Chelsea Sexton's Prescriptions: RX for Ailing Automakers

By · December 27, 2012

In mid-December, Nissan vice president of sales Al Castignetti admitted that the company had been “arrogant” in its assumption “that there were people just waiting for the [Nissan LEAF] who would raise their hands and say, “Give me a LEAF, give me a LEAF, give me a LEAF.’”

Chelsea Sexton

Chelsea Sexton says smart marketing will help move the LEAF and other electric cars. (Andrea Bricco photo)

The company has been upfront about taking the blame for its poor LEAF marketing. In October, vice president Andy Palmer told me Nissan has been “pretty lousy” at dealing with its vital early adopters. False assumptions do plague the electric car industry—look what’s happened with Coda. But it’s one thing to acknowledge the truth publicly, and it’s another to follow through with change.

Nissan took a big step forward by hiring Los Angeles-based Chelsea Sexton, co-founder of Plug In America and a consultant who listens to what the early adopters are saying about their cars and the companies that sell them. Sexton, a sometime contributor, is candid about what needs to be fixed.

“That statement about ‘arrogance’ suggests that what I and others have been saying for quite some time is starting to sink in,” she said. “Nissan had very ambitious sales numbers that were never realistic. The stark reality is that it looks worse when it happens to Nissan compared to some startup. LEAF marketing needs to get far more emotional. Every company has been approaching selling EVs as if they’re an uber-practical purchase, and they never have been that. The ads don’t convey the cool experience of driving electric, and that absolutely has to change.”

They're Fun to Drive!

It’s fair to say that Sexton isn’t a fan of the polar bear ads—she’d rather see spots that emphasized the fun (and high-tech) driving experience. “The companies keep thinking that EVs are a ‘green thing,’ but environmentalism is not primarily why people are buying these cars, and never has been,” she said. “Plus, that message is counter-intuitive in the red states.”

Nissan Leaf and friend

It's not all about warm and fuzzy eco-bears. (Nissan photo)

That’s important, because states—especially Texas—that went heavily for Romney are also leading the nation in public charging station deployment.

Plug-in car owners wasted no time in organizing themselves into communities, which operate lively online message boards. A lot of it is troubleshooting—why isn’t my car charging?—and Sexton says it’s important for Nissan and other carmakers “to involve themselves in the communities that the drivers created.”

Realism on Range (and Charging)

And while they’re online, they can also be more realistic about range and charging times. “That’s a huge issue for all the companies, says Sexton, who’d also like automakers to admit that EVs aren’t for everybody. “They’re useful for 95 percent of the things that people do, but not the other five percent,” she said.

Automakers tend to stay off the non-corporate online forums—Tesla employees are discouraged, for example—and Sexton thinks that’s a big mistake, because timely intervention could clear up some frustrating problems before they mushroom.

“You need to go to your current user base to figure out how to improve the car,” Sexton said. “Two important groups are the owner community and industry veterans.” She speaks from experience, because she worked for General Motors from the late 1990s to 2001 during the EV1’s short life (as documented in Who Killed the Electric Car?), and at that time the company was an enthusiastic participant in the budding forums.

Coda, Sexton said, is “the most tragic example” of a company not listening to the veterans and early adopters. “They’re local in southern California, which means that many of us have been beating on their doors saying, ‘Let us help you. The concept needs work,’” Sexton said. “They’d take us out to lunch—they were good about that—but when it came time to receiving actual input nothing happened.”

Involving the Public

For Nissan, Sexton would like to see more owner events and public advisory boards (like the one she served on for the Chevy Volt). “They want to make sure that people understand that these electrics are not just like every other car—they’re a whole new and exciting experience.”

Seat time is important to fill the ranks of electric car owners. Arun Banskota, CEO of the Texas-based eVgo charging network, told me last summer, “When you merely ask people if they’re considering buying an electric car, you get a positive response from just five to 10 percent. But if you show those same people the cars that are available, give then some information and maybe offer a test ride, the number goes up to 55 to 60 percent.”

Change the Incentives

How can the feds help? Sexton is supportive of President Obama’s proposal (in his 2012 budget request) to expand the current $7,500 income tax credit, and make it payable at the time of purchase, but she doesn’t think upping the top amount to $10,000, as Obama proposed, is a priority.

Instead, Sexton has some common-sense ideas: Discourage dealers from marking up electric vehicles above the MSRP, cut off rebates above a certain price point ($65,000 perhaps), and exclude tiny “compliance” car programs from federal credits (partly through volume minimums for manufacturers with no lease-only deals). They’d howl like stuck cats if you took the latter step, but it would certainly encourage larger-volume production.

Sexton laments that some EV programs—the Ford Focus electric is an example—are practically invisible. And she and I agree that the beneath-the-radar compliance phenomenon is a shame, because some of the "now you see them, now you don't" cars, especially the Honda Fit EV—are very good indeed. “The Fit is the best EV I’ve driven that didn’t have a Tesla drivetrain,” she said. “It’s a great car, but not too many people will ever know it.”

None of this is rocket science. The automakers know most of these ideas make sense. Electric cars aren’t SUVs or minivans, and need to be treated like something new. To paraphrase the great man, if Henry Ford had done things the same old way he’d have been selling people faster horses.


· James Thurber (not verified) · 5 years ago

"They’d howl like stuck cats if you took the latter step, but it would certainly encourage larger-volume production."

Is the author suggesting that so few people are buying electric vehicles because the industry is producing too few of them?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

"Is the author suggesting that so few people are buying electric vehicles because the industry is producing too few of them?"

I don't think so. Seems more like hinting at a combination of economics of scale needed to bring prices down, overall market visibility and awareness, and pressure on governments and local businesses to support EV infrastructure.

EV technology needs to move out of niche status.

· Warren (not verified) · 5 years ago

She is right about the Fit EV. I hope the Spark matches its performance. If so, Chevy will have another winner.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 5 years ago

"She is right about the Fit EV. I hope the Spark matches its performance. If so, Chevy will have another winner."

According to the spec, Spark EV will be the fastest EV beside Tesla. With 400 ft-lbs of torque and 120 +hp, it will be one quick EV...

· · 5 years ago

I'm also not enthused about the polar bear advertisements. Too many people know there are 5 times as many Polar Bears around now than 60 years ago. Its not to great a Reach to say buying a Nissan Leaf is not going to help the Polar Bears much (other than Nissan Leaf buyers are hopefully more educated than the typical buyer - hehe my posts here try to encourage more study on the subject).

Added that there hasn't been any GW in the last 16 years......Many people in the 'center' of the US already realize this.

Nissan would do better if they put out the realistic capability of the car, (Tesla is guilty of this too: Overstating range and Unbelievably, Overstating the car's charging rate).

The biggest thing to improve sales I think ( I certainly would have bought one if it was the case) is to PUT in a Decent Battery.

· KellyOlsen (not verified) · 5 years ago

Expanding Chelsea's role at Nissan to help them understand the EV market is a brilliant move. I know she will shake things up for the better!

· Frank Smith (not verified) · 5 years ago

Count the number of Electric car commercials vs conventional car comercials, count the number of newspaper adds for electric cars vs conventional cars. You can hardly find any. Any any huge car sale excludes the electric model. The truth is that conventional car makers do not WANT to sell electric cars because they make so much more off of conventional cars. Not only in the initial sale but in the support and maintenance afterwards. If a conventional car salesman tells you how much cheaper it is to own an electric car they would be demoting the cars that make them the most money. Hybrids are one way car makers can have their cake and eat it to since you still have all the complexity and maintenance of a conventional car. People do not realize the investment potential of both Electric cars and residential solar. I have both and now I have no electric bill and it does not cost me anything to drive to 95% of my trips.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Hi Bill, I'm always amazed by what people "know." Knowing that 20,000-25,000 polar bears is 5 times more than the 5,000-10,000 at their greatest decline is knowing bad math. Knowing that articles stating that the U.K.’s Met Office has acknowledged that "there has been no observable, measurable upward trend in global temperatures for the past 16 years" (as restated in The New American for one) is knowing false information. In actuality, the U.K. Met Office: (1) disavowed the original Daily Mail article the day after it was released, saying they had never been contacted for the article, and (2) provided a chart showing that, to the contrary, 15 of the last 16 years were the hottest on record:

· · 5 years ago

First, what's the actual problem?
Well, according to the U.S. DOT, over 75% of drivers drive less than 40 miles per day. That's a fact, not an opinion or conjecture. But of course there's the corner cases such as the person who drives 130 miles on Monday and then their car sits the rest of the week. So we'll keep that in mind. This year there will be roughly 7M cars sold in the U.S. Therefore, the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for pure EVs in the U.S. is 7M*.75 = 5.25M. But lets be ultra-conservative here and cut that TAM back to 3M, to eliminate all the possible statistical anomalies from EV range not meeting the consumers range requirement. Car buyers have a lot of choices and a variety of requirements, so lets be ultra conservative again and say the Segmented Addressable Market (SAM) for BEVs is just 5% of the TAM. So therefore you would expect BEV sales in the U.S. to be at least 150,000 units. However, the actual U.S. BEV sales in 2012 will come in at less than 14,000 units. So that's the big problem. BEV sales in the U.S. are less than 10% of what you would expect them to be.

Second, why are BEV sales so low?
I truly believe the fundamental issue of low BEV sales is primarily due to the deeply ingrained mental model of what consumers believe an automobile is and what that means as a result. I've had numerous people ask about my LEAF and say, “really there's no engine at all?” Their mental model is cars have engines. I've also get this one, “Okay, I only drive 25 miles a day, in my case how long would it take me to charge an electric car?” Their mental model is that they stand there while it charges, like they stand there while they fill up there tank of the present vehicle. It's a deeply ingrained ICE mental model. I've personally fallen victim to the ingrained ICE mental model. One morning, after owning my LEAF for over a year, I decide to start it and warm it up before I left. You can do this over the Internet, but I wasn't booted up. So I went out to the garage, started it up, set the temp up, and opened the garage door. Why the hell did I just open the garage door??? Because my mental model said a running vehicle needs to vent to the outside. I quickly realized my error and closed the door while laughing at myself. Old habits die hard. This is why it will take decades for BEVs to become high volume vehicles. That's how long it will take for the new EV mental model to replace the old ICE mental model for a large portion of consumers. Because of these deep mental models, consumers presently don't at all view an EV as a substitute for an ICE vehicle. To them it feels just the same as if someone was trying to convince you, for example, a blender is really a substitute for a refrigerator.

· Paul Scott (not verified) · 5 years ago

I agree with Chelsea that the fun factor of the cars should be stressed. I'd also add the superior ride that EVs provide. You can modulate your energy use to a fine degree, much more than any ICE vehicle. This is why hypermiling is so easy in these cars. In addition to being inherently efficient, the mechanical linkage from foot to wheel can be precisely administered.

The beauty of EVs is that they can be both efficient and fun. Inexpensive to operate, yet practically harmless to the environment (when using renewable energy).

These qualities and more make EVs highly valued, and that's why the whole notion of needing to pay back over an econo-box is so repugnant.

· Lad (not verified) · 5 years ago

This is a new technology. It's an electric car. so forget all you know about servicing the ICE cars of the past. This is a CAN buss, multi-computer controlled, special kind of a rolling device and it requires a new approach to customer service by the dealers and the manufacturer.

The old policies, developed over a hundred years of serving gasoline fueled car customers no longer apply. The first buyers of the Leaf want the car to succeed. They want Nissan to make money off the car...hey!, it's the American way. But try as the early buyers may, Nissan's current car culture doesn't seem to understand the buyers and sellers are jointed together and need to work in concert to move the EV idea forward. In fact, many of the early buyers are actually trying to help sell Nissan's EV by dispensing good information about the car and even offering their cars as demos on occasions. It is very important that Nissan pay attention and listen to the early buyers...making a profit in the EV part of the car business depends on how happy they keep their early adopters.

· Kent Taylor (not verified) · 5 years ago

I own a used Think. I drive it 95% of the time. An average of 1,500 miles a month. I struggle, getting in a gas car these days. Think is realistic about its battery range. Get the cost down, and electrics will sell. I have a problem understanding why the cost is so high, when the ICE is replaced by a simple electric motor and the transmission by a simple single speed transaxle and controller. I've test driven the I, Focus, Leaf and Think as well as the smart electric. All good cars. Some are roomier and smoother riding, with unecessary bells and whistles. Cost........

· · 5 years ago


Well, True, I haven't actually gone up and counted every last polar bear myself, but when Regulations were enforced regarding indescriminate trapping amazingly the polar bear population grew. That has the ring of truth.

Little kids are made to assume polar bears can't swim, if not outright told that. I guess swimming 50 miles at a crack doesn't count. How many human swimmers can go 50 miles at a crack?

Trying to stick to one slightly off topic subject per post. I was just agreeing with Ms. Sexton that I wasn't enthused about the polar bear ad, and explained why. If you liked them, or thought the Polar Bear was Cuddley, please advise her of that yourself. If you read my links you would have gleaned that the AGW crowd AT THE TIME, didn't deny the stagnant "Plateau". Of course, they had to deny it later.

We're all trying to be friends here man, snide remarks are not appreciated.

· · 5 years ago

I disagree with Big Experts all the time. That doesn't make me or other people who also disagree dumb. I've seen enough to give me a basis to disagree. People learn best when they learn by Models. The people who have not developed models are the people who are most easily conned.

EG: A Mechanic says he will clean the ashtrays in your car and that will fix its starting problem for only $29.95. Would you take that deal? Hopefully not because you have a Model of the rudimentary operation of a car.

· · 5 years ago

What has always amazed me is how much emphasis is put on range and refuel times. As if those two items were THE most important aspects of a car's daily utility. And to add fuel to that fire, most non-EV folks think that BOTH of those need to be improved dramatically in order for EVs to compete in the market.

One of the first steps I'd suggest to any car maker is that the dealership employ specialists for the cars. That they NOT be sold by typical car salesfolks who generally bounce between brands on a regular basis, and don't know specifics about the cars beyond colors and trim levels - and often not even that!

· marco loglio (not verified) · 5 years ago

""who killed the electric cars "" are the global automakers and the consultant of them that cannot advise the large corporation like GM or Nissan, that in the market exists, since many years, batteries that can give a range of hundreds of miles at a low cost and high effucency and safety. A car like Nissan Leaf has a ridicolous 80Wh/Kg as energy density of the battery pack.
Is well know that there are battery pack for EV, like the one i recently made for the world record range of 800 km with one charge, that has an energy density of 250 wh/kg. Means 3 time more range in the same space and weight of what is capable an obsolete Nissan Leaf.
Whan the car maker will start to make their car with the current top technology for EV battery , things will change drastically.
So is up to the people of Good Will, to pressure the big corporations to stop to cheat the consumers with their odd EV and start to make the real good EV that the technology has made possible .
I would like to be in touch with you , to give you some real advise about what a battery for EV is now !

· Dave - Phoenix (not verified) · 5 years ago

From a marketing standpoint, Chelsea is right. My Electric car is the most fun to drive of any vehicle I have owned, but I have never seen any commercials that talk about EV's being fun to drive.

From a development standpoint, the only thing that can help is lowering the cost and increasing the range. Americans aren't willing to to pay more for a vehicle that they can't drive 100% of the time....

· · 5 years ago


My emphasis on range is not really so amazing. I want to go from city to city non-stop. You can put as many level 3 fast chargers in the median that you want to, I still don't like stopping if I don't have to, and I'm willing to pay $$ for a bigger battery... Hopefully, the range will increase, but until it does I'll have to wait.

I don't have any emphasis on recharging times.. If I was a travelling salesman and had to cover huge distances every day and had to have 500 guaranteed miles at the start of my day, then yes, I'd want a charger that could work on that while I slept. Since I'm not I don't, but this salesman would. I have a friend in the telecom business who drives a chevy Impala. Not every day, but its not uncommon for him to start his day early , arrive home late with 600 more miles on the odometer. Other than one very quick refuel (3 minutes), he wouldn't want to stop for even 30 minutes to charge at a fast charger, even once during his harried day. He arrives home with the needle on E.

I guess I'm making the claim that more EV's would be sold if the range was larger. If you want proof look at the high sales of the volt. People say I'm crazy for wanting a 150 kwh battery... My friend would put a 400 kwh battery to very good use. Its rather like saying no one with a personal computer would want more than 1 1/2 gigs. I remember paying $3500 for a cheap one years ago, and at one time a .015 gb (15 mb) hard drive for a radio shack trs80 was $3500. The cheapest computers now have 40 Gigs standard. So I'm temporarily "getting along" with an 11 kwh charge-discharge cycle in the volt. But I'd love it much more if it was an order of magnitude bigger.

I think we're all frustrated Electrics are not selling better. All we can say is maybe future conditions will favor the purchase of them in the future.

· · 5 years ago

@Marco Loglio

May I get a URL or website or something I could search to get more information on your great technology advance? Thanks in Advance.

· · 5 years ago

Another factor to their slow uptake IMO may have something to do with so many people being broke and/or anxious about becoming broke in the near future. Many potential buyers within the current "young" generation- who actually know about and like EVs, that would traditionally be targeted by these manufacturers- are straddled with student loan debt AND the prospects of a poor job market that isn't going to get much (if any) better. I would be curious to know EXACTLY who Nissan has determined the market is for the Leaf.

· kevbo (not verified) · 5 years ago

people don't want to drive overly expensive ugly cars. thats it thats all...

· Paul Scott (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Caffeinkid, we're just now starting to get some used LEAFs on the market. These are cars that the owners traded in for new models, so they are only a bit over a year old and have low miles. The price I'm selling them for is just over $20K, a very reasonable price considering their stellar functionality. The cost of operation is extremely low, so for the price of an econo-box, you get a very sophisticated, fun to drive car that will serve you for many trouble-free years.

The number of used plugin cars is only going to increase as the first three year leases come due in about a year. The pricing on those will be in the range of $15K or less. These will be very affordable to most anyone who can afford any car at all.

· · 5 years ago

> people don't want to drive overly expensive ugly cars. thats it thats all... <

If that is it, and that is all... why is the average amount paid for an automobile in the USA *more* than the price of a LEAF? This points out what could be the single most important misunderstanding of the marketing aspect of automobiles: Everybody seems to think that their personal usage pattern, desires and financial situation can be generalized across the population.

caffeinekid is much closer to the mark, IMO.

· · 5 years ago

@ Bill Howland -

I don't think our views are all that much different. The big difference lies in deciding what will sell more cars vs what people actually need in a car. Giving people what they think they need in a car costs more money than giving them what they actually need. So if we simplify it as, "I guess I'm making the claim that more EV's would be sold if the range was larger" - there is no argument. People would buy more EVs if they had 500 mile range and 5-minute recharge times. IF THE CARS COST THE SAME AS TODAY. We can make cars with long range. See Tesla. I'm pretty sure you could drive the top-end Model S between towns. We can do fast recharge times (OK, not 5-minutes for 500 miles, but you get the idea). It all comes down to how much do you want to pay for it, relative to how much you need it.

I understand that there are fringe uses - like traveling sales people. There's little need to even bring that into the discussion at this point. The low-hanging fruit is the commuter. An EV is the perfect commute tool (assuming a private automobile can be perfect for anything), and there are millions of cars in this country that burn gasoline, and do NOTHING but drive relatively short distances. The commute car I am talking about is not used to drive 200 miles in a day. Ever. Those are the people who will save money and see more convenience in owning an EV. Those are the people we need to be marketing to while we work on longer range and shorter recharge times. Why shoot for the few travelling sales people when we have a perfect fit for the cars we have today? An EV isn't a *good* fit. It isn't a "it still needs tweaks" fit - but a perfect fit for the millions of commuters we are sitting in congested traffic every day in this country.

And after all that, I'll tell you my personal story: I also need more battery range. I have not purchased one of the new crop of cars because my 2002 Rav4EV still beats them all (leaving the Tesla out for no other reason than it is too big). If I had a true 150 mile range, I could use my EV more today. If I had a 200-mile car, I could finally get ride of the Prius, and have a bicycle and EV-only fleet. I am NOT the typical consumer or driver, however. For trips under about 100 miles, I ride my bike. For trips over, or for the whole family, I choose to use a car. I'd like that car to be all electric, and of a reasonable size. But I do NOT assume that everybody else's situation is the same as mine. I just look around my neighborhood to see how many people buy cars only for commuting. They typically have a huge SUV for their "family, long trips" and a little sedan for the commute (In my neighborhood, the commutes range from 1.5 miles (this one done in a Hummer... seriously) to 9 miles. The commute and long-distance cars never mix. That little sedan (or Hummer in the one case) should be an EV.

· · 5 years ago

Another thought: Your champion should be Tesla. Offer a great car AND three different battery capacities. Isn't that exactly what you're looking for? Choose how much that battery capacity is worth to you, and buy the range you want. If you want a long-range EV, Tesla is waiting to take your order.

· Ernie (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Frank Smith:

"Count the number of Electric car commercials vs conventional car comercials"

Uh, no. More like, count the number of Nissan Leaf commercials and compare to the number of Toyota Matrix commercials. Or Honda Civic commercials, or even Dodge Ram commercials.

Car companies don't say "Buy a gas car!" they say "Buy our totally redesigned Honda Civic Sedan!" Why? "All-new features like X, Y, and Z! 3 cubic feet more space than our last model! Split rear seats! MP3 player!" Or whatever.

There are real, marketable differences between a Leaf and a Civic. Sell the car on those.

· Cord (not verified) · 5 years ago

I did not buy my Leaf because of the green thing. I bought it, because I liked the cool tech factor. This was an upgrade from the blazer I was commuting in. My Leaf is zippy and fun to drive. That said, there are things that could've made it better -

1) leather seats (even faux leather) instead of the near white cloth seats that I am afraid my kid will ruin.

2) a more futuristic interior design, note that most people look at the inside of their car far morre than the outside, the interior of my wife's Prius reminds me of a star trek bridge with sleak curve lines that make you think you are one with the car.

3) My Leaf is basically a Versa with an electric motor and though fun to drive, still looks kinda cheap (with the exception of the lights that were installed. That said, Nissan would be smart to start morphing the Leaf to look like something between and Versa and a 300z. Shoot if they made a production model of the Nismo RC electric, they would have a winner, and they could probably sell it for a premium price.

All that said, I love driving my leaf and definately NOT because it's green. I am not an eco dude and have more concerns that hugging trees when deciding on a car to drive. Yes, Nissan was arrogant, in marketing, design, production and relationship. They need to look at companies like Toyota and what they did with the Prius and improve on that.

· · 5 years ago


Hi, Yeah, here's the thing though: If you have a ten year old SUV that gets more range than current products, isn't something a little bit wrong with the Universe?
Ten years ago, some bike riders bought a rav4 EV because [proof] YOU BOUGHT IT.

So everyone saying I'm nuts for asking Toyota to put in an 80 kwh option on their current Rav4ev does not sound like a big deal to me. Also, releasing it in more states like NY STATE for instance. I thought your basic lithium Ion battery was like tripple the capacity, and 1/2 price of anything 10 years ago. So why are they still so expensive?

I was seriously considering a Model S or caddy ELR, but if you've been reading any of my other posts I've decided against both, as far as Tesla goes, I feel they are being unnecessarily inflexible (they were more flexible with my Roadster - so i'll keep it along with my 2011 volt for quite a while longer hopefully). Also in the back of my mind I'm afraid of spending beaucoup bucks for the 85kwh pack, then having prices plummet. I was willing to take that risk, but their inflexibility rubbed me the wrong way.

I have always said currently, in 2012-2013, there would be a large market for a BIG LUXURY EV (with a large battery, say 150 kwh). Im sure everyone, including manufacturers totally discount that. But if you're going to charge a fortune for a nice car, why not have it be a BIG LUXURY EV. People can't say there will be no notice of it. The model S is similar to a Chevy Impala, and yes its won awards, but so has the Leaf. Look at all the attention its getting.

If I want a big luxury EV, what are my choices? A Rolls Royce for $600K? I dont think they're even made anymore. A very nice Caddy Eldorado or Lincoln Town Car with decent range (say $120K) (I'm dating myself, use your imagination to put that into a more current luxury product if you can think of one).

· · 5 years ago

While not evryone buys an electric because of environmental awareness - just look at the AGW denier like Bill Howland here - most people do buy EVs because of something other than mere transportation. So, Chelsea's idea that environmental benefits not be emphasised is just capitulation to the denier lobby. If 20% of the country doesn't buy electric so be it. AGW acceptance will only increase in the future.

A recent poll found that 4 out of 5 Americans see global warming as serious problem. Sandy did change many minds.

· · 5 years ago

@derylldd "The commute and long-distance cars never mix. That little sedan (or Hummer in the one case) should be an EV."

And the long distance car should be a PHEV.

· · 5 years ago

@DarrellDD "What has always amazed me is how much emphasis is put on range and refuel times. As if those two items were THE most important aspects of a car's daily utility. "

I'm surprised this amazes you !

We do need longer range than what Leaf has now. Even in my smallish city (Seattle area), in winter I can't drive 60 miles safely with heat on on freeways.

Either we need better range or QC network everywhere. Otherwise the utility of EVs is severely reduced in larger cities.

· · 5 years ago

@EVnow -

My point... as usual... is that millions of people own gasoline cars who never venture outside the range of current EVs. I realize that there are many, many drivers who DO exceed the range of the current crop of cars. And I have even said that I'm not buying another EV until there's one on the market that achieves my range needs... But this thread is about how to sell more EVs. Why make this harder than it has to be? With the product we have, why are we not targeting those consumers who absolutely CAN use the cars with no compromises in their lifestyles? Why are people still buying gas cars to drive a handful of miles to work? (Ug. Why are they driving cars at all??) Why spent a bunch of time fretting that we can't fulfill everybody's fringe dream of the automobile, when we haven't yet eve started to collect the low-hanging fruit? The more people we get into EVs, the better EVs become at a more rapid pace.

We need to walk before we can run. Of course we started walking back in the 90's. Then we crawled back into the womb for a while. And now we're crawling again. :sigh:

· · 5 years ago

> And the long distance car should be a PHEV. <
Absolutely. But again... we have to walk before we can run. We can't expect everybody to just go out and turn over their fleet overnight. When they buy a new car, it should be the right car for the job. And I'd rather see the commute (most often used, and most miles) vehicle turned into an EV first. Mostly because we already have those cars available.

· · 5 years ago

> here's the thing though: If you have a ten year old SUV that gets more range than current products, isn't something a little bit wrong with the Universe? <

Not just yes. HELL yes.

· · 5 years ago


I have plenty of serious problems to think about. AGW is not one of them. To date, I'm the only blogger here who has even mentioned them. I worry about people in Butler County Pennsylvania whose houses have gone an order of magnitude down in value since having no well water to drink due to careless horizontal hydrofracking..

Also, the people in the Ukraine and Belarus where the casualty toll is now up to 1 1/2 million who've died since the 1986 Chernobyl accident. (sources: Dr. Helen Caldicott, and AAAS - they've bothered to translate Russian records back to English). Fukushima pollution is out of control and on-going. Many West-Coast Americans and Canadians are rightly concerned. Looks like Fuku is going to be at least three times as bad.

Other things I worry about are the Genocide and wholesale slaughter of Black Libyans in our recent "humanitarian" campaign. Love Bombs?

Dupleted Uranium used in Falujah which has caused the majority of children to have such hideous birth defects that Doctors are saying to the women to not have children. The US soldiers only think they're getting off, by now they realize that if you're in proximity of the gun firing you've just signed yourself on to 'delayed kill'. By the way, the US Military now routinely uses DU rounds in all theatres.

Teenagers in Fukushima having Heart Attacks. Young women having their Teeth and Hair fall out. Thyroid Nodules appearing on little kid's throats within a year of 3/11 when Major cancer usually doesn't appear for 5 years, showing the degree of calamity shortly to befall Japan.

These are the things I worry about.

· · 5 years ago

> These are the things I worry about. <

I wonder if things would be different today if somebody worried about those horrific *current* concerns *before* each of those catastrophes visited upon humanity.

· · 5 years ago


I used to blog on Nuclear web sites, and most of the young self-appointed experts (whose dads no doubt worked in the nuclear industry), kept name-calling me saying that Nuclear Power is as dangerous as a chest X-ray. I very MEEKLY advised that there were some serious safety concerns regarding GE Mark I reactor designs (the same as at fuku, and we still have 23 of them in this country) and I was howled off the blog. That was until March 2011.

During the recent San Onofre (I believe this is the SCEdison Nuke plant between LA and San Diego) hearings (the 2 units have been shutdown since January due to underhanded dealings in the design of steam generators by SCE), one woman activist (I forget her name but If important I can identify her) spoke up to the regulators and asked a question of SCE that she already knew the answer to, but wanted it aired in public:

Question: "If the leaking steam generators were within Concrete Containments, how did radioactivity escape to the atmosphere?"

Ans: "The leaking steam generators transferred containment water to Pacific Ocean water through the accidental leak".

Moral: The Containments, as a practical matter, CANNOT contain anything.

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates says his analysis has shown that they were within 24 hours of an avalanche situation where ALL the radioactivity of one of the units would have been exposed, and should the plant have run another few hours they would have had to permanently shut the major thoroughfare just outside the plant (route 5?).

· · 5 years ago

@ Bill Howland

Clearly you get my point then.

· Kevbo (not verified) · 5 years ago

@ darelldd "If that is it, and that is all... why is the average amount paid for an automobile in the USA *more* than the price of a LEAF? This points out what could be the single most important misunderstanding of the marketing aspect of automobiles: Everybody seems to think that their personal usage pattern, desires and financial situation can be generalized across the population."

Put a Leaf next to a 3 series BMW. Both are around $40,000 outside the United States. 9 out of 10 people will choose the BMW without hesitation. I wasn't saying people aren't willing to pay big money for a car. I'm saying there are much nicer options in that price range. What green car advocates seem to forget is 90% of the population could care less about getting off oil. At that price point they just want a sexy car with all the bells and whistles. The Leaf is overpriced and ugly. That's it, that's all.

· · 5 years ago

While this isn't the place to debate the federal and state incentives, the cost of a LEAF after those incentives is quite a bit less than the BMW. And like I said - less than the average car sold in the USA.

I have to say, this thread is WAY more interesting than I thought it would be!

· · 5 years ago

"They typically have a huge SUV for their "family, long trips" and a little sedan for the commute (In my neighborhood, the commutes range from 1.5 miles (this one done in a Hummer... seriously) to 9 miles."
Actually, I don't think you're thinking clearly here. Although I see no rational reason to spot weld a lot of extra sheet metal onto a Yukon or other SUV which derates its capability just so it vaguely represents a poor decision the US Army made, a SUV for short commutes actually makes some sense.
For the guy who only commutes 1.5 miles it really doesn't matter much what he or she commutes in since commuting probably doesn't constitute a lot of his/her miles driven. If the other miles driven actually require an SUV, Mini-Van, sports car, pickup, or even RV then it really makes more sense for that person to only own that car, not an EV. In fact, the short calendar life of today's batteries may make an EV a very poor investment for a vehicle that is driven very few miles per day since the battery will require replacement in about 10 - 15 years whether it is used or not, unlike an ICE vehicle.
The only solution to this person's driving needs would be more vehicle types with a BEV or PHEV drivetrain. A limited range commuter vehicle just makes no sense for this person. The limited range and lack of fast charging mean that I seldom use our Leaf for anything except commuting.
I have quite a few colleagues at work who fall in this category. Some are almost apologetic to me for not driving an EV. Some do ride bicycles but bicycles have many commuting disadvantages as well.

· · 5 years ago

Getting back on topic here:
I hope that Nissan's bringing Chelsea Sexton on board helps them a lot. They have been getting waaay too much advice from hypermiling tree-huggers, especially Paul Scott and way to little from others.
While I like and appreciate Paul, his narrow-minded views IMHO pretty much account for the sales to date as well a the lack of much stronger sales.
He has shouted me down on many forums, telling me that people don't need public or fast charging and don't need to drive the speed limit or the speed that most people drive. It appears, however, that the sales record for the Leaf doesn't support his historical position.

· · 5 years ago

Nissan needs to improve the efficiency of their car, so that it gets better range. Look at the EV1 - great aerodynamics (low drag) means it had lower consumption per mile than any other production EV. Better aero drag means it will also look better; because what works well looks good.

Bring back the direct-heating electric windshield defroster (a super thin layer of gold heats the surface of the glass in just a few moments - Ford and others had these decades ago), and electric vests would keep people toasty with only a fraction of the energy it takes to heat the cabin; or even the seats.

I hope that Chelsea Sexton brings her engineering experience to the fore!


· Warren (not verified) · 5 years ago


You have mentioned the electric vest before. I think it is a great solution. But I am a bicyclist, who hates current cars generally. I think that there is zero chance of ever getting people to put on an electric vest to drive their car. As Volvo knows, a hydrocarbon fueled heater is the obvious choice. But most EV purists reject it out of hand. They are cutting off their noses to spite their face.

· · 5 years ago

> Actually, I don't think you're thinking clearly here. <
What you quoted has nothing to do with my thinking nor my opinion. It is what exists around me. You are telling me what the people around me should be doing better (not having a dedicated commute vehicle) and I'm only telling you how things are. And if that's how things continue, that dedicated commute vehicle *should* be an EV.

> bicycles have many commuting disadvantages as well. <
I find this a bit humorous. I can start on an endless list of the disadvantages of commuting no matter what the travel mode is. The single advantage: Getting where you regularly go that isn't where you are. Everything else about commuting is a disadvantage as far as I can tell. Singling out any disadvantage of riding a bike on a commute is just background noise.

Commuting sucks, in general. But if you (the general you) have to do it, and you feel a private automobile is the best way to do it, I still contend that an EV of some sort is the most convenient, safest, most enjoyable, cheapest, least offensive way.

As an aside, just for grins: The neighbor who commutes into town every day in his hummer (understand that our town is 7 miles across at the widest) has a second car for the long trips to the mountains: An Escalade. His wife, on the other hand only has one car for her 1.5 mile commute (they work in the same office and drive separately). And that car does nothing else since they take his sexy black Escalade for the big trips. Her commuter is a white Escalade. Even more fun is that they can't fit the Escalades into their garage. And they had the Hummer racks professionally removed so they could park at least that vehicle inside. When I hear that EVs aren't sold because they're too expensive, I have to just shake my head.

· Paul Scott (not verified) · 5 years ago

@ex-EV1 Driver,

... who used to drive an EV-1 and now drives a Tesla Roadster and a LEAF. For the longest time, I didn't know who you were since you deigned to spout your meaness under cover. But now that I do know, I feel it only fair that you speak without the cover.

As you clearly intended, I do take offense at your characterization of me and my efforts to market/sell electric vehicles. It's not that you disagree, it's how you state it. In my mind, I just want rapid adoption of plugin vehicles since that's what will mitigate the negative aspects of using oil for transportation. Whatever works toward that goal is what's needed. Why not try to discuss this important issue without resorting to character attacks? Attributing the slow sales figures of the LEAF to little ole' me seemed a bit out of scale, but maybe it's true. Maybe all my efforts have just been counter-productive to the cause. Somehow, I don't think so.

I find Darell's take to be spot on. There are millions of Americans who can use EVs with a 73 mile range as their primary car. It just makes sense that cars be designed to do the job that millions of people need done every day; drive to and from work with the ability to add side trips along the way. If you can carry 5 people and some stuff, even better. If you can do this on renewable energy instead of oil, much better!

Nissan has built a car that does this job beautifully. I've sold about 300 LEAFs to date and can assure you that 99% of them consider this car the best they've every driven. The fact that the cars aren't selling in greater numbers has more to do with the general public's ignorance due to misinformation than it does with the car itself.

Once people understand what the capabilities of the car are, and consider how that fits their needs, then it's only a matter of getting them behind the wheel and they are sold.

My customers tend to be practical people . They are clearly smarter than average, and most have a moderate to strong environmental ethic. The economic argument plays the biggest role in their decision. Once they understand how the car works, and see that there are lots of options for charging in the field, it then becomes a matter of which dealer to buy/lease from.

In addressing some of your specific points, I've never claimed that people don't need public charging or fast charging at all, just not to the degree people think they need it. I'm huge fan of increasing fast charging, and have been since the LEAF firt hit the road. We're about to get 20 of them installed at Nissan dealerships in SoCal. I know that will increase sales since it makes the car a regional driver and gives everyone a sense of comfort knowing they can get lots of charge fast if they need it. As the Tokyo fast charge test proved a few years ago, just having the chargers available encourages people to drive their EVs much farther, even though they didn't use the fast chargers.

Work place charging is also important. This is happening as well.

Now for hypermiling... this is where you realy blow it. You make the assumption that everyone will continue to drive without regard for efficiency. It's understandable since well over 90% of them fall into that category now. But there is lots to gain by hypermiling, so denigrating the technique is not helpful.

One of the best qualities of EVs is they allow you to drive with extreme efficiency. We've already stipulated that they are fast and fun, but not everyone wants to drive fast, so it's great that the same technology will allow for high efficiency. This doesn't mean that you HAVE to hypermile, just that if you want to, you can. I can't understand why you find a problem with that. If but a few percent of ICE drivers practiced hypermiling, we'd save billions of dollars over time and reduce pollution significantly. How can this be a bad thing?

I'm hopeful Chelsea will infuse Nissan's marketing team with good ideas that are practical and effective. I look forward to January and leaning about the 2013 model. I'm absolutely certain that in 50 years, or less, there will be no cars sold in the U.S. that do not have a plug.

· · 5 years ago

I wonder if Chelsea would divulge manufacturing costs of their Lithium Ion battery.. Since Nissan apparently wants to perform all aspects of the manufacturing process (I'm definitely not against this, since sometimes thats the only way you really learn), such as winding their own motors, I'm very curious as to what are the basic costs per kilowatt-hour of making the cells using 2012 technology. If she told me $50 /kwh that would not surprise me in the least. To that number I know you have to add cooling systems and fusing systems and packaging and heating, but it would be an interesting mental exercise if they computed the end manufacturing cost of a 150 kwh battery for Them. To DarellDD's point that many cars are more expensive than EV's, why not have a game-changing EV in a market segment that is both EXPENSIVE already, and BIG (I've never had a Really big car, but I'd Buy it) so that there is room for a current technology big battery.

· · 5 years ago

You and a handful of other folks might pony up for a $300k, $400k, $500k car. But what does that do for us? We're trying to sell cars to lots of people, not to the 1% exclusively.

· · 5 years ago

Oh no no I was talking in the 100-120 K range... I don't have that much money for a car, but there are plenty of $90K escalades and navigators sold.

I guess to get wide spread adoption of EV's we've got to concentrate on getting battery cost down... I'm really very curious as to the CO$T. Why are batteries not cheaper than they were 10 years ago in DarellDD's car?

· · 5 years ago

@Earl Cox

Your Aerovironment charger is to be congratulated as being fully compatible with the Tesla Roadster. Its also a nice, compact, attractive Nema 3R package if not 4.

How about getting maketing to start selling them at Big Box stores, and lowering the price to become the low price leader? Say $650 retail?

· · 5 years ago

Or how about having the big box stores have one of these units by the FRONT of the store (their resident electrician expert in the store can run some 10 gauge MetalClad to it from their local electrical room => put in either a transformer or an even cheaper autotransformer to get 240 volts to get the extra 16% speed, in lieu of plain-jane 208) and have customers who already own PHEV's but are currently just running on 110 at home try it out and see for themselves how fast their car is charging while shopping in the store? Would motivate many sales I'd think. Many people like to actually touch things they buy, and if they could see how great your product works, I'd think it would be a no-brainer.

· · 5 years ago

er: 8 gauge or 6 if its a long run.. Sorry was thinking about the connecting cord.

· · 5 years ago

Of course, 12 gauge mc would be fine if they put the 480 volt transformer on the flip side of the front wall of the store. 15 amp single phase 480 volt load for 30 amps 240 at the Aerovironment. No problems with voltage drop either.

· · 5 years ago

> Oh no no I was talking in the 100-120 K range <

Ah. Well, the Model S is again the answer. But you have other issues with it (or with Tesla's handling of it), so I guess we'll have to wait for the big car makers to catch up a bit. Fact of the matter is... we ARE there today with Tesla. Oddly enough, I'm worried that the S isn't a big enough car for you. For me, the giant size is the single big turnoff.

Batteries ARE cheaper and better than they were for my car back in 1996 when my car was first produced. But that chemistry is NiMH. NiMH has proven to be durable and reliable beyond the maker's wildest dreams. But... that chemisty can't be used for modern EVs (it is also notable that it is nowhere near as energy dense). So we had to start all over with Li. Reinventing the wheel takes all kinds of time and money. In the long run we'll have lots to show for it - but make no mistake... today's Li batteries are not just incremental "improvements" over NiMH. This is back to the drawingboard stuff. Li didn't exist when my car was designed.

Imagine where we'd be today if instead of taking a ten year holiday, the car makers actually pressed on, and improved on everything they created in the 90's... instead of tossing it all in the trash and starting over. What if there were no competing interests for battery chemistries? What if everybody continued to work together toward the goal of better batteries all this time? Well... things would be a lot better today. But none of that happened because the car makers, as usual, figured they'd just get their way and not have to deal with any of these annoying issues after they "proved" that EVs sucked (by producing a few, taking them back, and telling us that they sucked).

My first EV had lead-acid batteries. My second one had (has) NiMH batteries. My next one will likely have Li-ion (or similar) batteries. If you chart the energy density and the cost of these chemistries, you will see that we have made huge progress in the short 12 years that I've been driving on battery power. But the question remains: Why are we seeing so many cars on the road with *less* range today than what we had available to us 12 years ago? My range record in a NiMH EV1 was 148 miles (I only had the car for two weeks as a loaner) and my range record for my Rav4EV is 135 miles. These are real-world, on real roads without pissing anybody off miles.

· · 5 years ago

Boy, where to jump in on this one? I guess I'll start by saying that having someone of Chelsea Sexton's talents working on wider EV adoption via her recent efforts with Nissan can only be a good thing.

· · 5 years ago

Sorry to kind of wander off topic here, but . . .

Just a quick shout out to Darell and Warren, the two bike riders here who have been responding to messages lately on this thread, to let them know that I purchased a used 2-wheeler last week. Darell was luke warm to my proposed choice of a folding Montague when I floated the idea here some time ago. But I found one of those for such a cheap price on Craig's List that it made sense to buy and bank extra money for hardware upgrades (yes, the stock bolt-on stuff is bottom shelf . . . especially on the one I happened to find.)

· Peder Norby (not verified) · 5 years ago

Congratulations Chelsea.
Well done Nissan.


BMW ActiveE
Honda Fit EV

· · 5 years ago

@ Benjamin

Hey.. ANY bike is a good bike! If you can be happy with it, then I am THRILLED. Just like with cars, I'm comfortable with the fact that I'm also not your average bicycle consumer. ;) Most of my bikes have a sticker on them that reads, "One less car." And really, that's all we need to know.

And back to the subject at hand: My EV advocacy has *always* been tempered by my desire to reduce the number of automobile trips. Marketing EVs needs to be done - but I want it done correctly. Transportation doesn't mean car. Long-distance, foul weather, high-speed, lots of cargo can mean car... but not across town, short commute, etc. Gaah. Anyway... EVs good. Bicycles better.

· Spec (not verified) · 5 years ago

The Ford Focus is not invisible. Leno had that promo driving a Ford electric. Letterman drove on stage. They had TV ads. They did Web ads with some celebrity gimmick.

It is just an expensive EV that costs more than twice as much as a vanilla gas-powered Ford Focus. That is a tough sell.

· · 5 years ago

Exactly my thoughts, Darell. The plan - and I'm apparently not the first one to think along these lines - is to convert this knobby-tire mountain bike into a city-oriented commuter. Ironically, with a new wheel set, tires, and crank (as well as a plethora of nickel and dime stuff,) I'll be spending more on upgrades than I did for the bike itself. But, yes, it would have made no sense if I bought one of these somewhat overpriced folders new and started modifying it then. Getting one used and cheap makes the idea doable. I'll have before-and-after photos online eventually.

· · 5 years ago

@Benjamin and darelldd

What about e-bikes? :) electric powered bikes

I used to be a huge fan, but our goverment makes no effort in making any usefull bike roads and paths, and the car drivers in most of the cities, especially in the capital just hate bikers and try to run them off the road whenever they can.
Most people here in Bratislava cosider bike commuting a suicide attempt.

· · 5 years ago

The lack of success for the Leaf can be resumed to one simple fact : don’t make an EV with a micro range extender as an option otherwise you scare off 90% of the drivers that still want to able to make the 10% longer range trips.

· · 5 years ago

The lack of success for the Leaf can be resumed to one simple fact : don’t make an EV withOUT a micro range extender as an option otherwise you scare off 90% of the drivers that still want to able to do the 10% longer range trips.

· · 5 years ago

A micro range extender can be extremely compact like this 170 cc Wankel engine used in this demonstration Xam 2.0 vehicle:

· · 5 years ago

I'm interested in eBike technology and haven't completely ruled it out as an option someday, Teq, but it would be overkill for my short commute. Here is what I ended up getting . . .

. . . and here is an eBike version off that same frame. I've ridden one of these and it's a lot of fun . . .

But I really like the exercise factor that I would get from pedaling. Except for the fact that it's very spread out, Tucson is a very bicycle-friendly town and only getting better in that respect. So we're lucky here.

· · 5 years ago

The H2Polito XAM 2.0 looks like a winner, Priusmaniac. A bio-ethanol Wankel, huh? The trick to these sort things becoming add-ons or options in a pure electric is to be able to do it without reconfiguring everything under the hood and inside the frame. I tend to think that successful vehicles really integrate their powertrain to their overall design and it would be very hard for a manufacturer to offer the same car as either electric or range-extender, while keeping the installation compact.

· · 5 years ago


Re: your microrangextender, I've always wanted the option on the Volt of a larger battery and smaller engine ( I say 1 cylinder, 20 horsepower). This would be enough for me on a long trip because there is no reason for the engine to stop while I take a break stop.

Does anyone know the very smallest engine GM makes worldwide? I seem to remember they have a 2 cylinder model used in China? Maybe they could offer that as an option on the 2014 volt. But I have to say I'm impressed with the current engine's cold weather efficiency (the achilles heal for EV's, hehe)

· Cab (not verified) · 5 years ago

The range extender is what put me in a Volt over any of the other EVs. Even with its modest battery, after 5000+ miles I am around 89% electric - my daily commute is about 37 miles round trip. The extender alleviated my concerns (real or perceived), and ironically now that I'm driving an EREV I see that I could live with a pure EV IF I could get a solid 100 mile range regardless of temp, speeds, driving style, etc. Heck, BMW even changed the plans for their i3 midstream and added a "range extender" option. Since it will be just that, an option, it will be interesting to see how the public votes with their guess is that most will opt for the range extender...we'll see.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

While the BEV purists look at the different angles, prices and some of the current flaws, there are the EREVs. Volt is doing great and the new Ford plugins with the Energi moniker came out of the gate strong. The knowing that I can drive 30 to 49 miles electric in my Volt but also go 100 or 300 miles in a leg of a trip without stopping and without renting another car is just what most people will find is the best solution for going electric until some new magical battery is born.

A BEV without a 5 minute full recharge will never sell to the masses who demand instant gratification. At least those choosing a Volt understand they are driving an EV without limitation.

· · 5 years ago

> A BEV without a 5 minute full recharge will never sell to the masses who demand instant gratification. At least those choosing a Volt understand they are driving an EV without limitation. <

What happens to this instant gratification equation if gasoline is (just for fun) $20 per gallon?

· · 5 years ago

The Volt is a great vehicle but it isn’t exactly an EV with a range extender but rather both an EV and a standard engine vehicle. A range extender, in my view, ought to be a completely separate system that only provides electricity without any contact to the wheels. It is also supposed to be an extender not a full size engine able to drive the car on its own. It means it has to be very small and able to provide just enough electricity as to allow you to drive at moderate speed. Now what is moderate speed can be different from person to person but I don’t see it as 100 mph. Actually, being able to drive at 60 mph would already be a very different case then being in a stranded EV along the side of the road. It would allow you to go further but without the price and penalty of a full engine system. The fork of speed would be between 50 mph and 90 mph as 75 mph being a good compromise. There is also a big difference between having to stop a while and having to stop completely. If you can go at 60 mph for an hour after you stopped half an hour so that your generator can catch up that would be fine as well especially if it means a much cheaper and smaller package system. I honestly think there is room for diversity in range extender type and size, or at least I think it can be different than the all or nothing that we have now in the Volt and Leaf.
As an example if you are in Death Valley at night with a stranded Leaf having a micro range extender Wankel of 170 cc could make a big difference. OK you will probably have to wait a bit on the side of the road and limit your speed at 40 mph but that’s a big difference with moving at 0 mph and staying stuck there. In the same time that wankel extender would be an option of 2000 $, not a real big deal.

· Nick F (not verified) · 5 years ago

@marco loglio

Hi I'm very interested in your battery and record. Do you have a link you can post for your own blog/website where I can read about it?

So far I have found a few things out.

-You are the technical director of Vantage Power Global.
-The record happened on 13th of November using a Zotye M300 EV.
-The distance was 801km (497 miles).
-The battery chemistry is LiNiCoMnO.
-It was a 152 kWh pack
Is that all correct? I was using Google translate so I may have got some of that wrong.

I see from a bit of a search for you on the web that your are trying quite hard to get some attention for your battery.

What I haven't quite worked out yet is if you have made a new cell or are using someone elses cell to create a battery. What was the weight of the car? What speed was it travelling on average?

Are you also connected with Thundersky in some way?

Good luck with getting some English language media attention.

· · 5 years ago

Hmm. If the specs are true, then the magic is in... a huge battery. 3.3 miles per kWh? That's almost half the efficiency of the EV1 of 1996. Eeee. maybe something got lost in the translation.

I'm always skeptical of folks begging for us to hear new information... while not providing anything. Thanks for the research, Nick.

· · 5 years ago

If the Leaf was as efficient as the EV1 (which I think is mostly because of its Cd of ~0.20) then the Leaf would have a range of about 140 miles.

Since Chelsea Sexton was an engineer on the EV1, I hope that she can get the Leaf on an aggressive improvement program. And I hope that the good folks in charge at Honda will decide to *sell* the Fit EV in every market!


· Nick F (not verified) · 5 years ago


I make it that it would be 306 watt hours per mile (if I have done my maths right). That seems about right for a small car going not too fast on the highway. Don't you think?


I don't think Chelsea is an engineer. I think she was just involved in selling the cars and helping the customers. I may be wrong though.

Car makers want to make money. If they thought they could make money with the Honda fit then they would sell it. I assume they are not selling it because they believe that a) there isn't a big market for EVs and, b) they can't make it and make a profit on it. If you have to scale up your battery making efforts in order to make money, then why would you if you were unsure that there was a market for EVs? It's a bet with 100's of millions of dollars. I wish they would but they are not going to. There has to be an amazing battery advance that makes them cheaper and takes the risk out of the cars, or it has to be proven in the market that there is demand for BEVs.

· · 5 years ago

As the owner of a 2011 LEAF with 17,000 miles, and as the author of an article about the LEAF in a local newspaper which stimulated at least one couple who I never met to purchase one, I have these suggestions for Chelsea in line with "something new" marketing:
1. ADS IN TV AND OTHER MEDIA SHOULD USE EXPERIENCED LEAF OWNERS: the ads I see, and on Nissan's official site, seem to be new purchasers who talk about how thrilled they are with their acquisition. Big deal. Instead, there is now a large pool of happy owners, like myself, with many thousands of miles and THEY should be the subject of the ads, especially because they can speak to potential customer's biggest concerns.
2. UNLINK ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS WITH A LEAF PURCHASE: in these ads other positives could be promoted; for example, the cheap operation. Would FedEx or FritoLay be willing to be in an ad with this non-controversial subject, talking about their battery-powered fleets and how using electricity will save them mucho fuel money? This would be a good lead-in to promoting a LEAF for individual use. I spoke to a couple in Seattle during Nat'l Plug-in Day with a long urban commute who calculated that their savings in fuel has already PAID for their LEAF during their long commute - this is a big deal.
4. LEAF SALES FORCE SHOULD SPECIALIZE WITH MONETARY INCENTIVES: I talked to one LEAF salesman who didn't even know what the acronym "LEAF" meant until he read my article. The local dealership tossed the articles I gave them onto their waiting room table and I'm sure the janitor trashed them within hours (BTW, I wrote it for free, on my own time; Nissan could of at least sent me a dang letter thinking me and others for promoting their car - but I'm certainly glad I did anyway). The feedback I got from many people in the community who read my article was that I had credibly answered many of their questions. The sales force must not be expected to think like many of us and be motivated by environmental reasons, but could be motivated by money (and why not, that is a big reason why i go to work). (Part of the disconnect? Corporate people are long-term thinkers; salesforce are conservatives and short-term thinkers. No judgement there, just maybe how things work best).
5. MAKE THE LEAF BACKWARD COMPATIBLE AND PROMOTE THAT FACT: I'm not talking about trivial stuff like the CD changer but rather important stuff like the battery; in ten years when I replace it, will I be stuck with one of the same range as when originally purchased in 2010, or one with the much longer range as is anticipated? Ditto for the heated steering wheel and the heated seats - I would love to be able to install them into my 2011. This would largely answer a major concern with rapidly improving technology - that if I buy the car now, will I regret that I didn't wait until the next model year? Yes, that would add to the cost, but it would give purchasers a little comfort and provide cheap insurance against rapidly improving technology. And let people know that.
Thanks for listening, --Ken Carrasco. Acme, Washington (and don't be surprised that you never heard of it).

· Gymswhirled (Jim S_ (not verified) · 5 years ago

I love my LEAF. My family loves our LEAF. To know a LEAF you have to experience a LEAF, either through a friend, a drive, or a knowledgeable Dealership. I for one can't stop talking about my LEAF and Nissan for making the LEAF available to me.

Thanks Nissan, you are on right path forward.

Jim S.

· · 5 years ago

@Nick F

Thank you for picking up the ball on this new battery technology. I've been talking about it to try and get more information and also encourage adoption of larger batteries, or more value-oriented ones.

· · 5 years ago

@ Ken C.-
can you provide us with a link to your article??

· · 5 years ago

>> Since Chelsea Sexton was an engineer on the EV1, <<

Yeah, as Nick pointed out, Chelsea was an EV1 Specialist. She was a "super salesperson" - somebody who was actually trained on the car and who knew more than the people trying to lease them. A novel concept!

If she was an engineer on the car, she must have had that job during high school. Maybe Jr. high? ;)

· · 5 years ago

@ darlldd - I will in the next day or so (when I can get back to my files). The link only provides the narrative and not the graphs, which are important, so I will make a .pdf including them. hey, thanks for asking!

· · 5 years ago

Excellent. I'd be happy to host it on my site if that's handy. Then one of us can link to it. If you have a place to plunk it, that's great.

· Trevor Larkum (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Bill: "Added that there hasn't been any GW in the last 16 years......Many people in the 'center' of the US already realize this."

When you make comments like that you're just flying in the face of reality. Maybe you haven't personally been affected, but much of the US has. Just look at the most recent NOAA summary:

It's not just warming, it's climate change in general. In the UK that means for my area in 2012 the longest drought on record followed by the greatest rainfall in 100 years with severe flooding. It's ironic, but not funny.

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