Pure Genius

Three things government can do to drive adoption of electric vehicles

Posting in Education

CODA Automotive CEO says a Cash-for-Clunkers-type rebate would do wonders for electric vehicle sales.

CODA Automotive is producing an all-electric, zero emissions sedan that is expected to be on the showroom floor in the fourth quarter of this year. The car will be able to reach speeds of 80 miles per hour with an average range of 100 miles per charge, and it comes with satellite-ready radio, MP3/USB connectivity, iPod dock and a Bluetooth system with an embedded microphone. It is powered by a 333-volt lithium ion battery that will be under warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles. Full charging takes about six hours from a 220-volt outlet (like your drier). The company is based in Southern California, but cars are assembled overseas.

If you wanted to see and feel one of CODA’s vehicles at the Washington Auto Show last week, you were out of luck. Apparently they didn’t have enough display cars to set up at the show. So instead of showing off vehicles, CODA CEO Kevin Czinger spent a good part of the week lobbying. He sat on a panel at the Green Car Summit on Capitol Hill and later talked to me about the most important things the federal government can do to facilitate future sales of electric vehicles. Here’s his top three.

1. The number one step the government can take to promote the electric vehicle is changing the existing $7,500 tax credit to an instant cash rebate, like Cash for Clunkers. I believe the vehicle price is low enough [$40,000] that $7,500 makes all the difference in the world. That $7,500 can have a huge impact because initially, I think you can sell tens of thousands of cars at that price point. When you have that introduction, people buy, the price is driven down, performance improves and the market takes over. An instant cash rebate is clear, and people understand that they can immediately deduct it from the price. That $7,500 a car can provide tremendous leverage for expanding the market and is the single biggest leverage point to drive adoption of all EV.

2. When people buy the car, they will need to install an outlet in their house. It’ll be like charging your cell phone. You’ll drive home and plug in your car at night and plug in your cell phone and iPod, which will both charge with the car. But customers will need to pay for that outlet. I’d recommend [the government] supporting people putting in that infrastructure—giving them a $500 cash rebate. With a charger kit, it could be $400 to $1,500. In California, we’re looking at about $500 because in their houses they already have the capacity to add another 220 line. We’re using Sears Kenmore network to come in and install it.

3. The CODA is the only affordable safe electric car company 100 percent independent of the oil industry. We all know our destiny does not have to be tied to oil. In order to move away from an oil-based transportation regime, we need safe and reliable cars and safe and reliable battery systems. But we also should be clear and transparent on what the real risks are of depending on oil. From an economic and national security standpoint we are really at risk. In the ‘70s we saw prices skyrocket, and supply fell off, and the U.S. was at the mercy of OPEC. Jimmy Carter said this was the biggest national security issue the U.S. faces, and we were depending on foreign oil for 40 percent of our supply. We tripled our volume since then, and today, Senator Hatch said 70 percent of our oil comes from foreign sources. Does the average American understand that? There should be more education [from the government] so people understand what we’re facing.

Share this

Melanie D.G. Kaplan

Contributing Editor

Melanie D.G. Kaplan is a Washington, D.C.- based journalist. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and National Parks Magazine. Her website is www.melaniedgkaplan.com. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure