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USA: The Electric Drive Conference: Report From the Front

Driving a Chinese-made car around the streets of Washington’s quiet Adams-Morgan neighborhood was just one of the opportunities afforded me during the conference and annual meeting of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, where I was a speaker on a panel with the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Neil.

E.D.T.A. (representing 110 stakeholders) is the Eveready battery of the EV world, a quiet presence lobbying for EV-friendly legislation since 1989. It’s also a power in putting on the large-scale E.V.S. shows put on around the world.

Our session, moderated by E.D.T.A.’s Brian Wynne, was lively, though Neil and I essentially agree that electric drive will eventually (the timeline is hardly certain) conquer all in its path. Neil, in fact, thinks the battle is already won. When the automakers shook hands with President Obama at the White House and agreed to 54.5 mpg by 2025 they were essentially agreeing the electrify the fleet, he said.

Neil and I also agreed on this: Americans like fast and sexy cars, and that’s why the Tesla Model S (and before that, the Roadster) have been such a hit with both the public and the media. It’s surprising that, Detroit Electric aside, there aren’t many imitators out there.
Nissan’s Shocking Announcement

There were some important announcements at the show.

Nissan said that, working with NRG Energy, it would triple the number of its 480-volt quick chargers in the U.S., to 500 in the next 18 months (including the first units in Washington, D.C.).
Bollorè Group, previously unknown to me, is building a $35 million electric car-share network in Indianapolis.
eGrandPrix founder and CEO Azhar Hussain, who spoke passionately at the conference about how motorsports can invigorate electric sales, is bringing his TTXGP motorcycle racing to Indianapolis (August 17) and Laguna Seca (July 24) this summer.
It’s not strictly new, but Carly Kade of eVgo told me the charging company is expanding into the Washington/Baltimore area, and on her iPad showed me a map with a lot of Walgreens locations on it. eVgo has a new design for its stations, which often include 480-volt quick charging. eVgo has many public locations (Texas Cracker Barrels included) and prefers to locate at the far end of parking lots to minimize internal-combustion encroachment (and driver rage).


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