Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fleets Might Save the Day for Green Machines

It's still too early to know if consumer retail car buyers are taking plug-in electric vehicles from early adopters to mass market numbers. Coverage shows that gas prices will have to rise even higher, and public information will have to spread widely before consumers buy a lot of them. If the neighbor/cousin/co-worker has good things to say about the Leaf, Volt, or other plug-in car, then people will be won over. Questions need to be answered:  How much do you really save in lifecycle from purchase to remarketing? How safe and reliable are they? How does home charging work and what does it cost? How do you compare per mile expense of battery power versus gasoline? Are the environmental and oil reducing benefits worth me buying into it?

Fleet customers are very important. That should go without saying, but this time, the rules of the game are changing a bit. Fleets typically have ordered "jelly bean" cars that have been on the market for a while and the automakers need to unload them somewhere. Now, certain fleets have become early adopters for plug-in electric vehicles, as they are with hybrids, natural gas-, propane-, and ethanol-powered vehicles, and perhaps will be with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

President Obama just added weight to my fleet buyer argument. He just announced that the federal fleet will only be buying advanced technology vehicles (including hybrids and plug-ins) by 2015. We're talking about a 600,000 vehicle fleet -- very big. Obama has been getting criticized lately for dropping the ball on climate change and carbon emissions. I would say cheers to him for his strong support for green machines. 

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