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The State of the Plug-In Campaign & The Future of DrivingElectric

A month ago, Felix Kramer, Founder of and DrivingElectric, gave a 15 -minute update to the annual meeting of the Electric Auto Association, held February 23, 2013 in Palo Alto, with an in-person audience and participants online and by phone links. Reading the transcript is the best way for plug-in car drivers and advocates to find out about importance of getting “Butts In Seats,” about how far DrivingElectric has come so far, and where it hopes to go with more support — which we hope is forthcoming in the near future.

(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be viewable at — there you can add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)

Here’s a copy-edited version of the talk, with some of the emphasis in all-caps, augmented by some web links. You can download a 9MB PDF of the entire meeting’s slides, including informative graphics about the EAA’s membership, at . Felix’s slides are #49-52 of 67.

FELIX KRAMER: Thanks everybody. Driving Electric is a chapter of the Electric Auto Association. It’s also co-sponsored by Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association and CalCars. And basically, it’s a place where EV-curious people can meet plug-in drivers to get information, get a ride — anything they want. I want to talk a little about that today, and I want to talk a little more broadly as well.

The first thing I want to say is, We have this huge opportunity NOW. We have the cars and the organizational structure to change the game. And my concern is not why did we go down from 1,800 to 1,500 members — my concern is where are the 80,000 drivers? Why don’t we have tens of thousands of drivers who are members of EAA and Plug In America? That’s the opportunity.

Now, Driving Electric is a GIFT for this whole community, for every carmaker, for every advocacy organization, because it’s a TOOL. It’s a way for people to find you — see that little map on the top there [ home page] — for people to find you, the EV driver, and say “Hey, help me out here. Give me a ride, answer my question, whatever it is”.

So I see 500 EVs registered on the EAA website. There ought to be at least 800 if the numbers are right. There’s three or four hundred at least EAA members who haven’t bothered to put their car down on the EAA website. And many of them haven’t joined Driving Electric, and I hope they will.

And when I go to an industry event, every time someone asks (luckily), “How many people in this audience drive an plug-in car every day?” Twenty, thirty percent say they do. In this room, how many of you drive a plug-in car every day? Ok, that’s about 70 percent, and nationally, if half of EAA members have cars, it’s more than 50 percent… that’s our opportunity!

So how many of you have given one person a test drive? Everybody! How many of you have given ten people a test drive? Only about half of you, that’s a little bit of an issue…

How many of you people have gotten one person to buy a car? That’s great! We’ve got about 30 or 40 cars that are directly the result of people in this room. Some people have done more than that.

Let’s think about what happened with Tesla the last three or four weeks. We’ve been sitting, watching, you know — laughing, commenting — maybe we weren’t happy about what Elon Musk did in the beginning, in inviting them to do this winter drive; maybe we weren’t happy about his accusations on Twitter. But it turns out it was a lot of great free publicity. And it was the opportunity for CNBC, CNN, Consumer Reports and a whole bunch of independent drivers to go and do the same drive, and show that it was easy and possible.

So, something happened there — and it happened because there are A LOT OF PRODUCTION CARS ON THE ROAD, and people are taking advantage of them. And that’s our opportunity! And if you want to get a laugh, look at which has a very funny description of the problems of a Porsche doing a drive — you know, finding enough room for the luggage, you know, the noise… all sorts of funny things about that.

But we have these amazing vehicles now, and we’re not taking advantage of them enough. That box of Plug In America’s Annual Guides — that ought to be empty when Marc Geller leaves the place today. Every single one of you should have a couple of them in your car! It’s five bucks — you can give it away to somebody you think is a good prospect, or give it to your neighbors. Have one in your car and replace it with another one. [PDF version of Charged Up! The Definitive Guide to Plug-In Vehicles is FREE to Plug In America members (join for as little as $25) or get print copies@$5 (less for bulk orders) from: ]

Ok, so that’s my rant. Last night, I thought “I’m giving a normal speech about Driving Electric” — I’m going to talk about it, But really, the issue is, Let’s take advantage of this GIANT OPPORTUNITY.

So you see up there, that’s what our home page looks like right now. It’s got a map, and a photo of ‘kvietor’ with his EV grin and his Tesla Model S . We have about 1,000 drivers and EV-curious people signed up. We have 397 who have entered their vehicle and their location, so they can be found on that map, and a few internationally. We have 888 drivers in all. That means some people aren’t on the map because they haven’t put their location or they haven’t put their vehicle type.

Everyone says what they’re willing to do — give a test drive, lend a car, or whatever it is. And we have 111 EV-curious people. We haven’t been pushing too hard to get the EV-curious people on, until we have a lot of drivers.

Ok, so we’re co-sponsored by these two organizations, and they’re not only co-sponsoring it, they’re promoting it! So that slide is the current issue of [EAA’s monthly] Current EVents — the lead article is about us, and this is the postcard and we’ve got hundreds of that postcard in the back. You know, pick some of them up, take them, put ’em on your windshield, so when somebody walks by your car they can pick this up and they can contact you. Soon we hope to have QR codes for each driver so somebody can scan it with their phone and find you. There are a lot of opportunities here.

And thanks. On Current EVents, especially for [EAA Chair & Editor] Ron Freund; Ron is the unheralded heroic person who makes this Current EVents happen every month — it’s amazing, how much work he does. And thanks to [EAA Membership Secretary] Will Beckett , who just crunches those numbers and delivers all this stuff. It’s a huge amount of work. And [EAA Treasurer] Howard Clearfield — when we talk about virtual banking, how easy it is… it means it’s easy because all of the information comes to Howard, who is not virtual, and has to do all the work and get those checks out and everything. But thanks to all the people who are giving huge amounts of time. If everybody in this room were doing that much, we would have so much more going on.

And on the right of that slide, that’s my story in the Plug In America Guide. And if you want to look at either of those two things and send them around or find out how to get the publications, go to the CalCars News Archive and

So, our story up till now. We built the site between June and September, spending about half of the money we raised on technology. The money came, $11,200 from EAA, $3,800 from CalCars and, thanks to the Electrification Coalition, $25,000, plus some private donations. So that’s what we used to make this happen, with volunteers and one almost-full-time staff person and another staff person

We ran out of money in December, and our project director and our marketing manager had to leave. We’ve gotten a commitment for additional fund from the Electrification Coalition — a substantial amount of Electrification Coalition funds — and we’re hoping for a renewal from the Electric Auto Association.
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