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The Future of DrivingElectric.org

An Update from the Founder, from his Report to the EAA Annual Meeting

Updating the status of the DrivingElectric project

A month ago, Felix Kramer, Founder of CalCars.org and DrivingElectric.org, gave a 15-minute update to the annual meeting of the Electric Auto Association (EAA), held February 23, 2013 in Palo Alto.  Here's half of that talk: the part that explains how far DrivingElectric has come, and where we aim to go with more support -- which we hope will be forthcoming in the near future.

Reading the full transcript is the best way for plug-in car drivers and advocates to find out about importance of getting "Butts In Seats." It's at the CalCars-News archive, http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1161.html

FELIX KRAMER: Driving Electric is a chapter of the Electric Auto Association. It's also co-sponsored by Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association and CalCars. And basically, it's a place where EV-curious people can meet plug-in drivers to get information, get a ride -- anything they want.

That's what our home page looks like right now. It's got a map, and a photo of 'kvietor' with his EV grin and his Tesla Model S http://www.drivingelectric.org/users/kvietor . We have about 1,000 drivers and EV-curious people signed up. We have 397 who have entered their vehicle and their location, so they can be found on that map, and a few internationally. We have 888 drivers in all. That means some people aren't on the map because they haven't put their location or they haven't put their vehicle type. [READERS: ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE?]

Everyone says what they're willing to do -- give a test drive, lend a car, or whatever it is. And we have 111 EV-curious people. We haven't been pushing too hard to get the EV-curious people on, until we have a lot of drivers.

So, our story up till now. We built the site between June and September, spending about half of the money we raised on technology. The money came, $11,200 from EAA, $3,800 from CalCars and, thanks to the Electrification Coalition, $25,000, plus some private donations. So that's what we used to make this happen, with volunteers and one almost-full-time staff person and another staff person

We ran out of money in December, and our project director and our marketing manager had to leave. We've gotten a commitment for a substantial amount of Electrification Coalition funds -- and we're hoping for a renewal from the Electric Auto Association.

So we now have a plan for what we're going to do. For a while, we're going to be essentially all-volunteer, except for technology. In the future we think -- when we succeed, when we have thousands of cars up there and constant interactions -- we will be showing the carmakers that we're actually helping them sell cars. And then we hope we'll be able to get the price of one car per year from each automaker. At that point we'll be able to do a lot of marketing.

But for right now, here's what we're doing. That's the Tesla Motors Club [slide]. The Tesla Model S has been out for one year. It's made an incredible change because we finally have a no-compromise vehicle, a vehicle that's competitive in price with the kinds of cars that people buying would consider. And that everyone who gets in says "this is the best car ever". That's amazing, and the Car-of-the-Year awards and all those kinds of things -- that is our signature car at this point. That's the lead, and there are some other great cars.

But we decided to make a little push on the Model S. We've come up with the idea for a Tesla Model S Ambassadors program. And this is the idea of rounding up a lot of Model S drivers, who have time (many of them), who are entrepreneurial (many of them), and who can afford to volunteer some time. And get them to organize, in their communities, to become EV Ambassadors, and say to their local city council and local elected representatives and state legislators, and community leaders, "I want to give all of you a drive in the Model S".

And if we don't have enough Model S's, we give them the other hot new cars, the BMW and the Ford, and the "old" Volt and LEAF and the other cars that people know of for two or three years. And do this in collaboration with the local EAA chapters in every community. Let's figure out strategically, who are the 50 or 100 people in each community who need to get a drive in this car so it changes the way they think about EVs?

So I posted something at Tesla Motors Club website http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/13513-Invitation-Become-Mo...

 in the Model S area. It turns out Tesla Model S people love to talk about their cars. And they're very gregarious -- they love to lend their cars out, and so forth.

We invited people to become Model S Ambassadors. And at the same time, we finally implemented SEARCH on our website. So for instance you can now search within 200 miles of Sarasota Florida, see how many Model S's, and look! Seven of them have signed up at Driving Electric. And we have more than 50 who signed up as a result of this solicitation, nationally, and said they want to be part of this project. And by the way, that's a screen shot on a tablet. So this site works on a phone OK, on a tablet pretty well, as well as on a computer.

So we've got 58 Tesla Model S drivers signed up now, out of about 2,650 that were delivered in 2013. That's our first project, to get that off the ground with EAA volunteers and with Tesla Model S owners.

The next project we're going to do is reporting on interactions, contacts made within the site: someone finds someone -- I'm EV-curious and I connect with you, and you let me get a drive or whatever, a week later each of them gets an email asking, "How did it go? What happened?", and we'll be able to start documenting the contacts and hopefully the sales, and so forth.

One more thing is Car-sharing. Car-sharing is a great extension of Driving Electric, because it's a way for people who don't have an EV to try an EV. Right now, you can sign up your EV and we encourage you to sign up with Getaround and RelayRides. RelayRides is national, and Getaround is in parts of California, Portland, Austin and Chicago, but they're going to be expanding.

What GetAround has that RelayRides doesn't have is that you can put your more expensive car on there -- your Model S or your BMW -- and so you can lend your car to someone knowing that it's protected by Getaround's insurance policy, not your policy. And we invited all of our drivers about a month ago to sign up with a special log-in so that when they sign up it's recognized that they're part of Driving Electric, and Driving Electric will get a small commission their signing up or from any rentals that happen. For Getaround, start at http://mbsy.co/getaround/41848 and for RelayRides, begin at http://bit.ly/RlYK9o

And we're going to announce that further. As a result of our bugging Getaround, finally we have something coming next week. When you do a search, there'll be an EV filter in there, so you can, say, I'm on Getaround.com or their app, and I'll be able to search and find an EV.

The last thing we're doing is we hope to be in cooperation with some of the official industry efforts. For example, Electric Drive Transportation Association has http://www.GoElectricDrive.com , a website focused on drivers, and Edison Electric put together http://www.TheElectricGeneration.org a couple of weeks ago.

These don't yet have the grass-roots energy of our organizations. So let's figure out a way to connect them, and to cooperate. And you know, in my best hopes, they would be sponsoring these efforts! You know, with grassroots efforts, not with official ad-agencies.

The last thing is, we're now looking for VOLUNTEERS. And we're looking for a part-time Project Director -- we'll be able to pay that person something -- and we're looking for volunteers to make all this happen.

So I want to thank everybody in this room who's believed in this concept, who has supported it over time, and hope that we can really make it happen in the future. Thank you. [Applause]

by felixkramer

Comments

sfhostel's picture

My EV and I have been registered on the site since the beginning, but no one has contacted me.  :-(  I get to share the EV experience with most people by giving free rides on SideCar real time ridesharing.  Great way to meet cool people and get some "EV grins".

Rich Bona's picture

Are you driving a Coda by any chance?

Rich Bona's picture

I'd like to connect up with other Coda Owners.  Now that we're orphans driving a collector's item it might be to all our benefit to stay in touch.

richbona@pacbell.net.

 

felixkramer's picture

Here's an update from paragraph four above, with the numbers from February followed by the numbers from early June. Despite the website being in "coasting" mode as we talk with possible new sponsors, partners, or adopters, with little activity, moderation, or publicity, people still are signing up!

We have about 1,000 2,100 drivers and EV-curious people signed up. We have 397 about 800 who have entered their vehicle and their location, so they can be found on that map, and a few internationally. We have 888 1,774 drivers in all. That means some people aren't on the map because they haven't put their location or they haven't put their vehicle type.

Some of the new registrants are spammers -- but we're still growing steadily. Stay tuned!