If your employer bought your energy, would you buy an EV? 80% said yes

Washington, DC “ In what will probably be his last auto show as the Secretary for the Department of Energy (DOE), Dr. Steven Chu started his 2013 Washington Auto Show speech with an amazing fact, “We (the United States) spend roughly $1 billion dollars a day on foreign oil.”

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United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu

Acting on behalf of the Obama Administration, Chu announced, “the Workplace Charging Challenge. It calls upon employers to provide chargers to their employees. The goal of the challenge is to increase the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging by tenfold in the next five years.“

Dr. Chu talked about dilemmas in his speech, “about 40% of people are renters, that live in apartments, condos, etc . Another opportunity is charging at the workplace, their car spends as much time at the workplace as at home. I dont have a car, I usually ride a bicycle or walk to work, but if I did have a car, my car would spend more time at the workplace, than at home.”

At the 2013 Washington Auto Show, James J. Gowen, Verizons Vice President – Supply Chain Operations and Chief Sustainability Officer, told me that Verizon asked their employees at four different locations if Verizon, the company, were to pay for the electricity would the employees buy Electric Vehicles (EV)s. Eighty percent of them said yes.

Verizon is going to install employee electric charging unit’s in four of it’s workplaces in NJ, VA, TX and CA which house the 8,000 employees queried. Verizon will likely start with a couple of charging unit’s at each workplace that would allow eight vehicles to charge at one time. Gowen said future charging unit’s would be driven by the employees purchasing more plug-in vehicles thereby resulting in a demand for more unit’s.

A charging station runs about $10,000. Gowen says there is no financial incentive from the Government, but the DOE is working to expedite the permitting. The DOE says it will also provide technical assistance and establish a forum for Partners and Ambassadors to share information.

The first 13 employers include: 3M, Chrysler Group, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, Ford, GE, GM, Google, Nissan, San Diego Gas & Electric, Siemens, Tesla and Verizon. The eight stakeholders include: California PEV Collaborative, CALSTART, Electric Drive Transportation Association, Electrification Coalition, International Parking Institute, NextEnergy, Plug In America and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

At the DC auto show, Nissan announced that it would triple the current electric vehicle quick-charging infrastructure in the U.S. with the addition of at least 500 charging stations in the next 18 months. In it’s press release, Nissan said it and it’s that, along with it’s charging infrastructure partners, they estimate that about 160 fast chargers are currently available for public use across the country but none and no fast chargers are currently available for public use in Washington DC. Most electric vehicle (EV) drivers now rely on home charging, and having additional charging options could significantly increase the rate of EV driving.

Philadelphias Indianapolis Mayor George Ballard spoke at the DC auto show after Secretary Chu. Ballard said that in November 2012, he signed an Executive Order to convert Indianapolis entire fleet to “post-oil technology by 2025.” Ballard is a retired Marine and thinks that our national dependence on oil compromises our national security, “Being held hostage (by foreign oil) makes us more vulnerable with less strategic leverage. And there are real costs: the tragedy of war, families being separated, not to mention the $85 billion, estimated annually, outside the cost of the wars, to protect the oil infrastructure around the world so that we can send our money to people that want to do us harm,” he said.

Ballard laid out his plan. First, the non-emergency fleet would become EV, saving $12,000 per vehicle annually, over the life of the vehicle, on fuel and maintenance costs. The second phase will entail working with partners to convert heavy fleet snowplows, trash trucks and eventually, fire apparatus, to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The third phase will involve joining with car manufacturers to develop an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid police car.

In a pamphlet Ballards office put together titled “Changing the World, Indys move to post-oil vehicles” Ballard asserts, “If a car manufacturer could produce a police car that gets 40-50 miles per gallon, while meeting all the necessary power, safety, range and size needs of a modern urban police force, Indianapolis and similarly sized cities could save up to $10 million per year.”

About the Author:

L ou Ann Hammond has a work history in the energy and transportation field. Starting with Chevron Corp. in finance and accounting from 1978 to 1986. Hammond was exposed to the accounting, selling, management, and transportation of petroleum and all the alternative energies Chevron explored for during the turbulent 1970s. Hammond is the founder and owner of the first privately owned automobile website www.carlist.com. Carlist is the longest running used car database, since 1986, even prior to the Internet. Hammond's most recent website, www.drivingthenation.com, covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry. Driving the Nation encompasses both automotive and energy issues to show the audience how dependent we are on both. Hammond's varied background in the petroleum and automotive industry gives her an analyst insight into the myriad levels of automobile and energy topics.