Bob Lutz, the now-retired, global warming-denying GM head, releases the Volt. It's a mea culpa for killing the EV-1, on which leases were inexplicably denied for purchase, featured in the first film.
Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, called the Napoleon of the electric car revolution by narrator Tim Robbins, more or less bets the farm on the mass production of the LEAF, a family-oriented, completely electric hatchback.
PayPal millionaire turned Tesla CEO Elon Musk encounters the challenges of precision car making, fighting mechanical problems against shrinking capital and a ticking clock. Completion dates get iffy while prices for the completed Roadsters suddenly spike just ahead of dealer delivery. An expectant customer tells Musk to his face at an event in the West Los Angeles show room that he pulled a bait and switch in pricing the already over $100,000 Roadster. It's an assertion Musk can't deny. His nine-figure fortune dwindles to $3 million before a successful IPO revives the company.
The Los Angeles mechanic who converts cars to fully electric operation, Greg "Gadget" Abbott, endures his own near dissolution. Arson in an uninsured facility which contained hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tools forces Abbott into the most affordable temporary replacement: a mercury contaminated warehouse, where he also lives.
The screening was followed by a panel discussion moderated by KPCC blogger Matt DeBord. Panelists were director Chris Paine, electric conversion mechanic Greg Abbott, TrueCar Senior Editor Brandy Schaffels, and Geoff Wardle, the Director of Advanced Mobility Research.
Audio of the panel is here. Here is a condensed and edited transcript:
MATT DEBORD: My first question is for Chris. The thing I always think about is “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is kind of a tragedy. “Revenge of the Electric Car” is something else altogether. What is the difference in your mind between the way we perceive things and think about the electric car between the end of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and “Revenge of the Electric Car”?
CHRIS PAINE: This was was a 60-minute version of the film, not the whole film. So I hope you get a chance to see the film in its whole course. It has kind of a different rhythm if you see it in its original cut. But “[Who Killed the] Electric Car?” was something that we feel passionately about.
What we wanted to write about in the first film how the American system fails sometimes. And you can see it failing right now with the Volt and everybody throwing rocks at an incredibly nice car because it’s stuck in the political system as some kind of symbol or Obama or – I don’t even quite understand the politics of it.But if the system fails because we have something amazing, like the EV-1 was, and now with the Volt, and if it threatens too many interests, things go after it and destroy it. So I wanted to make a film that could have been about the Red Car, could have been about a lot of things that have a lot of promise that don’t go very far.This film we wanted to do about what it takes to be inside the system. Even if you’re a billionaire, or you’re Carlos Ghosn, or you’re my next door neighbor and very close friend Gadget and you want to innovate in this country, what kind of people it takes to do it. And how do you cross that finish line?
My dad was an entrepreneur and I’ve always believed in this country where you can really do things. And you have this sort of two energies: the can-do energy and you have the tear-down energy. And we decided to stop this film at a place to really celebrate the accomplishments made by the people in the film, all you know, sort of aware that things could [laughs] backslide for a while.
I think that Bob Lutz probably said it best in the film: eventually the vehicle fleet’s going to be electrified. And it’s going to be a lot of tug and pull in a few years, but this is where we’re headed.
MATT DEBORD: Brandy, maybe you could speak to that topic since you understand this industry comprehensively. Where are we at? What’s going on with the Volt? Is it a serious problem, and is Bob Lutz right that we’re going to see a full electrification of the vehicle fleet in the future?
BRANDY SCHAFFELS: Well Chris is right in saying that we can thank Tesla for being the first. They were the first to actually bring an electric car to the consumers, although it was very expensive at $100,000.
When GM brought the Volt forward, they brought a car that was affordable for the masses. In their first year they delivered their first 10,000, which was their goal, and for their second year they were aiming at 45,000 vehicles. And they just had to idle their plans because the customer demand wasn’t quite as high for it.
Now the difference between the Volt and the LEAF is that the Volt allows consumers to not be afraid of how far they can go on a charge. Many electric cars have an end point at which you must plug them in and recharge them. If you’re lucky enough to have a short commute and a place where you can charge your car, you can go both ways [on a purely electric car]. But if you’re one of those people who needs to go farther than your batteries will allow you to go, the Volt has a range extender that runs on gasoline.
MATT DEBORD: This is the dreaded range anxiety you hear so much about.
BRANDY SCHAFFELS: Exactly.
MATT DEBORD: Gadget, maybe you could speak to this. We found out in the movie you’re getting a 120-mile range out of the Porsche.
GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: It was 120 miles to get there [to Palm Springs from Los Angeles], and then we drove around about 20 miles after that.
MATT DEBORD: And I had an experience with the Tesla Roadster. Obviously it’s a very lightweight vehicle, and it got something like 275 miles out of a charge on that thing or –
GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: That would be a very good day.
MATT DEBORD: I actually drove it pretty fast the whole time, you know, so maybe it was lying to me.
But what do you say to an industry that’s trying to put electric cars out there? At the same time folks like you are doing DIY kind of garage projects to convert existing vehicles?
GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: Well, it’s interesting. I was at a symposium in Westwood and some of the German car makers were there. And they had done a study and found that if you put the charging stations in, then people felt more comfortable about driving further, but they didn’t actually use them. Once they got there, they’d realize that they didn’t and then go home. But it gave them sort of the security blanket to drive that much further.
So the next step is getting people comfortable in the electric car, planning a little bit more. I find that I plan a little bit. Not much now that I’ve got about 140 miles of range. I don’t worry. I had 30 miles in my old cars. I really planned my day. I didn’t get lost. I didn’t screw up. Otherwise I wasn’t getting home. Or I would stop at the 7-11 and plug in by the ice machine. [laughter] I think the LEAF is – 80 miles?
MATT DEBORD: The LEAF was 80 miles when it first came out and I think performance has not been – when I went to see a LEAF event at Dodger Stadium a couple years ago, Carlos Ghosn was talking up the LEAF as being a 100-mile range vehicle and that was a big deal. But its real world performance has not been quite that high. Brandy, do you know?
BRANDY SCHAFFELS: Well the important thing for people to understand is it doesn’t matter whether you’re driving an electric car, a hybrid, or a gasoline car. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive. So people are really hung up on, ‘Well, I’m not getting the fuel economy from my electric car that I’m expecting.’ Well what do you get from your gasoline car? Because they give you a range [also].
MATT DEBORD: So what you’re getting at is change your consciousness. Geoff, you could talk about that. What kind of consciousness transformation do we need to have [around] the electric vehicle and its place overall in where we’re going to go?
GEOFF WARDLE: Well I think as a species we can’t go on the way we are. That’s for sure. We have to aim to do everything in life without making anymore environmental impact, ecological impact than we can help. We’re a long, long way from that point. So electric cars are a part of that journey. And like Bob Lutz I think that ultimately it makes a lot of sense for cars to be electric but it’s not like flicking a light switch on and off. We can’t get to the ultimate electric car immediately.
The electric car itself is a very smart thing from a car designer’s point of view. You don’t need to do oil changes every 3000 miles. The maintenance is really much, much lower than the gasoline engine or diesel car and it gives you a lot more opportunity to design a vehicle around the passengers rather than around a big engine. The weak link at the moment are the batteries.
The whole economy from a consumer’s point of view or a vehicle manufacturer’s point of view around electric cars is getting to a point where we can make batteries which have the energy density that we need to give the vehicle enough range, that they’re cheap to buy and that they’re made out of materials that don’t come from unfriendly parts of the world, or are nasty to dispose of. And actually a lot of investment has been going into the battery technology for quite a while but a lot more investment of human time and capital has gone into developing gasoline engines for the last 120 years. So if we put that kind of effort into battery instead of gasoline technology, we’d be in a very different world today so.
MATT DEBORD: Well that’s changing minds at – Chris, you could probably speak to this. People are thinking differently now at the car companies, right?
CHRIS PAINE: Well, I greatly admire your work Geoff, but when we made “Who Killed the Electric Car?” remember we had seven guilty parties but we had one innocent and that was the battery. And it wasn’t because the battery is perfect today. I would argue that the battery does enough and the real culprit is gasoline.
Gasoline is so damaging on so many different levels and batteries can be recycled, they can be reclaimed. And it turns out that even with a 100-mile range, which is what our experience with our LEAF is, you can do like ninety percent of your lifestyle that way. The problem is that most Americans, or most drivers, think, ‘Oh, I need to have 300 miles everyday.’ Wouldn’t it be nice if it was a simple consciousness change, we could flip the switch and everybody goes ‘Yeah, for my car I drive every day I have a 100-mile range car I drive, that’s fine.’ And then I have my backup Hertz car gasoline, or I have my Southwest jet that I’m going get in and fly to Portland for my longer range. But changing this is probably more difficult than improving the battery. It’s an interesting idea.
GEOFF WARDLE: Yeah, I think changing mindsets is what it’s all about. I agree – I have a term – it’s about using the right tool for the right job, which you’ve just talked about. You use – I mean, most of us in our daily lives probably can get away with a car with just a 30-mile range. We worry about those few days when we need  or 300 mile range. And as you say, we need to change the whole concept of owning cars in the first place. We need to actually think about – instead buying a GM or Ford or a Toyota car, we need to be thinking about buying a GM or a Ford or a Toyota total mobility package, where we have access to the vehicles and transportation we need for each specific journey. And I think ultimately the car companies that stay in business are the ones that are going to move towards that kind of business model. But It’s a change of mindset from the companies and also from consumers as well.
MATT DEBORD: Do you see that kind of change happening potentially in the car companies, Chris? Because you saw a big change in GM between the EV-1 period and the Volt period. And obviously you saw Nissan sign on to their zero emissions plan under Ghosn. Do you see them having the capability of getting to what Geoff is talking about?
CHRIS PAINE: Well I’m sure they’re very motivated. You know, you’ll see the car companies are mobility companies, just like the oil companies are now energy companies and everybody like kind of changes their [public image] thing.
The reason we called the film revenge when we started working on it was the revenge was that the auto industry went from really fighting this to being on board. And ironically of course, the electric car is in retreat right now momentarily with the political system and the car industry is actually on the side of the electric car now so – it’s really kind of – you get one person to come along with you at a time and hopefully over the greater – you, you really change things.
MATT DEBORD: Well it’s very interesting because the auto industry is the most prominent cheerleader for electric vehicles at this point. And maybe it’s the political system that’s opposed. We were talking in the parking lot about the Volt’s become kind of a political football, right? And it’s a point at which you can –if you’re on the [political] right you can attack the administration and say ‘Well the bailout was a failure and the Volt is proof of that because of the problems that GM is having with it.’
CHRIS PAINE: It is and of course the people go, ‘Where are the oil companies in this?’ And when Paul and I and all of us were working on “Who Killed the Electric Car?’ with the EV-1 and the oil industry was trying to stop chargers very actively in Sacramento. They were fighting chargers everywhere. Then they seemed to go away But I just got the sense in the last couple weeks when you watch the political messaging going on in the right wing and we’re not having a political discussion here, but a lot of it is driven by super PACs with a lot of oil money in them and suddenly the electric car is you know this villain so I think they may be back in the game, and pushing back. Is that paranoid of me?
GEOFF WARDLE: Yeah, I –
MATT DEBORD: It is paranoid, of course. Absolutely. [laughter] Completely paranoid.
GEOFF WARDLE: I think you know with the Volt too – the crazy thing with the Volt is the Volt has nothing to do with the bailout of GM. The bailout of GM helped the Volt amongst many other vehicles. And whilst I think that the Volt is a pretty smart stepping stone to the all-battery electric vehicle, it represents a pretty small part of the help that GM got from the government. So it’s being totally politicized at the moment, which is a shame. Because I think it’s a long way from being the optimal hybrid, but it’s definitely one of the smartest things GM have done for a long time.
MATT DEBORD: Brandy, did you have a comment about that?
BRANDY SCHAFFELS: Where Tesla opened the floodgates for electric cars in general, Volt and LEAF brought electric cars to the mass market. They were the only two electric vehicles that consumers could buy this year. And they represented about one percent of the marketplace. But we also have to keep in mind that in the next year – we have about five models coming out now. There’s an electric Focus, Honda is going to be releasing a car, Toyota and Tesla are working together on an electric SUV. So there are going to be a lot more choices for consumers to choose from. Also the prices are going to even out, they’re going to become more affordable, which means that every year we’re going to see more choices and more electric cars on the road.
MATT DEBORD: So Chris do you see a sort of pattern here? Is the electric car is here to stay? What do you see the future holding? Do you see electric cars all over the place like what Lutz says? Or do you see like a punctuated equilibrium, right?
CHRIS PAINE: Well one of the things [in the full length version which premiered on PBS on April 19th] is that we added a card at the end which said that between Tesla, Nissan, and GM, 30,000 cars sold in the first year, a total that took Toyota Prius five years to get to. So in a way – they’re not as slow out of the gate as the media has been spinning it. It’s actually a pretty good entrance.
I think right now because of the political season until November it’s the empire strikes back. The other joke that we had in the editing room was the curse of the electric car. The battery fire that I think was completely overplayed in the media – all these things – you know make consumers understandably nervous. ‘Well I don’t know if I want to buy this quite yet. I want to make sure that it’s okay.’ And if you look at the adoption of the automobile after the horse, that took almost 20 years. And people would say ‘I’ll never.’ ‘An auto mobile - you can’t feed it at home. You can’t breed it. It’s useless!’
BRANDY SCHAFFELS: And you think about – they made this big deal about the battery fire. Gasoline cars catch on fire all the time!
GEOFF WARDLE: The irony is that the invention of the electric starter motor in 1912 gave the gasoline car the tipping point that it needed. It actually gave range over electric cars and steam powered cars which were in the majority in 1912. That’s why the gasoline powered car got off the ground.
But imagine history slightly different and in fact the electric car got the tipping point and we’d been running electric cars ever since. First of all we wouldn’t be sitting around watching this film we might be talking about the revenge of the gasoline car. But can you imagine if at the Detroit show in January, Toyota or Chrylser said ‘Look we’ve had a thought. We’re actually – we’ve come up with this concept car which has this extremely complicated device under the front with lots of valves popping up and down and pistons whizzing around and by the way you have to put 15 gallons of extremely volatile fuel in a tank at the back.’ People would think that the companies are nuts.
MATT DEBORD: I want to see the revenge of the steam car. I want to know when that’s coming around. Gadget maybe you can tells us what captivates people about the idea of an electric car versus everything else that’s on the road at this point?GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: I think once you’ve driven one, that pretty much will cinch it for you. Looking at what it costs to run one of these cars, my car, at about 8000 miles a year is costing about 200 bucks in electricity. And if you were to just look at everyone who drives a car in the state of California, they average about 250 bucks a month in gasoline. And that’s – a lot of that is leaving the state. It’s going elsewhere. So if we had that much money – that’s three grand a year – and we’re spending that within this state, I think we’d probably not have as many problems. We’d have a budget. It’s a huge outflow of cash leaving the state because gasoline is so expensive.MATT DEBORD: So what could go horribly wrong at this point to prevent Bob Lutz’s dream of complete electrification from happening?BRANDY SCHAFFLES Cheap and abundant gasoline would be one thing that would stall forward progress.GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: I just looked at a very recent government report and it was looking at all different fuels. I wasn’t really looking for gasoline. I was looking for ethanol and I wanted to see what the energy balance was.In the next column over, I saw a number, 1.2, that’s units of energy in versus units of energy out. Gasoline is now 1.2 [units] in versus 1[unit] out. So it’s taking more energy to make a gallon of gas than you get out of it. And it’s because the fuel stock is getting thicker and goopier and so now they have to refine it more, they have to add natural gas to it to get it to a point where they can make gasoline. So it’s worse than ethanol.CHRIS PAINE: This is why when you go by the Chevron refinery in El Segundo or down in Long Beach at the BP refinery, all the power lines are going into those refineries because they’re the number one or number two users of electricity in the country. I think it’s something like four to five kilowatt hours of electricity per gallon of gasoline. That’s just to refine it from crude oil into gasoline.GEOFF WARDLE: Something else in the equation as well - not only is the fuel stock getting goopier as Gadget said but you know for most of the life of the automobile, American and European oil companies have been raping and pillaging their way around the world stealing people’s oil. But now we’ve got China and India and Brazil and a number of other countries going around the world and trying to get their fair share of this stuff as well. The supply and demand equation is going to change radically soon. Traditional oil – energy companies as they call themselves now – are not necessarily in the driving seats any longer, along with their governments, to manipulate oil prices for political outcomes.MATT DEBORD: I want to ask a question about start up electric vehicle companies ‘cause we’ve talked a lot about the big players, you know, Nissan and GM, Toyota. What does the start up space look like right now? We’ve got Tesla, everybody knows about Tesla, but there’s a bunch of other companies around right now as well.BRANDY SCHAFFLES I’m so glad you brought that up, because there’s a company called Coda. And they also have – let me just double check before I say – I think they’ve got a 100-mile range or a 65-mile real world range. And they’re priced about $37,000. So after rebates they’re coming down to about 30,000 [dollars] which means that we have another affordable choice with a very good daily range that’s just around the corner.CHRIS PAINE: Of course there’s Fisker.MATT DEBORD: Is Aptera still –CHRIS PAINE: Aptera went bankrupt.GEOFF WARDLE: Which is a shame because I had my name on the list to take delivery of one of their vehicles.MATT DEBORD: It looked like a rolling Cessna or something like that. It’s quite exotic.CHRIS PAINE: When we made this film, we approached about 10 different companies to get access, which is extremely difficult. Fisker said no at the time, and Aptera didn’t want us there. It was very difficult, but we thought well we’ll just choose one. The fundamental problem for starting a car company – as [Preston] Tucker found out, we talked about it in the film, is that it takes so much money. I mean, even Tesla. You know, we’re all hoping that the Model S is a hit in September because you’ve got to have money coming in. And it takes a long time. It’s not a – it’s a very low margin business.GEOFF WARDLE: It’s a really dumb business to be in, making cars, most startup companies find. Bob Lutz alluded to this. You know it’s relatively straightforward to come up with a prototype or two of an electric vehicle for instance and show people. It’s a very different proposition to make that prototype into a production vehicle and make it so that the doors don’t leak water and the windshield wipers work for 150,000 miles.CHRIS PAINE: [to Gadget] How about in that [electric] Porsche [which you drove in the film]? Do the windows work pretty well?GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: They’re plastic. You just take them off -GEOFF WARDLE: That’s the proper way to have windows of course.MATT DEBORD: So I think we have some time now for questions.AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’ve got a couple friends who commute from Orange County to the Westside. They were desperate to get a natural gas vehicle, so they could get into the carpool lane. What has been your experience or your thoughts on the most effective incentives for people to buy electric cars? Is it rebates? Is it the carpool lane? Is it the ease of maintenance? Is it the price of gas?BRANDY SCHAFFLES In California it’s the carpool lane. Especially if you live in Los Angeles.CHRIS PAINE: I’d say all of those.AUDIENCE MEMBER: To Gadget, I wanted to ask where – what’s happening with your business now? And congratulations for your perseverance.GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: Well what I’ve found is, with the economy as it is, I’m not doing as many conversions, just straight forward conversions, but little jewel boxes. One off cars, I’ve just been throwing some ideas out there and people are picking them up so I’m having fun. I’m building electric cars basically from scratch, modifying kit cars, building the frames and just having a great time with it – until at some point the conversions come down in price and people can afford them. Conversion’s running about $35,000. Which if you look at cost of operation over 10 years, it about pays for itself, ‘cause the price of gas is not going down. And then you can put new batteries in but you know – it takes a while for people to sort of absorb that math.AUDIENCE MEMBER: I actually have a comment rather than a question as a LEAF owner of about six and a half months. I don’t jackrabbit, I am aware that if you’re going 80 on the freeway it burns more, and I have not had to plug in very many places even going out to Pomona from Tujunga, things like that. It works fine, you just think a little bit more, and you don’t go 80 [miles per hour]. This range anxiety, I have gotten close to 100 including coming up a very steep hill to my house.MATT DEBORD: So you have no range anxiety?AUDIENCE MEMBER: No. And if anybody remembers odd-even from the seventies, that’s when I had range anxiety. [laugter]CHRIS PAINE: Well I mean the thing is that this [rationing] could come back so quickly. If something goes wrong in the Middle East, we’d be rationing in like a week. And then you’d be like, ‘Well why did they shut down the Volt plan?’GEOFF WARDLE: And I often think it’s not actually the price of oil, gasoline, that will tip people, but the point when they can’t actually buy gasoline. That’s what – that’s what will make people change their habits.Actually the lady with the LEAF brings up a good point. A surprising number of people don’t understand that when you – every time you press the gas pedal down, that’s when we use energy whether it’s electric energy or gasoline energy. That’s a very, very expensive habit. And if you have any car which has got an instant fuel economy meter on it, like a Prius or an Insight or whatever, you quickly, quickly notice that even if you feather the throttle that that little bar goes zip – down 15miles to the gallon. When you keep your foot just nice and gentle and steady, that’s when you get 75, 80, 90 miles to the gallon.BRANDY SCHAFFLES You don’t have to be a hyper miler to get great fuel economy. In addition to letting go, not having those jackrabbit starts, the other thing I tell people all the time is just take your foot off the gas once in a while. You rob your car of forward momentum every time you step on the brakes. So if there’s a red light, just take your foot off the gas and coast until you get there. I can see a fuel economy difference of a couple miles a gallon just by slipping my car out of gear and coasting more frequently.CHRIS PAINE: The beautiful thing about electric cars is one pedal driving. When you take your foot off the accelerator you start decelerating, depending on how the regeneration is set. In the Tesla, their high end car, that regen is so high that you almost never step on the brake except if you have an ABS emergency. It’s kind of a whole new way of driving.AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mitsubishi, they’re coming out with the EV. Have you heard about that?BRANDY SCHAFFLES It’s actually already on sale. They’ve already sold I think their first 150 cars. And Mitsubishi’s goal when they produced that car was to be the most affordable electric car on the market. And with that, you also have to be willing to exchange some of the luxuries that you have in some of the other cars. But it definitely delivers in fuel economy and - or – electric economy – miles per gallon equivalent for the price that it offers. It’s just a little bit smaller and it’s not quite as luxurious as some of the other cars. I’ve driven it. It’s a lot of fun.CHRIS PAINE: I’ve driven it too. It’s – in fact – interesting thing is the Japanese designer of the iMiEV, his father or grandfather designed all the geothermal turbines in Iceland. So some of the first i MiEVs are going to Iceland. It’s this truly beautiful green energy in a green car.AUDIENCE MEMBER JULIE WALMSLEY: I’m wondering about the status of charging stations and infrastructure. I remember from the first film, there was this surrogate consortium formed to discourage city councils from funding charging stations, under the guise of – I think it was utility abuse. What happened in the gap - from the time the cars were killed to this resurgence, what’s happened to the infrastructure, for people who want to charge away from home? And what’s the prognosis for moving charging stations into the middle of the country? Because right now it’s mostly a coastal phenomenon, right? What’s going to happen, long-term?CHRIS PAINE: I’ll take part of it and you guys can jump in. The technique that the oil industry especially was using – Western States Petroleum and the American Petroleum Institute - it’s called astro turfing. They pretend to be a consumer group but they’re actually completely an industry group. So the astroturfers would go in – and they would bus people in [to public forums] and [coach them to] say ‘Oh it’s terrible that you’re building charging stations in a shopping mall. Nobody’s ever going to use them. They’re a waste of money.’ And so forth. It just goes on and on and on. Now they did back off from the astroturfing and I think they’re up to some new tricks.In terms of infrastructure now, all those old charging stations, most of them are still up. And they’re slowly being converted – at least in California – to run the charging systems that charge the LEAF and the Volt and so forth.BRANDY SCHAFFLES And not only that but the electric cars that are being manufactured now can get a charge just from a regular 220-volt outlet. So even if you don’t have a high-powered charging station, you can still get a good charge at work, you can plug in at a structure at the office or something like that. You can get a good charge to get home on. That’s the advantage [in models currently available]. The EV1 had a specific paddle and you had to be in specific charging stations.Also in California drivers of the Volt have charging benefits so that like if you park at LAX, you can park in the short term lot and charge there for free. So there’s – there are new types of infrastructure for charging these cars.CHRIS PAINE: For 10 years, that’s been true.GEOFF WARDLE: And I think – I know that Southern California Edison, if you buy an electric car, they’re quite willing to come and fit you with a home charging unit as well.GREG “GADGET” ABBOTT: And their night time charging I think is 1.28 cents a kilowatt last time I checked. It’s really cheap.
Note: Mine was not the last question. One good question, which I've heard asked by people interested in hybrids and electric cars, was the environmental and political consequences of shifting to mass battery consumption. Transcribing is tedious and time-consuming, and my schedule is currently packed, but I'm working on it. 21 July 2012