, the end game is not to their liking. Eventually, it is possible, perhaps even probable, that enough residential power generation will become available that their contribution of energy to the grid will start decreasing. That’s bad for them but good for us (and the environment). We should not be surprised by their resistance to its adoption and we should remain vigilant, watching for efforts to curb adoption of home-generated energy. This is war. The utility companies, who have served us well for over a century, know this and are marshaling their forces to exist as long as possible. This is the responsible thing for them to do for their shareholders. If we are dedicated to building a truly better future for ourselves, we have to accept that they will not continue indefinitely in their current form (or magnitude).

We cannot fall asleep at the wheel. We must remain vigilant and not be caught off-guard when these predictable moves are made. The environmental groups we support with donations have to earn that support by getting the word out about governmental moves like this, when they are first proposed, so we have time to react. They also have to stop preaching to the choir and get a real public debate on the issues started. We have busy lives and cannot, each of us, read every bill that is proposed. We can however, react to stop efforts contrary to our welfare, if warned in advance.

One last thing: If your utility company built renewable energy generation facilities instead of those that pollute, would you still want to have your own solar panels or wind turbines? I’d like to know how you feel about that.

Epic Earth Day – Grapevine, Texas

BandstandOn behalf of the Classic Chevrolet dealership, I attended the “Epic Earth Day” event in Grapevine, Texas. We had both a Chevy Volt and a Chevy Cruze Turbo Diesel on hand. I thought this gave us the ability to have high-mileage, ecologically-friendly vehicle both for those who had a place to charge and for those who don’t, like apartment residents. I positioned the Volt at the rear entrance to the festival so I could provide test drives. As usual, people experiencing the Volt for the first time were blown away, several saying they’d like to get one in the near future. One guy from California was in town for the NCAA Final Four and asked if I could sell him a Volt and ship it to him! I guess I could, but we don’t have any Volts set up for California emissions requirements.

WeatherThe festival had a rough start, with many vendors showing up late, which necessitated me moving the Volt away from the entrance so they could bring their stuff in. The weather was not the best either. Unlike my recent stint at the AltCar Conference, it was windy, chilly and threatened rain most of the day. In fact, we got a little rain but it dissipated quickly. Situated next to our display was the Nissan Leaf display. They were not conducting test drives and their sales reps and I shot the breeze between visitors. Their representatives got swapped out, around the middle of the festival hours. Sewell Cadillac had originally been signed up to have a display where our Cruze was parked, but apparently they cancelled. I was hoping to see people’s reaction to the Cadillac ELR and was disappointed they were not present.

Buzz and the Volt

Buzz discussing the Volt with a visitor.

Eco HouseOrganic  ProduceIt was a good event for the Volt, as the attendees and vendors were mostly of an ecological bent. After I got set up, a gentleman who had a display called the “Eco House,” asked if I had a Volt we could park in his Garage. His display mimicked a home full of ecologically friendly and energy efficient appliances. He was set up to give presentations, including bleachers for attendees to sit during his talks. I was a bit nervous about someone possibly misrepresenting the Volt’s features/capabilities. However, he had done his homework and had a very good understanding of the Volt. I texted the dealership and had another Volt delivered.

Near the end of the day, the sun finally started shining down on all of us, the live music got cranked up and it really became a festive festival!Test Drive Area

A call for help. Can you answer the call?

I was contacted by Marc Witham of Schneider Electric. Marc had questions about EV chargers in the workplace. We had a very interesting conversation and I mentioned my blog to him (always self-promoting!). He asked if I could help him reach out to others about this, so he can get input from as many people as possible.

Here’s the deal:

Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric, a manufacturer of Level 2 Electric Vehicle chargers is interested in
speaking to EV owners whose workplace has installed EV chargers for use by their employees.

This is a market research project to gather information on workplace decision making process, motivations and criteria.  NO SALES!  The goal is to do a quick phone interview.

Please contact Marc Witham at marcwitham@schneider-electric.com

Marc (an Open Networker) can also be contacted via Linkedin:

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=1888275&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

If you have installed chargers at your place of business, or work for a company that has, please reach out to Marc and help move the EV revolution a little further down the road.

March 2014 Sales Numbers…April Fools???

Wow.

As usual, we won’t have Tesla Model S numbers for a couple of weeks, but I’ll update this when they announce their results.

The numbers are in, and the Nissan Leaf has taken off! The Leaf’s sales have increased 76% over the previous month (2,507 vs. 1,425). Year-over-year, it’s much less dramatic, showing an increase of 12% over March 2013 (2,507 vs. 2,236).

The Chevrolet Volt showed a modest increase of 22% from the previous month (1,478 vs.1,210). Year-over-year, the change was 0.0000000% (1,478 vs. 1,478). Odd, eh? I thought my source might have goofed up, but I have verified this from multiple sources (unless someone at Chevrolet goofed…). Makes me wonder what happened in March 1478… Well, other than the Treaty of Brno, that is. ;-) The Volt has less than a 10,581 unit advantage over the Leaf in total U.S. sales. If Leaf beats Volt every month by this amount, Leaf would take the lead in February 2015!

The Plug-in Prius posted a 39% increase over the previous month (1,452 vs. 1,041) and a whopping 85% increase year-over-year (1,452 vs. 786)!

The ELR is picking up momentum. Compared to the previous month, its sales increased 40% (81 vs 58). Last month also had the first Canadian ELR sale!

Finally, the Corvette increased its sales over the previous month by 43% (3,480 vs. 2,438) and year-over-year, it increased an amazing 330% (3,480 vs. 1,053)!

The interesting thing to me is that every single vehicle increased sales over February and year-over-year (okay, the Volt stayed steady year-over-year, but none of these vehicles decreased in sales). The monthly thing I could possibly attribute to people starting to receive their income tax refunds and those checks spontaneously combusting in their pockets. But the year-over-year thing is different. All of the vehicles I track had been available a minimum of 8 months before March 2013, so it’s not new models ramping up quickly. Perhaps we are approaching that tipping point. More and more people are asking about the Volt at my dealership. Perhaps that is happening at all dealerships where plug-in vehicles are sold. Gasoline hasn’t increased much in the last 6 months. Compared to November of last year, gas has only increased about 9%. Due to that, I’m not sure it was a contributing factor at all.

And the eye candy you’ve all been waiting for: The Graphs! As you can see, the original Prius began waning around the 33rd month of its availability. The Volt appears to still have strong demand and the Leaf is slowly closing the gap. The ELR is in the bottom-right corner, only recently becoming available, but its little curve is rising as well. The Plug-in Prius is definitely starting to wane and I can’t wait to see the numbers from Tesla, later this month.Sales Numbers March 2014

Thank you all!

Just a quick blurb:

I was looking at my blog stats, specifically how many visits it gets and from where. Obviously, I expected to have visitors from the U.S. and there have been 9,919. Canada is a distant second at 508 visits. I’m going to have to work on my promotional techniques if I want to get more than one visit from Colombia, Algeria, Nigeria, Mauritius, Guam, Bolivia, Jamaica (been there!), Haiti, Cyprus, Ghana, Mongolia, Georgia (ex-part of Russia, not the state), Albania, Cayman Islands (been there!), Viet Nam, Reunion, Belize, Lithuania, Saint Kitts and Nevis (been there!), Luxembourg, Guyana, El Salvador and Bermuda (been there too!).

Thank you all for visiting. Here’s the map:MEVJ Visits

and the metamorphosis continues…into the lawn! **UPDATED**

As my regular readers know, I’ve been fundamentally changed by leasing our two Chevy Volts. We’ve been actively researching solar panels and (hopefully) plan on adding them to our home. We’ve gone non-chemical in fertilizing our lawn and treating it for weeds. I’ve written articles on our neighborhood website about rainwater collection, sprinkler system use, mulching, renewable energy electricity providers, recycling and (of course) electric vehicles.

This weekend, we did it again. We recently built a much more efficient and smaller home than we had in Colleyville. It has a much smaller yard than the last house, so we’ve been debating having a lawn service mow and edge our lawn or doing it ourselves. I wanted to opt for the service, especially since I haven’t mowed a lawn in at least 22 years. A yard the size of ours costs between $20 and $25 to have it mowed and edged. Texas has about a nine month grass growing season, so the cost, per year, of having our lawn mowed and edged would be between $780 and $975. Not a tiny amount by any means, but we spent twice as much at the last house (1/2 acre lawn, lots of tree and shrub trimming as well). The convenience of having someone else do it as well as the problem of storing the lawnmower (and fuel) in a small, two-car garage where two gas water heaters are located, had me leaning toward a lawn service.

Mow Joe reel mowerMy wife, Bonnie, found manual “reel” lawn mowers at Home Depot and wanted us to go check them out. They ranged in price from $80 to $199. I had always wondered about these, but had never had a lawn small enough to make one practical. The store staff was very helpful and the first person to help us used a reel mower to mow her lawn, so she had lots of good advice and recommendations. We were very close to making the purchase, when I noticed how far the blades were from the outside edge of the wheels. We would have to use a trimmer along the entire fence line and around all trees if we bought a reel mower. This was not a deal breaker, but it had me pondering…

Ego Lithium-ion battery-powered lawn mowerI cannot remember how it came up, but the saleswoman mentioned that Home Depot had just gotten in a lithium-ion battery-powered lawn mower by Ego. I had thought about an electric mower, but the idea of fighting a cord while mowing was not a pleasant thought. This might be a way to not have explosive fuel stored in my garage near two open flames! Being battery-powered, there would be no cord to manhandle. The saleswoman wasn’t as well-versed on the electrics, but she knew that the morning after they came in, a man came in to specifically check it out and bought one. They think this is going to be really big. She found another salesperson to help with the battery-powered mower. He was quite helpful as well and mentioned the manufacturer had leaf blowers and “weed eaters” that were powered by the same system (although different battery sizes). He mentioned the leaf blowers were so powerful, they were blowing around sections of 2X4′s with one!

Ego ManualGasoline-powered, self-propelled lawn mowers ranged in price from $249 to $3,699 (way more mower than we’d need), so I didn’t think the price for the Ego was out of line. There were 22 gas-powered mowers that were less expensive than the Ego, but not a big enough difference in price that I’d opt for gas. I pulled out my iPhone and checked Consumer Reports for mower ratings. The Ego was rated highest among battery-powered mowers and only a few gas-powered mowers scored higher. We checked online pricing and it was the same as Home Depot’s price.

I had to ask the “range anxiety” question: “How long could it cut grass before recharging?” The answer was 30-45 minutes, which should be more than enough to mow our small yard. The price for the mower was $500 and that had me stumped. The reel mower was MUCH less expensive, but would require a lot more extra work, due to the additional trimming that would be required.

Then he said the four things that clenched the deal:

  • The mower folds up “like a stroller,” meaning we’d be able to fit it in our garage without having to hang it on a wall,
  • The mower has headlights so you can mow when it’s a little cooler,
  • The mower is self-propelled,
  • He is empowered to discount it $50.

Done deal.

We loaded our new electric mower in the back of our electric vehicle and took our new toy home. I’ll let you know my thoughts, once I’ve mowed with it a few times.

**UPDATE** Okay, I’ve been through the first mow and here are my thoughts:

  • I read the manuals (mower, charger and battery), since this is such a different animal.
  • It’s not as quiet as I thought it would be but is MUCH quieter than a gas mower. I don’t think I’ll be doing any 7:00AM mowing…
  • I absolutely LOVE not smelling exhaust fumes as I mow.
  • Like most mowers, the handle is too wide. When I’m trying to mow up against the wooden fence, the handle rubs the fence before I can get all the grass at the fence line cut.
  • The battery mounts for the charger and the mower were very robust.
  • The battery life is fine for us, total mow time was about 25 minutes. The grass was not overgrown, so the load was not very heavy. At the end of the mow, when I plugged the battery into the charger, it showed 25% battery power remaining. Even if I had depleted the battery, it recharges so quickly, I could do something else between mowing the front and back yards, if I had to.
  • It is designed to fold up and stand on end, taking up an amazingly small amount of room on our garage.

It did NOT make mowing “fun.”Folded Ego**UPDATED AGAIN 10 APR 14**

EGO String TrimmerI went back to Home Depot and bought the Ego Wireless String Trimmer. As I mentioned in the review of the mower, I cannot easily mow right up to the edge of the fence, so I needed to get a string trimmer, commonly known as a “weed whacker.” I noticed that there were many battery-powered string trimmers at Home Depot, starting at just $49.99. The Ego was not the most expensive, but it was near the top. I read reviews, using my iPhone, and honestly based my decision on the experience I had with Ego’s lawn mower. It was in a box almost too long to fit in my car (you know, my Chevy Volt) even with the back seats folded down.

One question I wanted an answer to was, “If all Ego’s tools use the same battery pack, why do I have to buy that (and a charger) with every tool?” Surfing the Ego website, I found the answer in their “Support” section. It appears I wasn’t the only one asking this. The answer from Ego was that later this month, Home Depot would begin stocking “tool only” boxes that did not have the battery or charger. Since mowing the lawn used the majority of the battery, I didn’t have a problem getting the string trimmer with another battery and charger. If I end up getting the leaf blower, I will opt for the “tool only” option.

Once I got the trimmer home, I did have one disappointment: The included charger was a different design than the charger that came with the mower. I’m a stickler for symmetry and this bugged me. A lot. Why make another charger? Why make them look different? Stand differently? Oh well…

Assembly was easy, but one critique I had read while at Home Depot rang true: Why make the handle adjustable only by employing a screwdriver? If I’m out in the yard, trimming the grass along the fence and want to switch to edging the sidewalk, I don’t want to have to walk back into the garage for a screwdriver. My next trip to Home Depot will be for finger screws of the same thread type so I can make the adjustment without tools.

Black & Decker trimmer with wheelOne of the features a Black & Decker trimmer has, that I wish the Ego had, is a flip down wheel for edging. Instead of having to support the weight of the trimmer when edging along the sidewalk or driveway, the user just flips down the wheel and rolls the trimmer along, much like a traditional edger, with the exception that it has only the one wheel.

There was one very impressive thing about the Ego’s packaging. All the packaging was recyclable! This was true of the lawn mower too, but I failed to mention it in my earlier review. There was no styrofoam protecting padding. It was all pulped cardboard, molded to the desired shape. It was (somewhat) easily shredded to fit in our recycling bin. Even the plastic bags had a recycling symbol on them. I have to admit, to me that shows battery power, for Ego, is not just a fad or buzzword. It seems to be a real commitment to making the world a bit cleaner.

I’m still a bit bummed that the chargers are different, but c’est la vie. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but when I do, you can bet I’ll update this post to let you know what I think!

I really just don’t understand sometimes…

Keep calm?As my regular readers know, the Volts we acquired about a year and a half ago changed us. We think the change is for the best. Of course, as we’ve become more “green,” we’ve become less tolerant of those who litter, pollute or just accept that that’s the way it has to be. One of the reasons for building our new, efficient home was to have solar panels added so that our carbon footprint would be reduced a bit more and so that we could lock in an electric rate that would not change for twenty years. I’ve written about this a lot, here,  and here, and here. As you can see, I was anxious to get started with Solar City. Then the rug got pulled out from under us when the Architectural Committee of our Home Owner’s Association ruled that we could not put solar panels on our home. They deemed the project unattractive.Leader

As I mentioned here, Texas law makes it pretty easy to overrule a Home Owner’s Association decision against adding solar panels, but only after the development phase of the neighborhood has been completed. Ours is still under development. In fact, the property next door is ready for the foundation to be poured. This is where I lack understanding: Isn’t it a sort of bait-and-switch for a developer or HOA to prevent a homeowner from adding a solar energy device if they will have to allow it later? If I was the sort of person who hated solar panels and had purchased in a neighborhood in which none were present, I would feel hoodwinked if, after I had bought the home, suddenly roofs started sprouting solar arrays.

It also does not seem very neighborly to disallow a neighbor’s desire to add solar panels if you will have to capitulate your position later. Why make the homeowner wait, spending more for electricity, until later when you cannot prevent it? How do you think that neighbor will feel about the neighborhood, the HOA or their neighbors?

As an olive branch, the HOA president asked if I would join an on-line “Green Group” on the neighborhood’s website. Trying to be the good neighbor, while awaiting the results of our appeal, I wrote articles about Rain water collection, composting, companies that offer 100% renewable energy, recycling, plug-in vehicles, etc. The only comment I got was one or two from the HOA president. I never wrote about our attempt to get solar panels or about solar panels in general.

Then I received the following email:

Hi, Buzz.

Apologies for the delay, I’ve been traveling on business.

We did meet again with the lawyer and developer and the ACC decision still stands with the support of both so long as the neighborhood is under development.

Let me know if you’d like to connect in person and discuss. More than willing to do so if you’d like.

Ch

In this neighborhood, you can erect basketball goals next to your driveway, in front of the house. You can park boats, camping trailers, or RVs in your driveway, in front of the house.

But you cannot have solar panels on your roof.

ArgueWe are having a debate in our country, in fact around the world, about climate change, pollution, fracking, contamination of water supplies, declining air quality, etc. Still, people resist something as helpful as renewable energy! Over aesthetics!!

Killing for energyWe are having a debate about the role of government and governmental intrusion into our daily lives and yet we have a quasi-governmental group, like an HOA, tell us what we can and cannot do with our private property. Yes, I understand the role of an HOA is to preserve property values by placing restrictions on what we can do on our property, but the average home that adds solar panels increases in value! I honestly feel, in this case, that the HOA is damaging us financially by making us pay more for electricity than we would be paying with solar panels, by delaying the installation of solar panels while energy prices continue to rise and preventing us from making a modification to our home that will increase its value.

I really just don’t understand sometimes…Patience

My apologies to Charlie Daniels…

Honey In The Rock Album CoverEV Rider

I was takin a trip to Californ-ay-yay
Electrically glidin’ in my Chevrolet
Streamin’ awesome music to MyLink from my iPhone,

Just as I crossed the Mississippi line
One tire pressure reading began to decline
And I knew that left rear tire was about to go

I called OnStar. I didn’t get uptight
But there wasn’t a charging station in sight
So I just asked them to guide me to a place to park

I went as far as they said and when I stopped the car
It was right in front of this little bar
A kind of a red-neck lookin joint called the Dew Drop Inn

I pulled my charger from out of the back
And told the bartender that I had a flat
And would he be kind enough to let me charge in his lot?

There was one thing I was sure proud to see
And that was Fox News wasn’t playin’ on his TV
But he just looked disgusted and pointed toward the outlet spot

OnStar called up the station down the road a ways
And I guess they were a little bit busy that day
It surprised me when they showed up in 90 minutes or so

The guy said,” Now, you can’t charge very fast like that!”
And I didn’t bother to tell the darn fool
That I sure as hell didn’t have anyplace else to charge

So I went inside and sat down at the bar
When some guy walked in and said, “Who owns this car
With the extension cord hangin’ out of a very small door?”

He looked at me and I swelled with pride
And I decided that I’d take him outside
Show him my Volt and tell him what that cord is for

Just when I thought I’d enlighten him
These 5 hillbillies come a’strollin in
One of ‘em proudly wearin’ a cap with the logo of BP

I was almost to the door when the biggest one
Said, “You can’t charge for free, this is ‘Merica, son!”
And what he’d said made my emotions begin to seethe

Now the last thing I wanted was to get into a fight
About Iraq, the Middle East, and if it was right
To invade other countries just to keep our gasoline

They all stood there gawkin’ and I felt kinda sick
And I knew I better think of something pretty quick
So I just got out my iPhone to show ‘em MSNBC

Now they let out a yell that’d curl yer hair
But before they could move I grabbed me a chair
And said “Don’t tune in to Rush cause he’s a thoroughly dangerous man!”

“You may not know it but that man just lies.
He’s a undercover agent for the “Illateri”
And he broadcasts here to destroy all the good that he can!”

He’s uneducated on any subject you please
And I’ll bet he’s really funded by the I-ra-qis
And I don’t think that he’ll ever repent

I said, “Would you believe that man has gone as far
As lyin’ through his teeth about electric cars.
And his ‘news’ show’s setting a very bad precedent.”

“Well, he’s a friend of them Wall Street tycoon-type money bags!
I’ll betcha he’ll never have a Greenpeace flag
tacked up on the wall inside of his garage.”

“He’s a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys.
He may look dumb and that’s not a disguise,
But he’s a mastermind in the ways of disparage”

They all started lookin real suspicious and grim
And one of them said “Now just wait a minute, Slim!
I know yer lyin’. Been a fan of Rush all of my life!”

“I’m a faithful follower of Brother John Boehner
So I’m thinkin’ you sure must be a slow learner.
Why I bet yer duller than any old butter knife!”

Then he started saying somethin bout the way I was dressed
But I didn’t wait around to hear the rest
I was too busy moving, realizin’ they didn’t give a f*ck

When I hit the ground I was making tracks
And they were just taking my Volt down off the jacks
So I unplugged the cord, jumped in and fired that mother up

My librarian back home would’ve been so proud
How quiet my Volt was, as I passed that crowd
Coming out the door and headed toward me at a trot

And I guess I should of gone ahead and run
But somehow I just couldn’t resist the fun
Of showing them guys what Sport Mode was all about

Well they headed for their car, but I hit the juice
And spun around and showed that there was no use
In tryin’ to catch me, in my newfangled electric ride

I had them all out there steppin and fetchin
Like their heads was on fire and their asses was catchin
But I figured I’d better split before the cops got there

When I hit the road I was really wheelin’
Had gravel flyin’ but no rubber squeelin’
And I didn’t slow down till I was almost to Arkansas

I think I’m gonna reroute my trip
I wonder if anybody’d think I’d flipped
If I went to San Fran, via Austin, ya’ll!

February 2014 Sales Numbers

I’m running a day behind this month. I’m attributing this to icy weather in the DFW area and a migraine.

Let’s cut to the chase:

Average gasoline prices increased a little bit last month, going from a January average of $3.28 per gallon to February’s $3.36. Nothing major there as far as an impact on EV sales. Probably a bigger impact, is the fact that the weather is starting to warm up and people have started to receive their income tax refunds. Traffic has definitely increased at my Chevy dealership and my sales have increased infinitely. When your sales were zero in January, any sales in February are, by definition, an infinite increase! ;-)

Across the board, every EV I track showed an increase in sales!

  • The Chevy Volt, up 32% over the previous month (1,210 vs. 918), but down 26% from the previous February (1,210 vs. 1,626). The Volt has been advertised on television recently in a humorous way (some would say ‘low-key’) that explains the lack of “range anxiety” for Volt drivers.
  • The Nissan Leaf, up 14% over the previous month (1,425 vs. 1,252), and up 218% over the previous February (1,425 vs. 653). This makes the Leaf the #1-selling EV for February 2014, of the ones that I am tracking. Last March, Leaf sales surged forward over the news of a $5,000 price decrease.
  • The Toyota Plug-in Prius showed a healthy 30% increase in sales, over the previous month (1,041 vs. 803) and an even bigger increase of 50% over the previous February! (1,041 vs. 693)
  • The Tesla Model S remains shrouded in mystery, but we will see their sales figures for  January through March 2014 next month, when they release their quarterly report.
  • The Cadillac ELR, prominently advertised during the Academy Awards broadcast last Sunday, showed a paltry increase in unit sales (58 vs. 41) over the previous month, however this represented a 41% increase. News has surfaced that half the Cadillac dealers have declined to carry the ELR, casting clouds over the vehicle’s future. As it was not available a year ago, there is no comparison to show for that. The ELR commercial has received some negative reviews over its swagger, but I wish Chevrolet would show some of that same swagger when promoting the Volt.
  • Finally, my benchmark gasoline-powered vehicle, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray also showed an increase, over the previous month, of 8%. Like the ELR, the Stingray  is a new model (C7) and was not available in February of 2013.

The usual graphs are shown below. The ELR is hidden in the lower graph, buried under the start-up curves of the other vehicles. In the upper graph though, it can be seen in the lower-right corner, starting its climb. In the lower graph, we can also see that, at the three-year mark, the original Toyota Prius’ sales started to tail off. This is not because the 2nd generation Prius was introduced at the three-year mark. It was introduced around the 6th anniversary of the original design. The Volt, Leaf and Model S still seem to have some life in them!February 2014 Sales Numbers