EV1 Club Meeting

Nov. 6, 1999

The November EV1 Club meeting was held Saturday, November 6th, from 1 to 5pm at the AQMD in Diamond Bar with John Cox presiding. Following the traditional round of self-introductions, the following topics were presented:  

Mark Sterner demonstrates the perfect accessory for the EV1. Two of these electric scooters fit in the trunk of the EV1, giving you lots of mobility when you stop for a charge. Mark fielded many of the typical electric vehicle questions - "How far does it go on a charge?", etc.

MSRC Update

Michelle Kirkhoff (kirk_mi@sanbag.ca.gov) of the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) presented an update on electric vehicle initiatives and programs.

  • The selection phase of the EV Charge program has concluded. An additional 133 charging stations with 191 inductive chargers and 120 conductive chargers will be funded. The sites will be built within the next 6 months.

    She thanked the Club for its support in getting last minute applications submitted (30-40 in August!), bringing the total to 97 applications requesting a total of $4M. Since the amount available was $2M, this allowed them to choose the best locations with respect to corridor coverage and major destinations. Her handout included a long list of future chargers that would bring tears to your eyes (from the tiny font size if nothing else).

  • Approximately 100 public charging sites are in the process of having signage installed. This is funded under the Quick Charge program, which came before EV Charge and installed 205 inductive and 151 conductive chargers at 111 locations.

    San Bernardino and Riverside County signage is complete, LA County signs are underway, and Orange County will be next. Signs will be posted on freeways ("next offramp"), at the offramps, and elsewhere as necessary to trailblaze to the destination at the property location. She requested that people let her know if there is a signage problem in the completed areas, as the installer is still under contract until January.

    The EV Charge program also covers signage for most of the sites which are major destinations, approximately 75% of the stations.

  • About 700 EVs have been purchased/leased using MSRC's $5000 buy down incentive (one of the main reasons it's cheaper to lease an EV in California than in Arizona). Approved EVs include EV1, S-10 pickup, EV Plus, RAV 4, Ranger, Force, and Altra.

    The program ends in June. The MSRC will be deciding what to do with its next round of funding ($12M per year, from July 2000). We need to give her feedback if we want the buy down incentive to continue. Of course, we do!

  • Club members asked about anti-ICEing measures, as more public chargers are not that useful if they are blocked by ICE vehicles. The EV Charge program did require that this issue be addressed, but unfortunately it stopped short of requiring measures such as signage and towing. The MSRC is considering using some of its funding next year to lead in establishing a state-wide code similar to the handicapped parking code.
SMUD takes over for EdisonEV

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) was selected to replace EdisonEV as the new MagneCharge distributor. Mike Wirsch (mwirsch@smud.org), manager of the Electric Transportation Department, briefed us on the transition plan:

  • EdisonEV's toll-free number (888-890-GOEV) will continue to be supported, as well as a new number (888-324-8219) which will be phased out when the transition is complete.
  • Clean Air Connection (see below) will be assisting SMUD in Southern California.
With Mike was Patrick Robinson, SMUD marketing specialist. SMUD is working to make the transition seamless. They have extensive experience installing chargers in the Sacramento and Bay areas.
Clean Fuel Connection start-up

Enid Joffe (enidjoffe@earthlink.com) and Jim Cahill (cahillus@earthlink.com) announced that their new company, Clean Fuel Connection, has been in operation as of November 3, 5:01pm. Beatrice Diaz has also joined them and was on hand.

Jim noted that the Gen 2 charger will be much more reliable than Gen 1. GMATV addressed virtually 100% of their wish list for improvements, including no retractor, a better more reliable sensor, built in timer, longer cord, cord exits out the middle of the bottom of the unit, etc. Failed Gen 1 chargers will likely get swapped out for Gen 2 units. Both Gen 1 and Gen 2 chargers work with NiMH EV1s.

When asked about vandalism, Jim said that this has been very rare, less than 5 out of about 3000 units (including private and out of state installations). He speculated that being electric may keep some vandals away. He also noted that conductive chargers see very little use, perhaps due to the long charging times required and the fact that most conductive EVs, such as the Ford Ranger, are leased to fleets (only the Hondas were available to the public, with only 300 total being leased).

They thanked Mike Wirsch (SMUD), Rick Ostrov (EV1 marketing), and George Bellino (GMATV infrastructure program) for making their new venture possible. They asked for our continued support. They also mentioned that used copiers and fax machines would be welcome!

GMATV direction and future

Rick Ostrov introduced Ken Stewart, the Brand Manager for General Motors Advanced Technology Vehicles (GMATV). Ken has worked at GM for more than 20 years. He was trained as an engineer and his experience includes power train, ride/handling, manufacturing, product planning and marketing, and field sales.

Ken started off with some announcements:

  • the wait is over, Gen 2 EV1 will start being delivered by mid November, with test drives beginning this week. Gen 1 upgrades will occur in the mid-November to December timeframe. Extensions will be provided for those unable to obtain Gen 2 cars before their lease is up.
  • for existing lease holders, mileage over 30K miles will not be charged nor will maintenance beyond the 36K warranty coverage.

  • the Gen 2 lease will cover 36K miles, and they will be strict about this. The over mileage charge will be $0.50/mile for NiMH and $0.35/mile for advanced lead acid. This doesn't begin to recoup GMs losses, they just need to draw the line clearly this time. The re-lease of 1997 EV1s will also be $0.35/mile.

  • EV1 TV cameos will include
    • Everybody Loves Raymond, 11/22
    • Friends, 1/6
    • Richard Simmons (date unknown)

Gen 2 EV1 seats with a new fabric will begin appearing in vehicles delivered later in the year.

Ken then fielded some questions from the floor:

  • Gen 2 production: about 500 units were manufactured in the first run, they are taking a wait-and-see attitude before building more. The Lansing facility has not been shut down and the people are still around to build more if the demand is there.
  • Advertising: after visiting EV1 Clubs in Arizona, Southern California, and Northern California, his next stop is Hal Riney Monday morning. He said he won't slam the current ads, which were intended to launch the category and "did it reasonably well." However he sees a need to bring it out of the clouds and make it more reachable, emphasizing the fun aspect of the car. The ads will also start mentioning where to get the car.
  • Market area expansion (given that NiMH prefers colder climates): wouldn't commit to anything, but said he sees potential in the Southeast (eg Atlanta) and Northeast (given their rumblings for mandates similar to California)
  • Service (some owners have had bad experiences with delivery and service, more training is needed at all levels): he will look into this
  • Fast charging: work has been done, although it is the size of a very large refrigerator
  • Gen 3 (must have a pure electric option): GMATV works on all advanced technologies, including compressed natural gas, parallel hybrids, series hybrids, and fuel cell. The audience expressed its dislike of parallel hybrids like the Honda and Toyota offerings, which are basically high mileage gasoline cars.
He then beat a hasty retreat to the overhead projector:
  • Triax
    • modular architecture
    • 3 propulsion options: pure electric (ZEV), hybrid electric (ULEV), and ICE (LEV)
    • modular seating
    • first unveiled at the Tokyo auto show, the first time GM has ever announced a new model in Japan
    • Partnerships with Isuzu and Suzuki
  • parallel hybrids
    • bus running in New York
    • employs a chevron battery configuration with air cooling
  • Precept
    • midsize 5-passenger parallel hybrid car
    • 0.16 coefficient of drag (lower than EV1)
    • 3 cylinder diesel engine, 80 mpg
    • cameras instead of rear view mirrors
    • air intakes at rear sides of the car, pumped out the back
    • unveiled January at the Detroit North American International Auto Show
  • inductive charging
    • continue pushing MagneCharge as a world standard
    • wants to declare victory over conductive charging
  • market expansion study
    • Southeast market potential, exploration with utility companies
  • Opel Zafira fuel cell vehicle
    • stores hydrogen on-board
  • December 5th celebration
    • details will be forthcoming
Ken gamely gave his personal vision (not GM's official position) for the future:
  • the next generation (eg his sons) will have a much greater level of environmental consciousness
  • in 5 years
    • hybrid vehicles at or just below critical mass, similar for low emission and alternative fuel vehicles
    • more legislation requiring ULEVs and ZEVs
    • multiple usage electric vehicles, eg swiping a card to rent a vehicle in a retirement community
  • in 10 years
    • fuel cell vehicles and hybrid vehicles
    • electric vehicles for specialty purposes (commuting, sports cars)

The meeting adjourned around 5pm, with many staying behind to talk more with the various presenters.

The next event will be the December 5th celebration in Southern California, to be hosted by GM. See you there!

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