I made a run to Stanford Shopping Center early this morning for a quick visit to the hairdresser, and as I pulled into the covered parking I got quite a jolt. Well, I didn't get the jolt, but if I'd had the right car, it could have.
There was an electric vehicle charging station in the lot with three spots exclusively set aside for electric vehicles. And there was a plug and everything.
Even better, you could charge up for free. I did a little research and it isn't clear if the City of Palo Alto, the shopping center, the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce or all three paid for this new fangled deal. All took part in the ribbon cutting and all touted it as part of Palo Alto's commitment to the environment. Very hip, is Palo Alto. Home of Stanford University, don't ya know.
The funding might even have come from a federal grant--we are coming up on an election year. Further investigation necessary.
I don't know if it was a "plant"--I was there at 9:30 a.m. and most of the stores don't even open until 10:00--but there was a Chevy Volt in one of the spots, charging up.
The whole notion of an electric car is problematic to me. The energy to charge the vehicle has to come from the grid and the grid power isn't magical: it has to be produced in the conventional, mostly dirty ways. On the other hand, a hybrid vehicle takes one gallon of gas and gets the most possible mileage out of it--stretching its use and--theoretically--saving imports of it.
An electric vehicle, on the other hand, simply trades gasoline use in the city for petroleum/coal/gas/nuclear elsewhere--requiring the generated power to be transferred to the charging station on a grid, from which a percentage of the generated power is lost. It is not the most efficient use of power.
But it is one of those ideas that looks environmentally and politically correct. Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, Stanford University, and much of Northern California are big on this kind of thing.
Anyway, the folks involved got some good publicity. I got a surprise out of it this morning.
And marketing is a powerful thing. In that one moment: my 2004 Swedish car feel so yesterday.
Hey, at least I'm made in America (with a little help from my generous friends the taxpayers)!
Subscribe to Robin Chapman News