Now that the first plug-in vehicles from major automakers are about to arrive in people's dirveways, some of the long-time players in the space are getting products for electric vehicle drivers – and soon-to-be-drivers – ready. One example is a new Go Electric Drive website that was announced at the LA Auto Show. The site is put together by the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) with help from 160 people from over 60 companies who worked for 18 months. Two key features of the site are a local plug-in resource locator and a "plug-in and save" calculator, which allows drivers to figure out how much money – and CO2 – they can save by going electric. The EDTA and Southern California Edison (SCE) are displaying plug-in information at the LA Auto Show together and are offering two different online calculators for people to figure out what's best for them.

The calculator on the Go Electric Drive website uses industry standards (e.g., 14 gallon tank size for gas vehicles, .3 kWh per mile for a battery-powered car) that were agreed to as a group while the one on the Southern California Edison site is based on the utility's numbers and allows customers to then figure out their best rate if they move up to an electric vehicle. On Go Electric Drive, when you put in your state in the calculator, some numbers change to a statewide average rather than a national average (gasoline prices, for example, which are updated monthly). EDTA will also monitor some numbers, like customers' price per kilowatt and update that now and again.

So, there are now two real-world helpful widgets from two big players in the plug-in vehicle space. Why are they pushing them now? SCE's Ed Kjaer told AutoblogGreen, "It's all about making sure that we are providing tools, outreach and education to customers so they can make good value decisions." He continued:
We've had a couple bites at this apple – we [SCE] were very active back in the 1990s – but what's different now is that we have this perfect storm. If you compare where we're at today with the 1990s, we had $20 barrels of oil then, we have $80 barrels of oil now. It peaked at $147. We didn't really have carbon policy in those days, we have carbon policy today emerging, certainly in Europe, in Asia and here in California. There is the potential of it happening at the federal level, too. We didn't really have global terrorism. We didn't have this rise of environmental activism that we have today. And we didn't have the bipartisan support that we have today. When you add it all up, it's this perfect storm. The technology has come a long way from where it was and there's a realization in the industry [that they can do electric vehicles]. It gives the auto industry maximum flexibility.
EDTA president Brian Wynne echoed Kjaer's thoughts:
One element that you shouldn't look beyond is the commercial competitiveness. We thought we were doing good with government support, but the Chinese are taking that to a different level. They're doing it for environmental reasons, sure, but also because they see it as an emormous commercial opportunity to leapfrog in the automobile business. And that's part of what is different today.
Put all this together and it's real easy to calculate that the future of the industry includes a plug.

[Source: Go Electric Drive]

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