We've already told you that early adopters are great promoters of a new technology, and on 18 June the central Sacramento Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) co-op showed it in real life, by hosting a drive-in to educate the public about electric car options.
But what if you want to get your local community involved in promoting electric cars? How do you make it a success? Here's my own experiences of one such event, as well as tips for anyone thinking of arranging their own.
Promoted in a very low-key manner on the Nissan Leaf forum and the Chevy Volt forum, our goal was to have as many of the current production electric vehicles as possible on display at a local environmentally dedicated merchant’s store for up to five hours on a Saturday to act as teachers and educate the generally uninformed and misinformed public how these cars function on a day-to-day basis.
On the day
Sacramento Electric Vehicle Gathering, June 18, 2011
Even with modest promotion, the event was attended by a good number of local electric car owners, including 8 2011 Chevrolet Volts, 8 2011 Nissan Leafs, 2 Telsa Roadsters and even a solitary Sparrow electric single-seat three-wheeler.
Given the excellent weather, most of the electric vehicles owners in attendence stayed for at least 3 hours, but by 1:30 pm the sun and hunger feedback called all but a couple of us to cooler settings.
Overall estimates after the event show that about one hundred visitors attended, leaving with answers to questions they had wanted to ask us about living with an electric car on a daily basis.
Making it better next time
After any event, it's important to discuss what went well and what didn't go so well. With that in mind, those who organized the event came up with 7 things that could make any future event even better.
1. Work the media. While public service press releases were sent out 10 days or so before the event, there was little media attention. Planning ahead and making regular press releases well before the event would have helped immensely. Similarly, while our local utility came with staff, getting them onboard a few months prior to the event could have resulted in promotion via customer mailouts and a larger attendance.
2. Keep it short. If the event is a small community affiar, asking busy people for 5 hours on any weekend is pretty tough. Keeping the event shorter and more focused would have helped encourage more people to attend.
3.Get Automakers involved, and other air quality organizations. When dealing with any firms, make sure you have the right request with the right person, or your emails and calls will go un-noticed.
4. Get those bringing cars to make their own fliers and promotional material. This is particularly helpful if they are driving a unique or unkown car. For those with mainstream cars, printing their own promotional helps distribute the workload and ensures those visiting the event get to really hear individual opinions about life with an electric car.
5. Set a date which you know is likely to have good weather. There's no point running the event in months when there's a traditional high risk of poor weather.
6.Make it personal. If you know who it is your'e talking to and which cars they have experience with, it makes the event much more pleasant.. Have name tags for attendees where they can write their first name and which electric vehicle they can address.
With 100 visitors going away with a better impression of how electric cars could fit their lifestyles, the event was a success. But follow these 6 steps and you too could organise your very own local electric car event, educating your neighbors and friends about the joys of driving electric.