Wednesday, July 29, 2009

“Put a Plug in it“

Plug in America has crossed the line from advocacy to opposition. That is my opinion.

They could have and should have done a legislative piece about balancing and changing the CARB rules without throwing BMW and the Mini-E under the bus.

Here is their press release.
Judge for yourself.

Advocacy for plug in cars is something I whole heartedly support, ripping into one of the very few (two) car companies that has a Li freeway legal plug in Electric car on the road today is not.

It is my sincere hope that the Board of Directors of Plug in America do not allow board members or advisory board members who have family working for rival companies to launch into an ill informed hit piece against any company, especially a company who has 500 plug in vehicles on the road and a division dedicated to advancing plug in electric drive technologies.

The majority of the press release was sourced form two individuals and their issues with BMW. I note with significance that that their issues were not with the car or the performance of the car in general, but rather the company, during the deployment and with about a third of the cars going to fleets at near zero rates.

What the press release was not about, is BMW putting 500 plug in electric cars on the road, the large majority of them in private drivers hands and the complexities of that deployment. It was not about BMW Mini-E promoting excitement and media across the world for plug in cars. It was not about BMW waiving a months lease to show good faith to their drivers while dealing with some delays, It was not about how the Mini-E is part of the development process “BMW Project I” working towards a BMW city car coming in 2011-12 . It was not about the overwhelming satisfaction and emission free driving that the vast majority of drivers are getting from the Mini-E.

It was not about the fact that I, and hundreds of other Mini-E drivers, and thousands of others who ride in the car, and tens of thousand who see the car on the raod doing 85 on the freeways are now convinced that plug ins and electric vehicles are the future that we need (is that not a goal of Plug in America?)

None of these pro plug in facts were even touched on by Plug in America. Shame on them!

Plug In America advisory board member Chelsea Sexton said: "This is turning out to be a half-baked, poorly executed program by BMW, who is acting solely for the sake of regulatory compliance.

I disagree with vigor. What the program consist of is putting 500 plug-in BEV Mini-Es with Li batteries on the road. There has been straight talk from BMW from the beginning that this is a one year development field test program with no expectations that you will be able to buy the car. I reject 100% the argument that we are done with development and testing phase, that we should complain that this is just another test as opposed to a mass market retail product. The key component to the opening of the electric car world to the masses is the energy density of the Li batteries and that needs to be tested rigorously in all driving climates and conditions which is exactly what GM and several other car makers are doing…. Testing, just like BMW for their future BMW City Car

The press release further states

In contrast to BMW's lease plan, Nissan has announced a late 2010 delivery of 5,000 all-electric vehicles designed from the ground up and offered for sale for between $25,000 and $33,000, before federal tax credits. The Japanese auto company, recently awarded a $1.6-billion loan from the U.S. Dept. of Energy to build a battery plant and modify its existing Tennessee facilities, has also announced that it will deliver hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles in 2012.

There is an axiom that says “half a truth is worse than a lie.”

The Plug in America press release told half a truth and chastises BMW for the high cost of the Mine-E lease. It Ignores that a leased of financed Tesla can cost $2000 a month, and scolds BMW Mini-E that it will cast a negative impression on folks that Plug ins are expensive, while praising Nissan for offering for sale a market rate between $25,000 and $33,000, before federal tax credits car.”

That’s a half truth and they as plug in advocates know it, Nissan is going to sell you the car and then lease you the batteries. “Ghosn aims for Nissan's electric cars, minus the battery, to cost as much as a standard car. Consumers will lease the battery at a cost that, including charging, will match what they would have paid for gasoline. “

Any car company can make an electric car without the batteries for the same price as a car with a traditional gas drivetrain. The cost is in the batteries and the fact that Nissan is leasing the battery packs is a convenient omission by Plug in America to fit their “ BMW is the bad guy” story line.

Plug in America, you blew it. You gave a platform and the benefit of the doubt with the weight of the story to one disgruntled individual (who BMW has graciously agreed to be released from his lease obligations) and an ev entusiast who was cut from the program thus a bit of an axe to grind. Those voices while important, were not balanced by the hundreds of very satisfied Mini-E Drivers and the goals and accomplishments of the program.

The weight and credibility of Plug in America via this press release was then used by major media including the La Times to trash BMW in other stories.

It certainly tarnishes Plug in America in this plug in drivers mind.

That is regrettable.


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