National Drive Electric Week was bigger, broader, better than ever this year


National Drive Electric Week 2014: Gathering in New Britain, CT. Photo by Gian Metzger.

National Drive Electric Week 2014: Gathering in New Britain, CT. Photo by Gian Metzger.

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This year's National Drive Electric Week was expected to be the biggest to date after organizers announced 175 events had been planned as of July.

The seventh annual event to promote electric cars grew even larger than anticipated, with 278 separate local meets, presentations, and drive events registered when it kicked off on September 22.

After it ended nine days later, its backers—Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association, and the Sierra Club—were able to say proudly that its efforts had reached all 50 states for the first time ever.

DON'T MISS: National Drive Electric Week to be bigger than ever: 175 events so far

Drive Electric Week celebrates electric cars and offers a chance for those interested in EVs to learn more from their owners about the cars and what they're really like to live with.

Ride-and-drives, driveway chats, and festivals are only some of the events that make up Drive Electric Week and help educate interested parties and connect electric-car owners in their communities.

Electric-car sales rose 37 percent last year over 2015, and more charging infrastructure continues to become available across the United States.

National Drive Electric Week 2016: Honolulu, HI [photo: Blue Planet Foundation]

National Drive Electric Week 2016: Honolulu, HI [photo: Blue Planet Foundation]

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Many car shoppers, however, overlook the now rather robust U.S. charging network—drivers often are unaware charging stations exist, due to lack of consistent signage and the need for an app to locate the nearest ones.

Aside from the volume of events this year, the number of ride-and-drives increased as well.

In 2016, 7,500 individual rides or test drives took place, and more than 8,000 were planned this year across 251 cities and six countries.

READ THIS: Car buyers have no idea electric-car charging stations even exist

In the U.S., San Diego, California, led the way with 243 electric cars registered to show up at the local event.

The tiny town of Grapevine, Texas, also made a splash with 183 electric vehicles registered for its own event.

Many governors, mayors, and local officials supported the events and issued National Drive Electric Week proclamations for their states and cities, among them in Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Washington.

National Drive Electric Week 2016: Kennett Square, PA [photo: Mark Czajka, Director, MD Volt Inc]

National Drive Electric Week 2016: Kennett Square, PA [photo: Mark Czajka, Director, MD Volt Inc]

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The overarching goal of the events is to showcase the benefits electric cars offer to consumers.

Electric cars can be less expensive to own, more fun to drive, and are much more energy-efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts.

They're unevenly distributed across the U.S., however, with half the nation's battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the state of California alone.

CHECK OUT: Plug-in electric car sales to double in 2018: predictions

The events secured plenty of high-profile attention as well; Nissan has been a leading sponsor since 2013.

This year it showcased its new 2018 Leaf electric car at a few of them, limited by the small number of pre-production Leafs available for display.

The new Leaf offers a projected range of 150 miles; expect to see many more of them at next year's Drive Electric events.

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