Dozens of electric vehicle drivers and enthusiasts gathered under a blue sky at the Ann Arbor National Drive Electric Week car show on September 20. Local EV drivers, who together had logged more than a quarter-million electric miles, opened up their cars to give the public a taste of the electric drive experience.
The show, hosted by the Ecology Center, Michigan Electric Auto Association, and other partners, was one of almost 200 events across the country, from LA to Minnesota. Plug-in vehicles of every make and color filled the field behind the Whole Foods on Eisenhower Parkway-- Volts, LEAFs, Teslas, BMW i3s, and even a few one-of-a-kind retrofits. Ann Arbor Mayor Chris Taylor and State Rep. Jeff Irwin also stopped by our event, reminding us that EVs are an important issue for residents across Michigan.
Over the past few years, EV driving has surged in popularity across the region. Last year, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s public charging stations delivered 80,000 kilowatt hours of power, which is equivalent to 280,000 miles of electric car driving.
The Drive Electric Ann Arbor Partnership (DEA2P), which came together during last year’s Drive Electric Week, spent its first year working to make Ann Arbor even more EV friendly and recently launched its Workplace Charging Challenge, an initiative aimed at achieving a tenfold increase in the number of Ann Arbor employers offering workplace charging in the next five years.
The rise in EV popularity was never more apparent than at last Sunday’s event, as a steady stream of visitors flowed through. Potential drivers peering into windows said they wanted to make the switch to help reduce their carbon footprint. Those who’d already made it said they weren’t likely to ever go back.
Ben Hoffman, a software engineer, brought his whole family in their Nissan LEAF. Hoffman said he decided to go electric to replace the truck he was driving at the time.
“For me the LEAF made a lot of sense because the lease payment on it is less than the price for my gas,” he said. “Economically it worked out well.”
Saving money on gas isn’t the only benefit of driving electric- event goers mentioned everything from environmental benefits to the drive experience. Karon Klemczak introduced her EV as “Whisper” to all visitors. She says the silent, smooth electric drive experience is the best part.
“I’m 69 years old and when I’m behind the wheel of this car, I feel like a teenager,” she enthused.
As Bruce Westlake, president of the Michigan Electric Auto Association puts it: “There are so many reasons to [make the switch],” he said. “And so few not to do it.”
Check out more photos of the Ann Arbor National Drive Electric Week Auto Show on our Facebook page.
Also check out our stories featuring three EV drivers, including Ben and Bruce, and why they made the switch:
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