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Supporting Plug In America

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by ChadS, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

    Jul 16, 2009
    #1 ChadS, Nov 17, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
    Plug In America is a national (US) non-profit that advocates for plug-in electric vehicles.


    Although operating under another name at the time (Don't Crush), the group got started in California in 2005 when automakers were pulling their own EVs back from leases and crushing them.

    In a 2009 interview with Charlie Rose, Elon Musk said (see this video clip, 15:20 in)

    Interestingly enough, Musk was saying that Plug In America's attempt to save GM's EV-1 convinced him he was on the right track with Tesla; and Bob Lutz later stated (see Ch 9. of his book, Car Guys and Bean Counters) that Musk's ability to build the Roadster is what got him to convince GM to drop its opposition to electric vehicles and build the Volt.

    Plug In America was not successful in convincing GM to stop crushing EV-1s. But we (not me; I didn't join until 2009) did save hundreds of Toyota RAV4-EVs, and smaller numbers of cars from other automakers. Once that crisis was over, we set about talking to automakers, working to convince them that there really is a market for the cars. In 2008 the Bush administration proposed a $2,500 tax credit for electric vehicles; while we were unable to convince the administration to remove the $12k/vehicle petroleum subsidies, we did manage to help level the playing field by tying the credit to battery size, and increased the top end to $7,500. In 2009 we helped get incentives for EVSEs, NEVs and motorcycles (they expired at the end of 2011; we are working to get them in to a 2013 extenders bill). Plug In America also led the work on the nation's first Model Ordinances in 2010 and on the first EVSE Installation Guide in 2012 that was intended to serve the interests of site hosts and drivers. We do owner surveys and analysis like Tomsax's infrastructure survey that he presented at EVS26. We provide information to automakers, lawmakers, and consumers. We do webinars, newsletters, speak at conferences, and create an annual vehicle guide. Almost all of this work is done by a small group of volunteers.

    Current focus

    Late last year - with a few plug-in vehicles finally available for sale nationwide, and more coming - Plug In America decided to focus on increasing demand for plug-in vehicles. Demand is key - it is the only way to ensure that the cars are around long-term. (Many automakers assume there is no demand; they can build great EVs now, but don't see how they can encourage their sales channel - dealers - to sell them when it's more profitable for dealers to sell gas cars. Automakers will put off figuring out how to make it work until forced to, by say a startup that doesn't use dealers). Unfortunately, increasing demand takes more than a digital awareness campaign, as most people have misperceptions of plug-ins: they consider them to be expensive, inconvenient, and no fun to drive. They will not do online research to learn more about them. But we know that ride-and-drive events where people already are work; the ride convinces them the cars are fun, and talking to owners allays their fears about expense and all those imaginary hours sitting around waiting for a charge.

    But widespread ride-and-drive events are more than our small group of volunteers can handle, so we need to hire a couple of staff members. That means we have to raise money. So we created a program, which we have been sharing with auto and EVSE makers, utilities, air quality districts, state EV task forces, etc.

    Interest in our goal and strategy has been extremely high. A couple of organizations have verbally agreed to support us (announcement to come). Others have said they want to, and are working to fit us in to their budget. A few, while wanting to start working with us immediately, have hesitated on committing money “just now”. We suspect that some of them were waiting for results of the elections in case their market plans may have needed a total revamp.

    This is a very time-consuming process. Nobody wants to be the first mover and pay for something that will benefit other organizations as well as themselves. We, meanwhile, are impatient. We want to start increasing demand NOW. We believe there is a critical window of less than 2 years before vehicles, incentives, infrastructure programs and the like will start going away without increased demand. We don't have to do this forever; at some point there will be enough cars sold that almost everybody knows somebody that has one, and this work will be unnecessary.

    Tesla links

    Some have said, this is all great for most plug-ins - but why does Tesla need help? Tesla doesn't have demand problem, they have a production problem. That is true for now. But obviously demand will be lower if federal and state incentives disappear (and imagine the negative press about electric vehicles as this happens). Worse, what if ZEV credits disappear - what would that do to Tesla's profit margin? Maybe they'd survive without it; but Tesla's goal has always been to inspire other automakers to build plug-in vehicles, and I don't see any way this would happen if the whole support system collapses.

    How you can help

    We believe that plug-in vehicles have enormous benefits for their owners, our country and the environment. But the only way for those benefits to be meaningful is to sell more cars. We believe that by far the fastest way to sell more cars is to give more rides. We do not see anybody else stepping up to do this in any sort of organized, large-scale way, and we believe Plug In America is perfectly situated to do so. If you believe the same things, can you help us make it happen?

    You can donate online HERE or by sending a check to

    2370 Market Street #419

    San Francisco, CA 94114

    Thank you,
    Chad Schwitters
    President, Plug In America
  2. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

    Feb 6, 2011
    Columbia River Gorge
    I'm delighted and honored to donate, Chad. Thanks for all this info! -clicking link-
  3. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

    Jan 8, 2011
    NE Tennessee
    I am a member and donate every year. I have found them to be a great organization and I love the newsletter you get each month.
  4. ModelS4Taos

    ModelS4Taos Member

    Oct 25, 2012
    Taos, NM

    Tesla owners have more fun when there is a positive view towards EVs in general. If things go south in the next two years, EVs owners might be frowned upon (including Telsa owners). Positive attention and acceptance for EVs breeds rock-stardom for Tesla owners. :wink:

    Its important that we help the movement in general and try stay positive about all EVs.
  5. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

    May 17, 2009
    Las Vegas, NV
    Donated. Thanks.
  6. Vger

    Vger Active Member

    Apr 10, 2009
    Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
    Just found this thread. I appreciated the work you all do before, but had not thought to donate, I am embarrassed to say. Even though I am now based in Canada, I am US-born and will soon be a dual US-Canadian citizen. Us North Americans need to stick together in this movement, I say! My donation is in, and it is recurring!
  7. evchels

    evchels Senior Member

    Aug 26, 2010
    Absolutely, and PIA is a huge champion of that attitude. The more inclusive the community at large (industry too), the more likely our longer term success. This couldn't be more important than in the next two years.
  8. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

    Jan 29, 2010
    Redwood Shores, CA
    Thanks for all your work, Chad! Glad to donate.
  9. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

    Jul 16, 2009
    #9 ChadS, Dec 27, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
    Thanks for the support, gang.

    I would like to mention that we have a matching campaign going on. The program I mentioned above (called "Plug In At Work") involves taking a mix of plug-in vehicles to large high-tech employers and doing ride-and-drive events. The ride shows them the cars are fun; having owners nearby allows them to ask how the cars are used so they understand that they are convenient, and having utilities on site allows them to calculate savings from using electricity instead of gasoline. Those three things can flip some previously uninterested people to buy a car. Many early adopters are high-salaried people in high-tech fields, and they also tend to do a good job of evangelizing the cars once they buy one. We can't think of a more efficient way to kick-start demand. And we really have to do that. Seriously.

    Plug In America's volunteer board and their families have pledged $20,000 in matching funds. If we can raise that much from our supporters, we'll have $40k which is enough to get this program started. Donate now and we'll match your money. We'll be using volunteers to organize and staff the events as well, and we'll seek out local sponsors, so your contribution will be highly leveraged.

    I'd much rather get this money from industry, but it is not coming - at least, not fast enough. EVSE manufacturers are broke. Most automakers would rather leave the market, given that their sales channel (dealers) make more profit selling gas cars. Most automakers that are seriously in the market are still trying to fight other automakers for fractions of market share like they do with almost-commodity gas cars, without realizing that if they were to work together on a category awareness campaign, the pie could be much bigger and they all would benefit. (Nissan has hired evchels; it sounds like she is going to try to shake them in to doing some more effective marketing - go Chels!). Electric utilities are regulated and often required to reduce consumption; they do not get credit when they replace other fuels. No big industry coalition is going to ride in to the rescue. If we want to use plug-in vehicles to help America's economy, energy security and environment, we owners are going to have to do it ourselves.
  10. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

    Mar 29, 2009
    Nixa, Missouri, United States
    Ok, I'm convinced...donation complete. Do good work!

    I just donated...does that count as joining?
  11. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

    Jul 16, 2009

    You can join as a Plug In America member HERE; I should have mentioned that. We LOVE our members, and you will get our monthly e-newsletter (you can opt out of that) and a free digital copy of our annual Guide to plug-in vehicles; we will have a new version available in about a month. You can make an additional donation as you join; or just count your membership fee as your donation.

    efusco, I'll PM you a way to move your donation to a membership.

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