Electric Vehicle Events in 98 Cities
Were you one of the more than 35,000 people who attended electric vehicle (EV) promotion events in 98 cities this past weekend? Thanks to the third annual National Plug In Day, organized by the Sierra Club, Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association, and many local groups, the EV-curious got to learn what all the fuss is about when it comes to electric vehicles.
The future is here is what folks got to see up close: EVs are more fun to drive, cheaper to fuel, and cleaner to operate than conventional gas guzzlers.
California Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed Saturday Plug In Day and signed several EV bills into law, including those which:
- Fund programs supporting cleaner vehicle purchases (SB 359)
- Extend programs aimed at reducing state auto emissions (AB 8)
- Renew both the white and green sticker programs--which enabled plug in vehicles to drive in HOV lanes (AB 266)(SB 286)
- Established the Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Open Access Act, which seeks to make plug-in charging stations more accessible (SB 454)
- Requires the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development to establish standards for plug-in charging infrastructure in both multi-family housing and non-residential developments (AB 1092).
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee proclaimed it Plug In weekend and celebrated the 50 recent installations of public EV chargers in his small state alone. At the Burlington event, the Vermont state government announced new financial incentives for EV charging infrastructure.
Getting "butts in seats" is what many EV advocates say is the best way to get people excited about switching to electric. According to reports by local organizers, more than 2,000 test-drives took place at events Plug In Day events nationwide, including 300 at the Sacramento event alone. In Diamond Bar, CA, the EV drivers who came to show off their plug-in vehicles added up 448, 893 "oil-free miles" among them, and the Herdon, VA event participants beat them with their combined 528,699 oil-free miles and counting.
There were Plug In Day proclamations in many cities, including Madison, WI, Carmel, IN, Huntsville, AL, Waldorf, MD, San Rafael and San Diego, CA, Putnam, CT, and Sarasota, FL. Speed enthusiasts got to see stock car racer Leilani Münter showcase her Tesla Model S at Charlotte, NC’s Plug In Day event held in conjunction with Octoberfest.
People aren't waiting until next year’s Plug In Day to continue EV test drives and purchases. This week alone, individuals, businesses, and government agencies are test driving EVs and other alternative fuel vehicles at the Plug In 2013 conference in San Diego and at the Green Fleets conference in Phoenix --where I got a chance to drive for the first time the Chevy Spark EV and the Ford Fusion plug-in hybrid. I was pleased to see the all-electric Zenith electric cargo and shuttle vans as well.
What is so exciting about Plug In Day is that it generates just the right kind of action that will boost the EV market: media attention (we got A LOT this year), government attention and investment in EV programs, business opportunities to show off cutting-edge technologies, and the chance for individual consumers to see up close these exciting vehicles driven by their friends and neighbors.
(Top Albany photo by Patrick Brisson; middle photo from Huntsville, AL, courtesy of Tennessee Valley EV Drivers; bottom photo of Frenchtown, NJ, Mayor Warren Cooper taken by J. Isaacs/Bucks County Renewables.)
-- Gina Coplon-Newfield is the Sierra Club's Director of Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative