First all-electric, drive-in movie event in the US–in upstate New York


Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Erik Smits]

Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Erik Smits]

Just before National Drive Electric Week organizers planned to hold what they call the first electric-car-only drive-in movie event in San Francisco next Thursday, Green Car Reports reader Michael Kamm wrote to us wondering if we’d be interested in a story about an all-electric drive-in movie night that happened two weeks before, outside Albany, New York. The dynamic Capital District EV Drivers group, of which Kamm is founder and president, organized a drive-in movie night Aug. 28.

Kamm founded the group in 2013, after he became the first person in the area to lease a Honda Fit EV. The group hosts events about once a month and has held some interesting outings, including fall foliage tours, spring Lilac luncheons at a castle, ice cream socials, summer picnics, holiday-lights electric-car parades through Albany's Washington Park, mid-winter pizza nights around a bonfire, and five National Drive Electric Week events.

Kamm says he has done extensive research looking for any other electric-car drive-in movie event that happened before his and hasn't found any in the U.S. The following is his story, lightly edited for style. If any other readers know of earlier electric-car only drive-in movie events, we—and Kamm—would be delighted to hear about them in the comments.

Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Matthew VanDerlofske]

Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Matthew VanDerlofske]

What movie would a group of electric car drivers get together to see at an exclusive event with a historic drive-in movie theater all to themselves? Really, there was only one choice: Chris Paine’s documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

Ever since Dwight Grimm and Leigh Van Swall rescued the Greenville Drive-In Outdoor Cinema in Greenville, New York, I had been dreaming about putting together an all electric vehicle night, and finally everything came together last month.

I arranged to leave work early so I could arrive in time to set things up.

Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Michael Kamm]

Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Michael Kamm]

One of the little details that I felt really strongly about was rearranging the sign out front to reflect our group's event.

Grimm wasn't too keen on that idea at first and I had to talk him into it. I offered to put it all back exactly as it was before I left for the evening.

It was still 90 degrees at 5 p.m., but I climbed the ladder and made it happen. Unbeknownst to the other guests, about halfway through the movie I went back up on the ladder and changed the sign back to the way it was.

Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Scott Edward Anson]

Capital District EV Drivers drive-in movie night in Greenville, NY [CREDIT: Scott Edward Anson]

This may sound corny, but I really enjoyed the unusual experience of being up on the narrow wooden walkway of that 1959 sign, changing the letters around. How many people ever get to do that?

Capital District EV Drivers members Darren and Marja drove all the way from Rotterdam, New York with their two sons in their first-generation Nissan Leaf.

When they arrived, they had 47 percent charge left. Darren asked me where the charger was. I said "There is no charger here, Darren." You should have seen the look on his face. He confused the Greenville Drive-In with the Four Brothers Drive-In in Amenia, New York, which does have a Level 2 charger.


 
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