This week is National Drive Electric Week, sponsored by the Sierra Club, Nissan and Plug-in-America. The theory behind the event is that one of the barriers to acceptance for electric vehicles (EVs) is that many people think of them as over-priced toys or glorified golf cars. If these people got behind the wheel of a modern EV, then they’d realize that their next car might have a plug on it. Since the Nissan Leaf came out in 2010 I’ve believed that most 2-car families would be well served by one of those cars being an EV (we certainly are).
So in 231 locations across the US and many locations in other countries people will be able to check out EVs from a variety of manufactures and take them for a spin. You don’t need to be behind the wheel of a Tesla supercar to appreciate that electric motors just perform better than gas engines: the instant power and smooth acceleration is a natural outcome of going electric. Now that range is typically around 100 miles, there’s little excuse to not go plug-in. If 100 miles isn’t good enough, the Chevy Volt is a great plug-in hybrid.
I was able to swing an invite to Plug-in-America’s celebration of Drive Electric Week in the home of Chris Paine, the Director of Who Killed the Electric Car and Revenge of the Electric Car in his lovely home in the hills above LA. Chris was just back from Burning Man with his solar powered EV art project.
I met people who have been pushing for electric cars since the days of the EV1. One is still driving his Toyota Rav4 EV that he got back in the 1990s. I met Reverend Gadget, who takes old cars and converts them to electrics using batteries salvaged from crashed Teslas. These people make me look like someone who would consider buying a Humvee. Early adopters like them are necessary to move a technology from a wish to mass acceptance.
It was announced at the event that this week the 500,000th EV will be sold in the US. In 2009, other than the dreamers who were able to get a Rav4 or have a custom built car, there were none. That growth rate is phenomenal, and will only accelerate once the affordable 200-mile range EVs hit the market in the next 12-18 months. Maybe you should check out a Drive Electric Week event near you. Or you can come by and check out my Leaf.