EV/PV activist to sell LEAFs + solar

paul-scott-leafIt’s perfectly appropriate that Paul Scott’s initials are PS — as in Pro Solar. Scott’s a strong solar supporter and veteran solar industry professional.

But, as many electric vehicle fans know, Pro Solar only tells half the Scott story. Scott’s also a long-time plug-in vehicle activist, having worked with a group of EV supporters to found the non-profit electric vehicle advocacy group Plug In America more than a decade ago.

PSPPI – as in Pro Solar Pro Plug-In – might seem like the perfect set of initials for Scott then, though acquiring this set of initials would require a rather extensive name change — and needlessly lengthen an elegantly short name.

I feel really good about what I’m doing. I’m looking forward to the competition from other automakers. In my mind, the most important competition is the ICEs. We need to get them off the road and stop polluting our air.”
— Paul Scott, SolarCity and Nissan LEAF salesperson

In fact, Scott, a long-time solar-charged driver, effectively gave himself a new set of initials recently, or, perhaps a bit more accurately put, a unique and enviable nickname: PV+EV Man.

After what is a approaching a decade of personally living the photovoltaic (PV) + electric vehicle (EV) combo, Scott is about to become the first person in the United States, and quite possibly the world, to actively sell both residential and commercial solar systems and electric cars.

scottghosnmarc-gellerPitching solar + the Nissan LEAF
The SolarCity solar sales representative recently managed to snag a position as a salesperson selling the all-electric Nissan LEAF in his hometown of Santa Monica, Calif. for Santa Monica Nissan. And Scott’s gotten the green light from Santa Monica Nissan and SolarCity to pitch the solar + electric car synergy on both ends, the solar end and the EV end.

“Whenever someone buys a LEAF, I’ll inquire about their house, ask about their roof, and see whether or not it’s viable as a potential solar house,” said an excited and happy Scott in a recent phone interview with SolarChargedDriving.Com. “If it is, I’ll pass along a referral to my contacts at SolarCity, get the new LEAF owner hooked up with solar – and they’ll be driving on sunlight, just like I have been doing for the last eight years.”

Scott will officially start his job at Santa Monica Nissan sometime this month where he’ll be selling the LEAF, and only the LEAF, no ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles.

Connections pay off
As vice president of Plug In America, Scott is pretty well connected in the EV world. In fact, his connections have helped Scott land a trip to Japan to test drive the new Nissan LEAF and have given him an opportunity to meet and talk to automotive industry elites such as Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Nissan Executive Vice President Carlos Tavares.

Scott, who’s driven both an earlier “mule” version of the LEAF and the current version scheduled to go on the sale in select U.S. markets in December 2010 (car buyers in Japan, Portugal and the Netherlands will also be able to purchase the LEAF beginning in Decmeber 2010) was so impressed by his LEAF test ride in Japan that he’s been working hard ever since to find a way to get involved in, as he puts it, “getting it into people’s hands”.

His efforts paid off when he hit it off with Santa Monica Nissan owner John Gartman during a couple of recent meetings. Santa Monica Nissan offered Scott a sales position selling only the LEAF – and Scott accepted immediately.

“I explained to John that I could make his dealership the No. 1 LEAF dealership in the world,” says Scott.

Scott on the LEAF team
America’s first PV+EV Man will be working on the LEAF team soon – and he’ll be getting a LEAF sometime soon as well, although he’s not sure if he’s going to buy one or lease one. However, Scott says he’s still deeply committed to the larger, broader pro-plug-in team he’s been a part for more than a decade.

“I feel really good about what I’m doing,” Scott says. “I’m looking forward to the competition from other automakers. In my mind, the most important competition is the ICEs. We need to get them off the road and stop polluting our air.”

paul-scott-solarcity2While some EV advocates prefer to let others push the renewable energy + EV mix, Scott lives for talking up the green energy + electric car combination. And it’s clear he’s got a lot of support in the plug-in community.

After posting an entry on his blog EVs and Energy about landing a job selling LEAFs at Santa Monica Nissan, Scott was inundated by hundreds of congratulatory e-mails. His blog post about Nissan’s latest, and possibly most famous, LEAF salesmen, also garnered 40 comments, among the higher of the comment totals Scott’s generated on his blog.

“The response really astounded me,” says Scott. “It was very heartening. People understand what I’m doing. They appreciate that there’s someone out there pushing EV+PV.”

Will other EV+PV men – and women – emerge?
While Scott thinks that the EV + PV synergy will grow, he’s not sure there’ll be another EV+PV Man like himself — meaning someone who’s getting paid to sell solar, EVs and the solar + EV synergy — anytime soon.

“I’m not sure how many people are going to do both,” explains Scott. “Not too many people have experience in both. Most people are going to concentrate on selling one or the other.”

But just because there might not be a sudden spike in official PV+EV Men & Women like Scott, doesn’t mean that the EV + PV won’t be big, says Scott.

The electric grid is always getting cleaner. That’s a trend that’s happening faster and faster.
–Paul Scott SolarCity and Nissan LEAF salesperson

“I’m going to be selling a vehicle that gets people completely off of oil,” he says. “And if I can sell them an energy system that eliminates essentially all pollution from our lives too, that’s a tremendous combination.”

It’s exactly the multiple attractions of solar-charged driving – helping the environment, economic savings, and fueling independence – that will, says Scott, help it take off, especially in the U.S., where there is an especially strong individualist streak.

Environmental benefits of EV+PV
“In my community, it’s primarily people concerned about the environment,” says Scott. “In other areas, national security, economics and fueling independence will come into play more.”

But even in places and among populations that aren’t focused on the environmental benefits of electric cars, you will see awareness of the EV + renewable energy mix grow, predicts Scott.

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“People buying electric cars are going to think about the energy source and they’ll start thinking more about renewable energy,” says Scott. “It’s just natural that people are going to think, ‘Hey, maybe we should be doing this [renewable + EVs]’ ”.

Scott doesn’t buy the arguments that an infusion of EVs will mean more coal plants in the U.S., a country in which the burning of coal currently accounts for about 50 percent of electricity production.

“In 2009, we added 11 gigawatts of renewable energy in the U.S.,” says Scott. “That’s enough to charge 10 million electric vehicles. By the end of 2010, we will have installed another 11 to 12 gigawatts of new renewable energy, and that’s enough to charge 11 million more vehicles. The electric grid is always getting cleaner. That’s a trend that’s happening faster and faster.”

Coal won’t triumph
Scott does concede that the coal and natural gas industries will likely seek to capitalize on the widespread introduction of plug-ins in the U.S. to grow their own industries. But, he says, that’s not a reason not to build electric cars. Instead, he charges, it’s a reason to invest more effort into lobbying for, and growing, renewable energy.

EVs will definitely drive solar more than the other way around.
–Paul Scott, EV + PV advocate

While solar growth could fuel some additional interest in EVs, Scott says most of the influence is going to be in the other direction: Growth in plug-in cars is going to fuel more interest in solar and, ultimately, grow solar in potentially dramatic fashion.

Thus, for instance, Scott envisions solar systems on auto dealer rooftops and solar-powered EV charging stations shading dealer parking lots where plug-ins are sold.

The PR benefit of having solar on a dealer lot with plug-ins is, Scott says, a “no-brainer.” In fact, Scott says he and SolarCity recently put in a bid for a solar system on the roof of a well-known Southern California automaker.

EVs will drive solar growth
“EVs will definitely drive solar more than the other way around,” says Scott. “For solar, the economics change when you bring an EV into the mix. Instead of having seven-year payoff period, you’re now offsetting $3 per gallon, and you have a five- or six-year payoff. EVs will definitely drive household solar sales and, to some extent, commercial solar sales too.”

Whether EVs fuel solar growth more than solar drives EV growth doesn’t, in the end, matter to Scott. The world’s newest and, for now, only official PV+EV Man, wants to see them both grow. That’s because he’s a true believer in the positive environmental benefits of renewable energy + EVs.

“When I’m selling the LEAF, I’ll take the tack that I’ve always taken,” explains Scott, who admits that it can sometimes be difficult to stay positive in the face of what can amount to downright hostility toward EVs and amid a general apathy among millions of Americans toward the threat posed by air pollution. “There are so many people out there who are good people and who don’t want to pollute other people’s air. I’ll focus on them.”


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