EV1 Club Meeting

Jul. 17, 1999

The July EV1 Club meeting was held Saturday, July 17th, from 1 to 4:30pm at the AQMD in Diamond Bar. After a round of self-introductions by the attendees (with the usual conflicting claims of having the first delivered EV1), topics such as infrastructure updates, EV Rental Cars, and the upcoming 50-mile Malibu Coast drive were presented. The guest speaker, John Hepke, Director of Propulsion Engineering and Program Management for GM in Michigan, spoke about the Gen 2 EV1, the GM-Toyota collaboration, and closed the meeting with an interesting question/answer period.

Infrastructure Updates

  • EV Charge Program (Greg Hanssen, Enid Joffe, Helena Hsieh)

    Greg Hanssen, Infrastructure chairman, repeated what has been discussed recently on the EV1 Club's email list -- that the EV Charge infrastructure funding program is approaching a deadline at the end of August, with not enough people available to approach potential site owners about applying for funding. As a result, the MSRC EV Charge Program, which offers a total of $2M for infrastructure equipment and installation, has been going largely unclaimed.

    The program covers Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties and so far 17 applications have been submitted, with 12 approved. Applicants include the Outlet Mall in Desert Hills, Camarillo, Lakewood Mall (several locations), Sage Brush Cantina in Calabasas, Edison Field, and an Anaheim EV/train station facility (10 chargers).

    Helena Hsieh from the LADWP also reported several additional sites nearing the final stages: Paramount Studios, ABC Television, USC (4 new parking structures will include chargers), the LA Natural History Museum, LA Music Center (a prime site right at the VIP drop-off location!), and beach areas (San Pedro to Malibu). LADWP facilities downtown will also be expanded as they have been acquiring more EV's for internal use. Other facilities being worked on are at UCLA, the Cal State campuses, Ontario airport, and expansion of the LAX chargers (from 10 to 20), plus Dodger Stadium, and the Staples Arena.

    Another interesting partnership in progress between DWP and Budget's EV Rental group is to fund installation of chargers at hotels at no cost to the hotel (in combination with the MSRP incentives). However, in return, the hotels will be agreeing to provide a discount room rates to EV drivers, thus giving visitors to LA an incentive to rent an EV during their stay.

    In addition Greg and other volunteers have gotten the ball rolling at The Block, Irvine Spectrum, Fry's in Anaheim, and a few more locations, mostly in Orange County. Greg emphasized that more effort than ever is required to counter the "doom and gloom" negativity caused by Honda's widely (incorrectly) reported "withdrawal" from the EV effort so he's requesting as much help as possible from EV1 drivers to talk to potential site owners and urge them to apply for EV Charge funding.

    Since the staff at DWP and what remains of Edison EV is overwhelmed with just processing of site application, and too busy to search for new prospects, Greg urged Club members to help by doing the front-end work of seeking out prime locations for chargers, making the initial contact, and referring suitable candidates to Enid or Helena for quotes and assistance in filling out the typically one-inch thick application.

    Enid noted that volunteers are also needed in Glendale and Pasadena, as both cities have funds available for infrastructure support.

    The deadline for applications is the end of August!     For help or advice contact:

  • Enid's Start-up Company

    Enid announced that she and Jim Cahill are forming a company called "Clean Fuel Connection" to hopefully take over Edison EV's business as it winds down (termination is scheduled for the end of October). Edison had rejected the EV infrastructure support business because it amounts to less than the anticipated $100M per year, but it is still a great opportunity for a small company.

    In addition to consumer EV support they are looking into other areas such as airport electrification, electric bus and forklift charging, and alternative fuel opportunities.

    Enid and Jim are currently in the process of incorporating and are anticipating setting up shop somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley.

Update on Budget's EV Rental Program (Joe Borges)

Joe reported that since Dec. 15 1998 when EV Rentals began operations, they have had over 940 rentals in total (EV's + natural gas vehicles). They have 100 rentals logged in July, which is half over, so July is looking like it will be a great month for them.

The average rental driver has been driving about 80 miles, indicating that drivers are using the infrastructure out there, and the average duration is 2 days, which is about half of the average for gasoline vehicles. He reported that they've had drivers from all continents (New Zealand, Australia, Japan, India, and the Middle East to name a few specific places). And domestically, EV Rentals has had drivers from numerous states, and Joe even pointed out one customer (a repeat customer from New Mexico) who was sitting in the audience!

The most recent additions to their alternative fuel vehicle fleet are the Toyota RAV 4 (inductive version) and the Honda natural gas car. The EV Rentals facilities expansion plan is also aggressive, with Joe reporting that they will be opening up in Sacramento on August 11. Also in the works are rental sites in Ontario, Orange County, Anaheim, and Beverly Hills. Burbank is also in consideration, pending selection of an adequate location for their facilities.

Joe also talked about the EV trip planners provided with each EV rented out. They are currently in the process of visiting each public charger location so that they can provide, along with a marked map, address, onsite direction, number of chargers, hours of availability, photos, mileage from Budget facilities and major tourist attractions. In addition, they will be providing latitude and longitude and information detailing facilities near each charger such as restaurants, shopping, entertainment, etc., just as the EV1 Club is doing on its charger list.

EV Rentals has been aggressively promoting EV's and one of the upcoming events they will be participating in is the LA Street Race at Exposition Park (9/4-9/6). They will be providing some Ford Rangers as well as have an area where more EV's will be on display.

They are also working with Edison EV and LADWP to approach some 30 hotels to get them to install chargers. The equipment will be provided and installed free of charge to the hotels, and they will also get the benefit of special listings and promotions. In return they will be asked to provide discount rates to EV customers, make the chargers available for public parking, and (most important!) they will be asked to enforce EV only parking.

In addition to the hotel sites, they are also looking at providing EV facilities at other Budget facilities, including Malibu, Sunset Bl., West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pasadena, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, and Mid-city Wilshire.

And finally, they are aggressively supporting AB71 (now in the California Senate), which would allow EV's to drive in the carpool lane. Obviously this would be a nice incentive for visitors to LA to rent an EV for their stay here!

EV1 Rally Planning (Greg Hanssen)

Due to lack of time, the Malibu Drive, planned for the Labor Day weekend (9/4-9/5), was not discussed in detail. However, the basic plan is:

  • Saturday night (9/4) - arrive in the Oxnard area for an overnight stay toallow an early start the next day. Suitable hotels are being investigated.
  • Sunday morning (9/5) - drive from Oxnard (perhaps Port Hueneme with 22 Magna chargers) to Santa Monica, 45 miles away at a steady 45-50 mph).
  • Lunch/charge break using chargers at the City Hall, Pier, Promenade, etc. Charging "slots" will be coordinated so everyone can get a charge before the afternoon trip.
  • Sunday afternoon drive - Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc. ending perhaps at the Broxton Garage in Westwood.

Greg said that the ideas will continue to be discussed on the email list. The latest information is available on a web page maintained by Colin Summers at: http://evrally.mightycheese.com/. If this site is down, a mirror site is accessible from the EV1 club home page also, though this may not be as current as Colins' site.

Saturn Update (Rick Ostrov)

Rick Ostrov, Saturn manager of EV Marketing Services, reiterated Saturn's commitment to the EV1 program and reported their latest marketing efforts which are specifically targeting the heads of high-tech companies as well as Hollywood trendsetters.

For the main section of the meeting, Rick introduced our main speaker, John Hepke, as well as other GM ATV personnel in attendance - Jeff Colman, Director of Communications for Advanced Class Vehicles, Sharon Sarris, GM's Communications person for the Southern California area, and Mary Moore, assistant brand manager, who with Frank Pereira's departure, has been running this part of ATV's operations.


Featured Guest Speaker - John Hepke

The featured guest speaker for the meeting was John Hepke from GM ATV, the Director of Propulsion Engineering and Program Management.

John's first task was to explain the delay of the Gen 2 EV release which he said was for engineering reasons (sorry, details not available for publication) and for which he took full responsibility for making the decision to delay the release. He also confirmed that release date is still not firmed up but is still officially "Fall 1999". In the mean time, the factory is indeed in operation, producing Gen 2 vehicles.

John also took the opportunity to repeat that GM is not giving up on the EV1 as has been speculated, but is firmly convinced that vehicles of the future will all include electric propulsion systems. The EV1 is serving as the target platform for that critical technology and GM's recent efforts in redesigning the power electronics for the Gen 2 vehicles is an indicator of this. John also indicated that we can look for announcements from GM at the end of 1999 that will be strong statements on where GM will be headed for the 21st century.

John then opened up for questions and comments from the floor, many of which turned out to be requests for feature changes (not all unanimous, though!):

  • Higher top speed
  • Pedestrian warning horn operation at higher speed
  • Disable backup horn (this one is already happening).
  • Different seat material (happening in Gen 2 cars, but not leather! This doesn't fit with the environmental character of the car!)
  • Seat height adjustment
  • Glove compartment
  • More feedback to the driver - won't happen, but GM hopes to make the car smarter.
  • Option to purchase - sorry, no plans for that.
  • Better cupholder.
  • Better batteries - already coming in Gen 2 cars.
... and much more!

The next meeting is tentatively planned for October. See you there!

Return to the
EV1 Club Home Page