This is a collection of letters received either personally or through EV-related forums. They're all sad, but in different ways.
March 23, 2004
Subject: RAV4 EV Availability
I read your [EV World] article on the RAV4 EV. I drove one myself and was thoroughly impressed but did not purchase one because the dealer said they would be coming out with newer models. Unfortunately, the program ended early and I missed out on the purchase. I wonder if it is an oil company threat to Toyota to stop producing these wonders?
Do you know of any individuals who are willing to sell one? I am interested in purchasing a used unit that is in good shape.
I live in Lakeport, CA. Thank you for your time.
Dr. R. S.
I came into the EV scene late enough that I got on the waiting list for a RAV4 EV but a few months later was notified of the discontinuation of that product line.
Darell's comments [in the EV World article] are exactly right. The problems I saw in my short quest were: 1) dealer's can't (or won't) sell the upside of the EVs 2) the public needs to know they're not going to run their battery down in just a few blocks 3) the idea that EVs can only go 20 MPH and are glorified golf carts is just plain WRONG! When a RAV4 EV became available in northern L.A., I sent email right away, even though I am in San Diego. Apparently, over 100 other people also expressed cash-in-hand interest in that vehicle too. All this with no advertising.... For now I am settled with my new hybrid Prius. (Yes, I love it when I'm running just on battery!) Even that 'alternative' vehicle had a several month waiting list. And there's enough interest that I have to plan an extra 10 minutes on every trip to answer people's questions about it when they stop me in the parking lots. The driving public is ready for EVs. I represent the Mom Taxi demographic and as soon as I can do my errands with the clean, quiet of an EV, -- no wait, I already could, if the vehicles were available! -- I hope to join the true EV ranks!"
April 29, 20004 (this one is uplifting and decidedly HAPPY!)
My name is Blake Adelman and I am 12 years old. I attended the EarthFair at Balboa Park in San Diego with my dad (Kim) and my mom (Mary) to help them exhibit our RAV4-EV powered by our solar panels. The fair was open to the public at 10, although the 8 ½ hours of non-stop questions started at 8:30. Before 9:30, we were interviewed by two local news stations, KNSD and KUSI. During the day, hundreds of people came up to us saying that they had seen us on the news all day long during the event and wanted to see for themselves how it was possible to drive 32,000 miles without gas, and hear why Arnold’s “fuel-cell Hummers” might not be the best solution. Anyway… after hearing my dad talk to the first 50 people, I learned what questions most people had that were not answered by Mr. Dickey’s signs.
Some common questions that people had were…
. “How long does it take to charge the vehicle?”
. “What kind of battery is powering the car?”
. “How much did it cost?”
. “Does it really go 100 miles and 80 MPH?” (I guess they didn’t believe the sign…)
. “How much did it cost to convert the car into electric?” (Had to explain it came directly from Toyota)
. “Why not fuel cell cars?” (Because it takes 4x as much energy)
. “Since you don’t work for Toyota, why are you here exhibiting your car?”
. And of course, “Where can I get one?”
After trying to answer that last question the first few times, our answer to “Where can we get a BEV” started evolving and the answer to “Why are you exhibiting your car?” became very clear.
My answer (to the people who settled for asking me because they could not get close enough to my dad) was:
Unfortunately Toyota stopped making the RAV4-EV at the end of 2002 because the California Air Resources Board changed the rules that had required electric cars. Toyota was not the only company who stopped their great electric cars – Honda and GM with their EV+’s and EV1’s stopped producing even earlier. Unfortunately, GM did not sell their cars to the public – only leased. After the lease, GM took away the car, forced the owner to pay for “wear and tear” and crushed it. (We showed them pictures of crushed EV1’s in junkyards.) People had the strongest emotional reaction to this one thing after it had sunk in that a car like this was possible AND existed.
I finished by handing them a list of web sites that are currently planning or doing conversions including ACPropulsion, Calcars, and Phoenix Motor Cars. Although the T-zero is available, most people at that fair didn’t have an extra $280,000 stashed away…
The answer to why we were there at the San Diego EarthFair 2004 was just to show people that the car has been created, does exist, and may disappear forever if we don’t work to keep it alive. Also, it is possible to have a large solar system in a normal neighborhood powering an electric car and a home.
The reason this is all so important to me is because when the air quality index goes above 50 (which is quite often now), I can’t go to school because I can’t breathe. I am home today writing this message.
May 27, 2004
I went to our EV repair shop today to return an S-10. The shop also is preparing the off lease RAV4s for destruction. Out back of the building were numerous battery packs waiting for salvage shipment. When I entered the shop, one RAV4 with less than 12,000 miles on it was being prepped. The battery pack is removed, all of the high voltage wiring is removed, the AC system is drained and saddest of all I watched them deploy the airbags. They explode with a very loud bang and the passenger side bag actually shatters the windshield. The cars are then shipped to Athens , GA to be crushed. I actually had tears in my eyes when I saw the airbags deploy and the windshield shatter. It is just cruel and extreme punishment to allow a perfectly good vehicle to be destroyed like this!!
OK, just for fun....
I'm an administrator on a flashlight forum (those who know me will understand), and we often have lengthy, interesting off-topic conversations there. Of course I write about EVs all the time. I found myself contributing to a thread on hybrids when along came this poster (a stranger to me). I thought you might get a kick out of the exchange. This guy just CAN'T be for real, can he? To my knowledge, this is the first time I've been called a commie for promoting EVs. I've arrived! - Darell
** His first post:
Forget about plug-in anything. Unless you are the only one plugging in. Unfortunately the power grid is close to capacity and the enviro-nazi mentality won't let us build power generation stations and transmission lines. And if we could, it would take 15 years at least to get the capacity required.
The daily driving requirements of the average American would require as much energy as their house consumes in a week.
Hybrid technology is the ONLY viable technology for the foreseeable future.
1. In CA alone we can easily power one MILLION EVs right now without taxing our existing power infrastructure. We LOTS of extra capacity every night - when most EVs are charged. We have the capacity to charge 10 Million EVs by simply increasing the off-peak output (typically idled) by 15%. This info comes from one of the largest utilities in CA that owns the largest EV fleet in the country. Just for grins, let me add here that my grid usage (before my solar array, mind you) for powering TWO EVs and my entire household was substantially lower than the average for my neighborhood (Detailed for me by my utility when considering Time of Use metering at my home). AC and pool pumps are responsible for the bulk of the electricity usage in our area.
2. The daily driving requirements for the average American is about 30 miles. In an EV (or the EV side of a plug-in hybrid) you're looking at eight or nine kWh per day. The average home consumes on the order of HUNDREDS of kWh's per week. And of course the household use is during peak time - that's what makes it peak, after all. The car can be charged at any time with a built-in timer. Do it at night when nobody else needs the power, and that 9 kWh is insignificant.
3. Yes, as long as we burn fossil fuels, we're in good shape. I'm living proof that BEVs are "viable." We put about 12k miles/year on our electric car(s), and about 3k on our ICE vehicle. Oh, and I don't even use grid power for my car. Filling up the gas tank of any ICE vehicle requires more grid electricity than my car will use in its lifetime. Hmmm.
** To which he replied:
If what you say is true then everyone would be doing it.
But I guess we're not because we've all bought into the Bush-Oil cartel and we're really stupid.
I'm mean really, get a grip. Sure, if we drive an electric powered bicycle we could get away with 9KWh but that would really be idiotic.
If you want to ride a bicycle to work, why complicate it with a battery. I ride my bicycle to work almost every day. But when the weather sucks, it's my Ford F-150 baby! 15 MPG and you know what, I'm not the least bit guilty about it. I bet I burn far less fuel than you per annum.
What scares me about you is you strike me as the type of person that would legislate what I can or can't drive. I sense you're using EVs as a cover for communism.
** To which I added my final reply:
You crack me up, [membername]. You really do. You sound just like me when I try to explain brain surgery to.... well, a brain surgeon.
You seem to take comfort in your reality. There could be worse things, I guess.
"...and we're really stupid"
Hey! Don't let THAT get out.
OK, I give up. Who are you? Nobody can be THAT misinformed.
.... And when I posted the above exchange to the Rav4EV list, I received this (scary) follow up:
I’m thinking this IDIOT is probably for real. There is a certain type of mentality that seem to equate the use of renewable energy and powering a car with anything other than petro as a definite indicator of communist leanings.
Soon after my solar panels were nestling comfortably on my roof and my brand new sparkling RAV4 EV graced my driveway, one of the neighbors became so unreasonably angry that she left a note in my mailbox which said that it was clear to her that I was a commie. If that had been the only way she had expressed her displeasure, I would think it very odd and probably the result of disordered thinking, I would have dismissed her extreme dislike of me, my car and the maligned, innocent solar panels. However, this same next door neighbor then began to regularly vandalize my yard and patio by ripping down screens, spreading old leaves on the bricks with labels that said “ALL NATURAL” and “GREEN”.
I filed a police report, but we were never able to catch her in the act. She finally moved and the Communist accusation notes and vandalism immediately stopped, much to my relief.
People are strange and what may trigger their illogical thought patterns is even stranger. One thing for sure, this thinking is not logical. They must feel threatened in ways they cannot articulate so they have to tell us how stupid WE are for not doing things in the usual traditional ways. Fortunately this mind set does not usually result in criminal behavior.
July 13, 2004
I have to say that the pictures of all those beautiful EV-1's being crushed really struck me. From what others have said, they are a wonderful first start now subjected to an early and unfair death.
Almost a year ago I installed a 10 kW PV system on my home and I am very pleased with the result from all angles. The long term economics work, the system is environmentally and technologically sound, the physical appearance is not unattractive and I make enough surplus power to convert all my natural gas consumption to electricity with lots of power to spare. Unfortunately, I cannot use the spare power to charge a vehicle because the CARB killed off their mandate for EV's which effectively killed EV's from major manufacturers.
I have written to all my state and federal representatives and the governor about the benefits of my solar system and the absence of EV's. Not one of those messages has been answered with other than an automated reply.
I am convinced our nation is headed for terrible economic and political problems if we do not maximize solar electric generation and convert light vehicle production to all-electric power plants. I fear our continued dependence on fossil fuels might make us slaves or colonialists.
I am writing to request that you take action to stop major automobile
manufacturers from destroying electric vehicles.
As you know, California at one time had a law that required major vehicle manufacturers to sell zero emission vehicles in our state. Ford, GM & Toyota each manufactured and leased a limited number of these vehicles in California. Once the Calif. law expired the manufacturers immediately ceased making these vehicles. At the end of the leases, most of these vehicles cannot be purchased and the manufacturers are destroying them even though they still have a significant service life remaining.
Several environmental and energy oriented websites are filled with messages from people wanting to purchase these vehicles yet the supply is dwindling and the manufacturers simply will not sell the lease returns.
All I ask is that you participate with other Senators and Congresspersons to imposing a requirement that these vehicles be made available for sale rather than being destroyed.
If there is not at this time a will to move forward with producing zero emission vehicles, there at least should be a policy not to move backwards.
Thank you for your consideration.
My latest favorite email is the most concise:
YES ARE YOU SELLING CAR?
March 10, 2005
Rick Wagoner, Chairman and CEO
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48243
Re: Crushing of Electric Vehicles
Dear Chairman Wagoner:
It is dismaying to see General Motors engaged in the systematic destruction of existing Electric Vehicles (EVs) for no apparent reason except for an apparent decision to focus on hydrogen technology, instead. At present, we are informed that there are 78 EVs being stored in Burbank, California awaiting trucking to your proving grounds in Arizona for crushing. Roughly 800 have already been destroyed.
We understand that there is a standing offer by a group of interested consumers to purchase these vehicles for almost $25,000 each – their stated residual value. Since it is your intention to destroy them instead, rendering them junk, it is mystifying as a business decision that you prefer to lose the $1.9 million in sale proceeds. It is also of concern that GM accepted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, including money from the State of California, to develop EVs and the needed infrastructure, and that you are now destroying the very cars subsidized by the taxpayers.
If GM wants to project an image of corporate responsibility and concern for health impacts on the public, these cars should be sold to people who want to use them to help clean up California’s air. Please let us know your decision in this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.
SHEILA JAMES KUEHL,
Assembly member, 41st District State Senator, 23rd District
cc: Robert Lutz, Vice President, General Motors
David Barthmuss, Energy Issues Communications, General Motors
Bill Stall, Los Angeles Times
March 27, 2005
You've done a wonderful job of explaining your experiences with your PV system and how it is affordable in the long term and lacks the social burdens of other energy systems. The intelligent and open-minded people here can't help but understand the import. Thank you. Those who don't get it might do some real research instead of the hazy, lazy questions and techniques that drag down the level of discourse here. A read of "Natural Capitalism" or some of the great PV articles in Mother Earth News would be a good place for a concerned, open-minded citizen to start.
Rich in Orlando
April 11, 2005
Darell brings up a point of profound importance to me, and part of what attracts me to EVs. It is counter-intuitive given most people's conception of the plug as a tether. In fact EVs offer a rare opportunity to disengage positively from an industry (oil for transportation) that has disrupted and corrupted our economy and politics for generations. Gasoline-only hybrids are a tether to the oil economy. The Sierra Club and probably every environmental and increasing numbers of unions and national security organizations have signed on to a common agreement on the need to significantly reduce our dependency on Big Oil in all its manifestations. (apolloalliance.org and setamericafree.org)
It's about freedom. Many individuals and various groups, offered a way out of the oil economy, will do so. They need choices. And that serves the greater good by enhancing our national security, and reducing oil consumption and thus stabilizing prices, even were the total pollution produced the same, which it is not.
None of this is to suggest that significant work cannot be done
to "double the fuel efficiency of the gasoline and
diesel passenger car fleet today with existing technology .."
However we know enough now to know that that is not enough. There is a point of agreement among transportation folks - industry, government, environmentalist - that the holy grail is an electric car. The Fuel Cell Car is an electric car that will use electricity or CNG or gasoline, turn it into hydrogen to turn it into electricity. The Battery Electric car is self-explanatory. Even the gasoline only hybrid is touted as a car that uses gasoline-generated electricity to achieve greater fuel efficiency.
Amongst environmentalists and transportation folk there is agreement that we need more renewable, clean electricity generation. Curiously, when we hear talk about battery electric vehicles, we talk about "our dirty grid." Yet when the "hydrogen future" appears on radar screens, everyone from Dave Freeman of CARB to GM to President Bush sees limitless megawatts of renewable power. For some of them it's nukes. Not for most of us. But they can't have it both ways. To the extent we get plugs on cars, our efforts devoted to cleaning the grid yield even greater results. And we all hope the death spiral of the gasoline internal engine can be put to rest as quickly as possible.
I have been closely following the discussion about why Toyota feels it is necessary to not allow fleet lessees to purchase their vehicles at the end of the leases. I too need to make some sense of Toyota’s non-negotiable stand on this issue.
My husband and I have enjoyed driving our “stable full” of fine Toyota vehicles. We currently have a RAV4 EV leased on an individual basis which we then subsequently purchased. We also have an identical RAV4 EV leased through my husband’s business and recently bought a 2005 Prius. We are extremely proud of the “fleet” of zero emission and energy efficient vehicles made available to us by Toyota.
We obtained the corporate-leased vehicle first and were so enthusiastic about this driving experience that we then took advantage of the window of opportunity to obtain the RAV4 EV that we now own, no strings attached. We have been diligently attempting to purchase the initial vehicle leased through our business from the inception of the lease in 2001. We were gratified to be able to extend the lease for two more years. However, the two-year lease extension is not enough. I will repeat again. We want to purchase this car.
Isn’t Toyota in the business of selling cars? It makes absolutely no sense to me that Toyota has allowed us to purchase one leased vehicle and but has adamantly refused to even discuss the purchase of the other identical vehicle lodged in our home’s garage.
I personally drive the fleet-leased vehicle 95 % of the time and consider it my car. I am curious. Why would Toyota imagine that it is good customer relations and good business practice to ignore our many requests to purchase “my car” and then make the unilateral decision that the car should be “dismantled and recycled”? Or in the best-case scenario, how does Toyota justify taking “my car” away from us in a rather heavy-handed manner and deciding then that a “national park or shared-use station car program” should have custody of the vehicle even as two satisfied customers who have driven the car many thousands of pollution-free, gasoline-free miles want to continue to do the same for many more thousands of miles?
My car, with a current speedometer reading of approximately 40,000 miles, runs as smoothly and efficiently and with the Toyota RAV4’s signature astonishingly low maintenance as the day it was backed off the delivery transport. Incidentally, this EV is powered almost exclusively from the solar panels on our residential roof. Our Prius, unfortunately, offers no such plug-in option. This petroleum-free way of living addresses air quality and environmental issues as well as turbulent foreign politics engendered by our country’s national addiction to oil. The two synergistic technologies of EV plus PV are personally empowering, and simply feel good and right. I thank Toyota for providing us this opportunity to address personal as well as larger societal concerns in our transportation choices.
You need to be advised, Cindy Knight, that we have no intention of giving up the economical and environmental benefits of driving this efficient, dependable, well-designed electric car in order that Toyota can either destroy the car or feel some corporate largess about giving the car to some national park or charity of Toyota’s choice. Do you think that describing the possible destruction as “dismantling, recycling and then crushing the empty steel body” makes me feel any better about the likely fate of this wonderful, perfectly functioning vehicle that we’ve learned from a public utility will in all likelihood continue to function well over 100,000 miles or more?
You indicated that Toyota would decide what constitutes “decent shape.” I can’t help but wonder what standards Toyota employees to decide what “decent shape” constitutes. Would my RAV4 EV be considered to be in “decent shape” at the 60,000 mile mark it will most likely have accrued on the preordained date that Toyota demands its return, or is there some other rigid rule that would govern the decision to throw the car on Toyota’s scrap heap even though I could be driving it many thousands and thousands more gasoline and pollution-free miles? Apparently my continued and proud use of this efficient, zero emission vehicle might also be overshadowed by Toyota’s “need to supply what have now become Toyota’s partners with off-lease vehicles.” Why do Toyota’s favorite charities deserve this car more than we do?
Toyota does offer the Prius hybrid as a substitute and an alternative. Well, Ms. Knight, we already have a Prius. That car is fine for those occasional long, automotive trips we sometimes take. However, the Prius is NOT what I want to drive every day. The fact is that the RAV’s 100-mile range meets my daily needs just fine, thank you. Perhaps we would be more compliant about Toyota’s refusal to sell the car to us if Toyota (or any other car manufacturer, for that matter) could comfort us with the possibility of buying or leasing a Plug-in hybrid or another all-electric vehicle. As you are clearly aware, no such choice exists for loyal Toyota customers like us who want to drive as nearly petroleum free as possible.
Let me sum it up: Toyota will not allow us to purchase the car. Toyota is demanding the return of my perfectly functioning EV which meets all of my transportation needs at a predetermined date in October of 2006. Toyota then will arbitrarily determine if the vehicle is in “decent” shape. If the vehicle is not deemed to be in said shape, it will be dismantled, recycled and, yes, CRUSHED. Toyota, after wrenching the car from our grasp, however, may possibly gift it to some deserving organization. Is Toyota’s charitable inclination supposed to make us feel better about loosing our wonderful car? I wonder if we, as exceptionally loyal customers who drive three Toyota vehicles and own many shares of Toyota stock fall into Toyota’s corporate category of “deserving”?
Apparently we do not. Perhaps Toyota needs to rethink its corporate policy on this issue.
What follows is a collection of replies to the question "Why do Americans drive SUVs?" that was posed on an international, non-automotive internet forum. They are not edited for spelling or grammar.
And in response to this thread, a biodiesel-burning friend of mine responded thusly:
Actually, there is a very good reason why "if I can afford it, why not?" isn't always the answer for everything.
Let's say than I can afford a huge stereo, that I play at the loudest volume at my home in your neighborhood ...and, this neighborhood has a noise ordinance. The noise from my huge stereo (that I can afford ...so, why not?) well exceeds the allowed noise. When the police come to investigate, if I refuse to lower the noise, they arrest me. Later, in court, I explain, "I could afford it, what's the problem?". We have some laws in place to protect us from stupid decisions that others might make.
The problem, is that our environment is something we all share, ...so, our society shouldn't allow you to do something (even though you can afford it) that infringes on the rest of society's common space. This might be the air we breathe (clean air act), the water we drink (clean water act), the quiet we cherish (noise or dances), etc.
So...does the ownership and use of a vehicle that consumes more petroleum and emits more pollutants than it needs to infringe on other's people commonly used anything? I think so.
One "common" in this case is our shared economic and national security. Imported oil decreases both of these shared, common issues. Imported oil puts our economy at risk (notice the recessions after the oil crisis of '73 and '79).
Our collective security is hugely threatened by our dependence on imported oil. Ever since WWII, we have guaranteed security to the Royal Saudi family in exchange for free flowing access to their oil. You might remember that our friends the Saudis attacked us with the "oil weapon" in 1973 because they didn't like our foreign policy in regards to Israel. There is high unemployment in Saudi Arabia and no freedoms (like freedom of speech) and no democracy. In 1953, our CIA overthrew the elected government of Iran and installed the dictatorship of the Shah instead, who cut us good deals for oil. The Shah ruled with secret police and torture. Later, when the people of Iran revolted, they hated us for our steadfast support of the Shah. Al Queda has said that the reason they attacked us is because of our support of the Royal Saudi family. The reason other people in the middle east hate us (and fund terrorists) is because of our constant meddling in the affairs of the people of the middle east to make sure our imported oil habit is supported.
So...is using too much imported oil OK as long as you can afford it? I don't think so, it infringes on my commonly shared need for economic and national security.
On the other hand, if you run your vehicle on a locally produced, clean burning, renewable fuel that doesn't put our economy or national security at risk...I think you can use all you want. Just my opinion, but that is what I think.
Hi - I am interested in owning a Rav4EV or EV1 Do you know of
any that are for sale. Any and all help would be appreciated. Thanks,
Hi Mom -
A warning right up front - I'm in a philosophical mood, so hang on. You already know that this subject is important to me, so this reply may not come as a surprise. I hesitated to send it, but then realized that I'm not doing myself or anybody else any good by sitting on my hands. I am sending it because I care about you, and I care about me. I care about my daughter, my friends, the environment, our country and our world. (Hey, I warned you!)
I am sad to hear that "I won't like" your new car. It is frustrating for me to realize that I have more influence over complete strangers than I do over my mother when it comes to understanding the significant ramifications of vehicle choice. From the fact that I won't like the car, I infer that your new car will be just one more over-sized (or at least over-consuming) vehicle that makes you "feel" safe while signaling to the auto makers and policy makers that we don't much care about the health and safety of our society; a vehicle that likely makes you feel safe at the expense of the safety and security of the population. "Feeling" safe is a compelling and comforting goal. Creating a truly safe environment for everybody is not as easy nor as obviously helpful to each of us individuals. Yet in the long run, if we all choose the products that promote the safety of those all around us, we are ALL safer. When we choose to promote our own perceived safety at the expense of the safety of those around us, at the end of the day, we're all less safe.
The great part is that we're all free to make our own decisions. The not so great part is that we ALL must live with the results of everybody's decision. Your choice of vehicle affects me. It affects your granddaughter even more. It affects our economy, our air, our water, our foreign policy. I can't think of much that it does not affect, so I won't try to list them!
I hadn't intended for my response to be so deep - this is the kind of stuff that I deal with all day, though. I'm currently putting my efforts into teaching school kids, as they seem to be our best hope - and the ones who will be most affected by the damage we're doing today. Most adults already embrace the status quo to the point of strangulation. Most kids are still trying to figure out what's best.
i'm looking for a 2 passenger (tandem preferred)ev that is light and compact. from what little i've learned, an ac motor is best & preferred. it would be nice if this vehicle had li batteries.
reason - 1. i'm tired of getting screwed by the oil companies.
2. i need to tow a (very) small vehicle behind an rv.
this vehicle needs to be in the 10-12,000 dollar range. it also needs to be freeway compatible. the ones in your list look great! except they are either too slow or too expensive. i'm currently waiting for info on the riva & one in your list, the tango.
loved your site.
Let me say I'm all about saving energy blah, blah, blah. I can remember when we were kids we were told to turn off the lights when we weren't in a room. So in theory I was "green" thirty years ago, it just wasn't a fad yet.
However I will continue to use more than one sheet of TP, (vulgar term deleted) off Cheryl Crow, thank you. I will continue to drive my car whenever and where ever the (vulgar term deleted) I want, alone if I want and I won't carpool with some dip (vulgar term deleted) down the street.
Annonymous (at least here!)