We explain why we need a way to connect drivers and EV-curious people. The photo shows some of the team at National Plug In Day, holding the mini-flyers we've made available for anyone to download, print, and keep in their cars or hand out at events: Howard Clearfield, Rachel Schapira, Felix Kramer, Marc Geller, Ben Jones; also see the photo/video gallery "Speech at launch of DrivingElectric" for more pictures and watch video of the speech without leaving our site. Thanks to Michael Bender for the transcript (edited for readability).
Announcing the launch of DrivingElectric at the Crissy Field, San Francisco event of National Plug In Day, September 23, 2012.
Introduction by Marc Geller, event MC, co-Founder of Plug In America, DrivingElectric advisor:
Our job is not done when we purchase or lease our cars. And Felix Kramer, who most of you will know from CalCars, is launching, with the Electric Auto Association and Plug in America, a new effort to connect drivers with the folks who need to know how awesome these cars are, what they do for us, how convenient they are. Felix -- tell them about DrivingElectric!
[Felix trips on the way to the podium, recovers, picks up his papers]
See video (starting after the fall, and missing the last minute that's transcribed below) at YouTube.
Every start-up stumbles. [laughter]
I want to tell a couple of stories. We all have EVs in our past -- for me, I remember bumper cars at amusement parks, and toy electric cars. And we've become very comfortable plugging everything in! It's not anything weird or new anymore.
So I first drove in a plugin hybrid -- Andy Frank, at the UC-Davis invented them -- and I got inspired about that. Then I drove Marc's RAV4 EV and I just realized how great plug-in cars were. I had seen the EV1 when it showed up but I kind of passed it by -- I didn't really understand all that. I was a little later to the game than some of other people. But then, at CalCars we started converting Priuses, and you remember this probably, some of you [holding the yellow "dongle," which connects the retrofit to a regular 120 socket] -- this is the most powerful plug we can imagine -- it helped get car makers to build the Chevy Volt, the Prius Plug-in and other plug-in hybrids.
Every single one of those cars I drove was memorable. What happened with every one, when I got in them -- and this is an experience you've probably had, too -- you get in the car, you close the door, and it's solid, and you sit in there and you say, "This is a real car!" It's not a golf cart, it's not some weird kind of thing. And you can't get that until you actually sit in the car and drive in the car. And you don't just say this is a regular car, you say it's better than a regular car!
So everybody's talked about the "EV grin". We all know about the EV grin. Everybody gets the EV grin when they drive in the cars. So now, my family has a Volt and a Leaf, and I feel punished when I can't drive electric. I feel like I'm in jail somewhere if I have to drive another kind of car.
And you know, it's not just about the cars, it's not just about how great they are, it's about this t-shirt ["petrocide" -- a stick figure next to a fuel pump blowa his brains out with a gasoline nozzle], which is what Ed [Eddie Sher, Senior Communications Strategist, Sierra Club's Beyond Oil campaign] talked about too. It's about fossil fuels destroying our world, and we have to get off fossil fuels. And these cars are a way to get there, and there's nothing more important in the world than for all of us to find some way to get the world off of fossil fuels [applause]. Thank you. Sometimes we forget about it and it's such a big deal that we don't want to think about it, but it's out there.
So a funny thing happened in the last year, the last couple of years especially. I discovered that I was selling cars. I never realized that I was going to be a car salesman, but people said, "because of you, because of CalCars, because of other people showing us plug-in cars, I bought a car!" And I thought, Isn't that great? At the same time, I saw the carmakers building really wonderful cars, but in my opinion and a lot of other people, falling very short in marketing and selling the cars. And we could help them, I realized. We can help the dealers, we can help the automakers.
And if we do that we help insure the success of these cars, which is not guaranteed, because the $7,500 tax credit -- it's not a sure thing that's always going to be there. And if that goes away quickly, these cars could be in trouble. We have to build demand for these cars.
I have seen so many drivers enthusiastically, unselfishly, having so much fun showing their cars! So we came up with a new idea; we came up with the idea of DrivingElectric. And it's really like mixing up the Electric Auto Association, Plug in America and CalCars with Meetup.com and Match.com. It's basically connecting everybody, that's the whole idea.
So, starting today, what we are doing is we are enabling a site where you, the drivers, can sign up, make a profile, upload pictures of your car, tell stories -- it's getting better, it's very preliminary so far -- it's stumbling a little bit too. You'll see when you go to the site: some things don't work that well but we're getting there. But what is going to happen is that anyone in the country who hears about it, and they're going to hear about it by these little flyers you can download and print out -- I have some here -- you can have them in the dashboard of your car or the side of your car, so when somebody says, "What's that?" you can give them this.
People will be able to find a map on our website, and they can drill down in that map and they can find someone near them who has a plug-in car and is willing to do something for them: talk to them, give them a test ride, a test drive, maybe lend them the car or swap cars for a couple of hours. And I hope, among you drivers, you all are going to make a resolution: that this year one of my goals is to take one person I find, one person who is interested, and not just show them the car and talk to them about it, but go through the whole way and get them into a dealer and get them to buy a car.
And at that point, you will have succeeded that year in taking... [there are] 50,000 electric drivers and if every one of those 50,000 drivers gets one person to buy a car, then we will have doubled the demand, in addition to all the other reasons people are buying these cars.
So we want this service to be your tool. We want it for all drivers who love showing off their cars. And I resolve -- that's personally, myself -- to sell as many as I can.
So where are we in DrivingElectric.org? Right now we have people in 34 states and four Canadian provinces, and you can see it on the map. And so, we're getting started, it's going to build, but we want everybody to know about it, we want it to be a tool that all of our sponsoring organizations are involved in, and we are going to get a lot of other partners. We have PlugShare as a great first partner as well.
And so that's what we're doing -- DrivingElectric.org and I just want to thank some of the people on the team are here, and some not: Rachel Schapira Ben Jones, Deborah Wong, Marc Geller and Howard Clearfield helped a lot [applause throughout]. And not here in various parts of the country: Chi Ly Kim, David Herron, Michael Bender, Josh Kaplan, Ron Knox [see team at About Us]. So thank you. This has been a labor of love, and we're getting there.