We’ll always have Paris…well, no. We won’t.

Paris vs. Big OilThe Trump administration today backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which had all but two countries of the entire planet as signatories. This action starts a process that will take until 2020 to complete. During his campaign, Trump had claimed that climate change was a non-issue, created by the Chinese to make American manufacturing less competitive in world markets.

Of course, today’s news comes as no surprise. Trump’s selection of the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, benefitted from campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. Lobbyists, from the fossil fuel industry, drafted letters that Pruitt sent out on state stationery, when he was Oklahoma Attorney General. He sued the EPA, repeatedly to stop implementation of environmental protection rules. On the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted to get rid of the EPA and/or slash its number of employees, making it ineffective. The EPA, under Pruitt, has removed all mention of global climate change from the agency’s website.

On Trump’s first foreign trip, during his stop at the Vatican, the Pope gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on climate change, as a gift. I have to wonder if that embarrassing incident caused Trump to dig in his heels, even more, with regards to the Paris accord…

Now, it’s up to each of us, to save the planet. At the state and local level, we must push for changes to reduce carbon emissions. Local governments need vehicles. They should be looking at hybrids and EVs, where they are appropriate. Government buildings should be topped with solar panels or wind turbines.

We, as consumers, have the power to drive or accelerate change to reduce greenhouse gases. Your wallet is a powerful weapon. If you have the ability to shop for your electricity provider, select one who uses renewable energy, instead of coal or natural gas. I did this over 16 years ago, by switching to Green Mountain Energy. In the beginning, I paid a little more for this. Now, they are very competitive with other, non-renewable energy providers.

If you’re a homeowner, consider adding solar panels to your home. Generate your own, pollution-free electricity from the sun. Lately, I’ve seen companies advertise that they are building solar farms and will provide electricity at a flat, monthly rate to those who cannot put solar panels on their residence (apartment dwellers, those who don’t have good southern exposure, renters, etc.).

When you’re out shopping, select vendors who are making changes to be environmentally responsible. If they have chargers for electric vehicles, hybrid delivery vehicles, solar panels on the business, frequent their establishment and make sure the manager/owner knows that their behavior is what made you their customer.

Recycle as much of your trash as possible. The more we can recycle materials, rather than make them from scratch, the less pollution we generate and the less room we’ll take up in landfills.

Drive a vehicle that is appropriate. If your daily commute is you, alone in a vehicle, do you really need that large SUV? Wouldn’t a hybrid, electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle work? There are tax incentives (for now, at least). Take advantage of them! Ask your friends, who have these cars, what the pros and cons are. If you have a large family, that requires a large vehicle, use that room to carpool, reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Take mass transit, if possible. Is this convenient? Maybe not. Suffering from lung disease isn’t either.

Most importantly, make sure your elected officials know that environmental stewardship is important to you. Call, write, email them. Let them know this is a primary way you’ll determine who you’ll vote for, and then VOTE! There are many hot-button issues that the politicians use to keep us divided. The pro-life/women’s rights argument has swayed many an election. Ask yourself, “How many babies will struggle to breathe, if we abandon effective environmental stewardship?” One of my daughters struggled every time there was an ozone alert in our area. It sounded like she had whooping cough. It was agonizing for us. “How many babies will starve to death, if we create a new dust bowl?” If you are really concerned about the fate of the unborn, this should be an important issue for you, as well.

Nothing can change a politician’s actions quite as quickly as the threat of impending unemployment. Organize and push for term limits for Congress. Most elected officials today have one, most important issue, with which they’re concerned. It’s keeping that cushy job, in Washington. It takes a lot of money to get elected. They can spend all their time trying to get small, individual donations, or they can have a few dinners for their wealthy contributors and rake in the cash. Then they have become a minion of these donors. Someone like Bernie Sanders only comes around rarely. Most politicians take the easy way out and sell their influence for campaign donations.

But, you already knew this.

Start to act on it.

This behavior only exists because we allow it to exist. We are part of the problem. Instead of complaining about our elected officials’ corruption and short-sightedness, look in the mirror. Change starts with you.

If you’re going to sling BS, don’t try it with a Texan!

I was lying in bed this morning, as it is my day off, when I heard the email ping of my iPhone.

In case you aren’t a long-time reader of this blog, I changed careers to become a salesperson, at the largest Chevrolet dealer in the world, because of my love for the Chevy Volt.

The email had been sent by my manager (and the guy who went out on a limb to hire me), Hank Gaylor. Hank had received an email from his father, after his father had seen a story claiming it took $18 to fill a Volt’s battery from empty. Here’s what Hank’s dad saw: (my added comments in red)

As a “joke”, my Chev dealer gave me a Volt as a loaner while my full-size pick-up was getting some attention.  He thought it was funny to give his energy company CEO (emphasis added) this thing here on Vancouver Island!  I live 30 kilometers outside of Victoria near Sidney.

The battery was dead – later he admitted they almost never charged it.  While the car was “OK”, on gasoline, it was pretty anemic.  So for the extra money, even taking into account Chev rebates and Provincial incentives, you get an under-powered, heavy car that felt “too small” for its actual size (battery has to go somewhere). “Underpowered”? PLEASE! I regularly out-accelerate 5-series BMW’s and pickups don’t stand a chance, against my Volt

Now the kicker: at a neighborhood barbecue, I was talking to a Neighbor, a BC Hydro executive.  I asked him how that renewable thing was doing.  He laughed, then got serious.  If you really intend to adopt electric vehicles, he pointed out, you had to face certain realities.  For example, a home charging system for a Tesla requires 75 amp service. I don’t know about Telsa’s charging requirements, but we have two 240V chargers, at our home. Each is on it’s own 30 amp circuit. Our A/C unit is on a 45 amp circuit. Perhaps Canada just recently started experimenting with electric service in their homes…

The average house is equipped with 100 amp service. So in Canada, I could have A/C, an electric oven and a few lights/electric outlets in use at the same time???  On our small street (approximately 25 homes), the electrical infrastructure would be unable to carry more than 3 houses with a single Tesla, each. Do Canadians have to take turns, with their neighbors, for cooking? watching TV?  For even half the homes to have electric vehicles, the system would be wildly over-loaded.

This is the elephant in the room with electric vehicles … Our residential infrastructure cannot bear the load. We have ample delivery in the U.S. of A., but it still needs updating. Smart grid is being deployed here.  So as our genius elected officials ram this nonsense down our collective throats, not only are we being forced to buy the damn things and replace our reliable, cheap generating systems with expensive, new windmills and solar cells, but we will also have to renovate our entire delivery system!  This latter “investment” will not be revealed until we’re so far down this dead end road that it will be presented with an oops and a shrug. Oddly enough, there is no fuel cost to renewable energy plants, but you keep paying for coal, natural gas, uranium, etc FOREVER!

If you want to argue with a green person over cars that are Eco-friendly, just read the below:

Note: However, if you ARE the green person, read it anyway.  Enlightening. This is a parody, right? Did they get it from The Onion??? (The Onion is a news parody site.)

Eric test drove the Chevy Volt at the invitation of General Motors…and he writes…For four days in a row, the fully charged battery lasted only 25 miles before the Volt switched to the reserve gasoline engine. He must have been driving through two feet of snow, UPHILL THE WHOLE WAY, on flat tires, towing a boat. 😉

Eric calculated the car got 30 mpg including the 25 miles it ran on the battery. “Eric is an “energy company CEO???” I won’t be calling him if I find a math error in my bill!  So, the range including the 9 gallon gas tank and the 16 kWh battery is approximately 270 miles. Actual Volt range is 370 miles (1st generation Volt 2011-2015) and 440 miles  (2nd generation Volt 2016+)

It will take you 4 1/2 hours to drive 270 miles at 60 mph.  Then add 10 hours to charge the battery and you have a total trip time of 14.5 hours. Why not charge the Volt while you sleep, the night before you leave and charge again, while you sleep, after your arrival? Also, why not use a 240V fast charger (I have two, myself) and reduce charge time to 4 hours?  In a typical road trip your average speed (including charging time) would be 20 mph. If you used the slowest charger possible and charged during your drive, instead of taking my advice above. Then again, on long road trips, I treat my Volt like any other car, just running on gasoline and only charging at the hotels.

According to General Motors, the Volt battery holds 16 kWh of electricity.  It takes a full 10 hours to charge a drained battery. The cost for the electricity to charge the Volt is never mentioned so I looked up what I pay for electricity.  I pay approximately (it varies with amount used and the seasons) $1.16 per kWh. If that’s really what Canadians pay for electricity, my average monthly electric bill there (1,980 kWh per month) would be $2,297. Yes, PER MONTH! 16 kWh x $1.16 per kWh = $18.56 to charge the battery. For these calculations, and to address both generations of the Chevy Volt so far, see my comments below.

$18.56 per charge divided by 25 miles = $0.74 per mile to operate the Volt using the battery.  Compare this to a similar size car with a gasoline engine that gets only 32 mpg.  $3.19 per gallon divided by 32 mpg = $0.10 per mile.

My Volt Display

My Volt’s actual display. Today

Volt status 17May2017

My Volt’s status 17 May 2017

The gasoline powered car costs about $15,000 while the Volt costs $46,000 No, MSRP is $34K (LT) to $39,500K (loaded Premier, no navigation, no $1K pearl paint). After you deduct the $7,500 Federal Income Tax Credit for a Volt purchase, it has dropped to $26,500 to $32,000. The Chevy Cruze Hatchback is close in size and functionality to the Volt, since the Volt & Cruze started on the same platform. It is also good for this example, as it gets 32 MPG average, as this Canadian uses as his example.

A Chevy Cruze Hatchback (LT, with remote start) lists for $24K ($2,500 less than an LT Volt). A Chevy Cruze Hatchback (Premier, without sunroof or navigation) lists for $27,500K ($4,500 less than the Volt (Premier, without sunroof or navigation). ……..So the American Government wants proud and loyal Americans not to do the math, but simply pay 3 times as much for a car No, it’s 10% more for the LT and 16% more for the Premier, that costs more than 7 times as much to run, and takes 3 times longer to drive across the country….. Again, if treated like a gas car, your travel time is exactly the same as any other gas car. Oil changes on a Volt, typically are done every 1-1/2 to 2 years, depending on gas engine usage. Try that on a gasoline-powered car! There’s a savings there, but wait! There’s more!

The Cruze gets 32 MPG (average) and has a range of 397 (city) to 520 miles (highway). The Volt has a 440 mile range (full battery and gas tank) and gets 42 MPG (on gasoline) and 82 MPG (on electricity, see below). Using my real world experience, over the 16,978 miles I’ve driven so far, I have bought about 18 gallons to go 706 miles (see image above) for an average of 39.2 MPG on gasoline. On electricity, I’ve driven 16,272 miles. Yes, I can charge for free at work and at many locations in the DFW area, but for the sake of argument, let’s say I paid for all the electricity I’ve put in my Volt, my cost of electricity for driving 16,272 miles is less than $400. That works out to a dollar equivalent of 96.8 MPG (dollar equivalent at current gas price) on electricity! ($400 ÷ $2.38 = 168 gallons. 16,272 miles ÷ 168 gallons = 96.8 MPG equivalent). Those same miles in a Cruze would have required 530.5 gallons of gas, at a cost of $1,263! Over the time I’ve owned my Volt, I have saved at least $820. That’s over 439 days of ownership. Over just one year that would be $682 saved per year. At that rate, break even on ownership is 6.6 years. Once you include the reduced frequency of oil changes in a Volt, break even is about 6 years, or the finance term used by most Americans, when purchasing a new car. The Volt is a far better car than the Cruze (which I like very much) and at 6 years, they cost about the same. After that point though, I save $682 per year by owning the Volt, as mentioned above.

**DISCLAIMER** In actuality, I only pay for about half of the electricity my Volt uses, since I charge for free, like many Volt drivers, at my job or when I find a free charging station. By the way, how many times have you found a free gasoline station? 😉  At 1/2 the electricity paid for, I’m really spending about $202 per year, in fuel (gasoline & electricity) and saving about $848 per year, or $71 per month. With half my electricity being free, I get the dollar equivalent of 166 MPG. Break even for me will be at 5.3 years.

The error, in the math provided by the Canadian above, is in the cost of electricity and how much it takes to fill the battery. Here’s how it really works:

NO ONE pays $1.16 per kWh. Average, in the U.S. is $0.11, or 11 CENTS per kWh. This should be shown as $0.11. Many Texans pay less than 9 cents per kWh. I’ll bet the person in the story meant to say 11.6 CENTS per kWh (or heaven help Canada!).

The 1st gen Volt battery had 16 KWh of storage, but you were never allowed to use all of it. Lithium Ion batteries should never be completely drained or filled. The 1st gen Volt allowed only 10.8 kWh to be used. Some electricity is lost in the transfer and the Volt runs fans (and sometimes A/C) to keep the battery in a good temperature range while charging. I averaged 12.8 kWh to fill the battery from “empty,” in our 2012 Volts, accounting for fans and transfer loss. Filling the battery 12.8 kWh X 11.6 CENTS ($0.116) = $1.48 per full charge, not $18.56 as this guy states above.

Once filled, the 1st gen battery, on average, would go 38 miles on a charge, NOT 25. $1.48 ÷ 38 miles = 3.9 CENTS ($0.039) per mile. Currently (pun intended), with gas in the U.S. averaging $2.38 per gallon (last month’s average), that’s the dollar equivalent of 61 MPG. ($2.38 ÷ $0.039)

HOWEVER: if you pay 8.6 cents per kWh, like I do, it only cost $1.10 for a full charge of a 1st gen Volt. $1.10 ÷ 38 miles = 2.9 CENTS ($0.029) per mile, which is the equivalent of 82 MPG. If gasoline prices rise, the Volt’s MPGe (dollar equivalent just gets better and better).

I personally have gotten as much as 52.7 miles on a single charge in my 1st generation Volt (2012, see image), but that’s not average. However, on that day, I got the dollar equivalent of 115 MPG.50 Mile ClubThe 2nd generation Volt goes an average of 53 miles per charge, with a lighter battery with only 2/3 as many battery cells. However, it stores 18.4 kWh, of which 16 kWh is useable add 2 kWh, for cooling during charging, and you get 18 kWh per 53 miles. Using the math outlined above, it gets the average dollar equivalent of 60.4 MPG (11.6 CENTS per kWh) or 81.4 MPG (at 8.6 CENTS per kWh, like I pay).

Not only does the Volt get fantastic gas mileage, it is very fast off the line. It is so silent, GM installs low speed noise makers (or pedestrians would get run over in parking lots). It generates ZERO pollution while doing so. If you get your electricity from renewable sources, like I do (wind generated from Green Mountain Energy and solar panels on our house), even the creation of the electricity you use generates ZERO pollution!

We have 3 Volts, in our household. If the example you presented were correct, it would have bankrupted us! THIS KIND OF B.S. HAS BEEN PRESENTED BY CONSERVATIVE MEDIA AND OIL COMPANIES, SINCE THE VOLT CAME OUT. I BATTLE IT EVERY DAY. I can’t blame them. They’re just trying to survive. I just hope people stop falling for this bullshit. (Texas term. NOT cussing!)

Obama drives Volt

Why, on Earth, would conservative media hate the Volt so much???

You may be a jerk if…

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s routine, “You may be a redneck, if…” is very well known and is the inspiration for today’s blog post rant. I live in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, one of the largest metroplexes in the U.S. Every day, it seems, I get stuck in a traffic jam, only to find, upon reaching the problem, that several vehicles have rear-ended one another. This is definitely happening more often, than in years past, and I believe it is primarily due to stupidity.Texting did this

Those who know how I came into the world of EVs and hybrids are aware that I had been a victim of this same sort of stupidity in my life. I was sitting, stopped in traffic, when I saw a large SUV hurtling toward my car, the driver of which was busily typing away on his smartphone’s screen, while looking down at it.

I was certain I was about to die.

There was no way for me to move out of the way, so I just quit watching the mirror, thinking, “This is a stupid way to die.” At the last moment, the driver must have looked up, because he hit the brakes and only totaled my car but left me unscathed. That accident is what eventually brought me to the world of plug-in vehicles. I guess I should find the texter and thank him.

Or not.

It happened again, while I was sitting at a stoplight, in my brand new 2017 Volt. The truck behind me (already stopped) just hit the gas and rear-ended me! We were both sitting at a stoplight! I admit I did not handle this incident very well. I got out of my car yelling “WTF?!?” The driver of the truck held up both hands, in apology, when I noticed one hand was holding…you guessed it… his smartphone.

Almost every new car today has, at the very least, bluetooth to connect to your smartphone. Using bluetooth, in a 2012 Volt, I could do so many things without touching the phone at all, that I was thrilled at the convenience and safety. Compared to how today’s Chevys handle voice commands to your smartphone makes the 2012 version look ridiculous, but it still worked very well.

Today, with bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, there is absolutely no reason to ever touch your smartphone, while driving. With both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, here’s what you can do with any smartphone that allows voice commands and has (at least) bluetooth:

  • Make a phone call.
  • Dictate an outgoing text message.
  • Have the phone read an incoming text message.
  • Play songs/audiobooks.
  • Get driving directions with spoken turn-by-turn instruction (even display the map on the large radio touchscreen, if you have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto).
  • Update your Facebook status. (but why?)
  • Create geographical reminders: “Remind me when I leave work…” or “Remind me when I get home…”
  • Place an appointment on your calendar.

In Austin, Texas, a city ordinance was created to outlaw texting while driving. However, when pulled over, the person accused had the obvious out, “I was dialing a phone number.” or “I was checking my navigation route.” Since then, the ordinance has been changed to not allow the driver to hold any electronic device in their hands, while driving.

My question to the Texas State Legislature is, “Why isn’t this law statewide???”

The problem with distracted driving has gotten to the point that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have studied the phenomena with these resulting statistics:

  • In 2015, distracted driving killed 3,477 people.
  • In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,328 in 2012.
  • In 2013, 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, an almost 10% increase since 2011.
  • In 2013, nearly one in five crashes (18%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.
  • 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
  • Younger drivers:
    • Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
    • In 2013, more than two out of five students who drove in the past 30 days sent a text or email while driving.
    • Those who text while driving are nearly twice as likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created a video and statistics page addressing distracted driving.

Every day, during my commute, I see drivers drifting out of their lane, driving well below the speed limit (while traffic piles up behind them), braking or swerving suddenly. Invariably, when I pass them, they are looking at a smartphone screen, dialing (or texting with) a smartphone, even watching videos on their smartphone. One time, in Fort Worth, I had been in a terrible traffic jam, finally gotten to the accident and saw a three-car pileup. It was during the morning commute, so I assumed texting was involved. As we passed the accident and started accelerating back to normal speeds, the car next to me weaved toward my Volt. I turned to look and the driver was texting! Even seeing a major accident didn’t dissuade the woman from texting.

This behavior is not limited to distractions from electronics. I have even seen drivers, on the freeway, with a book open on their steering wheel!

Here’s where these drivers are showing immense disrespect: They are piloting a hurtling hunk of metal on roadways they share with the rest of us, without ever having a single concern for our safety (much less their own!). They’re not just risking their own lives, they’re risking the lives of every driver around them. In my opinion, the vehicle manufacturers are enabling this behavior with options like Lane Change Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Alert, Teen Driver, etc, but in their behalf, I’m sure these safety features lessen the chance of a distracted driver causing an accident. They are also the proving ground for more advanced automated driving systems that will (hopefully) end the distracted driver issue once and for all.

If you have a car with bluetooth, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, PLEASE use these capabilities to keep all of us (you included) safe! Don’t even hold your phone, during a phone call, as it limits your field of vision and takes one hand away from steering. If your car is old enough to not have these features, please pull off the road and park, to use your phone.

If you have a teenager that is driving, or about to be driving, please have a very strong conversation about texting while driving. I have told my daughter Zoe, that if I ever discover her texting while driving, I will sell her Volt the very same day.

Your life and your children’s lives are worth more than a phone call or text message.

My life is too, by the way…

Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club meeting: Electric vehicles

On Wednesday, March 22, The Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club hosted a meeting about the state of EVs in the State of Texas. It was held in a meeting room at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Presenting at the meeting, was Kristina Ronneberg of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

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Kristina may be reached at KRonneberg@nctcog.org

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Sierra 10

North Texas has made huge strides in reducing air pollution. One of my daughters suffered respiratory issues on really bad air quality days and throughout her life, I’ve witnessed the bad days becoming fewer and fewer…

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I added the example vehicles.

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This is how I met NCTCOG: The Electric Vehicles North Texas stakeholder group.

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NCTCOG does a FANTASTIC job promoting National Drive Electric Week.

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This is where I see things a bit differently. In my opinion, the VAST majority of EV miles will be local, not cross-country. For this reason, I recommend focusing on changes to construction codes, to encourage outlets for charging in multi-family construction, encouragement of making 220V outlets standard in new home garage construction. Hotel/motel/restaurant charger focus for long distance trips and finally, charger locations in urban areas that are in areas people could reasonably expect to be at, for multiple hours at a time: malls, theaters, hospitals, restaurants, arenas/stadia, hotels, city parks, golf courses.

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See previous slide for my thoughts on this.

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Texas’ Senate Bill 26 may bring back the $2,500 incentive for eligible vehicles registered in Texas. (I got one of these checks!)

One of the best supporters of EVs asked a question…

Mike, Buzz and Patron...

Mike, Buzz and Patron…

Back in 2013, I travelled to the Chicago Auto Show, to check out the new plug-in vehicles and to prove Rush Limbaugh wrong, about his claim that a Volt would only go about 40 miles before having to stop and recharge overnight. I sent out a plea for someone, anyone, along my route from Texas to Chicago, to give me a place to sleep, to reduce the cost of my trip. It was then I met Dr. G. Michael Murphy of St. Louis. He has an optometry practice there. Mike and I share a love of EVs, Volts, fine tequila and very hot hot sauce (Mike’s homemade hot sauce will peel the roof off your mouth, but if you can handle it, it is WONDERFUL!). We hit it off and we have been friends, ever since.

Mike has come to the DFW area a couple times, for his practice, and he always lets me know in advance, so we can hang out together. People in the Volt world know Mike from the Facebook groups he started and/or is heavily involved in, such as: “Chevy Volt Owners,” “Chevy Volt 2.0,” “Chevy Volt Buy-Sell,” “Chevy Bolt Interest” and the private group “Chevy Bolt EV Owners.”

Mike, Buzz and something odd...

Mike, Buzz and something odd…Back in September 2013

This morning, I was surfing Facebook and saw Mike had mentioned me. He was responding to the statement, “And that is why Chevy dealers won’t want to sell them,” about an article showing there are almost zero maintenance costs with EVs. Here’s Mike’s take on that comment:

FWIW, Chevy dealers who do move plugins realize that electric vehicles are an important part of their future. They also know that they are only a small portion of their sales and an even smaller portion of their service department load EVEN in the highest volume electric sales dealerships. Any dealership who takes a different tack is doomed to fall along the wayside.
Buzz Smith, correct me if I’m wrong.

There are many reasons that dealerships are shying away from plug-in vehicle sales and I’ve written extensively on that subject.

My response was probably too long for a Facebook reply, as I can be quite verbose, so I’ve included it here:

“I used to agree. However, with the newly announced head of the EPA and the leaked plans of the new administration’s friend (and head of the “American Energy Alliance“) Thomas Pyle has, with regard to the EPA and the environment, I am deeply concerned. On theNatGeo series, “The Years of Living Dangerously,” a Nissan salesperson in Georgia, which had been the #1 EV selling dealership IN THE WORLD, explained what happened, when the state of Georgia ended its EV rebate. In the last month of rebate, they sold 274 Leafs. The next month, they sold 2.

Chelsea Sexton

Chelsea Sexton of “Who Killed the Electric Car” fame.

It’s a show we should ALL watch (and Chelsea Sexton is in it, too!).

I became so concerned about this, that I went to our dealership’s owner, Tom Durant, and asked him if we should move forward with the EV/Hybrid Center (or “Electric Ave.” as we call it internally). I told him about the Nissan story. Tom is investing lots of money in this effort, and I felt he should have the info, even if it goes against my personal wishes. To my relief, he said, “I think we’ll take a hit in sales, but all I want is for us to be the very best at the things we do, including EV sales.”
 
That being said, I am having to explain daily, to disappointed/angry Gen 1 Volt owners, why their Gen 2 Volt’s monthly lease payment is so much higher than the Gen 1’s. It happened again yesterday. If a person who, through their personal experience, KNOWS how great the Volt is, becomes reluctant to get a Volt, how can someone, without that experience, take the leap of faith? (FYI: my 2012 lease payment: $330/month, my 2017 lease payment: $500)
 
Lease payments are around $100/$200 per month higher than the EARLY Gen 1’s, due to the payment increase, brought about by lease residuals being negatively affected by the tax credit’s effect on payments. Trade values (and residuals) are being hurt by new Volts continuing to drop in price because GM is getting more efficient at making them and battery prices are dropping.
 
Dealerships are dropping out. I have received calls from Volt buyers, all over Texas, whose local dealers don’t sell or service Volt. Undaunted, they want to drive hundreds of miles to get a Volt (and to support) Classic Chevrolet and me. Client locationsI have sold Volts to clients residing in Midland (322 miles away), Houston (262 miles away), San Angelo (265 miles away), Haughton, Louisiana (227 miles away) and, believe it or not, am working on a Volt deal for a client in Corpus Christie (425 miles away!). In the DFW area, several dealerships transferred their Volt allocation because they’ve made the decision to not sell them, and the DFW area is the top EV market in the state! I’ve been told we received “close to 40” Volt order allocations. That’s why I blogged this. If all that matters to the customer is discounts/rebates/tax credit/monthly payment, other dealers will sell below cost, until their inventory is depleted, killing the dealerships and salespeople trying to support EVs. Even I have to eat, you know!
 
If the EPA rolls back MPG requirements and Congress kills the tax credit, EVs could suffer a quick death in our country. The Bolt EV and Tesla Model III, may have arrived a year or two too late. Only time will tell.
 
Of course, the rest of the world will continue to adopt EVs and the U.S., once again, will cede our leadership in manufacturing. Can you imagine if the U.S. had not developed the Internet?
 
The ultimate cost would be paid by our children & grandchildren, as U.S. manufacturers will go back to large vehicles, which are much more profitable, and climate change mitigation will slip beyond our grasp, with devastating effect.
 
Sorry to be the Debbie Downer here, but we have to fight, once again, to make our government do the right thing. The vast majority of our fellow citizens do not know what we know about plug-in vehicles. Many have a bias, just because they think the Obama administration was behind the tax credit, although it was actually the George W. Bush administration that created it.
 
THIS IS WAR. Do NOT sit on the sidelines.”

Butts in seats

President Obama in the Bolt EVIn the world of electric vehicle sales, there is a term used to illustrate how one closes an EV sale. That phrase is “butts in seats.” Unless the customer has come to the dealership to specifically drive a plug-in vehicle, (because they’ve been reading about them or hearing friends speaking fondly of their new EV) getting to the close, is an uphill battle.

Like the photo of the Bolt EV above, there was a famous photo of President Obama driving a Volt, that was part of a Politico article, early in Volt production. Around the same time, General Motors was taken over by the U.S. Government as part of the GM bankruptcy. Shortly thereafter, conservative news outlets started really hammering the Volt. Many of my conservative friends would use the bankruptcy, the government’s push to increase MPG (via the Cafe standards) and their belief that global climate change is a hoax to justify their lack of interest in plug-in vehicles.

That being the environment around the time I got my first Volt, I discovered the “butts in seats” principle even before I changed careers and went into vehicle sales. I visited a conservative friend of mine, who was helping me out on this blog, by shooting portraits of me. I, as usual, was very animated as I told him about my Volt and he drove my Volt around his neighborhood, while I showed him some of the features (like Sport Mode and the energy flow display on the center screen. When he went shopping for a new vehicle, he leased a Volt! This friend still does not believe in global climate change but he loves his Volt!

The lesson here was not lost on me. When I volunteered, at my dealership, to speak with potential Volt buyers on National Plug-in Day (now National Drive Electric Week), I just spoke with some people and some went on a test drive with me. Both sets of customers were excitedly listening to my story, but the one who actually bought a Volt that day, was the one I took driving.

This week, a coworker from my days at Apple came in to see me about a new fuel-efficient car to replace his pickup. He also mentioned he liked riding a little higher than a car. We started with a Chevy Equinox, then the new Malibu and next, the new Cruze Hatchback. He was really taken with the hatchback’s styling, so he was leaning very much in that direction.

He is one of the most conservative of my friends and quite vocal in his support of conservative ideals, on Facebook. Although at opposite ends of the political spectrum, he and I are cordial and respectful of one another. (See? It can be done!) I had mentioned two used, low-mileage 2016 Volts we had in stock. He was not very interested.

After the Cruze test drive, when he expressed that his choice was the Cruze Hatchback, I told hime we had one more vehicle to check out. Being an Apple employee, I told him I had Apple CarPlay set up in the car and I wanted him to see it in action, instead of just telling him about it. I started walking quickly (I always walk quickly) toward my Volt, which was plugged in nearby. I unlocked the car and climbed into the front passenger seat and told him, “Come on. You’re driving.” He climbed in and his wife joined us as well, in the back seat.

I ran them through my usual test drive. I always make sure I demonstrate these features:

  • Energy flow display
  • Regenerative braking
  • “Classic Enhanced” driver information center display
  • Blind side alert
  • “L” (Volt owners will understand…)
  • The region paddle
  • Sport Mode
  • Voice command of radio
  • Apple CarPlay, including Maps and Siri voice commands
  • Forward collision alert (just pointing it out, not risking collision)
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Freeway driving (acceleration and quietness)
  • Assisted parallel parking
  • Hold Mode
  • Plugging in & charging safety

He thanked me for the intro to the Volt but said he was going to buy the Cruze, which is fine by me. I’m there to inform customers and to help them get the car they want or need. It had run late into the evening, by the time we went to get his trade appraised, and we found that our appraiser had left for the night. My friend said he’d come back the next day to conclude the deal.

The next day, when he and his wife arrived, he shared this with me: He and his wife had talked about the Volt, “all the way home.” He was still getting the Cruze, but he admitted that I had opened his eyes. He even said that they may come back in a couple years, when it’s time to replace their other car and get a Volt. It was his first experience with a plug-in vehicle, so he expressed a desire to sit back and watch battery longevity and next generation styling, before jumping in the deep end of the pool.

There are a lot of preconceived notions about plug-in vehicles and many have been exposed to misinformation. A large number of people think the Volt was discontinued or “can burst into flames,” so there’s a lot to overcome.

But all it takes is getting a butt into a seat.

Simple.

PLEASE take advantage of the technology you have NOW!

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay icons shown on the 2017 Chevy Volt MyLink screen.

I have been a victim of a distracted driver. I was rear-ended by an SUV driver, who was so busy texting, he didn’t notice the cars, on the freeway ahead of him, were all completely stopped. As he approached, and I could see that he wasn’t looking up, I honestly thought I was about to be killed.

Daily, during my commute, I will find myself caught behind someone going well below posted speeds, with a large gap between their vehicle and the next one ahead. When I pass them, I look over to see what the issue is, only to see the driver holding their smartphone up, in front of their face, reading or texting.

Occasionally, I will be behind a vehicle that is weaving from side to side, in their lane (and sometimes, outside it!). Drunk driver? No. Another person playing with their smartphone.

Once, while on a very high freeway interchange, I passed a car, whose driver had a large book open, on their car’s steering wheel! She was reading a book, while changing freeways at 60+ miles per hour!

I have had drivers almost change lanes, right into my lane (and my Volt), because they were holding their phone, up to their ear, and it was blocking their view and preventing them from effectively checking their blind spots, before the lane change. (and of course, with one hand on the steering wheel and one holding the phone, they didn’t turn on their turn signal…)

What bothers me the most about this reckless behavior is two-fold:

  • The distracted drivers are risking the lives of the drivers around them (including mine), and
  • There are easy fixes for the distractions, that have been around for years.

First, the safety issue: People don’t seem to realize how heavy vehicles are. According to an article, by Annie Lowery, on Slate.com, “The average new car weighed 3,221 pounds in 1987 but 4,009 pounds in 2010.” The 2017 Chevy Volt weighs in at 3,543 lbs. Remembering a little physics, Momentum = Mass X Velocity, a Volt going 60 miles per hour (88 feet per second), has a momentum of 311,784 lb/ft and that doesn’t include the mass of the passengers, gasoline, etc.! Airbags, seat belts and crumple zones in vehicles reduce the impact force by increasing deceleration distance, but you get the idea…

When driving, we are controlling an incredibly deadly force, but the average driver doesn’t seem to consider the responsibility this entails.

What are the “fixes” I speak of?

  • A simple plug-in earpiece for your mobile phone helps. Most (if not all) smartphones today, come with a headphone. IT’S FREE. USE IT! It keeps the phone out of your hand and away from your head, where it blocks your vision.
  • You don’t like being attached to your phone by a cable? Bluetooth headsets are available and are inexpensive (at the lower end).
  • My first Volt (2012 model year) had Bluetooth capability, allowing me to pass audio from phone calls, music, navigation instructions and more, via Bluetooth to my car’s audio system.
  • Many smartphones today have the ability to be controlled by voice command, like Siri on the iPhone. Even back in 2012, the things I could do by voice command were amazing.
  • Many vehicles made in the last few years have the ability to instigate voice commands, to the car and/or smartphone, with a button push on the steering wheel. I demonstrated this capability in my 2012 Volt and it has gotten MUCH easier to do, as the voice control interface developed, in the intervening years. I have done these things while driving, by simply pressing a button on my car’s steering wheel and issuing a voice command, which the car passed on, to my iPhone:
    • Dictate outgoing text message (or reply to one I received),
    • Have a received text message read to me,
    • Get turn-by-turn driving directions,
    • Call anyone in my iPhone’s Address Book or any phone number I dictate,
    • Add appointments to my calendar,
    • Update my Facebook status,
    • Have an audiobook read to me,
    • Play songs by artist, playlist, album, title, genre, etc,
  • Very recent vehicles may also have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto available. This new interface allows properly equipped smartphones to display icons and maps on the vehicle’s infotainment system screen, as well as enable voice control access to the apps displayed. In my case, Apple CarPlay has improved over the Bluetooth interface, by doing everything I could do before, as well as the ability for me to get turn-by-turn directions (while being able to see the map and traffic displayed on the infotainment screen).
  • I know most recent Chevrolet vehicles even have the ability to control radio tuning and navigation routing, via voice command to the car.

With all these solutions available, why on Earth is anyone texting or having a phone conversation, with their phone in their hand, placing those around them at risk???

I honestly cannot understand this.