The annual National Drive Electric Week will occur this weekend with electric-car rallies and events in at least 300 cities across the U.S. and several more in Canada and New Zealand.
The event aims to address one of the biggest challenges in promoting electric cars—known in the electric-car community as getting "butts in seats"—by bringing out electric-car supporters from owners to dealers to city planners and engineers to promote the benefits of electric cars.
Although electric car sales doubled in the U.S. in 2017, they still make up only about 1 percent of total sales every year. That means few car buyers have experienced the near-silent driving and immediate power of electric cars.
Since many models are small economy cars, many buyers may still mistakenly associate them with slow, underpowered, and even noisy gas-powered economy cars.
By bringing together hundreds of electric cars and their owners, the event gives visibility to the 1 percent, and gives plenty of opportunity for visitors to experience riding in or even driving electric cars.
Sponsored by Plug-In America, Nissan, and two competing electric-car charger manufacturers, Clipper Creek and eMotorworks, the events will include speakers who can dispel myths about electric cars, such as that they're powered by coal and result in worse air quality than conventional cars.
The largest events will be in:
- Steilacoom, Washington, where 113 electric cars are already registered to attend. The event is organized by Dick Muri, a member of the Washington State House of Representatives.
- Prescott, Arizona, where students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will present their plans to build an electric car that they hope will beat the electric land speed record.
- And Juneau, Alaska, which has one of the fastest growing electric-car adoption rates in the country, partly because of its high gas prices, and partly because no roads in Juneau stretch farther than any production electric car's range. Mayor Ken Koelsch will give an address celebrating the city's milestone.
Other events include an all-electric-car drive in movie in San Francisco, and a fair in Poolesville, Maryland, complete with a Tesla Roadster "Starman," dressed up to look like a rocket.
At an event Thursday evening in Los Angeles, event organizers handed out awards to leaders in the electric car movement, including Janea Scott, commissioner of the California Energy Commission for expanding access to electric cars and charging stations in disadvantaged California communities, and Denise Gray, Chief Executive Officer of LG Chem Power, for development work on electric-car batteries.
The University of California, San Diego was also awarded for its efforts to promote electric cars, including installing 130 charging stations in the city.
The event originated as National Plug-In Day in 2011, by a group of local electric-car clubs partnering with the Sierra Club.
To find an event near you this weekend, visit the National Drive Electric Week webpage.