September 12-20 is National Drive Electric Week: free EV-themed events across the country, including in the Baltimore-DC metro area. On September 16th, for instance, Baltimore will unveil a new fast-charging station and new city-fleet EVs at City Hall. Other events take the shape of “Ride and Drives,” where you can test-drive and learn more about different EV models. These Ride and Drives are perhaps the most fun and the most important of any events, since it is the foreignness of EVs that keeps many people from considering them. (To find events in your area, check out this map or check out this list.)
Why is it important to let people test-drive EVs? According to a recent study conducted by Daimler, the less people know about EVs, the more they dislike EVs. The same phenomenon has occurred with other transit innovations, such as the advent of the train – when it first made its appearance, many people distrusted and even loathed the train, due in large part to misconceptions about its functionality and safety. Today trains constitute a familiar (and arguably under-funded) component of mass transit.
Therefore it seems that a crucial step in accelerating adoption of EVs is simply to get more people to learn more about them. This can take various forms – one of which is, again, Ride and Drives. Just about anyone can organize these types of events – Drive Electric Northern Colorado is one consortium of individuals who tap into relationships with local auto dealers to host Ride and Drives, the benefits of which are apparent:
Electric Vehicle (EV) Ride and Drives are a fundamental driving force for widespread deployment of EVs in the United States. The Ride and Drive program and experience provides consumers with the opportunity to test drive multiple EV models, while also providing valuable information from current vehicle owners. (DENC 2015)
Perhaps most importantly, participants face no risk – they can test EVs and learn for free, making the event far more appealing to a far greater number of people.
Want to organize your own Ride and Drive during National Drive Electric Week? You can – find out how here. You can also reach out to your local Electric Auto Association Chapter and coordinate a separate event. Or you can host one on your own – simply find a few local EV owners, set a date, and get the word out.