• 2017 Chevrolet Bolt
  • 2017 BMW i3
  • 2016 Nissan Leaf SL
  • 2017 Chevrolet Volt

Events: Celebrate National Drive Electric Week 2017

September 9-17 Offers Opportunity to Learn More About EVs

Since the beginning of the current decade, electric cars have been available in many countries and at various dealerships. But, chances are, if you aren’t driving one now, you may not know much about them. That’s why, every September, National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) breaks out all across the country. It’s designed to build awareness of the advantages and pleasures of driving plug-in electric cars without asking people to step into a sales experience. Electric car owners bring their cars to the events and you can get the straight scoop from them directly.

The event began in 2011 as National Plug In Day, with the goal of staging events across the country on a single day to boost awareness of the new electric cars. Fast forward to 2017 and, looking at the map on the Drive Electric Week website, every state except South Dakota is hosting at least one event this year. As you’d expect, the activities are concentrated along the coasts.

Fittingly, 2011 was also the year that the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt arrived—the first plug-in cars with serious corporate backing and volume intentions. Along with the growth of the electric car market itself, the annual event has expanded to a week and been appropriately renamed.

My Plan This Year

This year is my first year to attend, and I’m thrilled to be bringing my own car–a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV that I leased in January. I’ll be giving people rides in my car at an event on Saturday, September 9, a few miles from my office in San Mateo, California. The following Wednesday, I’m hosting an event at my office building, where we EV drivers will display our cars and share with

I’ll be bringing my Bolt to the party

our colleagues the joys and advantages of electric motoring. Of course, most of us EV folks already know each other from conversations at the 12 charging stations out front or on our own Slack channel—electriccars—which I started last year when I was testing a Fiat 500e for three months.

On September 16, the next to last day of NDEW, I’ll drive my blue Bolt down to Cupertino—in the heart of Silicon Valley—where a much larger crowd will view more than 50 assorted EVs—new and historic. This year, we’ll see a rare GM EV-1, the original electric car, and star of “Who Killed the Electric Car.” As the sad story tells, GM crushed almost all of them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the long-awaited 2018 Nissan Leaf will make an appearance, although it isn’t for sale quite yet. If someone could sneak in a real early Tesla Model 3, that would be a treat.

The electric car supporters of this growing event are Plug In America and the Electric Auto Association, along with the Sierra Club. The Platinum level sponsor is the Nissan Leaf, the EV pioneer that has done so much to bring affordable electric motoring to the masses.

Plan Your Own EV Event

You can go big or small with your NDEW event, but you do want to set it up with them online. That way, local people can find you, and any information your registered attendees provide—both the ones who bring a car or not—gets tallied to show how many miles are now being driven with electrons instead of carbon and how much interest is being generated. Added together, it’s a formidable number.

My event will likely feature no more than 10 cars, and it’s only for my fellow employees, other tenants in our three office buildings, and anyone who sees our signs or reads about the event on the

2017 Fiat 500e

Fiats and other plug-ins will be there

NDEW website. We aim to have at least one each of the main EVs and plug-in hybrids on sale today, including the Chevrolet Bolt and Volt, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, Volkswagen e-Golf, and the Tesla Model S and Model X.

I’m finding that it’s taking some effort to get hardworking software company employees to reserve a 90-minute lunch break to stand by their cars and field questions. We are using our local café as a caterer to provide free sandwiches or wraps to attendees, hoping that the lure of a free lunch will at least get them to the south side of the parking lot to check out our cars.

It’s important to get the word out. Electric cars have a few limitations, but those may not be relevant to most people’s actual driving needs. A Chevrolet Bolt EV can travel about 240 miles between charges, for example, meaning you really don’t need to worry about finding a charging station every time you take a ride somewhere. Charging at home while you’re sleeping works just fine.

Electric cars are wonderfully smooth and quiet, and some offer quick acceleration. My Bolt zips from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds—sports sedan territory—and, with the heavy battery along the bottom, is wonderfully stable in corners. Electricity is cheaper and certainly cleaner than gasoline, depending on how and where it’s generated, of course (rooftop panels recommended). Service is practically nonexistent—no oil changes, radiator fluid, etc. In fact, with regenerative braking, you may practically never change brake pads!

See the National Drive Electric Week website for an event near you. Maybe next year, you can attend as an EV driver yourself!

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About Author: Steve Schaefer

Steve Schaefer has written a weekly automotive column for 25 years, testing more than 1,100 cars. Now, he’s focusing on EVs and hybrids. Steve remembers the joy of riding in his father’s Austin-Healey. After discovering the August, 1963 issue of Motor Trend, he became entranced with the annual model change, and began stalking dealers’ back lots to catch the new models as they rolled off the transporter. Coming from a family that owned three Corvairs, Steve was one of the first Saturn buyers, earning him a prominent spot in their 1994 product catalogue. To continue the GM tradition, Steve now has a Chevrolet Bolt EV. Steve is a founding member of the Western Automotive Journalists. Read his EV/hybrid blog at stevegoesgreen.com.

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