rEVenge for the rest of us

Stefano Durdic is a serial entrepreneur based in Lombard, Illinois. The Chicago Tribune recently described him as an electric car evangelist. He prefers “EVangelist.”

Like many Tesla Roadster owners, I began my path to "EVangelism" by expanding my knowledge about electric vehicles. The documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car" outraged me. Not because this wonderful technology was almost destroyed, but because I hadn’t realized electric vehicles even existed. This sentiment led me to research EV technology, buy an electric of my own, and ultimately reach out to the movie’s director Chris Paine about making a new documentary titled "Revenge of the Electric Car".

Nobody would look into my garage and consider me a car enthusiast. My Roadster sits next to a 1986 Honda Elite 80cc scooter, a 1996 BMW 328is, and a 2003 Honda Element. My wife, 13 year-old daughter, and I already had enough vehicles to meet our transportation needs. With a price tag over $100K, the Roadster costs more than the sum of all my previous car purchases. I asked myself over and over:

Why the heck would I ever purchase such an expensive car?

Why the heck would our family of three buy another car, let alone a two-seater?

My Roadster is one of the most expensive and impractical items I have ever purchased; but I’m glad I did.

The first time I drove the car after taking delivery, I met a friend at a local restaurant. I circled the parking lot three times before I found a spot away from any imagined hazards. Returning to the parking lot, I found a group of onlookers standing around my car.

Who makes it?

What kind of car is that?

Tesla - is it Italian?

I started to realize that owning a Roadster was going to be a unique experience. After answering a few questions, I asked one of the onlookers to pop open the "gas" cap. That’s when the real questions began: How much? How far? How long?

I enjoy the parking lot discussions and now have several versions of the same speech with keywords like "6831 lithium ion batteries, PEM, instant torque, 3.9 seconds, 240 miles, regen, 120V, 240V, 53 kWh, fast, fun, Model S." I think people walk away with a better understanding of and appreciation for electric vehicles. Along the way, I’ve become an ambassador for the EV movement.

"Revenge of the Electric Car" follows the key players helping to put electric cars back on the road. Obviously, Tesla Motors is a main character in this exciting story. We’ve followed many other interesting players and our story has taken us around the world. Most recently, Chris and I were at the Detroit Auto Show where we filmed an interesting conversation between Elon Musk and GM’s Bob Lutz.

The trip to Detroit was preceded by a visit to the new Tesla Store in Chicago where I had a chance to see Roadster VIN 750 as it made its trek across the country. It was great to see this workhorse covered in road salt and grime, and I was intrigued by Tesla’s decision to not wash the car for the auto show. I thought the juxtaposition of this filthy car next to the showroom-condition cars highlighted the fact that EVs are meant to be driven. Knowing what Midwestern cars look like in the middle of winter, it was great to see a true-life display of what a white car looks like in mid-January. It was also neat to see the Model S in a brilliant shade of red (I hold reservation 25).

January has been an exciting time. Finally, EVs are making an appearance in Chicago and the rest of the Midwest. One goal of “Revenge of the Electric Car” is to make a movie accepted by people outside the “Republic of California.” I didn’t want to see Hollywood celebrities pontificating on why everybody should be driving an electric car. I half-jokingly referred to it as the “No Ed Begley Jr. Rule.” In order for EVs to be accepted by the masses, they need to be viable for people outside the “Republic.” They need to be practical for those who don’t enjoy 250 days of sunshine a year, for those who drive in rain, snow, and potholes in sub-zero temperatures, and for those whose towns don’t have public charging stations. I hope our movie will help educate those very people that while EVs face challenges, they are ready for prime time. In order to do that, the movie needs to be accepted by my Midwestern neighbors in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Detroit.

Our cameras are capturing automotive history in the making. I hope the film’s release in early 2011 will provide audiences with close and personal insight about electric cars, and help raise awareness about them. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve come from being a Midwestern, suburban, non-car enthusiast husband and father to become a Roadster owner, Tesla investor, Model S reservation holder, and Executive Producer. I’ve come from not knowing much about EVs to become an EVangelist. Hopefully for others, taking the leap to buy an EV won’t feel so daunting in comparison.

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Comments

dollarswest@gma...

Great car for the competition. best desktop computers

NickMonk

Here is my goal. Buy either the Tesla Roadster or Model S. Build a solar array carport. Now, I can free myself from the bondage of gas and foreign oil to drive my car! While I'm at work, my solar array carport batteries store the sun's energy. When I get home, I plug my Tesla into my solar array carport batteries and recharge for the next day. This is the technology that will free myself and fellow Americans from foreign oil!

What bugs me all to heck is that I can only afford a Tesla when it gets down to the $40K range. The $100K plus tag of the Roadster and $50K plus tag of the Model S put this technology out of the reach of the average American. Only the rich get to use this technology as one of their extra toys.

I've invested stock in Tesla because I want to see this technology revolutionize how we drive cars in America. It's funny, I was watching a YouTube video of the Tesla Roadster when a pop-up advertisement came up of the Chevy Volt! Why would I but a Chevy Volt at $40K that gets 40 miles on a charge, when I can have a Tesla that goes 200 and more miles on a charge? GM's Volt looks like a piece of junk compared to the Tesla and I will never buy a Chevy Volt!

I so wish Tesla would have a yearly lottery where nobody making more than $100K could be in the lottery so that the average consumer would get a chance to own a Tesla. If I win the lottery tomorrow, I will be buying both Tesla vehicles, my house, and building my solar panel array.

Tesla needs to be like Ford in that they bring this technology to the masses. Every American would buy a Tesla if it cost $20K and we could finally free ourselves from foreign oil as a country!

I'm about $10K away from affording the Model S, and keep praying the technology brings the price down further.

If I owned a Tesla, I would be a walking advertisement for this technology. Since I'm a great communicator at work and on Facebook, I would get everyone I meet lit up about this technology. I would explain how it is a national security issue to kick the habit of our addiction to foreign oil! I would show this technology to my representatives in Congress. I would show this technology to my work contacts. I would show and explain this technology to every one of my neighbors! I would go driving around big cities like DC and Annapolis, MD just to give the Tesla visibility.

Everywhere I'd go I'd spread the word and help to revolutionize America's dependence on foreign oil! I'd explain that this electric technology is for EVERYONE OF US and not just the rich!

For now, all I can do is dream, but maybe one day, I can play a role in changing the way Americans think about driving!

Keep up the great work Tesla, and work to bring the cost down so we can revolutionize America for EVERY AMERICAN, and not just the rich!

Samuel H.

Lithium supplies are not going to bottleneck anytime soon. There is an almost inexhaustible supply of the stuff. It just needs mining. Where is it located? Everywhere. It can even be extracted from sea water. So, Oil Industry it wasn't nice having you around. Goodbye!