During a recent conversation with a very-high IQ 20 year old, I mentioned hearing an interview with an analyst on social trends tied to the GenY age group in America (about 18 to 30 years old). The analyst said they’re known for being concerned about social/economic justice, coming of age and scrambling for jobs during the Great Recession. They’re also concerned about environmental issues like climate change. I asked him for his opinion on the comments and whether he’s interested in driverless, autonomous vehicles, such as those being tested out by Google – and which I’ve sensed are much more appealing to young people than to 40-plus GenXers and Baby Boomers. Yes, he said, very interested, but he thinks the GenY concept is sort of a joke.
I understood what he said about our tendency to categorize groups so that we can perform better in sales and marketing, attempting to influence voter opinion, etc. The irony was that while there may be some truth to the problems inherent in categorizing social groups, his satirical comment was also oddly symbolic of GenYers – they don’t like to be told what to do and who they are, and have an eloquent, blunt manner of getting to the point. They’re clearly influenced by Baby Boomer predecessors, such as their parents, who spoke out about things they didn’t like in the 60s and 70s, wrote pop hits about it, and made some pretty good movies.
Accenture recently did a survey of more than 14,000 drivers in 12 countries. The survey found that GenY consumers are very much into technologies necessary for creating driverless cars. As for what they like – automatic braking systems that stop the car in an emergency and that prevent hitting an object; collision-warning systems; fully-automatic parking; and lane-keeping systems.
They’re much less interested in getting their drivers licenses and owning a car than their elders. They do acknowledge the “bread and butter” necessities of transportation. They’re more engaged with carsharing, public transportation, hybrids and EVs, biking, and walking – than are older people typically stuck in traffic. Driverless cars make a lot of sense. As the young man said to me recently, he would prefer doing something else during the mobility experience rather than driving – watching movies, gaming, texting, and just kicking back – all of that sounds better than being enslaved by the steering wheel. I think I know what he means.
And in other clean transportation news……
- November sales weren’t much different than October’s for plug-ins. The Nissan Leaf came in at 2,003 deliveries in November – one more than the Chevrolet Volt sold in October and higher than the 1,920 Volts sold in November. Tesla doesn’t report Model S numbers, but it was selling about 1,500 per month during the previous quarter. Ford saw a tough month where sales of C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid dropped 59% and 25%, respectively, from a year ago.
- Propane autogas and other alternative fueling stations just received more funding support from the state of Texas. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says that grant funding is being made available to eligible individuals, businesses and government entities to continue the development of a network of Texas alternative fuel stations. Nineteen Texas counties in ozone non-attainment areas are eligible, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the El Paso area and the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area. There are more than 700 propane autogas fueling stations now in Texas, and this funding initiative will widen the infrastructure for public and private fleets using propane, said Jackie Mason, Education & Marketing Director for the Propane Council of Texas.
- Dow Chemical withdrew from the electric vehicle charging business – selling its majority stake in battery maker Dow Kokam to an affiliate of Townsend Ventures; there are two other companies still in ownership status, but Dow has dropped out.
- SpaceX launched its first commercial satellite into space last week from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket placed a three-ton communications satellite owned by SES S.A. into high-earth orbit. Founder Elon Musk was thrilled watching it and tweeted about it.
- Mitsubishi announced a big $6,130 price drop for its i-MiEV electric car. It brings the sticker price down to $22,995. There’s a $7,500 federal tax credit, and for those living in California, a $2,500 incentive. That would bring it down to $12,995.
- General Motors is investing $24 million into turning landfill gas into electricity that will power two assembly plants. This will take place at the Fort Wayne, Ind., and Orion, Mich., assembly plants and will generate 14 megawatts of electricity a year. That will save GM a combined $10 million in energy savings between the two facilities. It joins up with renewable, clean energy initiatives at several of its global production facilities.
- The state of Ohio is putting the Tesla vs. Franchised Dealers issue on hold for now. A state legislative committee decided not to vote yet on a licensing amendment that would prevent it from selling cars in the state. The Ohio Automobile Dealers Association wants to see the state adopt it and block Tesla from selling cars in the state outside the franchised dealer system.
- Roush CleanTech has brought in five business development executives with dozens of years of experience in automotive and alternative fuels. That brings the staff to 80 employees, up from six in 2010. Steve Whaley, Joe Rudolph, Don Manfredi, Derek Whaley, and Philip Mailey bring a lot expertise and experience with automakers, fleets, and alternative fuels to Roush CleanTech trucks, vans and buses that run on propane autogas.
- Westport and Clean Energy are working together to give fleets natural gas vehicle (NGV) options. Westport is offering free compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel through any Clean Energy station across the US to customers who order five or more Westport WiNG™ Power System operated vehicles between now and Dec. 31, 2013. Fleets considering natural gas vehicles have a chance to test out the technology, performance, and ease of refueling NGVs through this promotion.
- ClipperCreek is now offering its LCS-25P electric vehicle charging station with factory-installed NEMA L6-30, 14-30P, 14-50P, and 6-50P wall plugs. The five kilowatt, level 2 units costs $549. The addition of these new 240 volt plug types means the LCS-25P “can now be plugged in virtually anywhere,” the company says.