For Cleantech Talk #18, Matthew, Kyle, and I talked about the Tesla buying experience and “Tesla dealerships,” the planned Chrysler plug-in hybrid electric minivan, and a 1 GW Quebec-to-Vermont HVDC interconnection (as well as the transmission network and renewable energy integration, in general).
As is now the norm, here are Matthew’s notes from the podcast (I haven’t even altered his Canadian punctuation):
The Tesla Dealership Experience
Credit / blame for Matthew’s weak pun about one day buying a Model 3-CPO should be given to user Woof from the TeslaMotorsClub forum.
The Canadian dealership that has figured out the secret to selling electric vehicles is Bourgeois Chevrolet in Quebec, a two-time winner of the Canadian Electricity Association’s PHEV dealer of the year award. In 2015, they sold about 250 Volts (about 180 new and 70 used), or about 1/6 of the country’s total.* Staff are non-commission, and are all trained on the sale of electric vehicles; perhaps unsurprisingly, most (17 of 30) drive Volts themselves.
Perhaps most impressively, the dealership has already pre-sold 33 Chevy Bolt EVs!
*Matthew tracks the Canadian new electric vehicle market at GreenCarReports and at www.tinyurl.com/CanadaEVSales. (The spreadsheet also includes a separate estimate of used Volt and Leaf sales in recent years.)
Chrysler Plug-In Minivan
Minivans have become a rare beast in recent years, thanks to the popularity of SUV’s and crossovers. They’re easy to ignore and dismiss, given that they’re probably only about 3% of the market. (Incidentally, writer Tim Cain’s goodcarbadcar.net is a highly-recommended resource for recent U.S. sales figures.)
In these cases, it’s worth remembering long-ago GM CEO Alfred Sloan’s insight that the path to success (for GM then, and for plug-in electric vehicles today) was to offer “a car for every purse and purpose”.
The arrival of a plug-in minivan will leave trucks as the only auto segment without plug-in electric offerings. Hopefully Ford, GM or Dodge (which still dominate the North American truck segment the way they used to dominate cars) come out with one soon. Until they do, Bob Lutz’s VIA Motors might be the only supplier of plug-in electric truck options, and they just don’t have the manufacturing scale to reach the necessary price points…
1 GW Quebec-to-Vermont Interconnection
Hey, given that the podcast is called Cleantech Talk, we need to have some non-EV stories, eh?
A planned 1 GW high-voltage DC (HVDC) transmission line connecting Quebec to Vermont is going through the regulatory checks right now, and looks on-track to be operational in 2019. Matthew asked Katherine Hamilton of 38 North Solutions (and co-host of The Energy Gang podcast) for her take, and she commented that, “as base load backup for renewables, it seems that this new project could be very useful to spur additional renewable deployment in New England”.
He then forgot to read that out on the podcast. (sad trombone)
This interconnection truly is great news for New England, Quebec, and renewables in general.
New England will win because this will provide another 1 GW of firm, dispatchable power to the ISO-New England grid. In theory, Quebec could then send another 8760 GWh of clean hydroelectricity per year, on top of the 13,000 GWh it sends currently. (Multipying 1 GW by 8760 hours per year, we get 8760 GWh.) That’s almost double the coal generation in New England, which is about 5000 GWh per year. Combined with more renewable energy production, it might even be possible to cancel some planned natural gas plants.
Quebec wins because the interconnect will allow it to better leverage its enormous hydroelectric resources: it will be able to sell more power to New England when wholesale rates are higher. (Quebec’s hydro resources are truly enormous: in 2011 and probably every year since then, Quebec used more energy from hydroelectric energy than it used from oil.)
And renewable energy will win, because the hydroelectric backup will make higher solar and wind penetrations possible in New England.