Your Voice Counts

Plug-in vehicle drivers have never been shy about telling people of our experiences with electric drive. Now, more than ever, people are starting to listen even people who historically haven’t listened to much of what we have to say.

At the January 2013 meeting of the Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association, Nissan’s Tim Gallagher said that finally getting his own electric Leaf and driving it for 9,000 miles so far has made him come to appreciate some of the things we’ve been trying to convey to automakers. He gave props to Plug In America co-founder Marc Geller in particular.

“I’ve learned a lot from Marc Geller. I’ve argued with Marc about a lot of things that I didn’t know anything about. Now, I can look back and say, well, Marc was right,” Gallagher said. Check out Brad Berman’s reporting on the event for plugincars.com.

Personally, I’ve been invited to more focus groups on plug-in vehicles in the past year or so than in the nine years before that, which is another sign that automakers want consumer feedback about plug-in cars. Usually, I’m there with a mixture of EV and non-EV drivers.

city_carshare_imievOne recent focus group had an interesting twist the attendees were plug-in vehicle owners or people who had driven a plug-in vehicle through local car-sharing programs (in the San Francisco Bay Area they’re the local non-profit City CarShare or the company Zipcar). We were brought together by a PR firm helping the Metropolitan Transportation Commission design a campaign to get more drivers to try plug-in vehicles.

What struck me most is that the car-share folks had nearly identical stories about how they first tried a plug-in car. When they went to reserve a car, the only one left near them at that moment was a plug-in, so they tried it, immediately fell in love with it, and since have been using the plug-in almost exclusively. There seems to be a great opportunity within car sharing programs to introduce drivers to plug-ins. Project Get Ready, a plug-in vehicle promotional arm of the Rocky Mountain Institute, hosted a Webinar recently on that very topic. Take a listen here.

Not so surprisingly, once the car-share drivers were behind the wheel, the plug-in cars sold themselves. Getting people to test-drive plug-ins is the key to selling more plug-in vehicles too, and is especially critical because many car dealers seem to be at a loss when it comes to effective sales tactics for electric vehicles.

Plug In America will be hosting a Webinar in February that could help dealers learn from some of their colleagues who have been particularly successful at selling plug-in vehicles. Do you know a dealer who has had positive experiences with plug-ins? Let us know! Do you know dealers who might be interested in our Webinar? Let them know!

Your voices our voices — are beginning to be heard, and the more plug-in drivers there are, the more we’ll be heard. Keep speaking up, because even people who don’t seem to understand today may come around. Join Plug In America, if you’re not already a member, and together we’ll speak with a louder voice. Don’t be shy.

Posted by Sherry

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