Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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2016 VOLT – How close were the predictions?

If I were a professional golfer, I would have been told that my prediction was a ‘gimme’ based on how close I came to being accurate:

Here’s the prediction I made about it at the end of 2014 about VOLT 2.0:

4). Chevrolet VOLT 2.0: a lower cost VOLT 1.0?

With the battery re-engineered to provide more storage with fewer battery cells (192 vs 288) this was expected.  

But look at the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and you get an idea of what the 2016 VOLT is going to look like: compact.

Frankly, it looks like a Honda Civic not a cutting edge EV – but that’s what GM’s research told the designers to do.

Range may improve modestly (45-50 electric miles) – right on the money!  50 EV miles from 18.4kWh battery.

but this vehicle will not be a game changer; it’s likely the vehicle that should have launched in 2011:  $29,995 base price, Missed this one – looks like it’s going to stay at $34,995 before Federal Tax Credit. 

2017 BOLT was shown to advertise the upcoming $30,000 price point AFTER the $7500 Federal Tax Credit. 

Useable gauges, (yup). But the complaints were so high on VOLT 1.0 this had to be done.  But Chevrolet fell back on its current GM cluster gauges so the WOW factor is now gone. Somewhat cool iPad/app based interface.

3 person “Cruze Sized” rear seat.  

Middle seat is just a back cushion. Third passenger needs to ‘straddle’ the battery pack.  

I hope there are more substantial surprises when the VOLT 2.0 is unveiled at the NAIAS the week of January 12, 2015: like using more than 60% of the 17.1kWh battery!  

This did not happen.  Larger battery but no change in useable capacity. Most disappointing:  on board charger modestly increased from 3.3 to 3.6 kW.  Gonna still be slow going charging VOLT 2.0. 

2016-chevrolet-volt Teaser


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2015 Prediction #4: 2016 VOLT 2.0 . . . and Blow Out Deals on Unsold 2014 Cadillac ELRs

Tomorrow the new 2016 VOLT 2.0 will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show.  And it looks like we’ll hear about the 2017 200 mile Lithium Ion BOLT 5 door hatchback as well!

Here’s the prediction I made about it at the end of 2014 about VOLT 2.0:

4). Chevrolet VOLT 2.0: a lower cost VOLT 1.0? Let’s face it, without Bob Lutz there would not have been VOLT 1.0. And without former GM CEO Dan Akerson pushing to get $10,000 of cost out of the VOLT, there would not be a 2.0. GM is working hard to ‘tease’ us with it’s mini reveals.  But look at the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and you get an idea of what the 2016 VOLT is going to look like: compact.  Range may improve modestly (45-50 electric miles) but this vehiclewill not be a game changer; it’s likely the vehicle that should have launched in 2011:  $29,995 base price, useable gauges, 3 person “Cruze Sized” rear seat.‘  I hope there are more substantial surprises when the VOLT 2.0 is unveiled at the NAIAS the week of January 12, 2015: like using more than 60% of the 17.1kWh battery!

Check back in to see how close I came to predicting the new VOLT and to learn more about the BOLT!

2014 Cadillac ELR Blowout Sale

If you are in the market for a luxury coupe, new and unsold 2014 Cadillac ELRs can be purchased/financed (no leasing on past model year vehicles) for $52,000 or less.  That’s $24,000 below sticker on the base model.  One dealer in Charlotte has a loaded 2014 ELR demo with 4100 miles for $51,614 ($80,125 MSRP). There are over 200 ELRs in the Southeast alone.  So watch for rock bottom prices (I predict $45,000-47,000) by end of February.  But buyer beware:  these vehicles are a year old, and will continue to depreciate rapidly.  They are VOLT Gen 1.0 (17 kWh battery, 3.3 kW on board charger, noisy 1.4L generator).  But at these prices, it might just be worth it if you want an incredibly comfortable, limited range PEV!

2014 Cadillac ELR

House and Car


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The Top Electric Vehicle Stories of 2015

No that’s not a typo in the headline!  2014 is in the history books and by all accounts, has been a fantastic year for electric vehicles – smashing the 100,000 annual unit sales mark in November!  More new EV models have launched in 2014 than in the prior 3 years combined and many new/upgraded EVs are coming in 2015 and beyond.

So when we look back at 2015, here’s what I believe the top stories will read nationally and right here in Georgia:

1). Electrified Vehicles Reach the 1% of vehicles sold nationally in 2015. EVs should easily reach this mark on a total industry sales of 16.5-17.0 million yielding 165-170,000 electrified vehicles added to US roads in 2015. Many states have added electric vehicle or charging station incentives or both.  With expanded charging infrastructure and high satisfaction rates among EV owners, the rate of sales growth should propel EVs close to 1% of all vehicles sold.

2). Nissan LEAF approaches the 200,000 Federal Tax Credit phase out. What Now? Arguably, Nissan has done the best job marketing their all electric LEAF which launched in the US in 2011.  By the end of 2015, cumulative LEAF sales will be close to 170,000, just 30,000 units shy of the Federal Tax Credit phase out requirements.  With an all new vehicle slated to launch in the 2017 Model Year (on sale as early as January 2016), how will Nissan market the all new LEAF without its $7,500 tax credit?  Stay tuned – Carlos Ghon has a plan!

3). Tesla FINALLY launches the Model X – Falcon Wing Doors and All.  Look for a Merry Christmas 2015 post on the Tesla blog from Elon Musk announcing the first deliveries of the 2015 Model X – it’s still 2015 and Elon has ‘kept his promise.’  Seriously, the Model X will be another game changer in the high end 6-7 passenger SUV market and will begin to impact Tesla sales in 2016, attacting new buyers to the marque.  Of course, it won’t hurt sales of the Model S, since the majority of its owners have already traded up to the Model D – satiating their need to have the latest Tesla gadget. Savvy used car buyers will snap up the discarded Model S 1.0 offerings at reasonable ($50,000 – 60,000) prices knowing that Elon has promised a battery upgrade in the future and the software upgrades continue.

4). Chevrolet VOLT 2.0: a lower cost VOLT 1.0? Let’s face it, without Bob Lutz there would not have been VOLT 1.0. And without former GM CEO Dan Akerson pushing to get $10,000 of cost out of the VOLT, there would not be a 2.0. GM is working hard to ‘tease’ us with it’s mini reveals.  But look at the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and you get an idea of what the 2016 VOLT is going to look like: compact.  Range may improve modestly (45-50 electric miles) but this vehicle will not be a game changer; it’s likely the vehicle that should have launched in 2011:  $29,995 base price, useable gauges, 3 person “Cruze Sized” rear seat.‘  I hope there are more substantial surprises when the VOLT 2.0 is unveiled at the NAIAS the week of January 12, 2015: like using more than 60% of the 17.1kWh battery!

5). Georgia’s ZEV Tax Credit takes center stage. With Georgia and metro Atlanta garnering a lot of headlines in 2014 as the fastest growing EV market in the US, the handling of the current ZEV/LEV tax credit (currently $5,000/$2,500 with no sunset) will become a national story.  How this one ends up is anyone’s guess.  But one thing’s for sure: Nissan will have the best sales month ever in December 2014 for the LEAF given the metro Atlanta dealers are selling/leasing against the fear that the $5,000 ZEV tax credit will disappear in 2015 so get your LEAF now!

Let’s just hope that everyone can agree on the core issue:  air quality in metro Atlanta/Georgia needs more EVs on our roads to help get annual CO2 emissions well below the 150 million metric tons emitted in Georgia!

6). “PV2EV” begins to have it’s day in the sun. Wouldn’t it just be smart to tie EV charging to its own renewable power generation? For years, separate and uncoordinated incentives (and arguably disincentives) between solar power and electric vehicle charging station infrastructure has kept these two technologies apart.  2015 might be the year when enough solar powered charging stations are built to move the needle in the direction toward a sustainable PV2EV deployment.  With solar power costs falling and the cost to retrofit parking lots and garages with EV charging stations expensive, the time has come for PV2EV to have it’s day in the sun!

7). Georgia Becomes A Leader in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Between the push by NRG into the metro Atlanta market from it’s home base in Houston TX, and the announcement by Georgia Power to construct it’s own charging islands (both firms offering DC Fast Charge and 240 V Level 2) Georgia and more specifically metro Atlanta, will become a model for the deployment of fast and convenient EV charging.  By the end of 2015, metro Atlanta will have at least 50 charging islands including installations in Athens and other outlying cities.  Added to that are the public charging stations funded by GEFA that will improve EV charging station availability in the Atlanta suburbs.

It will be fun to see how 2015 unfolds for electric vehicles and the supporting infrastructure. We’ll come back and revisit these ‘headlines’ and see where we hit and where we missed.  Your comments and your own headlines are welcome.

Thanks for your readership in 2014!  


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US Electric Vehicle Sales break through 100,000 annual sales mark. But there are only 22,000 Connectors! “Captain we need more p’wer!”

US Electrified vehicle sales up are up an impressive +24% YTD November breaking the 100,000 unit mark!  Over 275,000 EVs on US roads +74% vs. same period last year.  EV charging station installations still lag EV sales:  one EV connector for every five EVs! A few readers asked for EV Charging rules.  Here’s a good resource: evrules.com

AJC Leaf Article Dec 4 2014


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Electric Cars Gain Toe-hold in Atlanta

This article was originally published in the December 4, 2014 edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by AJC Senior Staff Writer Richard Halicks. I have corrected the tax information section, updating the description of the Georgia State Income Tax Credit.

It’s fall, and the LEAFs are turning left and right. The handful of plug-in electric car models available here, led by the Nissan Leaf, has come as a bit of a shock to the Atlanta market. They aren’t underpowered golf cart-like vehicles, for one thing. The coolest and most expensive plug-in, the Tesla Model S, goes from zero to 60 in, well, it was there before you finished reading this. (For the record: 3.2 seconds.)

By the end of 2014, 18,000 to 20,000 all-electric cars will be on the road in Georgia. Although that’s still a relatively minuscule number, it suggests that the vehicles have passed a big milestone: the market has outgrown the hard-core enthusiasts who would have bought the cars no matter what and now takes in people looking for a good deal.

And such a deal: some people who lease the Nissan Leaf find that, between the state’s tax credit for zero-emission vehicles and the savings on gasoline, the monthly cost of the lease comes out roughly to not much. (Fair warning: the tax credit cost the state $13.6 million in 2013 and may be much more costly in 2014 because of greater sales of electric vehicles; the credit was nearly repealed earlier this year, and a state legislator wants either to repeal or revise it in 2015.) Leaf buyers tend to be enthusiastic about the cost, the quiet and the absence of emissions.

“I absolutely love it,” says Leaf driver Karen Hines, who commutes about 18 miles one-way from her home in Tucker to her job downtown. “When my lease is up on this one, I will get another one. No question.”  Hines was driving a grumpy old minivan when she got a new lease on Leaf a year ago. “I think my monthly lease payment is probably just a little bit more than the gas I was buying for my van,” Hines said. “We got a really great deal. The van was big, didn’t have great gas mileage. And I get to travel in the HOV lane all by myself.”

People like Hines have made Atlanta the No. 1 market in the nation for the Nissan Leaf, which is also the nation’s No. 1 plug-in electric car. A third of the LEAFs sold in the United States are sold here, a Nissan spokesman said, and while the Leaf accounts for about 2 percent of Nissan sales nationwide, it adds up to 25 percent of the automaker’s sales in Atlanta. The biggest concerns about plug-ins — the range is too limited, the price is too high, charging stations are too few and far between — are still concerns, but there’s progress on every front: range for the typical plug-in is now about 80 miles on a charge (265 miles for that supercharged, $70,000 Tesla); the price is steadily coming down for most models; and charging stations are increasing in number.

‘They’re finding out it’s a very fun car to drive’

Don Francis, the executive director of Clean Cities-Georgia, which promotes alternative-fuel vehicles — natural gas, propane, electricity, hydrogen and more — is both a promoter and a believer. “The customer is beginning to see the financial benefits of the vehicle,” said Francis, who is driving his second Leaf. “It’s very inexpensive to operate. In addition to that, they’re finding out that it’s a very fun car to drive.”

William Cook, who runs the state’s tax credit program for the state Environmental Protection Division, said he has been surprised by the growth in the program this year. The state approved 132 tax-credit certificates in 2012, he said. The number jumped to 1,372 in 2013. Through September this year, the total was 4,591. He estimated that 90 percent of the plug-in electrics certified are Nissan LEAFs. No. 2, though quite a bit lower, is the Tesla. The list then dwindles to a few BMW i3 models, Mitsubishi I-MiEVs  and SmartCars. And one Toyota Rav4 plug-in, Cook said. Cook noted that Georgia’s tax credit, which is among the most generous in the nation, is always subject to legislative review. Repealing the $5,000 credit could take the steam out of the electric-car market in the state.

‘Leaf inventory was measured by the hour’

This past year, for example, Alpharetta Republican Chuck Martin, who chairs the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee, filed a bill that would have repealed the credit, which Martin said was too expensive. The House passed Martin’s bill, but it didn’t make it through the state Senate. Contacted late last week, Martin said he still believes the credit is bad policy and plans to renew his effort to repeal it in the session that begins in January. In an email, Martin said he hopes a renewed “discussion of the policy could lead to a revision, reduction, or phased elimination of the credit or just sunset at some future time.” The Nissan Leaf has changed the game in the Atlanta market in at least two ways: first, it comes with the lease that takes advantage of that $5,000 tax credit for zero-emission cars (caveat emptor: the credit has limitations); and second, Nissan builds the cars in Smyrna, Tenn., ensuring a steady supply to meet demand in Atlanta.

The trick for car dealers is to have enough cars on hand to meet demand for, say, 60 days, but not so many cars that they’ll sit on the lot for months. Not long ago, however, you couldn’t count Leaf inventory by the month or even the week, Francis said. “Leaf inventory was measured by the hour,” he said. “People would follow the trucks in. The dealers have the cars now. It’s not up to the 60- to 90-day ratio, but it’s more than 30 days.” Cautions on the lease: check the distance of your commute, as well as the availability of charging stations either at work or along the way. Second, and perhaps more important, remember that auto leases often carry a mileage limit, with costly penalties for exceeding it.

‘We take turns going down to plug the cars in’

Karen Hines said she’s one of about 20 Leaf drivers at the law firm King & Spalding, where she works in telecommunications. The firm provides free charging stations in its parking garage, and the Leaf people have created a Google doc that schedules charging time for everybody. “One Leaf owner here keeps us all organized and playing nicely together,” she said. “We take turns going down to plug the cars in. That’s how we worked it out.” “Hines said her car is just about perfect for her commute — she needs to charge it every few days — but she doesn’t use it for longer trips and doesn’t usually go places if she doesn’t know there’s a charger in the vicinity. Nissan has a promotion for that, too. The company last week announced a “no charge to charge” promotion in which it offers free public charging for two years to those who buy or lease the Leaf. The special quick chargers, at 12 stations across metro Atlanta, can charge the car from zero to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes, Nissan said.  Some retailers, notably Whole Foods and Kohl’s, some employers and some municipalities offer free charging. EV owners also may pull up to a charging station that, um, charges, for about $2 an hour.

About EV tax credits

Georgia has one of the nation’s most generous personal income tax credits for zero emission electric vehicles, up to $5,000. The federal and state income tax credits can make electric vehicles affordable for most of us. But Jeffrey Cohen, founder of the Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition (atlantaevdc.com) says it’s important to know how the credits work and the limitations that apply to them. Much of the information below comes from Cohen, who emphasizes that he’s not a tax attorney and suggests that current and prospective EV owners consult a tax professional.

Federal: Income tax credit of up to $7,500, (depending on the electric vehicle’s battery size, so consult the IRS schedule of makes and models can be taken against the purchaser’s personal or business income taxes.  Important: the credit is not a rebate or a specific tax deduction. It’s a credit against your tax liability. Note: IRS has not yet released the form for the 2014 tax year. In leases, auto financing companies typically take the tax credit, since they own the car, and then reduce the lease payment accordingly. The lessee cannot claim the federal tax credit. The credit can only be taken by the first owner of the qualifying vehicle; it can’t be passed along to later owners.

State of Georgia: A personal income tax credit of $5,000 is currently available to purchasers and lessees of zero-emission vehicles. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles do not qualify because they emit some carbon dioxide. Georgia permits the credit to be taken over six years – the year of purchase and five additional years -rather than just one tax year. Remember: you don’t just get a check or a rebate for $5,000. The credit applies to your tax liability, reducing it by up to $5,000 over six tax years. You claim the tax credit on your Georgia return, so it doesn’t matter whether you buy or lease the car.  The auto financing company that provides the lease cannot claim the Georgia tax credit as it can with the federal tax credit.

tim-echols-afv-roadshow Iv


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Guest Post by Tim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Retain the ZEV/LEV Income Tax Credit In Georgia?

I was in a restaurant the other day when a legislator came up to me and asked an important question that all of us need to be ready to answer.  He asked, somewhat hostilely I might add, “what has Georgia received for the almost $15 million invested in electric cars via the tax credit?” 

Our response to this question may determine whether Georgia’s $5000 ZEV income tax credit lives or dies.

Probably our first answer needs to be economic, and not just “our” personal economics. Remember, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, for every one percent of petroleum-based miles travelled in Georgia that is displaced by electric vehicles, approximately $201 million dollars will remain in the state of Georgia annuallyEach pure electric vehicle purchased keeps $2,242 annually in the state of Georgia by fueling with electricity rather than petroleum-based products.  This is huge.

The second reason is similar and one that Don Francis of Clean Cities Georgia talks about frequently.  The tax credit received comes back after we file our taxes as a refund, and then gets spent.  It buys things in Georgia like clothes, appliances and services.  That has a multiplier effect.

Third, electric vehicles fit nicely with our electric grid here.  Georgia Power has set up a special tariff [Editor Note: called Plug In Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate Plan – see Resources tab] to encourage people to get electric vehicles and charge them overnight—when power is super cheap and plentiful.  According to a study of 1000 of these Georgia electric car owners on the PEV rate plan, they are not only using electricity instead of gas, but they are saving $180 per year to boot.  How?  They are shifting their usage to the evening and overnight period. This is good because we have extra electric capacity overnight, and these vehicles help us utilize it.  Then, during the day, electric vehicles and equipment are quiet, clean and efficient and offer users the opportunity to save money on fuel and maintenance costs and reduce their environmental impact.

Fourth, with Atlanta out of compliance with the EPA rule, the metro area needs all the help it can get to attain the standard and save everyone the cost of an emission sticker—not to mention their lungs. Remember, gasoline or diesel engines deteriorate over time, leading to higher emissions with the age of the vehicle, whereas electric vehicles will potentially get cleaner over time as the generation of electricity gets cleaner.

Finally, electric cars send a message to young people. As I sat recently with Mayor Reed discussing Atlanta’s success with electric cars, I asked him what he thought was the greatest benefit our region has received from the $15 million invested through state tax credits thus far. He didn’t hesitate.  He said it has sent a strong message to millennials about our priorities. This investment, he further explained, makes Atlanta a more livable city where people want to be.  He likened it to the Beltline and other quality of life projects that are drawing talented young people back into the city to live and work.  As an Atlanta native, I can get excited about that.

Nissan is having great success with the LEAF and Georgia is the 2nd largest market in the U.S. for all EVs.  But behind Nissan, BMW, Kia and many other manufacturers are coming with electric carsOur message to the legislature needs to be to hold off for another year before taking action.  Let’s allow the other manufacturers to benefit as Nissan has done.  Then, if they decide to eliminate this credit, do it slowly and phase it out over the next decade.  Georgia has a great business climate, in part because we don’t make knee-jerk regulations causing uncertainty and confusion in the marketplace.  Let’s not change that now.

I urge you to reach out to your legislator—now—before the session starts and communicate the value of the credit to our state and its citizens.

GA Power


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Georgia Power to Invest $12 Million to Advance Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

The  Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Georgia Power is about to launch a broad-based round of incentives to stimulate residential, commercial and public charging infrastructure development in its service areas. The reported $12 million program provides for a $250.00 rebate for consumers who install a level 2 EV charging system at their homes, and $500.00 for commercial properties who install a level 2 (AC 240v/40 amp) or $250.00 for level 1 (AC 110v/16 amp) charger at their workplace.  Home and work are the top two places EV drivers want to charge up their vehicles.

Additionally, Georgia Power is working with the City of Atlanta to support the creation of 50 public charging ‘islands’ where both level 2 and Fast Charge (DC 480v/100 amp) will be built to dramatically enhance the public availability of fast charging systems which will improve EV charging infrastructure in metro Atlanta and begin to build fast charge corridors to the outlying metro Atlanta areas including Athens, Newnan and Conyers GA.

Here’s the link to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s breaking story:  http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2014/10/georgia-power-to-invest-12m-in-driving-electric.html.

Georgia Power is no stranger to building electric vehicle infrastructure.  In the early 1990s,  Georgia Power installed over 500 level 2 charging stations in support of GM’s EV1 program when Atlanta was a test city.  Some of those stations can still be found in and around Atlanta.

CleanCitiesGeorgia Coordinator Don Francis, a 31 year veteran of Georgia Power, will help oversee this new program.

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