Home » Business Trends, Journalism

Electric car makers battle for consumers in San Diego

21 November 2009 No Comment

By Helen Kaiao Chang

See original story on SDNN

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Electric car makers are battling to win consumers in San Diego, which they see as a key region in the national market.

Five car makers are showcasing electric vehicles, called EVs., at the San Diego Alternative Fuels Education Day.

The public event takes place at the Towne and Country Resort and Convention Center on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nissan, General Motors, Tesla, Mitsubishi and Honda are displaying test models, some of which will hit the mass market in 2010.

“The EV wars have begun,” said Yeves Perez, head of the Eco Investment Club, a network for green entrepreneurs and investors.

“There are a lot of electric vehicles that have come to San Diego that are trying to win the hearts and minds (of consumers).”

With Nissan and General Motors both launching electric cars in San Diego this week, Perez likened it to fast food companies creating competition to generate publicity.

Perez’ group remains neutral on products, but has hosted speakers and events for various electric car brands. In addition to the five car makers at the show, others are also entering the mass EV market, which will create more competition, said Perez.

Karma is offering a high-end car with a solar roof. The Chinese maker BYD is also launching an electric car backed by Warren Buffet.

Perez was speaking prior to a launch party for GM’s Chevy Volt, organized by the Eco Investment Club. An estimated 200 people attended the private event held on Friday in Solana Beach.

Chevrolet is taking its electric car to key regional markets, said spokesperson Shad Balch, while driving down to the Friday party from Los Angeles.

“San Diego is one of those markets for us,” he said. “We know they have a strong environmental community and consumers who are early adopters of this kind of technology, so it’s important that we bring the car out and show it off as much as possible.”

The Chevy Volt is a four-seat hatchback sedan, run entirely on electricity. It can be charged from a regular household outlet, with each charge good for 40 miles, and it has an electric motor, which can last several hundred miles.

“One of the biggest challenges with electric vehicles is range anxiety — fear that if (the battery is) depleted, you will need to charge for several hours,” said Balch. But with the Volt, “You can use that onboard electric generator to keep that going. If you drive less than 40 miles each day, and recharge everyday, you don’t have to use more electricity.”

The car, which can reach 100 miles per hour, is expected to retail for somewhere around $40,000, with a $7,500 federal tax credit, said Balch. It will be on the market in less than a year.

Compared to Toyota and Nissan, General Motors is on the defense in the electric car wars. It’s reputation suffers not only for accepting federal bailout money, but also for eliminating its own early EVs, as documented in “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

“There is a reputation issue we are trying to solve,” said Balch.

“We’re trying to get back into the hearts and minds of consumers to show them that American cars, Chevrolet cars are something they should consider buying, that (Chevrolet) does show leadership in fuel economy, environmental friendliness and greenhouse gas emission reduction.”

This is all good for consumers, said Perez. “May the best car win.”

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenChang.

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.