“Last month, the Renault-Nissan Alliance sold its 200,000th zero-emission car. The Nissan LEAF, which we launched four years ago, is by far the top-selling electric vehicle worldwide. Sales are up 20 percent this year.
Together with the Renault ZOE and other zero-emission vehicles in our lineup, Renault-Nissan’s EVs have been driven about 4 billion kilometers – enough to circle the earth 100,000 times. They are the world’s first and most successful mainstream, mass-marketed EVs.
Why are more people switching to EVs? The reasons are clear:
– EVs are convenient: They can be refueled at home or at the office from multiple energy sources, including the increasing amount of clean energy from solar or wind power. Imagine never stopping at a gasoline service station because you wake up to a “full tank” every day. This is one of the top things EV owners enjoy about their cars.
– EVs are economical: Even with gasoline prices falling, Consumer Reports recently estimated operating costs of a Nissan LEAF in the United States at 3.5 cents a mile, compared with 11.9 cents for a subcompact gasoline car or 8.6 cents for a hybrid. EV owners typically save on their insurance policies, because insurers view EV drivers as a lower risk. Going green means saving green.
– More people are discovering EVs, thanks to what we call the “cul-de-sac effect.” The first LEAF owners in a neighborhood share their enthusiasm for their EV with neighbors, friends and family. Thanks to these early adopters, sales grow as more people see and experience the benefits first-hand.
– EVs are fun and reliable: Globally, the Nissan and Renault EVs have the highest customer-satisfaction rates of any vehicle that either company has ever produced, by far.
More infrastructure = more EVs
Over the past century, we’ve spent trillions of dollars to develop a sophisticated global infrastructure around petroleum. Gasoline service stations are now so common in the industrialized world that people often forget conventional cars have a limited range.
We are in the early stages of building the same type of infrastructure around EV charging. Whenever we see a concentrated initiative to boost EV infrastructure, we see EV sales grow.
For example, you might be surprised to learn the fastest-growing U.S. market for EVs this year has not been Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle – all strong EV markets.
Public and private initiatives, particularly investments in charging stations, have created a virtuous cycle of expanding sales in Georgia.
Coca-Cola, headquartered in Atlanta, recently doubled the number of parking lot charging stations to 75; the company estimates more than 100 Coke employees drive to work in EVs.
Atlanta-area EV drivers also enjoy unfettered access to carpool lanes on freeways and free entry to toll roads – a big advantage in a sprawling city where commutes are often long and slow.
Georgia Power Co. offers Atlanta residents an off-peak, plug-in charging rate of 1.3 cents per kilowatt-hour; that compares with a national average of about 11.88 cents a kilowatt-hour. Tiered pricing encourages people to charge cars when demand for air-conditioning, heating and other needs is lowest.
We’ve seen the same phenomenon elsewhere, including Norway, an oil-rich nation that has made an aggressive push to create a cleaner, less oil-dependent transportation system. I am also optimistic about the huge potential for EVs in China, where the government has recently adopted strong policies to support zero-emission vehicles.
Another encouraging sign is the growth in commercial fleet sales. Companies love EVs’ low operating costs. EV trucks and vans can get deliveries done quickly by using high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, and in big cities they avoid hefty congestion fees because they have zero tailpipe emissions.
In fact, last month, the French postal service La Poste took delivery of its 5,000th Renault Kangoo ZE, Europe’s top zero-emission van. EDF, Veolia, Orange, DHL and other companies are also logging zero-emission miles in Renault and Nissan EVs.
Spare the air: 200 million liters of petroleum saved
Renault-Nissan’s 200,000 EVs represent a savings of about 200 million liters of petroleum – fuel that was not extracted, shipped or burned into the atmosphere.
While reducing petroleum dependence, EVs simultaneously increase consumer choice – creating an important shift in the car market. As the internal combustion engine monopoly crumbles, consumers will enjoy even more mainstream EV options and greater range.
For the foreseeable future, there’s little doubt battery EVs will remain the most practical and affordable zero-emission option. The biggest advantage of battery EVs is that they can tap into existing electric infrastructure, compared with hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, which need an all-new infrastructure.
An analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory put the cost of upgrading one service station to dispense hydrogen at $2.5 million. By comparison, EVs can be charged at home or work; a typical home EV charger costs less than $2,000 installed. In the United States, there are more than 8,800 public charging stations, compared with 13 hydrogen stations.
What’s clear today is consumers will increasingly have more and more zero-emission choices.
In the end, both consumers and the environment will win.”