Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, at podium addressing suits, beside LEAF show car
Maybe it was the number of suits in attendance. Maybe it was the swag, modest as it was. Maybe it was the catered lunch. Sheesh, no one even got arrested.
Yep, a number of factors made the launch of Nissan’s nationwide LEAF tour drastically different from earlier occasions uniting Plug In America members over electric cars. In this case, said supporters included Stefano Paris; Dency Nelson; Mike Kane; Paul Scott, Plug In America co-founder and vice president; Chelsea Sexton, another co-founder and our former executive director; Linda Nicholes, immediate past-president; and myself.
Not so long ago at all, a convocation of this sort would have had us literally yelling at OEMs for crushing the cleanest vehicles in the world and passing out petitions urging Big Auto to plug it in. Just last year we raged against the California Air Resources Board for killing the electric car all over again.
A reunion of sorts (L to R): Stefano Paris, Chris Paine, Dency Nelson, Paul Scott, Chelsea Sexton
So how odd, after spending seven-plus years in full protest-mode, to be among a small number of non-media types politely invited to dress nice and test drive an all-electric prototype, built from scratch by one of the world’s largest automakers, that’s slated to hit showrooms in one year.
Of course, there are those among us who aren’t ready to embrace this radical reversal of fortune.
“I don’t trust nobody”, said “Marvy” Marv Campbell, who ll believe the delivery-date promises when he sees LEAFs, VOLTs and the like in his own garage and others.
But it was truly astounding, dare we say uplifting, to hear Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn voice many of the sentiments we’ve been shouting from the solarized roof tops since taking delivery of our own EV1s and RAV4 EVs.
We know how fantastic it feels to drive a gas-free car, especially when it derives its fuel from the sun. Time and again, we’ve seen the light bulb go off, the expression of delight and inevitability as we extol the ability to get from A to B without a sound, without contributing to climate change, without funding a war for oil.
“Marvy” Marv Campbell, right, with Chelsea
But to hear it first hand from “the other side?” From a corporate executive who wants the world to drive cars that get their electricity from wind and solar?
In an EV, “the guilt of emission is completely disassociated from the pleasure of driving,” Ghosn said during the tour’s press conference at Dodger Stadium.
Everyday people who care about “saving the planet” will sell these cars with their passion alone, he said. EVs won’t need to be advertized.
And the age of affordable fossil fuel is over and everybody knows it, he said. “Public opinion has absolutely abandoned the idea of cheap oil as a factor for the future.”
Let’s hope Ghosn is right. On the day he launched his LEAF tour, Environment California announced a new report showing that global warming pollution in the state increased by 10 percent from 1990 to 2007. The journal Science, also on Friday, Nov. 13, published a study showing that Greenland’s ice sheet has melted faster than previously thought.
Plug In America is prepared to hang up our pressed slacks and pull out the megaphone again. We may well have to. But a little progress with a side of swag* isn’t bad at all.
Posted by Zan Dubin Scott, communications director, Plug In America
Linda Nicholes, William Kostman, and GiGi
Chelsea opines on the LEAF for “Revenge of the Electric Car,” Chris Paine’s follow up to “Who Killed the Electric Car ” Also a consulting producer on the documentary, Chelsea expects it to be released in early 2010. But exactly which cars will ‘star’ and even that time frame is “completely dependent on the automakers, she notes.
*The swag was a small branded notebook (recycled paper) and a pen. Now if they’d just not package these things in plastic.
Photos by Zan Dubin Scott