by Allen Best
Nigel Zeid has been a fixture for the last 12 years on the sales floor of Boulder Nissan, where he shares his passion for electric vehicles. But he has now taken his leave from this position. He has broader ambitions.
“It’s very scary, to be honest, but it has to be done,” he said recently after announcing his move in a Facebook post.
Zeid wants to find a new home or, he would prefer, many homes, where he can share the knowledge he has accumulated about electric vehicles. It doesn’t have to be Nissan.
Automotive transportation has not fundamentally changed in a half century, maybe more. But now electric vehicles will soon began elbowing internal-combustion engines out of the marketplace, a shift that could be summarized as ICE > EV. Zeid says those selling cars—which, he points out, don’t have a very favorable reputation anyway—are almost totally unprepared.
“How do you change people from range anxiety to range serenity? How do you tell them it will work for them? You have to ask (the customers) questions,” he says.
For example, if they don’t go on a long road trip but once or twice a year, why should the range constraint of 200 to 250 miles of most existing cars matter?
The charging infrastructure—if still not adequate for what lies ahead—can take people many places even now. It may take 20 or 30 minutes for a fill-up of electricity unlike the 5 minutes necessary to fill up with gas. So there will be adjustments.
In time, the 400-mile batteries will arrive.
“We are pitiful at educating people about EVS, just pitiful,” he says.
A native of North London, the dialect of his origins still rolling off his tongue after 26 years in the United States, Zeid began selling Nissan cars in 2007. But then he got a job with Tesla for 2 years when it had a showroom in Boulder. That’s when he got excited about electric cars.
Consistently through these years Zeid has seen a reaction when taking potential customers out on their first drive of an EV. “I’ve never not seen them smile,” he says. “I’ve never had anyone say, ‘This is rubbish.’”
Boulder County has consistently led Colorado in sales of EVs for the last decade, and Boulder Nissan was part of that front trickle. Sales remain a trickle.
Colorado had 36,171 EVs on the road as of May 1, according to the Colorado Energy Office’s EVdashboard. That’s 6.54 EVs per 1,000 people.
Expect a flood within the next few years.
This is from the May 12, 2021, issue of Big Pivots, an e-journal. To sign up, go to BigPivots.com
Gov. Jared Polis, in his first executive order upon taking office in 2019, set a goal of 940,000 EVs by 2030. Colorado legislators several months ago created a mechanism to help realize this goal by requiring Xcel Energy and Black Hills to adopt plans to install charging infrastructure. Public Utilities Commissioners in December approved Xcel’s plans for spending more than $100 million.
Tesla has done much to push the market in the last decade. Other manufacturers in the days after the election of Joe Biden (don’t tell Donald Trump) pledged to briskly transform their offerings to electric models, in the case of GM 100% by 2035.
It’s about time, says Zeid. And he is eager to see manufacturers rapidly move beyond the luxury market, the fixation on the acceleration from 0 to 60, and deliver models below $40,000 and for a variety of uses: minivans, trucks, and other niche markets.
“You need to build what people need,” he says.
But manufacturers work from the top down. In the local dealerships, those in the sales forces typically get little respect or kindnesses. Zeid fears that same will hold as dealerships move into the age of EVs. If you see a slot for him, he can be reached at 720 878 6757 or at [email protected].
Just one final question, Nigel. As we move to electric cars, what will become of those who insist upon announcing their arrival to anyone within earshot of a few blocks to a few miles by unleashing the sound of internal-combustion engines?
Whatever will they do without their noise makers?
In this, Nigel has a sanguine view. He thinks the noise-making impulse of motorists will pass as a younger generation grows up without the internal combustion engines. “The generation that knows that sound is dying,” he says.
In time, it will be like a stick shift.