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February 07, 2012

Electric Vehicles in the Media

Nissan Leaf EV Symposium2a

If you want to spread the good news about EVs, I hope you'll join our new EV Media Rapid Response Network.

Lately, many of us have been frustrated with the negative media coverage that electric vehicles have been getting. Few in the press seem to focus on the fact that 2011 was an incredibly exciting year for the EV market: There are thousands of new EVs on the road for the first time; customers are thrilled with switching from a gas guzzler; charging stations are popping up in states nationwide; and finally, EVs are proving to be a vital new way to reduce oil consumption and emissions.

Some in the media are instead focusing on sales numbers that fell a little bit short of manufacturer estimates. There has also been a deluge of misleading coverage of the safety of the Chevy Volt after a couple of simulated crash test fires. But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Consumer Reports all agree that the Volt is among the safest.

And let's put car safety in context. There were 184,500 reported gasoline vehicle fires in 2010, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

We need to get back to applauding the innovation that the Volt and other plug-in vehicles have showcased. EVs are significantly cleaner to operate than traditional vehicles, even when taking account the emissions from the electricity used to charge EVs.

The EV Media Rapid Response Network is a new informal group of people that will quickly respond when we see EV misinformation or missing information in print, on TV, or on the Internet.  

We need the focus to be on our country's foreign oil dependency. We need to talk about the Obama administration's proposed fuel economy standards of 54.5 miles per gallon average by 2025 –- and how EVs will help us meet these standards. We need EV owners to talk about how much they love their cars and the fact that they don't need to burn money at the pump anymore. In fact, when Consumer Reports surveyed Volt drivers, 93 percent said they would "definitely buy (the Volt) again," the highest ranking ever found by this survey of any car.  

Members of our new network have already begun to get out the message. For example, in his letter to the editor (see last letter on the page) published in the Oakland Tribune, Jack Lucero Fleck discussed the necessity of a switch to EVs in the larger effort to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

More than 20 different electric drive vehicles will be on the market within the next three years from Ford, Nissan, GM, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and others. Thousands of American workers will build electric vehicles and components in at least 20 states, finally giving us viable oil-free vehicle alternatives.

The commercial success of EVs will depend on a range of factors, including media coverage. You can help us deliver your EV story and EV views by joining the new EV Media Rapid Response Network.

-- Gina Coplon-Newfield, Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative for Electric Vehicles

(image: Brian Foley)

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