EDTA Conference: Final Overview

All right, my last post on the EDTA Conference is now on the site. From here, I have to get ready for the entirely different experience of the Alt Car Expo in Santa Monica this weekend. But, sine I spent the last few days writing about what was on display and what was said at the EDTA Conference (you can see the titles of all those stories in the links at the end of this post) I now realize that there are a few tidbits that didn't find a home anywhere else. And I'd like to share them with you here.

The showroom floor. UQM and the U.S. military brought the converted Silverado truck, and GM was there with their HydroGen 3, but one thing that was really missing from the show were domestic car companies. Hyundai, Honda, Toyota and Lexus dominated the "show floor" (which was in the basement of the hotel and all of the cars were driven inside the building, which makes me very glad they were low-emission vehicles). The best showing by a domestic company, inside, was ZENN (GM and Ford did bring their fuel cell vehicles to the ride and drive). I know that this distinction between domestic and foreign is becoming less and less discernable (Toyota plants in Kentucky, GM plants in Mexico and all that), but the domestics were outgunned by foreign auto companies at EDTA.

Many, many presenters at the conference mentioned the fact that most Americans drive less that 30 miles a day, made up of 3-5 short trips. This statistic, floating on its own, makes it seem like a modest-range EV could really make headway in the market. I'm not discounting this possibility at all, but it's going to take more than the right specifications to sell units. American consumers are not known for buying what they need, but what they want. It's going to take a lot of work and marketing to make LSVs take off, but I think it'll happen in the next few years when the cars get better and cheaper and people realize they can work their lives with an EV..

On PHEVs: One speaker in a session on PHEVs gave the warning that we need to address issues of the actual plug that will be part of these plug-in hybrids. There are differences physical plugs in different countries (esp. Europe), different voltages and safety issues, and questions of how customers will pay for the electricity they get from the grid. Communication between car and the grid needs to be figured out as soon as possible, whether this is through smart meters and/or official electric meters on the vehicles themselves. These issues need to be addressed now; otherwise plug-in hybrids will never really be able to plug in.

Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the entire conference was made carbon neutral thanks to carbon offsetting by Carbonfund.org's Carbonfree program.

AutoblogGreen's complete coverage of the 2006 Electric Drive Trade Association Conference:

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