Two recent announcements one from Daimler-Mercedes the other from Tesla Motors got my curiosity into gear. If a reader of The Wenatchee World wanted to buy an electric drive car, where could they find one for sale?
OK, so before I get rambling on and forget about my opening sentence, let me say that Daimler-Mercedes announced that they will market their Smart Fortwo EV in all fifty states starting in February of this year and Tesla Motors let it be known that during 2013 just over 2.9 percent of vehicle registrations in Washington State were for their Model S.
Now, back to my question. There are currently fourteen commercially manufactured electric drive vehicles marketed in America. Nine of these can be purchased from an auto dealer “somewhere” in Washington.
However, only five can be purchased locally. In our community you can kick the tires, and possibly get a test drive of a Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Accord Plug-In or Toyota Prius Plug-In. Tesla Motors has a business model that does not include dealerships; cars are purchased on-line and delivered to your home or other place that you designate.
If you want firsthand experience with one of these cars you will need to attend a local EV event where one or two Tesla Model S cars are usually present. You can also talk to an owner if you see one in the parking lot; These drivers like to talk about their battery powered car.
While visiting with a salesperson at our local Ford dealership I asked why the Ford Focus Electric or any of the “Energi” Hybrid electrics were not available here. His take on this is that the dealership has to spend a sizable amount of money for training, equipment and installation of a charging station before the manufacturer will authorize them to sell electric drive vehicles.
He did remind me that these cars can be purchased, “… west of the mountains.” Other manufacturers have taken a cautious approach to introducing their EVs. Because California and Oregon have regulations that require car manufactures meet certain “MPG Goals” or stop selling in their markets; offering “0” MPG vehicles is a must.
Fiat is a prime example. The Fiat 500e is an all electric that has garnered excellent reviews as a fast, fun, hip car. So, they decided to sell it exclusively in California and Oregon! What, we don’t want fast, fun, hip EVs in Washington?
Jack Anderson is a volunteer Project Manager for Plug-In NCW. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org