From The Tribune Staff Reports
BIRMINGHAM — National Drive Electric Week, which runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 3 this year, is a nationwide observance to raise awareness of the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Three NDEW EVents were held in Alabama this year – today in Birmingham, this past Wednesday in Auburn, and Saturday, Sept. 25 in Huntsville.
Adrian Gonzalez often hears questions about charging his Tesla.
Gonzalez provided plenty of answers about charging and other topics about electric vehicles (EVs) at Saturday’s National Drive Electric Week EVent at The Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham. He was one of about two dozen EV owners who talked 1-on-1 with visitors and showed off their cars.
“There are a lot of questions about range – where you charge, how you charge, how long you have to charge,” said Gonzalez, a Birmingham resident. “That seems like it’s a question on everyone’s mind.”
Gonzalez, like most EV owners, charges almost exclusively at home and rarely needs an away-from-home booster, which he added is something most motorists don’t know.
Nissan Leaf owner Tony Nichols said he often addresses “misinformation” about EVs, especially the vehicles’ power. For example, most people don’t realize EVs have instant pick-up and acceleration.
“That’s what makes the car fun to drive,” said Nichols, a Birmingham resident. “When I’m at a red light, I don’t think anything anyone beat me off the line, except maybe the Tesla.”
Added Gonzalez, “That instant torque is what surprises people. It’s like a rollercoaster. I’ve had people ride in my car, and they screamed like it was a rollercoaster.”
The testimonials from Gonzalez and Nichols illustrate why NDEW EVents can be beneficial for anyone considering an electric vehicle, said Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition Executive Director Mark Bentley. Research shows most Alabamians have never driven an EV, but many want to and find EV owners the most trusted source for information.
Visitors to Birmingham’s NDEW EVent perused a variety of EVs on display, with owners showing off models from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Kia, Nissan, Volvo, and Volkswagen. The cars on display have logged more than 1 million miles driven, according to event organizers.
“There’s really no replacement for talking to real-life EV owners who can talk about their real-world experiences of driving an EV every day, how and when they charge them, and how much money they save,” Bentley said. “It’s critical that we continue to educate people about the many benefits offered by EVs as more are showing up on Alabama roads.”
Birmingham-based Autocar, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks, also displayed one of its new electric terminal tractors, and Max Transit showed off an all-electric bus.
Saturday’s EVent was co-sponsored by the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, UAB Sustainability, Alabama Power Company, the City of Birmingham, Drive Electric Alabama, and the Zero Emissions Owners Group (ZEOG).
Most automobile manufacturers have embraced the EV revolution and announced major investments in EV technology and manufacturing. In late September, for instance, Ford announced an $11.4 billion investment to create new factories in Tennessee and Kentucky for EVs and batteries to power the vehicles. Ford also plans to begin selling its all-electric F-150 Lightning pick-up next year.
Alabama automakers, led by Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Tuscaloosa, have announced an estimated $1.88 billion in new investments in advanced vehicle technology since 2018. In addition, Alabama’s leaders understand the growing popularity of EVs, including the latest efforts through ADECA to significantly expand EV infrastructure.
Dozens of battery electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) models are available. Newer EV models boast a longer range and better performance than the original models, and some start in the mid-$20,000 price range, and consumers can be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.
About the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition
Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition serves as the principal coordinating point for clean, alternative fuel, and advanced technology vehicle activities in Alabama. ACFC was incorporated in 2002 as an Alabama 501c3 non-profit, received designation U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program in 2009, and was re-designated in 2014. A national network of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions brings together stakeholders in public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements, and emerging transportation technologies. To learn more, visit www.alabamacleanfuels.com.