Making Drive Electric Week Every Week Easier Than Ever

In my lifetime, if you said you knew someone who drove an electric vehicle, a certain image likely came to mind.

For much of the past 40 years, electric vehicle owners were assumed to be so-called “tree-huggers,” with only the most environmentally conscious consumers making the investment in plug-in vehicles.

Many still think of the tiny Smart car or a Toyota Prius when they visualize an electric vehicle, but the reality is, nearly every major vehicle manufacturer has an electric vehicle in their lineup or plans to add one in the very near future. Today, the Tesla has taken the electric vehicle to the level of a luxurious status symbol.

The U.S. Department of Energy reported in April 2017 that sales of electric vehicles increased nine-fold since their first full year of sales for the mass market in 2011, reaching an all-time high in 2016 of 160,000 electric vehicles sold. From November 2015 to November 2016, electric vehicle sales grew by a whopping 37 percent.

Increased range, affordability, long-term savings on fuel and maintenance, increasing charging infrastructure and environmental benefits are all helping to drive the electric vehicle boon.

Some electric vehicle owners make the switch because they want to do their part to help with air quality and other environmental and health issues associated with emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles. For others, it is a matter of affordability, with fuel savings outpacing electricity costs and reduced maintenance expenses due to fewer moving parts on the vehicles.

No matter the reason for the initial interest, none of that matters if the vehicle does not perform the way the driver needs and expects it to. That’s why ride and drive events are so important. By getting behind the wheel at the free events, participants can see firsthand how the vehicles perform as well or better than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

September brings the 7th Annual National Drive Electric Week Sept. 9-17 and South Shore Clean Cities is again proud to be a part of it. National Drive Electric Week events highlight the many benefits of electric vehicle ownership. This year, a record number of communities – more than 200 — are participating in the event, reflecting the growing popularity of electric vehicles.

South Shore Clean Cities is partnering with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) and the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) for two National Drive Electric Week Ride & Drives to highlight the clean air benefits and cost savings of electric vehicles.

The National Drive Electric Week Ride & Drives will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern September 13 at the Studebaker National Museum and History Museum, 201 S. Chapin St. in South Bend and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central September 15 at NIRPC, 6100 Southport Road in Portage.

The event is also being presented in collaboration with the Midwest EVOLVE (Electric Vehicle Opportunities: Learning, eVents, Experience) project, a three-year effort aimed at demonstrating the performance and environmental benefits of plug-in electric vehicles through showcases, ride and drives and other events.

Someday, future generations will look back at the electric vehicles of today as simplistic. Our leaders in Washington are shaping the future of electric and alternative fuel vehicles, with widespread bipartisan support for funding proposals for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities coalitions.

It’s a good investment in our future. Remember, it’s never too late to begin your legacy.

By Carl Lisek
Executive Director
South Shore Clean Cities