Earth Day: Eager Electric-Car Advocates Meet Unaware Public


Three weeks ago, in a suburban park in Roseville, California--just outside the state capital, Sacramento--a community celebration of Earth Day served as a gathering of the greenest cars now available.

Both participants and random park-goers were drawn to the cars, providing a chance for eager owners to educate members of the public one-on-one.

They explained what plugging in to recharge was really like, compared the costs of driving on grid power (low) to those of gasoline (high), and generally helped familiarize citizens with the new and unfamiliar concept of electric cars.

A familiar 2011 Toyota Prius hybrid took center stage, more or less, as the most conventional and familiar vehicle on display.

Among the cars were three 2011 Nissan Leafs--one each in red, white, and blue!--a pair of 2011 Chevrolet Volts, and even a beautiful red Tesla Roadster. There was also a small pickup truck, converted by its owner to run electrically.

All were brought by their owners--they weren't dealer demos--who contributed their own time to show up to help educate and promote clean transportation.

More than 2000 local residents attended the day-long event, with booths featuring organic foods, plants for the home garden, and exhibits about solar and renewable power.

The vehicles drew a constant stream of questions from the attendees. No more than half of the questions started with actual recognition of any of the basic features of the production electric vehicles.

Hardly any Earth Day celebrants knew about the Federal or state incentives that make early adoption of a plug-in vehicle financially attractive. But the awareness of how much cash could be saved compared to using gasoline--at today's prices $4.00 or more per gallon--led to many lengthy discussions.

The lay public obviously still has not "gotten the word" about these new-technology cars. Much more will have to be done to introduce this option to the general public and familiarize buyers with the realities of the electric option.

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