It seems my last “marshmallow test” post has turned into an interesting discussion concerning whether Tesla will be able to sell enough cars to the American public to begin an amazing change in the country toward electric vehicles or will the perceived or apparent lack of places to charge the car on long trips will slow down (or be the demise) of it’s electric cars sales. http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2010/04/26/will-range-anxiety-limit...
Here are my thoughts and I apologize for being long winded.
The Koybashi Maru (explained later to non-trekies) is that Tesla won’t be able to sell it’s cars at a much higher level because consumers are concerned that the lack of national charging stations will leave them stranded on the side of the road on long car trips. The consumer believes there are not enough charging stations around due to the low volume of electric car sales..
(The classic “no win scenario” known star trek fans is the famous Kobayashi Maru.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru . A video version is of the Kobayashi Maru is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDg674aS-F4&feature=results_main&playnext... )
Luckily, you don’t have to be Capt Kirk to beat the famous Koybashi Maru , you just have to plan in advance for the scenario of going to far (into Klingon Territory).
There are according to the Ford Motor Company currently some 9,400 public charging stations in the United States (others have an estimate of closer to 4,500). More Importantly ,there are easy ways to find all of them whenever you travel .
Google has got involved in the movement by adding charging stations to it’s Google map program.
My favorite is plugshare where not only can you find every public charging station on this great app but you can also find people who volunteer their outlets outside their home to strangers to keep the electric car movement moving forward. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q9MYL-KXvo
The question is, even with ton’s of charging stations and easy ways to find them, will the average consumer switch to an electric vehicle or will range anxiety win the battle . The problem seems to be that the consumer doesn’t see the vision of themselves charging at a station whenever they go to the mall, a parking garage or at a restaurant but rather a vision of them stuck on the side of the road helpless (with wolves ready to attack). It’s clear, this false vision doesn’t come from seeing dozens of electric cars stranded on the side of the road every time they drive, so it apparent we need to due a better job spreading the word about charge stations and how infrequently one would need them but how available they are for use if needed. (Ask your neighbor how many electric charging stations he/she thinks are in a 200 mile radius and see what they guess) It may make sense as (future/current) Tesla owners when we are discussing and showing people our electric car we also show them your Recargo or Plugshare screen and app. The companies that set up free apps to help you find charging stations can’t afford to advertise their product to mass consumers. Thinking of the worst case scenario rather then a more logical one is a very similar metaphor in explaining why people play the lottery. If we had news stories every time anyone lost the lottery, over and over again then vision of them winning the lottery would be much less in their mind of actually happening and they would probably save the $20. See
http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_researches_happiness.html at the 6 minute mark. In essence we need to give people visions of electriccars at charging stations to change the image of being stranded..
American capitalism has always anticipated over the years to plan for their financial future and realizes the fact that people who drive long distances need to both eat and sleep( hence the number of fast food places and hotels near major interstates) . Capitalism, also dictates that the best way to sell your goods (other then the internet) is to have the consumer walk into your store to shop. So recently Kroger and Cracker Barrel have started to install charging stations to get consumers with electric cars in their stores
Other retail chains are also now following suit see Walgeens and their opening of 800 of them
but more importantly, there are companies installing the chargers free of charge to retailers... see link below
Logically, it seems that as more stores in an area offer electric charging stations and attract consumers , their competitors would need to follow suit to avoid possible financial distress. Imagine that at every Mc Donalds, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell there was a charging station. Can anyone imagine driving 250 miles in this country without bumping into one of these stores? As for the hotels you may need to sleep at, imagine Best Western, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Days Inn and the Comfort Inn all had charging stations you could reserve for the night along with your hotel room. The concern for long trips by the average consumer would be substantially diminished as American capitalism takes over
The bottom line is, without charging stations in constant plain sight corner some people might still see that vision of themselves stuck on a dark night stranded on the side of the road and not buy an electric car because of that vision. On the other hand ,with maps of current 9.400 public charging stations readily available in your car along with the idea that more private companies are putting them in to be competitive, most consumers might avoid the scary vision and follow the advice of the Rolling Stones when they said...“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
Signed Racer X (friend of the Tesla family and brother of Speed Racer)
PS Maybe we should in the mean time follow the advice of the classic corvettes owners. They also have a forum with both posts and recommend protocols for their forum members like:
1) If you see another classic corvette coming toward your direction you must wave
2) If another classic corvette is in trouble you should help.
PSS I would humbly suggest the first unofficial rule for all Tesla owners:
RULE 1) No Tesla owner should ever drive by kids on the street selling lemonade without stopping and buying some even if they are not thirsty! (This way we can talk to the next generation about electric cars and can change the world slowly while at the same time sipping great lemonade and supporting young American Capitalism ) Who’s with me?