This is a guest post by Maria Ramos. Maria is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.
National Drive Electric Week is an annual event designed to educate the public about electric vehicles and the benefits of driving them. The event, taking place September 12 – 20, 2015, highlights the increasing availability of electric cars and the accompanying infrastructure. While electric vehicles, including motorcycles and trucks, face their own battery-related challenges, they are significantly better for the environment and can ultimately be less expensive, compared to their gasoline-dependent counterparts.
The concept of National Drive Electric Week originated in 2011. It was initially called National Plug-In Day, but the idea remains the same: to hold simultaneous events all over the United States to promote the use of electric vehicles. The first National Plug-In Day took place in a humble 26 cities, but come 2013, the event proved to be a monumental success.: The day’s events attracted 36,000 attendees to examine 3,000 electric vehicles in 98 cities. Inspired by the event’s success, its organizers decided to expand it, and the first National Drive Electric Week was held in 2014.
So far, over 160 events have been announced for 2015. They will be held throughout the US, with some also taking place in Canada and Hong Kong. One of the largest events will be held in Los Angeles, where over 100 electric vehicles of over 20 makes will be on display. Attendees will be able to test-drive the cars and speak to the owners. Across the country, even the smallest events will feature electric vehicles.
The events’ organizers will also provide information on various financial incentives to help people buy electric cars. Some will display electric charging stations used to power the cars, and others will have activities for children. While most areas will display only cars, a few will also feature electric buses or motorcycles.
Electric cars are a surprisingly old technology, with the first model making its debut around 1890. They were initially popular and sparked interest in the concept, until cars fueled by gasoline became more reliable and readily available. Gas-powered cars also had the advantages of a much quicker refueling time and a greater travel range. Interest in electric cars thus faded until the energy crisis of the 1970s and 1980s. Unfortunately, the cars still had a low range, and the oil industry’s hostility towards electric cars exacerbated matters. The energy crisis of the 2000s sparked interest in electric cars again, this time to a new level. By then, the Japanese had developed hybrid cars that offered the range of conventional cars and the fuel economy of electric cars. They did well, and American automakers started constructing their own hybrids and electric cars.
Counteracting the battery-related challenges of electric vehicles are a number of benefits for both the environment and personal gain. Electric vehicles are quieter than conventional cars, and they don’t emit any exhaust gas. They therefore don’t contribute to air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. The use of electric vehicles also reduces our dependency on energy providers. Constellation Energy has reported that electric cars are capable of converting around 60% of the energy they receive to power at the wheels, as compared to gasoline-powered vehicles which convert only 20% of the energy stored in gasoline. The US Department of Energy states that although purchase prices may be higher for EVs, these prices will most likely decrease as demand and production volume increase. This means that the more we spread the word about EVs and their benefits, the less they will cost and more consumers will be willing to try them out.
A long-standing problem with electric cars has been their need for an infrastructure. Specifically, they need a way to get fuel. Early electric cars had special garages where their owners would go to swap exhausted batteries for fully-charged ones, and a few of these have since come back. Modern electric cars have access to charging stations, which can be installed in both public and private places, even in someone’s home. Because so many individuals are living environmentally friendly lives these days, the interest and demand for electric vehicles has spiked in recent years, resulting in charging stations becoming more commonplace. It still takes several hours to fully charge an electric car, but it can be done conveniently while the owner is sleeping or at work.
Overall, electric vehicles represent a switch to smarter, more efficient energy use. Depending on where their electricity comes from, charging stations can be just as environmentally friendly as the car. Some do, unfortunately, get their power from coal-burning plants. But others get their power from nuclear, hydro-, wind- or solar-powered plants, and none of these energy sources contribute to air pollution. Regardless of the origin, the electricity is always a domestic source of energy, thus reducing America’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. Electric vehicles are environmentally friendly, reduce emissions, and are energy efficient. For anyone considering ownership of an electric vehicle, National Drive Electric Week event is the perfect opportunity to check out the vehicles first-hand. National Drive Electric Week is presented by Plug In America, Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association.
Becca says: Read all about my dad’s nine years’ experience driving a Solectria Force electric car! I don’t have an electric car myself because my home has no off-street parking space where I could charge my car–it would be awkward and dangerous to run an extension cord across the sidewalk to an on-street parking space–but here is my real-life mileage with a Toyota Prius hybrid car, a great option that uses a gasoline motor as well as an electric motor so that you can fill up (but less often!) at standard gas stations.