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August 13, 2012

Mission Electric

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Americans are more likely to buy electric cars once they learn more about them. However, information about electric vehicles (EVs) is often technical and full of jargon. How can people learn about EVs in an accessible, friendly way?

Enter Mission Electric, a new web-based project that aims to find creative ways to connect people and EVs. Each month, the three cities involved -- New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia -- host missions in which people vote on how they want electric vehicles to be used in their cities.

This month, site visitors currently have the opportunity to vote on which New York City Duane Reade drugstores should be served by the company's 14 new electric trucks. Ari Kahn, the Electric Vehicle Program Manager for New York City Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, said Duane Reade initially planned a quiet roll out of its electric trucks. Mission Electric, however, offered to help Duane Reade turn the launch into a public mission. The E-truck challenge -- including a chance to win prizes for those who vote -- was created out of this partnership. According to Kahn, the mission has been win-win -- it's helped bring visibility to Duane Reade's electrification efforts while also creating public engagement around electric vehicles.

In Boston, Mission Electric's campaign is an Electric Events challenge, in which Bostonians vote for a local event to which Mission Electric will bring a fleet of electric cars. Philadelphia will start its Electric Events challenge in the coming months. In the near future, campaigns will include Share Electric, coming to both New York City and Boston, through which people will vote for which parking garages will include electric car rentals or car-shares.

Mission Electric was created through a Department of Energy grant as a partnership among New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. Mission planners design each monthly mission to be "open source," with the hope that they will be replicated in other cities. Mission Electric's Project Manager Asaf Selinger said that "many people think EVs are the technology of the future. We want to show that they're the technology of the present."

To read more about the Sierra Club's Go Electric Campaign, visit www.sierraclub.org/electric-vehicles.

-- Ben Bernard-Herman, Sierra Club intern

(image: Meredith Epstein)

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