The Fuse

National Drive Electric Week Set to Showcase Massive Growth Potential of EVs

by Matt Piotrowski | September 08, 2017

There’s been a lot of good news surrounding electric vehicles (EVs) as of late, and advocates will highlight many of them at the upcoming National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) being held from September 9-17.

During the 7th annual global NDEW, EV drivers, auto makers, city officials, and potential consumers plan to raise awareness of increased electrification of the vehicle fleet by hosting EV-only parades, accommodating test drives, announcing government initiatives, recognizing leaders in the EV space, and rolling out new infrastructure. There will be over 250 events with most occurring in Europe and North America, but some as far away as Sydney, Australia and New Zealand. Amman, Jordan will hold its first NDEW event.

“American consumers are finding that EVs are just better cars all around, and we’re seeing this attitude in the sales numbers.”

This year’s NDEW, organized by Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association, and the Sierra Club, comes as more governments are aiming to move away from conventional vehicles in the next couple of decades, EV sales are seeing enormous growth, and forecasters are bullish on their long-term outlook. “American consumers are finding that EVs are just better cars all around, and we’re seeing this attitude in the sales numbers,” said Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America, in a statement. “When a car is less expensive, easier to maintain, cheaper to fuel and most importantly, better to drive, no matter what the brand, consumers will respond to the innovation we’ve seen in the electric vehicle market.”

The International Energy Agency said EV sales rose by 30 percent last year and roughly 56 million could be on roads globally by 2030. Lower battery costs, greater consumer acceptance, and aggressive EV targets by major consuming countries have garnered huge buzz surrounding EVs even while gasoline pump prices remain relatively low.

The displays and festivities during NDEW will vary from city to city. One of the biggest exhibitions will come in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the city will showcase every EV model available for purchase in the state while also educating the public about the growing charging network that is available. In Durham, New Hampshire, major auto makers such as Chevrolet, BMW, Nissan, and Tesla will provide free test drives. Other cities, such as Denver and New York, electric transit buses will be one of the main features.

Lower battery costs, greater consumer acceptance, and aggressive targets by major consuming countries have garnered huge buzz surrounding EVs even while gasoline pump prices remain relatively low.

Much of the enthusiasm surrounding NDEW focuses on the positive environmental impact of EVs and how they help consumers save costs—but reducing dependence on oil is also a key implication of electrification. By cutting demand for petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel, EVs help diversify the vehicle fleet and lessen economic shocks that result from oil price volatility and supply disruptions, whether from OPEC cuts, geopolitical threats, or hurricanes.

A New Leaf

Nissan, the one auto maker sponsoring NDEW, made news ahead of the events when it rolled out its next generation all-electric Leaf Monday night. During NDEW, the Leaf will make appearances in a number of cities, including Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Los Angeles, and Cambridge.

New models have given drivers relatively affordable EV choices with increased range.

There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the new Leaf, largely because of a competitive sticker price and improved range. The 2018 Leaf, with the retail price of $30,000, is expected to have a range of 150 miles, compared to 107 in older models. Nissan is showcasing the new Leaf at a time Tesla’s Model 3 and Chevrolet’s Bolt—along with a number of new models from other auto makers—have given drivers relatively affordable EV choices with increased range. There are currently more than 30 EV and plug-in models available today, a major factor in helping boost sales and consumer awareness.

Besides the better range, the 2018 Leaf will include autonomous vehicle features, Nissan’s ProPilot, which can steer the vehicle in a single lane and in commuter traffic. Although the new Leaf will be bigger and heavier than previous ones, improved aerodynamics and power trains are expected to enhance performance, helping undercut criticisms that EVs aren’t as powerful as conventional vehicles.

This year’s rollout of the Leaf and the increasing number of cities participating in NDEW reflect how far electrification has come this decade.

This year’s rollout of the Leaf and the increasing number of cities participating in NDEW reflect how far electrification has come this decade. In 2011, at the first NDEW, under 30 cities held events compared to 246 at this year’s. Also at that time, the number of EV and PHEV models stood around five, about one-sixth of today’s levels. Since the beginning of 2011, automakers have sold more than 661,000 EVs, with 2017 expected to set another record.

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