Drive Electric celebration draws hundreds

Ann Arbor announces plans to support electric vehicles

About 250 potential electric-vehicle drivers checked out the dozens of plug-in cars, scooters and bicycles at the Drive Electric celebration at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor earlier this month.

Yes, bicycles. Electricity assisted pedal bicycles are making inroads around the world. That's long-time Ecology Center supporter Linda Diane Feldt getting ready to take a spin on one in the photo at right.

The Ann Arbor curious were joined by more than 90,000 people marking National Drive Electric Week in 152 cities in 39 states across the country. Event organizers set up more than 5,500 EV test-rides, with about 20 of them occurring in Ann Arbor. “Getting people into plug-in electric vehicles to experience the fun, quiet, and clean air benefits of EVs first-hand was part of the point,” according to a Huffington Post article co-written by Zan Dubin-Scott from Plug In America and the Sierra Club’s Gina Coplon-Newfield.

“Media interest in National Drive Electric Week was unprecedented this year, with coverage appearing in more than 180 national and local outlets,” they reported. “EV owners of all sorts got some ink from coast-to-coast.”

In Ann Arbor, the event, which was organized by the Michigan Electric Auto Association and the Ecology Center, was featured on WEMU-FM newscasts all day, and received coverage in the Ann Arbor News and other outlets.

The event came on the heels of a proclamation issued by Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje in support of the event, and the announcement of the formation of the Drive Electric Ann Arbor Partnership (DEA2P) to support wider adoption of electric vehicles in the community.

“Ann Arbor has always been a leader in adoption of new technologies that are environmentally friendly,” Hieftje said. “We’re happy to support collaborative approaches for expanding electric vehicle infrastructure in Ann Arbor consistent with our community’s climate goals.”

The city’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2012, includes recommendations to encourage electric vehicles and EV infrastructure as part of efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“Electric vehicles are of significant economic importance to Michigan because they are designed and manufactured by Michigan companies and Michigan is a center for advanced battery research and development,” according Charles Griffith, climate and energy program director at the Ecology Center. The Ecology Center is a founding member of Built by Michigan, a coalition of businesses, labor groups, environmental organizations and others supporting the electric vehicle industry in Michigan.

One of the DEA2P’s first initiatives is the creation of a web page on the city’s information for consumers and businesses about electric vehicles and where they can be charged in the city.

The city also announced new guidelines for commercial developments to encourage developers to consider installing electric-vehicle charging stations when a new project is proposed.