Passion for Plug Ins Expanding in California


Californians have now a clear passion for plug-ins, with 2012 as the watermark year for electric cars in the state. Just four years ago, the U.S. $100,000 plus Tesla Roadsters was the only electric vehicle able to reach highway speeds. The past few years has seen an ever-increasing wave of plug in vehicles being introduced, not only in California’s showrooms, but all over the United States as well.

This summer alone, nearly a dozen plug in vehicles and crossovers would start to travel the U.S. roadways. About five to six models would be arriving right before the end of August, from electric car manufacturers such as Tesla and Coda Automotive and industry giants such as Toyota and Ford.

California has been long known as a trendsetter, with many factors being used to make this a testing center for what is considered as the golden age of personal transportation. The state has been known as hotbeds of technology and entertainment, with many first adopters having ready cash to spend on the new technology. Currently, an expanded charging infrastructure is being developed together with access to battery-powered cars to coveted carpool lanes on congested freeways.

Amongst the most awaited electric models of the summer would be the Tesla Model S luxury sedan, with its base price of U.S. $58,570 increasing to U.S. $78,570 depending on the size of the battery pack. The upgrade would have a consequent increase in the driving range on a charge. During its development stage, Tesla received more than 10,000 reservations without even the benefit of a test drive. The Model S was initially promised to be delivered in 2009, it was finally unveiled and the first delivery was made last June 22.

According to Paul Scott, co-founder of Plug In America, an advocacy group for electric car, “The people who buy this car are the movers and shakers – leaders in arts, entertainment, business.” Scott is now selling all electric Leafs at a Nissan dealership in Los Angeles, downtown area.

He added, “I sold a Leaf to Danny DeVito. He’s that kind of guy. But you’ve got a lot of people who just will not put themselves into a small car.” He further said that celebrities who live large are the ones who would drive the market if they adopt upscale electrics such as the Tesla, to later influence regular individual purchases.

After introduction of the Model S last weekend, the Tesla Motor Corp is providing thousands of test drives to those who placed reservations, with events to he held in Fremont and Los Angeles, before moving to other cities in North America. Other drivers are also getting behind the wheel of the Coda electric sedan. The U.S. $38,145 vehicle would be tested in events to be held in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area. The car would be made available in four dealerships in California.

The major difference in the plug in vehicle market is the presence of the world’s largest carmakers, with their very own offerings in this car design and platform. Ford initially offered its U.S. $40,000 Focus Electric to its dealers last May and is expecting to sell about 350 cars in California, New Jersey and New York by June’s end. Another carmaker, Honda, is now providing leasing for its Fit EV priced at U.S. $389 per month in California and Oregon. The Japanese carmaker would then be expanding its reach to six East Coast areas in 2013.