The golden spikes will honor the near simultaneous launch of the Chevy Volt™ and the Nissan LEAF™ — the first two plug-in electric vehicles offered for sale to the general public in the United States. Louisville, Kentucky was chosen as the site of the award because it lies approximately halfway between the headquarters of General Motors in Michigan and Nissan North America in Tennessee.
The golden spikes are modeled on the golden railroad spikes that were presented to the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad, when the two railroads met at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory on May 10, 1869. The original spikes marked the beginning of the modern railroad age and can be seen today at the Stanford University Museum in Palo Alto, California and the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.
The spikes to be presented in Louisville bear the inscriptions: "In Commemoration of the Launch of the First Plug-in Electric Vehicles in the United States" and "May this Spike Mark the Beginning of a New Transportation Age – the Age of Electric Vehicles." The spikes are approximately 7 inches in length, hand inscribed, and made of gold plated silver.
"Careful research shows the price of gold in 1869 wasn’t quite $1,350 an ounce," joked James Greenberger, Executive Director of NAATBatt. "Still, the achievements the spikes mark will one day be seen as being every bit as historic as the joining of the first transcontinental railroad. For a number of different reasons, motor vehicle drive trains will change over time from petroleum fuel to electric power. That transition starts in December 2010."
The presentation of the golden spikes will be part of the NAATBatt annual meeting and conference, which focuses this year on the questions of how the power grid must be upgraded to handle electric automobiles and who will pay for it. The conference will run from December 8-10. NAATBatt is a trade association of advanced battery manufacturers.