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Chevy Volt
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sloneycho
Mueller Community

Posts: 435
Joined on October 3rd, 2008
Chevy Volt
by sloneycho on February 11th, 2012

A narrow study doesn't fail because it is narrow. It fails if incorrect conclusions are drawn from the limited data collected. Seems unfair to label the PSP experiment as bad science without detailing how the narrow focus taints the potential results.

To me, the "range extended" Volt taints any study of at-home power grid consumption by allowing the owner to continue to drive on gas power. The experiment needs to collect not only at-home grid consumption, but also pump consumption and charging station consumption. This data should provide a pretty accurate picture of the price/convenience relationship. It can also indicate if there is a relationship between time of day and preferred energy source.

If you replace the Volt with an all-electric vehicle, you actually make the experiment more narrow by eliminating gasoline as an energy source.
 
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Ashley
Mueller Community

Posts: 242
Joined on September 16th, 2007
Chevy Volt
by Ashley on February 11th, 2012

I think it is pretty cool that we live in a place where we have this opportunity.

I love my Volt, but I also think the Leaf and the Plug in Prius are pretty awesome.

I was hoping this thread could be a place where people interested in the program could compare notes, share tips, and help each other out.

Ashley
 
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joan neuberger
Mueller Community

Posts: 64
Joined on March 12th, 2010
Chevy Volt
by joan neuberger on February 11th, 2012

Thanks for posting this Ashley. I signed up for the program but I'm not quite sure if I can really afford a $25-30k car, so I appreciate all the research you've done. I hope other people will share their experiences buying and driving a Volt here too.

The financial deal has gotten significantly less attractive. They've removed the solar panel subsidy/rebate and the last message didn't mention whether they were still installing charging stations. And now only 20 people can buy.

A lot to think about.
 
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smittyhoo
Mueller Community

Posts: 445
Joined on November 4th, 2008
Chevy Volt
by smittyhoo on February 11th, 2012

I didn't see a mention in the email communication last night about the smart appliance package either. Is this off the table now too?

As Joan has mentioned it is just tough from where I am sitting to go from

Last Fall: Any electric car to purchase by fall 2012, home charging station, solar panels or appliances, guaranteed opportunity to buy with equitable deal to everyone

Now: Volt only you must purchase immediately based on your position with random lottery, no charging station, no solar panels or appliances, and may not have the opportunity to buy (will be decided by phased lottery that could potentially result in 21st desired buyer only getting $3K towards purchase - I can't for the life of me figure out why it is structured in this potentially non-equitable way, if you're only going to give the good deal to 20 people why not let it be the 20 people who commit money first out of the entire pool?)

Of course having someone give you free money to buy a car is a great thing but due to the previous expectation setting on many fronts falling through with little to no explanation it is frustrating. Whatever the case, it seems PSP needs to do a better job with messaging and managing expectations.
 
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Brewster McCracken
Mueller Community

Posts: 12
Joined on February 11th, 2011
Chevy Volt
by Brewster McCracken on February 11th, 2012

Hi everyone, Want to provide you with the latest info and clear up a few questions I saw in the posts.

REBATE PROCESS STATUS
Pecan St is now in the 2nd month of the electric vehicle rebate process. We are doing 20 a month (we only did 5 the first month) because we want this to go smoothly, and we wanted to understand internally how the process with GM would work. There is actually a lot of staff work on our part for each transaction both in terms of the transaction itself as well as in setting up charge data management in the home and in our database on UT's supercomputers at TACC.

VOLTS AND LEAFS
We unfortunately struck out in getting cooperation from Nissan. GM, on the other hand, holds biweekly technical calls with our team, their dealers are working with us actively, and in every respect Chevrolet has been incredibly helpful.

Here is one example of why it's critical to have the engaged support of the car manufacturer: Through OnStar, we will be able to capture not only at-home grid consumption, but also pump consumption. We are also working with Austin Energy and their EV charging program to capture charging station consumption. We have a team of nearly a dozen researchers (the largest contingent being from UT) meeting every two weeks on this research trial. We won't get everything perfect, we know, but it won't be due to lack of work or lack of attention.

Here is a second example: We are working with SunEdison, GM and the home energy management providers on approaches that will make it possible to charge your car through your rooftop solar panels.

Here is a third: We anticipate being able to make at least one other exciting announcement in the coming months that is a direct result of the incredible cooperation and support we have been receiving from Chevrolet.

One quick note on the amount of gas Volt owners use – virtually none. For my Volt, I did not use a single drop of gasoline all week. Last week, on three of five work days, I was on gasoline power for a total of seven miles. (Needless to say, I was pretty happy to have a gasoline back-up for those 7 miles.)

240 V CHARGERS
Pecan St will be providing 240 V chargers at no cost to the resident for every resident who participates in this vehicle program. We are working with a few of the charger companies to find out who is willing to work with our research team.

LEASE AND PURCHASE OPTIONS:
Based on the strong interest we received from everyone, we are able to provide a $7,500 cash rebate (that matches the federal tax credit) for up to 20 purchasers, and we are able to provide a $3,000 rebate for 80 people who lease a Volt. Whether one buys or leases is clearly a matter of personal preference.

I decided to lease my Volt (on my own dime – I am not receiving any Pecan St funds). I have always been someone who bought rather than leasing, but for the Volt I decided to lease because (1) lower monthly payment and (2) I figured there would be significant technology advances over the next three years in EV technology. I could be wrong; this was purely a guess with no inside information.

SMART APPLIANCES
We are working with Whirlpool on their smart appliance roll-out. They have some pretty specific criteria, and they are also going through UL certification prior to beginning their deployments. We will know some time in the next few months the schedule when the smart appliance suites will become available. Once we do, we will come to the Mueller executive committee team and work with you.

I'll be watching the posts in case you have any questions I missed. Also, we were planning to send everyone who signed up an update by email tomorrow evening, so be on the lookout for an email from Cate Smithson, our Research Programs Director.

Finally, how do I like my Volt? I love it. It blows away my expectations, which were probably unrealistically high to begin with. Even my dad, who was pretty skeptical about the Volt (and who is a total car guy), loves it.

You, the Mueller community, are emerging as the focus of international interest because of your level of electric vehicle and rooftop solar PV installations. The electric vehicle adoption you are part of will result in the greatest residential electric vehicle concentration in the United States - by far. Later this month, I am traveling to Fukushima at the request of the Japanese government to present to an international audience on what is happening at Mueller. They contacted us out of the blue with this request. You have also been the subject of profiles recently by BBC International and Time.

This is your everyday life, but the eyes of the world are increasingly on you. What you are doing is a tremendous service to advance public interests much bigger than you may be aware of. Thank you for being part of this.

Brewster
 
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smittyhoo
Mueller Community

Posts: 445
Joined on November 4th, 2008
Chevy Volt
by smittyhoo on February 11th, 2012

Brewster!

Thanks for the information. It is good to have a more complete picture of what is going on and i hope you can understand the frustration when previous communications covered the gamut of topics while the last one only a subset. It was as if things had completely fallen off the radar.

Also, it is good to learn more about what is being tracked as there is an obvious demand for this information from the hood. I encourage more regular and more detailed communication on this front.

Can you say whether the change from 55 purchases to an 80/20 lease split is being driven by chevy or demand projection research / desire for larger data pool by psp?

What factors are driving potentially rewarding some buyers an extra $4500 over others based purely on where they happen to fall randomly within the offer timeline?

Were other models considered like e.g. first-come, first-serve or a tiered purchase benefit based on household income? Either of these seems more equitable to me and would not affect your staffing levels, but you may have other data proving my concerns are not valid.
 
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Greg Bausman
Mueller Community

Posts: 22
Joined on December 14th, 2009
Chevy Volt
by Greg Bausman on February 11th, 2012

Y'all, this is a great discussion. I wanted to add just one thing about the EV progam. Our family was fortunate to be invited to participate. At the time, I told informed PSP that we couldn't consider the Volt because it is only a 4-seater (we are a family of 5). PSP immediately told me that they would approve a Leaf (a 5-seater) if we wanted to proceed. For a variety of reasons, we ultimately declined to participate. But PSP is definitely working hard to accommodate us.
 
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schroed
Mueller Community

Posts: 221
Joined on February 7th, 2008
Chevy Volt
by schroed on February 11th, 2012

Brewster,

We appreciate your stopping by, but you do not seem to have given a direct answer to the question whether other cars besides the volt will be eligible for the program. You mention Nissan but nothing about toyota. It seems at least two people here have received different answers on this point from PS staff, so it would be great if you could clear this up.

Thanks,
Daniel
 
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Brewster McCracken
Mueller Community

Posts: 12
Joined on February 11th, 2011
Chevy Volt
by Brewster McCracken on February 11th, 2012

I totally understand. We definitely need to provide everyone with regular info. We have had the update message prepared internally since midweek but were planning to send Sunday (tomorrow) evening. I'll also make sure we keep the community updated through CitiCite.

Here is the info in response to your questions:

When we reached out initially to the community, we were blown away at the amount of interest in acquiring an electric vehicle. It far exceeded 55. We did hear concern from some people that they could not afford to buy a car. In talking with Chevrolet after that, we learned about the lease option and how affordable it was ($3,000 down, $350 a month).

In short, we were able to provide more cars at a lower cost to participants. Clearly, having 100 homes with EV's - i.e., a near doubling - is very meaningful from a research perspective.

We are operating primarily off a first-come, first serve basis, but there are some additional research considerations such as distribution and clustering. E.g., from a research perspective, it is a big deal if all 100 cars are located within one square mile, within the same distribution feeder, have rooftop solar PV and are located within the smart meter wireless mesh that will be installed in the Mueller community for this research trial. This issue has not arisen yet (we are only on 6-25) but could come into play as we near our budget maximum.

Does that answer your questions? These are all fair and important questions. I'll keep checking posts as well if anyone has additional questions.
 
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smittyhoo
Mueller Community

Posts: 445
Joined on November 4th, 2008
Chevy Volt
by smittyhoo on February 11th, 2012

Brewster, no you did not answer my question so i will rephrase. Let me start by saying I can't even begin to question the process by which  PSP converted non-binding responses to your survey into an 80/20 lease/buy participant mix projection sitting from such a point of extreme asymmetric information. 

What I can question is an output of that process. My question is very narrow in scope and only related to the buying population. If the buying population is larger than 20, PSP has setup a two-tiered buying system wherein the first 20 buyers receive a $4,500 better deal. No single buyer has any power to influence whether or not they get this deal. So, I am having a very hard time understanding why PSP decided to go this route when it seems very unfair if the buying population exceeds 20 and there are other, equitable solutions that could be used to either grow or maintain the buying population size without significantly increasing your administrative burden. I realize it is late in the game from your perspective but we all just found out about it last night so I could not possibly have raised this question earlier.

Thanks again for your time and all the PSP is doing.

P.S. Please let us know definitively on whether we really have latitude to look at vehicles besides the Volt because we are receiving conflicting information. 
 
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