Buyers reserve 20 percent of Nissan Leaf electric cars in first 3 days

Early adopters of electric cars reserve early.

Nissan Motors Co. said Friday that buyers have already reserved more than 20 percent of the first year’s production of its Leaf electric car in the first 3 days of taking reservations.

About 6,600 U.S. consumers have paid the $99 reservation fee and 3,700 in Japan have done the same.  Nissan said it will make about 50,000 Leaf electric cars the first year.  The automaker said it wants to have about 40 percent of production reserved by December, when the car goes on sale.  The car will initially only be available in California, Oregon, Seattle, Arizona and east-central Tennessee when it first rolls out in December 2010. Nissan has said it will roll out nationwide in 2011.

Nissan began taking reservations on Tuesday from amongst the 115,000 pool of early registrants (Leaf “hand raisers”) who expressed interest in the Nissan Leaf electric car.  The all-electric car will cost $32,780, though government subsidies will reduce the cost through a federal tax credit of $7,500. 

The Nissan Leaf is one of the early mass-market electric cars to market when scheduled sale later this year.  Is the Leaf electric car’s early adoption interest a harbinger of mainstream consumer demand for electric cars?  I’m curious about the demand of other electric cars and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) like the GM Volt will fare when finally released.

Portfolio Approach for Energy Efficiency

A portfolio approach for energy efficiency was the topic of the keynote speech by Marty Sedlar of Intel at the second day of the Future Energy Conference in Portland.  An apt topic on Earth Day, Sedlar shared Intel’s commitment to sustainability by managing operations responsibly, designing products for energy efficiency and the environment, promoting sustainability initiatives, and solving environmental challenges with technology.  Intel views this as just good business sense.

An interesting fact I learned about Intel is that Intel is the single largest corporate purchaser of green power in the United States, putting the company at the top of EPA’s latest Green Power Partners top 25 list and also at the No. 1 spot on EPA’s Fortune 500 Green Power Partners list.  This is a commitment to sustainability, rather than just lip service.  Many other details were shared on Intel’s portfolio approach to energy efficiency.

Another point of interest was the requirement to Intel’s suppliers for a business plan for reducing carbon as an ante for doing business with Intel.  Similarly, a carbon reduction plan is becoming a requirement from more and more of Intel’s own customers too.  

Earlier this week I shared how sustainability is rippling throughout the supply chain with Wal-mart’s supplier sustainability assessment initiative, impacting suppliers by imposing a similar requirement for a sustainability plan to incorporate greenhouse gas reduction goals in addition to other sustainability measures.

These are two examples of sustainability and social responsibility initiatives moving beyond a company and into their supply chains on both the upstream and downstream sides of the supply chain. 

How many other such examples might there be?


Energy Storage and the Smart Grid – Recap of April 21, 2010 with TiE Oregon and Business Oregon

Here are slides from Energy Storage and the Smart Grid, organized by TiE Oregon’s Clean Energy Special Interest Group:

Hopefully I’ll have some spare time for a brief summary write-up of the event.  This Clean Energy Special Interest Group event was well attended with high quality panelists and great audience participation asking top caliber questions to keep the panelists on their toes.

Additionally, here are two recent articles in the March/April 2010 edition of Electric Light and Power featuring grid-scale energy storage.  The first article, All Together Now — The Electric Utility, Consumers and Community Energy Storage, offers community energy storage (CES) as a possible component of the customer price-reliability solution. CES straddles the transmission and distribution domain as well as the customer-side domain of applications. It offers electricity customers reliable electric service at a reasonable price with as little environmental and aesthetic impact as possible.  A second article, Energy Storage Solving Power Quality Problems, offers a brief overview of energy storage and the benefits to the electrical system.

I’m intrigued with the promise of community energy storage and I included a backup slide (see page 34 of the presentation) on the locational value of energy storage.  American Electric Power is a proponent of Community Energy Storage.  AEP proposes the highest value for energy storage is close to the end-customer, thus community energy storage offers the biggest benefits.  I posed a question to the panelists about where the most valuable location for energy storage exists on the grid before offering this slide up for discussion – interestingly the panelists were in concurrence, placing more value for energy storage nearby the point of use.

Sustainability Ripples throughout the Supply Chain

Sustainability promulgates throughout the supply chain, particularly if Wal-Mart’s Chairman Pulls a Long Supply Chain Toward Sustainability.  A friend just forwarded this piece from the New York Times on Wal-mart’s influence on promoting sustainability throughout the supply chain.

Ultimately, Wal-Mart wants the suppliers to measure the environmental impact of their products and make the data available to consumers on store shelves — a bonanza for climate consultants, given how many suppliers are reached by the long arm of the world’s dominant retailer. Scott says the layered effort is about using sustainability to lower costs, which he views as connected.

Coincident with this article, I can attest to the “bonanza for sustainability consultants” as I’m working with a small, local company in regards to Wal-mart’s Supplier Sustainability Assessment to provide my professional services to help develop a formal sustainability improvement plan for a small business.  Yet I’m also wondering if “one size really fits all” as my client is a fairly small company with less than 30 employees.  Although I’m a strong believer that cutting waste and improving efficiency has a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, I’m also a firm believer in right-sizing with respect to sustainability.  

For instance, matching the right process, the right material, the right scale, etc. is appropriate for sustainability – thus avoiding waste and minimizing impacts.  However with a large customer like Wal-mart strongly advocating their Supplier Sustainability Assessment initiative to all suppliers, large and small, can the small guy afford to do it the same way as the large companies?  

That’s exactly the task I’m being engaged to resolve.  Stay tuned for my findings.

Energy Storage and the Smart Grid – April 21st with TiE Oregon and Business Oregon

Energy storage is increasingly perceived as a necessary and vital component of any future smart grid, yet meaningful energy storage is still a scarce and missing component.  The discussion on April 21st will focus on:

  • Value chain elements of the energy storage industry
  • Who are local champions of energy storage
  • What are the interests of the investment community
  • What does the policy and regulatory framework look like
  • How do customers value energy storage

Join our panel to better understand the technologies, trade-offs, market segments and future potential of energy storage.

Our 3 panelists are:

  • Dylan Steeg, Director Intel Capital, Intel’s global venture capital organization. Dylan is responsible for several cleantech and semiconductor sectors, including photovoltaics, smart grid/demand response, datacenter energy efficiency, and semiconductor manufacturing
  • Dan Nicollet, Co-founder, Supercritical Energy, a pioneer of Supercritical Fluid Technology applied to distributed energy generation and storage on the electric grid
  • Marcus Wood , Partner and Chair of the Energy and Telecommunications (ENTEL) practice group Stoel Rives, . He focuses his practice on energy provider and energy facility developer clients.

The panel will be moderated by John Thornton, Founder, Clean Future, a consulting firm providing business and technical expertise at the convergence of energy, mobility, sustainability and the Smart Grid.


When: Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Venue: Stoel Rives,
26th Floor, 900 SW Fifth Avenue,
Portland, OR 97204
Register Now  
  6:00 p.m.: Registration/Reception
6:45 p.m.: Panelists
8:00 p.m.: Q&A & conclusion
  Sponsored by:  


 Related Post:

The Benefits of Energy Storage and how it helps the Smart Grid – Oregon

A new segmentation for electric vehicles (pt. 2) – Driving Missions are Short and Local

The term “range anxiety” is often used to characterize the general concern about an electric cars’ relatively shorter driving distance between refueling as compared to the driving distance between refilling in a gas or diesel-fueled car. How much of a concern should driving range in an electric car be?

MacKinsey and Company’s report on electric car segmentation suggests electric vehicles (EV) should be designed for specific driving missions rather than an “everything-for-everybody” approach as typical for conventional car design. What is a specific driving mission? How does an average person drive?

To answer such questions I looked up data from the National Household Travel Survey, here is what I found out about how Americans drive:

Trip Length: Short and Local

Most driving is short and local – the average trip length per vehicle is 9.5 miles, including short and long trips and travel on weekdays and weekends. Figure 1 shows the distribution of trips and miles by trip length category. The first distribution is a straight summary of all reported trips by the trip length. Most of the trips are very short (61 percent of all trips in an average day are less than five miles in length).

The second distribution uses the total miles of passenger travel in an average day (2.3 trillion miles of passenger travel) and the distribution of those miles by trip length. This is a more even distribution—for example, 13.5 percent of all daily miles are in trips of five miles or less and 15.3 percent of all daily miles are in trips of 100 miles or more.

Daily Driving Distance (Range): Less than 75 miles typically

Interestingly, the total miles driven in a day for an average driver are summed for all travel in a day, the distribution is much different. Figure 2 shows the mileage accrued in an average day by all U.S. drivers, and by urban and rural drivers. Overall, 56 percent of U.S. drivers report 30 miles or less of total travel in an average day, and 75 percent report less than 75 miles in a day.

Urban drivers typically accrue fewer miles than rural drivers in an average day. For example, while 25 percent of all drivers travel more than 50 miles in a typical day, the distribution of miles for urban vs. rural drivers is different. Only 22.5 percent of urban drivers accrue more than 50 miles in a day, in contrast with 34.3 percent for rural drivers. The difference becomes more pronounced at the lower and higher mileage levels. Note that 77.5 percent of all drivers live in urban areas compared to 22.5 percent of drivers who live in rural areas. Not only is an electric car more suited for typical urban driving, there’s greater availability and access for recharging too.

Conclusion: EV Range suitable for Typical Driving

An electric car is well suited for most people’s typical average driving profile. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean an EV works for every driving purpose. Yet when considering typical driving patterns, EV range is perhaps not as much an issue. Other solutions exist such as carsharing, where the use of a car can be treated more as a service as an alternative to traditional car ownership and car rental. I’ll come back to such innovations that I call Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) in a subsequent posting. Just as cloud computing and software as a service(SaaS) represented paradigm shifts in other sectors, Mobility as a Service has the potential to change how we use automobiles and transportation.

Related posts:

A new segmentation for electric vehicles – McKinsey Quarterly