It’s nice to hear that a huge order of cars is set for delivery to the United States this December and that they are fully electric. The much anticipated arrival of the Nissan Leaf is almost upon the 20,000 Americans that pre-ordered them. The idea of 20,000 full electric cars being deployed across the country seems like a huge milestone for American citizens in terms of environmental consciousness. For 20,000 people to go out and pre-order the full electric vehicles months in advance depicts the new attitude that a lot of Americans have adopted towards energy conservation and environmental conservation. The newly anticipated question is whether or not Americans will continue the trend towards purchasing fully-electric or hybrid vehicles or reduce their desire to become owners of such vehicles over the next several months.
The BP Oil spill certainly sparked a lot of awareness related to energy conservation in terms of the dangers that oil drilling and overconsumption are paired with. It would be reasonable to assume that a spark in sales for electric vehicles came during the most stressful months succeeding the spill where Americans banded together in outrage and anger towards the petroleum industry because of the devastating environmental consequences. However, a transition to alternative fuels is a response that we’ve talked about, and dabbled with, but not really implemented in a disruptive manner. There is still a concern that Americans focus on electric vehicle purchasing is a temporary change in behavior that will not be sustained. The question now is what can be done to keep the momentum going that can lead our country to an expedited future of alternative energy technology. As it is, many people have latched onto the idea that petroleum cars are getting significantly more fuel efficient, masking the fact that regardless of their efficiency they are still heavy polluters. Inevitably, the “clean” message attached to the petro cars at the top of the fuel economy ratings has probably stolen some buyers that were on the fence between buying an electric car and a conventional gasoline powered car. We’ve seen the clean messaging actually get people excited about a truck that gets an “amazing” or “revolutionary” 21 miles to the gallon that we’re supposed to be wowed by simply because the truck used to get 12 or 15 miles to the gallon. In retrospect, 21 miles to the gallon cannot be acceptable in a plan for a sustainable energy future. Accepting and readily purchasing new vehicles that get 21 mpg will not help the economy. It will merely slows the inevitable death of it. With the way cars are designed today – to last for 10 years or more – the most frustrating part is that if you buy a truck today that gets 21 miles to the gallon, you can expect to be driving it 10 years from now when it’s then only getting 15 miles to the gallon or worse, and the economy is desperate for fuel economy averages in the 40′s. Since taking your car away will not be an option, the government will be forced to allow these cars on the road, offering incentives to swap out, which some people will take and sadly…some people will not.
With technology like the Nissan Leaf knocking on our doorstep, it would be truly revolutionary to get Americans to buy cars like this in the masses, an historic transition from foreign energy dependency to one of domestic energy independence that would create more jobs for Americans and make a real impact in society- a movement everyone should be proud and love to be a part of. Being a leader, a pioneer is much more rewarding than being a follower. Just like Niranjan Shah found success and reward being a pioneer of the green architecture movement, if Americans take a play out of the Niranjan Shah playbook and support green policy and voluntarily “opt” to join the green transportation movement now, they will forever reserve a place in history as the generation that chose to save the future. Your grandkids and your great grandkids will surely love to relay that story.