In Episode 60 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on April 28, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Genevieve Cullen, vice president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association. EDTA is a cross-industry trade association promoting the electrification of transportation. Previously, Cullen, a lawyer, served as a government affairs consultant, working with Congress and the executive branch to promote sustainable technology.
Bill queries Cullen about the roadblocks to a sweeping societal switchover to electric vehicles. They discuss “range anxiety” as a primary issue. Cullen explains that plug-in vehicles come in different configurations, with pure electric cars having a range as high as 100 miles and others, which combine batteries with internal combustion engines, having a range identical to conventional vehicles. Since the average daily commute is fewer than 40 miles, 80 percent of vehicle charging could be done at home or at the workplace, Cullen says.
Fortunately, range anxiety can be reduced with education and experience. In fact, studies show that range anxiety disappears within weeks of owning an electric car, according to Cullen. Yet manufacturers haven’t properly educated potential consumers. So EDTA created its own website for that very purpose. Goelectricdrive.com addresses range anxiety, cost concerns and answers other consumer questions like “Can I plug my car in when it’s raining?”
Other good news: on the manufacturing side, the cost of the battery, the largest incremental cost of electric vehicles, is declining faster than predicted thanks to collaboration between industry and the Department of Energy. Soon, there will be an even larger variety of price points, already evidenced by such vehicles as the Mitsubishi Eye, the Prius plug-in hybrid and the Tesla Model S.
When more personal and commercial vehicles are electric, the US will be far less at the mercy of the global oil market, which is “governed by interests and nations not always in sync with our own,” Cullen says. That will have both economic (the US spends a billion dollars a day on foreign oil) and national security benefits.