Date: 6 December 2011

Tonight’s program:

In this episode we return to the topic of electric vehicles.  We’ll be talking in the first part with Jim Motavalli, author of HIGH VOLTAGE, Abook that studies the history and current status of EVs–electric vehicles–in the world, from Detroit to China–and the variety of new vehicles under development. Then in the second part of the show, we’ll be interviewing Ron Ricci  of Chico Nissan Hyundai. We’ll be asking him about the Nissan Leaf, an all-electric plug in vehicle, and the kind of questions and issues northstaters raise when looking for low emissions cars.

Sorry,  no recording available for this week’s show.  Technology :-[

Our discussion with Jim Motavalli:

This is Ecotopia on KZFR, and our topic tonight is EVs: electric vehicles. Our guest on the phone is Jim Motavalli, author of a new book called HIGH VOLTAGE: THE FAST TRACK TO PLUG IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY. It talks about the problems of electric vehicle development and gives an up-to-date summary and critique of new developments. Jim also does a blog called “wheels” for the New York Times and has a long track record of writing on environmental issues, including 14 years as editor of E/The Environmental Magazine.

1. You note in the first pages of your book that “fledgling [auto] industry was building electric, gasoline, and steam cars” as early as 1900 and that electrics received initial postive public reaction. What happened to the electric car in the last century? How did we come to accept gasoline as the prime mover? (We’re also interested in your discussion of California EV mandates in the ’70s: “Who killed the electric car?”)

2. You are cautiously optimistic about the future of the electric car. What about our current circumstances and technology makes you optimistic? Is the time right for EV’s?

3. Please review the basic differences among the major EVs now available on the market? What are the advantages and drawbacks of, say, the Volt, Leaf, and other EVs now on the road?

4. You write about some cars that (as you say) most of us have never heard of: Wheego, Coda, Fisker, Think. What are these projects attempting to accomplish?

5. You also write about new developments in batteries, which have been one of the weak links in EVs to date. What’s on the horizon in battery technology, and how will that help to spread the use of EVs?

6. Although EVs are low- or zero-emission vehicles, the juice still has to come from somewhere. Don’t plug-ins just transfer the pollution to other sites? What is the evidence for your claim that “Coal-fueled EVs are cleaner than today’s 25-mile-per gallon cars”? (Can the current electrical grid support plug-ins?)

7. As you look to the future, you write, “I think we should all get used to the idea of buying and driving Chinese cars.” As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with Middle Eastern Oil! Please explain.

8. What would you advise listeners who are thinking about going EV soon? How do you think that advice might change if people put off buying for, say, five more years?
The book is HIGH VOLTAGE; THE FAST TRACK TO PLUG IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY and it’s published by Rodale. For those who’d like to learn more about the book and Jim’s interests, we recommend:

Our interview with Ron Ricci

Susan:   You are listening to Ecotopia on KZFR. Our guest in the studio now is Ron Ricci.  He is the Nissan Leaf specialist at Chico Nissan Hyundai.  After our interview with Jim Motavalli, we thought it would be interesting to hear something about Electric Vehicles from a local perspective, realizing, of course, that Nissan has only one of several entries in the EV market.

1.  We’d like to focus on Chico and the northstate and your vision of how the EV market is evolving.  Is there a lot of interest in the Leaf?  Are people buying them?  (Can you lease one?)

2.  What sorts of questions do people ask before they buy?  What doubts do they have?  [possibilities: range, price]

3.  Our guest earlier, Jim Motavalli, said that Nissan is taking something of a gamble by going all-electric rather than plug-in hybrid.  Could you give us your perspective on how that affects the market?

4.  What do you see as the short- or longer-range future for EVs in our part of the world?  Will we

Thank you Ron Ricci for being with us on Ecotopia tonight.

Listeners should know that we are not endorsing the Leaf over other entries in the electric vehicle market, but you can learn more about the Leaf at:   For a comparative reviews of a number of EVsgo to <>


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