Many of you will have noted, with great sadness I am sure, Dave's untimely death last week. It may be some comfort to know that he passed away while doing something he loved, which was flying his Interavia aerobatics plane. The personal tragedy this represents for his family and friends is grave, of course, and while I knew Dave I did not know him well enough to eulogize in general. So I will restrict my remarks to what I think Dave meant to one member, at least, of the "green car community," if we can assert the existence of such a group.
Dave's job in recent years was to assist his employer, Toyota, to adapt the Prius (and other Toyota hybrids) for the North American market, to launch them here, and to answer the numerous technical and commercial questions so many of us had about the cars. His technical expertise was broad and deep, but what always stuck in my mind after speaking with Dave, or while hearing him talk at numerous industry meetings, was how patient and unflappable he was. Critiques of the Prius have always included challenges to its MPG claims, its true environmental impact, the depth of its customer appeal, etc. -- and Dave handled these issues well. But he also dealt stoically and diplomatically with assaults that I know would have driven me around the bend: that the whole thing was just cynical Toyota marketing, that the vehicle's high voltages would kill EMS workers responding to a crash, or that Toyota was duping drivers into buying the cars so they could "stick them" with a $6,000 replacement battery fee years later.
In response to all these arguments, Dave quietly and convincingly returned to the fact base, to what Toyota and its cars were actually achieving in the lab and in the real world, thus adroitly disarming the more zealous (and usually less informed) denizens of the blogosphere. His achievements were many, but for this one alone, for his calm insistence on the facts, I will miss him greatly. The "green car community" suffers from an excess of assertions and a shortage of reasoned opinions: in losing Dave we have lost one of our more reasonable, informed, consistent, and insightful voices.