|11:00 am - 11:50 am
Chelsea Sexton Lecture: "Revenge
of the Electric Car"
Hyland Hall: Timmerman Auditorium
1997 through 2001, in response to the California Air Resources Board's
zero-emission vehicle mandate, all of the automobile manufacturers selling
vehicles in California produced and leased -- not "sold" -- a very limited
number of battery-powered electric cars and and trucks. Production and leasing
ceased in 2001 because CARB altered their ZEV mandate in response to
on-going legal action by these same manufacturers to invalidate the mandate.
These vehicles were then recalled and most were crushed. Customers were so upset
their vehicles were being destroyed that an owner group lobbied Ford and Toyota
successfully to sell to group members a few Ford Ranger EV trucks and 320 Toyota
RAV4 EV mini-SUV's. Nearly all of these vehicles are still on the road today,
some of them having been driven over 100,000 miles and still running off their
original NiMH battery packs. A popular film "Who Killed the Electric Car"
documented this more than decade-long saga.
What initially was an end-of-the-century California experiment has now become a 2011 reality across the US as Nissan is selling their fully electric LEAF and GM/Chevrolet their range-extended electric VOLT faster than either company can make them. The popularity of these vehicles has not been lost on other manufacturers, with Ford planning on introducing their electric Ford Focus this year, Toyota announcing they will reintroduce an RAV4 EV in the US marketplace in 2013, and every other manufacturer having at least one plug-in vehicle in the works.
In this presentation intended for car lovers of all ages, I will touch on the 1997-2001 generation of electric cars but talk mostly about what's happening now with the LEAF and VOLT, why things are different now as well as who's involved and what's coming. I will frame this lecture in the context of the new film "Revenge of the Electric Car", as if the different manufacturers and vehicles are "characters" (some actually are) and tell a few anecdotes from our filming adventures. I will also discuss my experience of driving a GM/Chevrolet VOLT for four months.