National Drive Electric Week 2015

By Allen Penticoff

National Drive Electric Week started in 2011 as National Plug In Day to help promote the use and ownership of electric vehicles. It has now been expanded to a week, which has enabled 150 cities and 90,000 people to participate. This year the week is September 12-20.

Rockford will now have an event of it’s own too. Tuesday, September 15, from 4-7:30 p.m. owners of electric and plug-in vehicles are asked to gather at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner Street, in Rockford. We’ll meet in the lower parking lot. At 6 p.m. I will have a presentation on how the Chevy Volt works and on electric cars in general. Those with non-electric vehicles are encouraged to attend to learn more about the clean, easy driving that comes with owning and operating an electric vehicle.

I have been evangelizing electric vehicles in this column for some time, so I thought it only natural that I organize an event here. We have Volts, Leafs, Teslas and other electric vehicles roaming our streets, I hope to get them to this gathering and let folks interested ask questions from those who own them.

National Drive Electric Week is presented by: Plug In America, Electric Auto Association and the Sierra Club. Since I’ve only just taken on organizing this, I don’t know how much participation I will get from local dealers who sell EVs and plug-in cars, but I’ll try to get some there. That includes the Zero electric motorcycles.

Due to many of the early Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts just now coming off of their three year leases, there is a glut of good, clean, low mileage EVs on the market to buy outright. Leafs can be had for as little as $11,000 and Volts for $15,000 – in some cases less for those with higher mileage. This is a good time to get into an EV if you are the least bit interested in driving a vehicle that rarely or never needs to stop at a gas station, that has infrequent service* and reduces our dependence on foreign oil, all while having fun driving a quiet fast car.

* I put an asterisk on this as I just recently took our 2013 Chevy Volt in for its first oil change. It has almost 25,000 miles on it. Because the engine only rarely runs, mileage has little to do with when the oil needs changing. Basically, the number of hours the engine has run is monitored and you are shown how much oil life is left as a percentage until one day it starts chiding you to get the oil changed. This is just one more advantage of driving a plug-in car. If you own a Leaf or Tesla – you won’t ever be bothered by the need to change engine oil.

There are more and more manufacturers putting electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the market all the time. I literally can’t keep up with them. The manufacturers see the end of oil coming, and they plan on staying in the business of making and selling vehicles. So while the production numbers are still relatively low on EVs and plug-ins at present, they are working out the bugs and will be ready when battery prices drop and oil prices climb. Then driving on electricity will become a lot more common. I believe it will eventually replace most of the internal combustion engines on the road.

Cars will one day have the ability to charge while driving. You probably won’t even be driving… the car will be driving itself – and that will free us from accidents slowing us down and causing traffic jams. It will allow higher speeds since the computers will keep all the traffic flowing at the same speed. Super-efficient gyro stabilized two-wheeled electric cars will be the commuter vehicle of choice – since so much travel is done with only one person in the car – you only need half a car. The air will be much better to breathe.

Come to the inaugural Rockford event on September 15 and have a look at the future.

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