The award for the reporter who is as confused about plug-in hybrids as the folks he quotes …
… goes to Mike Musgrove of the Washington P0st for his piece, “As carmakers plug ‘green,’ Washington Auto Show consumers have plenty of questions.”
As evidence of the kind of questions that puzzled consumers have about how plug-in cars work, Musgrove writes:
The unmistakable message is that the day of the electric and hybrid car is at hand. But it’s also clear that there are plenty of questions among the crowd about how this alternatively fueled world is supposed to work.
“What if you’re driving and you don’t have any power left?” asks John Wu, who is checking out the Chevy Volt with some friends. “Won’t you just be stuck there?” The guys make cracks about Volt drivers running low on juice and pulling up to a stranger’s house, begging for access to an outlet.
Funny stuff — if you were writing a piece trying to mock regular people in the vein of the 1980s-era David Letterman. But in fact there is nothing wrong with regular folks being underinformed about a brand new product — people would come up to me all the time when I first bought the Prius and asked me where you plug it in.
Most people just aren’t that plugged into the latest techno-news. Why should they be? There aren’t any for sale yet, after all!
What’s wrong and definitely not funny at all is that the reporter is underinformed — and has actually produced a piece that is only going to further confuse the public. Rather than correcting the glaring error of the people he quotes, his next sentence is a non sequitur:
Despite the auto industry’s tough times, optimism is still standard equipment.
As everyone who actually gets paid to pay attention to the automobile industry ought to know, the Chevy Volt is not a pure electric. It is a plug-in hybrid with a gasoline engine designed specifically to run the car when “you don’t have any power left”!
You might think a reporter writing about the Chevy Volt — or any of his editors in the business section — would either know this or spend say 30 seconds online finding out the facts. Here, for instance, is the Chevy Volt home page, designed specifically to provide answers to puzzled consumers and apparently puzzled journalists:
Introducing Chevrolet Volt
Volt is an electric car that can create its own electricity. Plug it in, let it charge overnight, and it’s ready to run on a pure electric charge for up to 40 miles(3) — gas and emissions free. After that, Volt keeps going, even if you can’t plug it in. Volt uses a range-extending gas generator that produces enough energy to power it for hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas.
Yes, the point of the whole car is to avoid the problem of pure EVs, which can run out of juice and take a while to recharge.
Two days later, I still see no correction or clarification to the article online. I guess it’s just another tiny leak in the Titanic disaster that is the WashPost.
- Plug-in hybrids and electric cars — a core climate solution
- GM Shows Off Their New 230mpg Chevy Volt
- Ford expects 10% to 25% of fleet to be electric by 2020, Toyota plans up to 30,000 plug-ins in 2012, GM to “do the heavy lifting” to help Obama meet goal of one million plug-ins by 2015.
- So what is it like to actually drive the Chevy Volt plug in hybrid electric car?
- Why electricity is the only alternative fuel that can lead to energy independence
- CMU study suggests GM has wildly oversized the batteries in the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid