Nissan Leaf Is Selling Well in Some Cities
The Nissan Leaf was the best selling plug-in car in July and has just lost the lead for the year-to-date electric car sales to the hot-selling Tesla Model S, another pure electric. It’s fair to say that where the Leaf is selling well, electric cars are selling well. So, when Nissan shared a list of the top cities for Leaf sales, you can bet that’s where you’ll find Teslas – and Ford Focus Electrics, Mitsubishi i-MiEVs, Fiat 500es, BMW Active-Es, Chevy Spark EVs, Smart EDs, Toyota RAV4 EVs, Honda Fit EVs – and all of the EVs coming on the market in the next couple years.
Not coincidentally, this is also where the EV charging infrastructure is being developed the fastest. In fact, in many parts of California, the popularity of electric cars has so far outstripped the ability of the charging infrastructure to keep up with it.
Empirically, this is true, skewed somewhat by the fact that several manufacturers are limiting the availability of their electric cars to states following California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, which places the majority of them in California. That explains why four of the top sales cities for electric vehicles are in the Golden State. What is interesting is that no cities show up from the so-called Section 177 states that follow California’s ZEV mandate.
Beyond four cities in California, the other cities for top electric car sales are ones with either a strong environmental focus (like Seattle, Portland and Honolulu) or ties to manufacturers (like Nashville, where the Nissan Leaf is now manufactured) or having strong local incentives (Atlanta and St. Louis). Here’s the list:
- San Francisco
San Francisco-#1 in EVs
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- St. Louis
We suspect that the four California cities would be in the Top 10 for most electric car sales. The recent prices wars for EVs have focused on California and some manufactures (such as Fiat and Honda) have already announced their limited production runs are already sold out, which should add to the burgeoning electric car population in the state. California benefits from the manufacturers’ discounted prices, strong (though shrinking) state financial incentives and the powerful access to the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane with a single driver. The value of the latter incentive is strong, as seen in other cities as well, but in California it has been cited historically as worth as much as $2,000 on the price of a vehicle (the citation was from the time was HOV lane access stickers were sold out for hybrids such as the Toyota Prius). A similar time could come for electric cars as the market expands, but that could take several years at current sales rates.
Other cities bubbling under the Top 10, according to Nissan, are Chicago, Denver, Washington DC, Dallas-Ft. Worth and New York City. None of these are surprises since they are some of the more populous cities in the country and all tend to have good incentives for electric cars.
For more reading on this subject, check out:
How To Find the Best Price for an Electric Car
Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars for Jan-June 2013
Top 10 Electric Cars You Can Buy Today
I ride this new e-bike past thousands strolling along the San Francisco Bay. Travelers ferry to Tiburon, Sausalito, and Alcatraz. Large catamarans race the wind as they prepare for the America’s Cup. The Golden Gate Bridge majestically displays our gateway to Asia.
I am test riding a new Specialized Turbo electric-assist bicycle. Since I live in San Francisco the roads are familiar but the speed is new. For the first time, when I leave bicycle paths and merge into traffic I can maintain the same speed as the cars. The ride feels safer and faster.
Specialized is trying to create a new category of high-end performance urban e-bike. With the touch of a button, I can shift between modes such as Turbo, Eco, and Off, as well as shift thru 8 gears. Much of the ride is in Eco-mode where the 250-watt electric motor assists my pedaling. In Turbo mode, that 342 kWh battery delivers enough power that I can sustain over 25 mph in traffic. In eco-mode I can extend the battery charge.
On flat bicycle paths I can turn off the electric assist and get a good workout. Because the aluminum-frame Turbo weighs 50 pounds, it feels like more work when pedaling without the electric motor than when riding my hybrid bicycle.
San Francisco hills that normally are a challenge to climb in my easiest gears, standing up, are now easily conquered in this e-bike.
Other bicycle riders are stunned by how easily we zip pass them. At first glance, the Specialized Turbo looks like a performance hybrid bicycle. The lithium-ion battery pack is integrated into an oversized down tube. The powerful 250-watt electric motor integrates into the rear wheel hub. The 700mm x45mm tires easily handle going over bumps and curves.
Navigant Research forecasts that annual sales of e-bicycles will grow from 31 million in 2013 to nearly 38 million in 2020. Over 100 million e-bicycles are now in use, with over 90 percent of those in China. Navigant summarizes its research:
…the e-bicycle market is in a state of change. Western Europe’s market is growing increasingly crowded with competitors and now accounts for more than 20% of global e-bicycle revenue annually. Meanwhile, North American players are finding new, younger e-bicycle consumers among those who ride for transportation rather than entertainment. Even the massive 28 million unit Chinese market is in a state of change as the government considers changes to the rules governing the market and consumers begin to recognize the value of lithium ion over lead-acid batteries.
At $5,900 for the Turbo, Specialized is reaching for the high-end of the market. Performance enthusiasts are buying the Turbo in Germany and other European countries. Now the same enthusiast are likely to buy this ultra–performance bike in the USA. With record numbers of Americans now living in cities, e-bikes have significant potential for daily commuters. In San Francisco, 6 percent of city commutes are on bicycle and the city has a goal of 20 percent by 2020. Killer hills make that 20 percent a challenge. Yes, some will spend $6000 on a high-end e-bike instead of buying a car. Many of these will get to work faster and avoid thousands in car parking annual fees. Another potential market is university students who find car mobility limited and expensive on campus.
As I loop through the massive Presidio park I notice that people are smiling at me as I pedal past them. I notice that smile frequently as I ride. This Turbo is a thrill.
In 12 miles, I used 48 percent of the battery capacity, a perfectly adequate range for a daily commuter. The battery can be fully recharged from empty in 2.5 hours with a 4-amp charger, or in 5 hours with a 2-amp travel charger, which would be handy, to take on longer rides with work or lunch stops. A commuter rack is optional for those using panniers or carrying extra stuff. The battery pack can be unlocked and carried inside to make charging convenient with any 110-volt outlet.
In my garage at home, my $1000 Specialized Sirrus hybrid bicycle now stands next to my Nissan LEAF electric car. I am tempted to spend $6,000 on a new Turbo e-bike and spend less time driving the car.
Since I am not a daily commuter, the $6,000 seems a bit extravagant. If I buy the bike then it is only fair that my wife moves ahead with her $6,000 redecorating project, so I face a $12,000 decision. Although I cannot cost justify the purchase in cents per mile, perhaps I can in smiles per gallon.
Here’s Top 10 list you don’t want your city to be on, but it could have a silver lining if you’re looking at a zero emissions or near-zero emissions car. The researchers at Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) compiled their annual ranking of the worst cities in the U.S. in which to try to drive somewhere. This study year (2011) they also added another metric to those of extra time expended, added cost and wasted fuel – CO2 emissions added by congestion. Their list of the worst major cities in which to drive contains most of the usual suspects:
1. Washington D.C.
2. Los Angeles (tie)
2. San Francisco-Oakland (tie)
4. New York-Newark
The “good” news, if you can call it that, is that this year’s congestion measurements found about the same level of traffic frustration as last year, although the improving economy is expected to put that in the rear view mirror when 2012’s numbers come out. The other bad news is the statistical significance of the difference in time spent idling in these cities is relatively little. And quite a few cities are just bubbling under the Top 10, including Miami, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, Denver, Las Vegas and Portland. In other words, it’s slow-going out there. As TTI said in their press release announcing the report, “As traffic congestion continues to worsen, the time required for a given trip becomes more unpredictable.” Some cities are likely to seize on this report as a rationale to attempt to mitigate congestion and the attendant human and financial cost by introducing special zones designed to limit congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. London did so several years ago and several other cities have followed suit. In London, since 2003, extra fees have been charged to drive into the downtown area, with exemptions for low or zero-emission vehicles. The charge has resulted in lighter traffic and reduced pollution while it has also raised revenue for the city. These “Top 10” cities are the most likely to attempt similar measures with similar goals, which could put owners of zero or near-zero emission vehicles at an advantage. Typically, they would escape any fees and/or be allowed to drive in zones that would otherwise limit traffic. It’s a logical extension of the perks extended to plug-in vehicles – some cities and states allow free parking, solo driver access to carpool lanes as well as financial incentives. Published Feb. 23, 2013
Connect by Hertz offers Prius by the Hour
By John Addison. New car sharing programs allow two or more people to need only one car. Each shared vehicle results in 6 to 23 cars not being owned. Once someone joins a car share program, they cut their vehicle miles traveled up to 80 percent. Introduced first in Europe, car sharing is now growing in the United States with over 200 car share programs operating in over 600 cities.
Zipcar is the leader in car sharing with over 260,000 members. Car sharing is popular with individuals who live car free in a city, with couples who share one car, with university students and staff, and with corporate fleet and travel managers.
Zipcar makes car sharing easy. After a simple enrollment a member is issued a Zipcard. Members reserve a car online or on the phone. At the appropriate hour, they go to their designated car, parked in one of many lots in the city. A Zipcard is used to enter the vehicle and drive until returned to the reserved parking space. A variety of vehicles are available in their program from hybrids to SUVs.
Hertz, as the largest international rental car company, has entered the car sharing market by launching the Connect by Hertz car sharing club, with neighborhood parking in London, New York City and Paris. Hertz plans to expand into additional cities, as well as universities, in 2009. As Hertz expands, it can leverage its established presence in 8,100 locations in 144 countries worldwide.
Membership in Connect by Hertz includes insurance, fuel, roadside assistance, maintenance and cleaning. Connect by Hertz members enjoy a paperless program where they can reserve, drive and return vehicles all on their own, via the internet or phone. “Connect by Hertz supports Hertz’s diversified business model by providing best-in-class transportation solutions across the spectrum of customer needs,” commented Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and CEO of The Hertz Corporation. “In addition to being environmentally friendly, Connect by Hertz cars can save members thousands of dollars a year in vehicle ownership costs and, by leveraging Hertz’s established infrastructure, we’re the first major car rental company to be able to offer members the first global car sharing program.”
The showcase car of the Connect by Hertz fleet in the United States is the Toyota Prius. The fuel emissions of the London and Paris cars are significantly less than the voluntary target of a maximum 140 g/km CO2 output set by the EU.
To unlock and engage the Hertz vehicle, members simply swipe their membership card, the Connect card, over the car’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader. In car, a hands-free audio kit connects members to a Member Care Center representative should they have questions, need assistance or need to extend their rental. The in-car technology also enables Connect by Hertz to ‘communicate’ with the vehicle enabling representatives to unlock, engage and locate vehicles. The technologically savvy cars are also equipped with iPod connectivity and, in the US, NeverLost® in-car navigation systems and EZ Pass transponders.
Hertz may prove to be tough competition in market segments where it is already strong, such as corporate and fleet programs. Enterprise and Zipcar are starting to compete in these areas. Jeff Parell, senior vice president, Enterprise, emphasized, “Our WeCar program can be customized to fit the unique needs of any of our partners, including businesses, government agencies, and universities. So, it gives employees or students the flexibility to attend off-site business meetings, visit customers or vendors…”
Brendan Lange personally lives car free, but is enthusiastic about Zipcar for Business. Brendan’s firm coordinates major corporate events and meetings. Brendan’s job is to help clients make the events greener with the best selection of venues, food, beverage, and other choices. Through Zipcar the firm can use different types of vehicles by the hour to match varied needs: little cars for errands, small SUVs for hauling stuff, and upscale four-door sedans for taking clients on tours of potential event sites.
San Francisco claims to be the most successful city in car sharing. Although Hertz has not entered the S.F. car share market, Zipcar has strong competition from City CarShare, a nonprofit with a diverse fleet that includes cars that can fit in city parking spaces too small for many vehicles including Volkswagen Beetles, Mini Coopers, and Smart cars. City CarShare has more than 6,000 members in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. “Two-thirds of our members either sell a car or don’t buy a car,” said CEO Rick Hutchinson.
United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated, “I’m proud to be a long-time supporter of City CarShare and I applaud their members for saving more than 1 million gallons of gas over the last five years.”
Car sharing is destined to grow and attract growing competition.
Copyright © John Addison. Excerpts of this article will appear in his upcoming book – Save Gas, Save the Planet. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.