Three is a Magic Number: One Family Gets Volt, LEAF and Prius

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Felix Kramer and his fleet: Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Plug in Prius

Felix Kramer and his fleet: Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Plug in Prius

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If you’re in the market for an electric car one of the biggest decisions to make after you’ve decided to buy a plug-in vehicle is which one to choose. 

For one family in California, however the choice was far easier: Get one of each. 

And with good reason. Ten years ago marketing strategist and communicator Felix Kramer founded the CalCars initiative, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit group made up of everyone from entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and consumers. 

Charging socket on 2007 Toyota Prius plug-in conversion

Charging socket on 2007 Toyota Prius plug-in conversion

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Its goal for the past decade? To work on public policy and technology development, using consumer demands to help encourage the uptake and commercialization of plug-in vehicles. 

During that time, and well before Toyota expressed an interest in providing a plug-in version of its popular Prius hybrid, CalCar members designed, tested and built the very first converted plug-in Prius to belong to a non-technical consumer. 

The year was 2006. The car’s owner? Felix Kramer. 

Since then, hundreds of Prius owners worldwide have followed CalCars lead, converting their own Prius to plug-in hybrids and illustrating a real and viable demand for plug-in vehicles.  In fact, this author’s own plug-in Prius conversion would never have happened without the CalCars initiative.

Alongside the enthusiastic home-converters, a whole new industry sprung up offering professional conversion to anyone with enough money to do so. 

With such an impressive resume in the world of plug-in vehicles it was almost a foregone conclusion that one of the new plug-in vehicles now on the market would make it to Felix’s driveway. 

2011 Chevrolet Volt test drive, Michigan, October 2010

2011 Chevrolet Volt test drive, Michigan, October 2010

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Instead of choosing one however, Kramer was so impressed with both the 2011 Nissan LEAF and 2011 Chevrolet Volt that he ordered one of each, leaving his family with an entire household of vehicles that can plug in. 

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt was first to arrive on December 22 last year. A little over a month later, the family’s 2011 Nissan LEAF arrived. 

While Felix Kramer and his family are not the only people to order both a 2011 Nissan LEAF and 2011 Chevrolet Volt, they are the first customers to receive both vehicles. 

“I’ve felt like we’ve taken a time machine to the future”, writes Kramer in an email message to the mailing list. “I thought’d I’d be ready for this moment. But now that it’s really here, it’s far better than I ever imagined”

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Comments (3)
  1. Thanks for the great story. As for having three plug-in cars, we no longer need the Prius for transportation or for advocacy -- and it's so much better to drive a real mass-produced plug-in car. We're seeing if we can find an institution or museum to take it, and if not, we'll sell it to someone who appreciates it.
    Then we'll be down to two cars. If we relocate to a place near good mass-transit and car-sharing, we'd love to get down to one.
    And we can't yet say if we prefer the Volt or the Leaf, but since the Leaf is a bit more efficient and has longer range, it's usually the first car out the driveway. And by the way, both cars have excellent rear cameras, with far better images and a superimposed grid that matches where the wheels are pointed to show you where you'll go when you back up.

  2. as another who investigated the Volt as an option since my commute is only 20 miles RT, i also chose the Leaf since it also handles my SO's commute of 60 miles plus it does not burn gas. i will sell one Prius, keep the other and look at converting it possibly for the plug. great article, great guy, thank you Felix for your efforts!

  3. Thanks to Felix for his vision. I hope that the adoption rates make people dizzy and we can rid the world of petrodictators. Wonder if used market for Prius will boom, with lower prices. What is the True Cost to Own..of the cars-Leaf, Volt, BYD, Renault Alliance ( with BP solution) & Mitsu Miev?

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