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National Drive Electric Week 2017: Charged Up About Electric Vehicles

Oct. 16, 2017

a photo from the Second Annual Electric Island Drive and EV Fair in Honolulu, HI, organized by the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawaii and held on September 17, 2017. There were 90 EVs in the caravan-style drive, and approximately 250 people at the fair. Photo by Shem Lawlor, Hawaii Clean Cities Coalition Coordinator.

Across the country, people are charged up about electric vehicles (EVs), if this year’s National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) is any indication. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) celebrated NDEW with electric-drive focused newsletter contents read by almost 20,000 people over the course of the week. Some of the highlights included an animation illustrating how batteries work and the release of a new VTO-funded analysis of electric vehicle infrastructure.

A key to the success of VTO’s efforts is the nationwide network of local Clean Cities coalitions. Local coalitions provide a boots-on-the-ground approach, independent of DOE, that extends the reach of VTO efforts. This year 51 Clean Cities coalitions participated in more than 130 events nationwide, from September 9-17, reaching more than 40,000 people. Many of those events included ride and drives where attendees took a spin in a variety of EVs, electric bikes, and scooters. Clean Cities coalitions across the country partnered with EV dealers, municipalities, non-profits, utilities, regional electric auto associations, and others to spread the word about EVs.

  • Coalitions in New Hampshire, Northern Colorado, Sacramento, and San Antonio held events in partnership with local farmers markets, while the Kansas City Clean Cities coalition held its big event in conjunction with the Jewish Culture Fest, where visitors could take a stroll down Electric Avenue and see vehicles on display. In addition to Chevy Volts, Teslas, Nissan Leafs, and other modern EVs, the display included a 1960s Karmann Ghia EV conversion and a 1917 Detroit Electric vehicle, which used a tiller instead of a steering wheel.

  • The Eastern Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition held events at Whole Foods and at Neyland Stadium, before a University of Tennessee (UT) football game. UT is one of 16 universities with a student team participating in the EcoCAR 3 Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition, sponsored by DOE. The team’s Chevy Camaro, re-designed by the students to increase energy efficiency while maximizing performance, was on display for football fans to admire as they headed into the game.

  • The San Diego Clean Cities coalition had a 60-foot articulated electric bus and an all-electric class 8 truck on display, while 200 EV drivers participated in an EV Tailgate with their personal vehicles.

  • Massachusetts Clean Cities took part in 18 events across the state, doubling the number of people that were exposed to EVs at last year’s events.

  • Less than a week after Hurricane Irma, the Space Coast EV Drivers held an event at Satellite Beach, Florida, where the NASA Kennedy Space Center had a full-scale working replica of the Lunar Rover—an early EV—on exhibit. Although their own event was canceled due to the hurricane, members of the Orlando-based Central Florida Clean Cities were proud to support their dedicated Space Coast colleagues.

  • Capital District Clean Communities in Albany, New York, assisted with nearby Schenectady’s NDEW event, which had 108 vehicles—including 25 different models—on display. Italian, Greek, and Arts festivals occurring in adjacent neighborhoods helped attract a new audience that might not otherwise have attended.

The next National Drive Electric Week is already scheduled for September 8-16, 2018, so mark your calendars; you won’t want to miss it!

Photo by Shem Lawlor, Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawaii

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