Seven was on display September 28-29, 2013 at the 12th Annual Route 66 International Mother Road Festival. I’d like to take a moment and thank the organizers for putting on a fine car show and giving us a venue in which to engage the public. There was a constant crowd of people around Seven that weekend and Team IMW was busy fielding questions about the car in particular and about EVs in general. It was an educational outreach to hundreds of people, most of whom were eager to know about the present and future of EV technology.
I’d also like to thank the team for putting in long hours to answer questions. It wouldn’t have been a success without your one-on-one question and answer sessions.
I’m pleased at the overall response from the people who stopped to check out the car. Seven is still a work in progress and this was yet another big event where she appeared in primer. There’s a lot to be done to make her a show worthy car, but most people were more interested in how she worked than the “pardon our dust” interior or the lack of shiny paint. They were amazed that the technology to build a 207 MPGe sedan is available right now and some were frustrated that the auto manufacturers weren’t doing all they can to offer a truly high MGPe vehicle to the market.
To the man who respectfully asked “Why are EVs so ugly,” I say thank you for asking. You broached a subject many in the crowd were wondering themselves. That question gave Kevin an opportunity to talk about the change in aerodynamics from the antique cars parked around us to the present and how aerodynamics really matters to move a car efficiently down the road. Truly aerodynamic cars look weird to us because our automotive manufacturers have relied on cheap gas for so long. It allowed them to produce large cars (without regard to air drag) that remain familiar to our sense of what a car should look like. Gas isn’t cheap anymore, so we either have to spend more of our monthly budget to feed our gas tanks or accept new concepts of what makes a car and how it should be powered.
Large manufacturers won’t introduce bold new concepts to their show rooms unless they’re sure the public will respond by buying or signing leases. Somehow we need to let them know that we’re ready. Make it efficient, affordable, with a decent range and we’ll be there to sign on the dotted line.
When IMW started building Seven for the Automotive X Prize, there were no mass-produced 100 MPGe vehicles. Now there are some models available. I drive a 112MPGe i-MiEV, thanks to the drastic discounts available because the manufacturers are learning that the people who need fuel-efficient cars the most are the ones who can’t afford a $30,000 + car. A $69/month lease might be a loss for the manufacturer, but it sure helps those of us who took advantage of the deal spread the word about EVs. Strangers ask us questions. They consider the crazy idea of putting electricity into the car instead of gas. And it’s a little less scary when they see it in action on the streets of their town.
So what can we do? Stop buying the SUVs. Encourage manufacturers by buying the most fuel efficient cars (gas or electric) that meet our needs and our pocketbooks. Keep preaching the gospel of electric vehicles. Studies show that word of mouth is still the most trusted news source. You are the new media. Get the word out.