National Plug-In Day Draws Thousands Of Electric-Car Fans, Inquiries

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National Plug-In Day 2012: San Francisco, with 60 Nissan Leafs in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

National Plug-In Day 2012: San Francisco, with 60 Nissan Leafs in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

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In its second year, National Plug-In Day this past Sunday certainly avoided sophomore slump.

In 65 cities all over the U.S., tens of thousands of electric-car owners, potential buyers, and just curious onlookers pored over, rode in, and drove plug-in vehicles from more than a dozen makers.

Our favorite factoid: In Nashville, Tennessee, about 70 cars--almost all of them Leaf electric cars from nearby employer Nissan--were encouraged to honk every time they passed a gas station. No fewer than 10 different gas stations were passed by a parade of honking Leafs during the drive event.

Here's a brief rundown of just a few of the other major events across the country.


In Times Square, more than 5,000 people ogled Tesla and Fisker plug-in luxury cars, Nissan Leafs, several different businesses' electric delivery trucks, and a Chevrolet Volt in the livery of the New York City Parks Department.

"We had a terrific turn out from both domestic and international crowds," said Julie Migliacci of the New York City & Lower Hudson Valley Clean Communities.

"Most of them had never seen an electric vehicle before."


Not only did 500 people visit the Plug-In Day event in Los Angeles, but organizers logged more than 300 test drives in just four hours.

National Plug-In Day 2012: 1915 Milburn Electric in Los Angeles [photo: Fernand Bos]

National Plug-In Day 2012: 1915 Milburn Electric in Los Angeles [photo: Fernand Bos]

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At least half the vehicles at the event were driven there on sunshine, having fueled up with solar power, including a Tesla Model S and three Roadsters.

A remarkable collection of electric cars, both new and old, included the Nissan Leaf, a Tesla Model S and several Roadsters, Chevrolet Volt, Coda, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Honda Fit EV, Ford Focus EV, BMW ActiveE, a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, a 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, a Volkswagen e-Golf, and a 2012 Fisker Karma.

There were also an old-model Toyota RAV4 EV, Ford Ranger EV, a 1915 Milburn electric car, and electric motorcycles from both Zero and Brammo.

Representative Janice Hahn [D-CA] drove her own white Nissan Leaf to the event.

National Plug-In Day 2012: Washingoton, D.C. [panorama by Joseph Lado]

National Plug-In Day 2012: Washingoton, D.C. [panorama by Joseph Lado]

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As part of the ceremonies, she awarded Congressional Recognition certificates to the event organizers--Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association--and other plug-in proponent organizations.


More than 4,000 people left contact information or collected literature on plug-in vehicles. Those displaying the most interest received free-drink cards for the Food Court at the outlet mall where Plug-In Day held its event.

Attendees were encouraged to visit all the different electric-car exhibits by getting stamps on their "passports," which entered them in a drawing for a free weekend rental at Enterprise.

National Plug-In Day 2012: San Francisco

National Plug-In Day 2012: San Francisco

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"We probably had 10 conversations an hour of extended duration that educated the uninformed," said George Parrott, Green Car Reports author and emeritus professor at California State University-Sacramento.


More than 750 visitors attended the Plug-In Day event in Washington, D.C. San Antonio, Texas, logged 600 visitors, and Maui saw 500 over two days of events.

Denver also registered about 500 interested attendees; Annapolis, Maryland, logged 400...and that still leaves more than 50 cities.


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Comments (11)
  1. John, There were a lot more than 60 Leafs at the Crissy Field Plug in Day, More like 80 to 100. I'm the old guy with dark hair and a white beard, standing behind the guy on the left with the yellow hoodie in the picture. There are a couple of rows of Leafs to the left of the picture, not shown, plus more near the tent to the right, not shown.

  2. I believe the official count was 105. It was good seeing you there, Ted!

  3. I went to the event in Boston, which was small, and got to see the Ford C-Max Energi. It is a really nice vehicle with a much nicer interior than my Prius.

    They had a Fisker Karma there... Well, actually near the plug-in event. It was at a "classic" car event nearby. Fitting, I thought.

  4. I went to an event in Orlando, FL. There were leafs (leaves?) Volts, Prius electric convert, a custom electric made by a local college, a Zero motorcycle, MIEV, a strange little custom job, and two Focus electrics. No Teslas or Fiskers thou.

    Seeing cars in person is always much better than just pictures.

  5. Great to talk to real owners about the cars as well. A Volt owner I was chatting with said the Volt performs as well as BMWs and Porsches he has owned in the past.

    Looks wise rather liked the Volt Focus electric, and I am slightly worming to the Leaf's looks. The MIEV is still laughable.

  6. I would add that the Volt handles more like an Audi, solid and planted. We have owned BMW, Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and VW Passats, so we are familiar with "good handling." The Volt qualifies easily there.

  7. Our Sacramento site provided ride and drive experiences to introduce the Leaf, Toyota Prius plug-in, Volt, Ford Focus EV, and Coda on a 5+ mile tour including city streets and freeway sampling! We had display cars for the Mitsubishi i, Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma, so attendees got exposure to pretty much the FULL RANGE of everything one might buy today.

  8. Oh, we even had a BMW 1-e and exhibits by the Sierra Club, CARB, and several solar panel installers to compliment the mass EV introduction.

  9. I was at the DC Plug in Event. Ford sponsored and had a Fusion Electric available for test drives. While 750 People may have signed in, many more got exposed, to this because the event was on 3rd street near the museums so many people walked by and visited with a few of the car display managers even though they didn't sign in. I saw the Ford Fusion, Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S (Which had been driven from California to DC that very week), Tesla Roadster, Think Electric sedan, Nissan Leaf, Fiskar Karma, Plug in Prius, There were some conversion vehicles like a souped up Prius, a Plug in Porsche conversion, an electric Trike, a Zero E-Bike, and I"m sure i'm forgetting a few others. It was a great event.

  10. National Plug in Day is an excellent idea. EV's need all the publicity they can get. I reside in Central NY State/North Eastern US; California/Arizona & Florida get most of the EV attention. EV's will finally get established when companies like Tesla decide to set up shop in the Northeast. Great proving ground for cold weather & hilly driving.

  11. Good event at the Maryland park-and-ride. Not as big as those in California, but there was a nice turnout at the MTA site where they installed 5 Chargepoint stations. Karma test drives, Ford C-Max Hybrid test drives and a number of Think! city cars there. Next year, most of these events should double in size because of the continued growth of the EV ownership. The "movement" is definitely going more mainstream even if some political pundits don't like it.

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