The quiet revolution is upon us. Tesla, filing for (and even pricing) its IPO. Nissan, ready to sell the Leaf. Ford, readying its own model. Electric cars are coming, and coming fast. Toyota, a likely investor in Tesla, has its own electric car plans, and it's taking those plans and cars to Silicon Valley, for an early test drive.
We got an early ride in a Prius "Plug-In Hybrid" model. It's been talked about, and Toyota now says it will be sold, starting in 2012. A year and a half in advance to get early feedback, Toyota says it's going to drop 150 of them throughout the country for test drives. The first 3 Plug-Ins came to the Bay Area, and the Silicon Valley Leadership group. Among those getting to test the cars, SunPower CEO Tom Werner, who slid into his Prius with a big grin, and SVLG CEO Carl Guardino, who promised to immediately put his current gas guzzler on Craig's List.
Having driven several Tesla Roadsters, my first advice to those of you thinking of buying a Plug-In Prius is, don't drive a Tesla Roadster first. It really spoils you. I actually drive a hybrid car now, and while I appreciate the mileage, my stories testing the Tesla have really ruined me for excitement about just about any other car. Oh well.
That said, the Prius holds up its end pretty well, and with (at least) the first part of your commute all electric, your gas mileage will be absolutely terrific. The only thing better, and more efficient? Going fully electric.
Which is where Coulomb Technologies comes in. The Campbell-based maker of electric charging stations (that's one of them next to the 2012 Prius in the photo) stands to benefit from all of this electric car excitement. Coulomb's Mike DiNucci told me his company plans to put stations in every public place possible - there's also a station for your garage, if you so choose. The company is currently private, but you can bet it will watch Tesla's upcoming IPO very closely.
With oil still running into the Gulf, many people say they're thinking of making a change. Hybrids are the easy way to go now, but soon, electric cars will figure out the pricing and charging issues, and be ready to roll as well. The future is looking cleaner, and more electric, every day.