By Jamie Knapp and Rick Palkovic
We were disappointed to read the Nov. 27 editorial, “Electric cars are failing to electrify buyers.” The wire-service opinion piece parroted arguments that have been used in a well-oiled national PR campaign that seeks to undermine plug-in electric vehicles by sowing consumer confusion and doubt about their market viability.
The editorial revealed a surprising ignorance of the policies driving these new vehicles to market. Reducing emissions, protecting public health and ending oil dependence are the primary reasons the state and national governments are spurring market introduction of cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars including plug-in electric vehicles. We subsidize relatively cheap gasoline with higher health care costs, environmental degradation and military spending.
The editorial also was out of step with the Davis community. Our City Council last year endorsed California’s Advanced Clean Cars Program, which will put more than 1.4 million zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles on California’s roads by 2025. The standards will cut smog-forming emissions by 75 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent in 2025, according to the California Air Resources Board.
The city also has endorsed the state’s broader climate change reduction goals and supported the Cool Davis Initiative’s numerous community outreach and education efforts, including events featuring electric cars. Given that The Davis Enterprise regularly reports on the city’s carbon-cutting progress and has supported Cool Davis with generous news coverage, the editorial was even more perplexing.
Although some would have us believe otherwise, the market is growing steadily and automakers are responding. The Los Angeles Auto Show opened with two dozen all-electric or plug-in hybrid models on display. In late October, auto industry analyst Baum & Associates reported that hybrids and plug-in electric car sales are on track to top half a million units for the first time in a calendar year (2012) and a model year (2013).
Meanwhile, a Union of Concerned Scientists analysis finds that sales of electric cars tripled during their second year on the market, far outperforming sales of conventional hybrids during their second year on the market, back in 2001.
Ironically, two days after the editorial appeared, Consumer Reports announced that the plug-in hybrid electric Chevy Volt topped its owner satisfaction ranking for the second year in a row; 92 percent of respondents who own the Volt said they would definitely buy it again. And just a few weeks ago, Motor Trend named the made-in-California all-electric Tesla Model S its Car of the Year.
Today’s electric car owners already know how much fun these cars are to drive; how fast, quiet, responsive and high-tech they are; and how convenient it is to plug them in at home and begin each day with a full charge.
We know that fueling an electric car with off-peak electricity costs the equivalent of a buck a gallon, depending on the car and the electricity rate. We know we save on maintenance because they don’t require oil changes or tune-ups. And we know that state and federal incentives helped reduce the purchase price so that, together with operating savings, we’ll come out ahead over time.
As the market grows, prices will come down and more people will discover the joy of driving a silent, sleek, clean electric car. Today’s offerings may not work for everyone, but the technology is young and more options will come our way in the next few years.
We urge readers to check them out for themselves rather than relying on the ill-informed opinions of those who seemingly want to keep our nation addicted to oil for another century.
— Davis residents Jamie Knapp and Rick Palkovic have driven more than 60,000 miles in their 2002 Toyota RAV4 electric vehicle.