Fearing the Unknown: Why we Need Green Car Education

Written By: EightySix

Picture your typical car guy: grease under his nails no matter how much he scrubs, knows exactly how long until his next oil change, taught his daughter how to replace brake shoes on her sixteenth birthday and is scared to death of touching a 3-phase AC induction motor.

This guy makes up a large portion of car buyers in America. He takes pride in understanding how things work and fixing them himself. Even though gas-powered, turbo-charged, digitized cars have grown increasingly complex, he still understands them. One look under the hood of a Leaf might paralyze him.

You Feel the Same Way

New stuff is scary. Spending good money on new stuff is scarier. Will an electric car fry if you drive it through a puddle? Can I tune this like my mom's Integra or my grandpa's Chevelle? What components will electrocute me? And most importantly, can I put sub-woofers in this thing?

People desire this knowledge. They want to know about maintenance. They want to know what that doohickey is. In short, they want to know how these cars are different and how they are the same.

People fear what they don't understand and they don't buy what they fear. In order to change the machines on roads and in garages, we need to help consumers understand them.

The Automotive Rosetta Stone

It's a whole new language. Many people don't understand regenerative braking, kilowatt hours and CHAdeMO connectors. There should be a place where drivers can get together to ask questions, get answers and alleviate their doubts. We should have an open house.

I foresee hybrids, plug-ins, BEVs and fuel cell cars, all with their hoods up and experts standing by. Pamphlets are handed out. Naw, let's be green. Thumb drives and links are shared, connecting the curious to forums, FAQs and videos. Bring the kids and grandparents. Let's look inside this crazy new machine and figure it out.

The only dumb questions will be the ones not asked.

Who'll Put This Together?

Government can lend a hand. The same people offering tax rebates for green cars and subsidizing charging stations can encourage the population through education. Hold a Green Car Expo at the fairgrounds or convention center. Invite interest groups, mechanics and dealers.

Colleges should participate. The engineers, physicists, chemists and electricians who understand this stuff should have a chance to show off. Craft multimedia presentations. Do some cool demonstrations. Have a webinar. Show us why the future is now.

And the automakers should certainly jump at the opportunity. After all, it will lead to more sales. Who knows the vehicles better? Just be careful not to come off with too much salesmanship. Be ready to admit the competition makes good cars too. Be humble and helpful.

Who Needs It the Most?

The West Coast and the North East, where green cars are selling the best, may not be the best place to start. Look to communities with minimal sales and interest. Get these new vehicles out where they can kick the tires. When the only electric vehicle they've seen is a quirky econo-box in the corner of the showroom, they'll treat it like an alien.

Seek out the communities with the worst air. Often everyone knows the problem and the government reserves money for the solution, but no one can pick the right cure. Educated the population on how easy it can be to cut down on tailpipe emissions. Make it easy to install solar charging stations. Then maybe a bit more blue sky will be in their future.

A Little Knowledge is a Powerful Thing

We mock what we do not understand. The car world wants to change, but cannot without consumer support. Gas automobiles are comfortable and familiar, but hybrids, plug-ins, EVs and fuel cell vehicles aren't so much different. With the right help, consumers will embrace the shift.