Rich Salmon: The Man With the 100,000th Electric Car

Jim Motavalli

Jim Motavalli | Jul 10, 2013

Rich Salmon worked hard and is now a double dipper, in this age of austerity, Rich is getting pensions from both the Air Force and from the Post Office. The retired electronics technician now living in Alabama is even luckier than that, though—he was recently dubbed by Plug In America as the 100,000th U.S. owner of a modern-era electric car, winning a free ClipperCreek home charger.
  "I’m getting about 70 miles per charge. If I need to travel further than that, I just take a nap for two to four hours. I’m retired, so I can do that.”Salmon’s new EV is a Mitsubishi I-MiEV, which he bought after the company slashed the price $10,000 to just $22,500—before the federal income tax credit. Well, maybe he’s not that lucky—because he’s retired, he can’t claim the credit. “I love the car,” he said. “They said the top speed is 81, but I’ve got mine to 82. I’m getting about 70 miles per charge. If I need to travel further than that, I just take a nap for two to four hours. I’m retired, so I can do that.”

There are approximately 30,000 I-MiEVs on the world's roads at this point, though they're a relatively rare sight in the U.S. The $10,000 discount, over now, was intended to move leftover 2012 product. In April, while the offer was on, Mitsubishi sold only 127 of the cars.
“One hundred thousand is a good number, but it’s extremely small compared to what it should be,” Salmon said. “Thinking back to the GM EV-1, that should never have happened—the company didn’t really try to market the car.”
Salmon has done his bit for electrifying our auto fleet. Look at the picture of his electric convoy. That’s a 2002 Honda Insight hybrid he bought crashed from a junkyard, then restored with a front end from a 2000 model. He’s put on 90,000 miles since, memorably achieving 82 mpg on a 200-mile trip at 55 mph.
 Salmon with his fleet, I-MiEV, Insight and...Greenwheel. (Photo courtesy of Rich Salmon)And that other car? That’s a strange one. It’s a Greenwheel EV, the only one I’ve ever seen. Salmon bought it off Craigslist from a neighbor in Alabama. “It’s got the wrong type of batteries in it," he said. "It's kind of like having AAAs when you want D cells. Right now it runs out of range at about 20 miles.”
There are all kinds of oddball auto companies out there, and Greenwheel is one of the odder ones. Greenwheel's value system is listed as: “Bringing a blue sky back to our earth, with the conditions that the human needs are also satisfied.” It’s a Chinese company, of course. The Greenwheel has a top speed of 35 mph--it's decidedly not a highway car.
Salmon recently found out that he could have leased his I-MiEV for just $69 a month. “If I’d have known about that, I’d have leased two of them,” he said. Why two? “I would have kept one and handed the other to the Grand Bay Community Center for use as a Meals on Wheels vehicle. I have some disposable income, and I like to do things like that.” He’s also giving away his free charger, since he already has a ClipperCreek in the garage.
Still, Salmon’s finances are finite. “I’d love to have a Tesla Model S, but I can’t justify it on my budget,” he said.

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