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National Drive Electric Week: The Economic & Environmental Benefits of Driving Electric

National Drive Electric Week is an annual event held each October to celebrate all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The national campaign is presented by Plug In America, Sierra Club and Electric Auto Association and consists of hundreds of free events across the United States. 

This year, National Drive Electric Week events will be held from September 25 through October 3, 2021, both in-person and online. Thousands of North Carolinians attend National Drive Electric week events each year, and there are ten individual events currently scheduled for this year across the state. 

National Drive Electric Week began in 2011 to provide free, helpful and in-depth information for those beginning their electric vehicle (EV) journey. Today, more than two million EVs have been sold in the United States, and 96 percent of EV drivers report they will purchase another EV for their next vehicle, according to a recent survey conducted by Plug In America. 

As with any new technology, people often have questions before they make the switch to driving electric, and National Drive Electric Week gives people the chance to interact with electric vehicles and ask EV drivers any questions they may have. 

The Clean Transportation program at NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has participated in the campaign for many years now and, in 2020, sponsored five virtual webinars on electric vehicles topics including best practices and lessons learned of charging infrastructure deployment, idle reduction and EV options for fleets. This year, attendees will also get a chance to experience electric vehicles in-person at two EV ride and drive events at NC State University.

“After participating in National Drive Electric Week for several years now, I’ve seen the impact of giving people the opportunity to ask questions and get their hands on an electric vehicle,” said Richard Sapienza, Director of NCCETC’s Clean Transportation program, “When they leave, they’re confident in making the switch to going electric and several have purchased an electric vehicle following one of these events.”

Experience Driving Electric

NCCETC is kicking off National Drive Electric Week at NC State in Raleigh, NC with a tailgate and plug-in electric vehicle car show on September 25, 2021. The following Monday, September 27 NCCETC is hosting another EV owner meet-up and test drive at Venture Plaza on NC State’s Centennial Campus. 

NCCETC’s Clean Transportation program is also currently hosting free webinars showcasing the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technologies and operations, including electric, as part of the 2021 Sustainable Fleet technology Virtual Conference. The conference began September 9 with “Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Planning Best Practices and Considerations for Today & the Future” (which is available to watch in full online) and includes two more upcoming webinars focused on EVs.

Links and event dates are provided below to learn more and register for upcoming National Drive Electric week events and webinars.

September 23rd – Idle Reduction Simple & Impactful

September 25th – Tailgate & Plug-In Electric Vehicle Car Show at NC State University

September 27th – Electric Vehicle Owner Meet-up & Test Drive at NC State University’s Centennial Campus

September 30th – Innovative Charging Solutions

Can’t make it? Watch a Video Tour from an EV Driver Online Through Our EV Driver Profile Series

Those interested in going electric can also explore a variety of EVs and their drivers’ experiences driving electric in our Electric Driver profile series. Jarred White’s EV of choice is a 2013 Ford C-Max Energi hybrid, and he said, “One of the most significant advantages of driving a plug-in hybrid are the fuel savings on the ‘first and last mile’; short trips to the store where it’s nice to know that I’m only using electric.”

There are many benefits to driving electric, including high-quality performance and the notable quietness of an electric engine — something White has also expressed can be a con of owning an EV. “Because the engine is so quiet, I’ve accidentally left my car on overnight multiple times!” White explained. 

Dave Erb has been involved in projects focused on and promoting EVs for two decades. Erb worked as an automotive engineer and spent the majority of his career in academia as faculty for UNCA Mechatronics Engineering. He also served on the Asheville Transit Committee until he reached term limit.

After purchasing his first electric vehicle in 2016, Dave and his wife were hooked and traded their last gas car in for another all-electric vehicle in 2019. The couple resides in Asheville, NC with their 2015 Chevy Spark EV and a 2019 Tesla Model 3. “We haven’t bought gas in over a year and a half,” Erb said. 

If you can’t make it to an in-person event, the NCCETC has you covered! Watch the video below for a tour of Erb’s 2015 Chevy Spark EV and hear why it’s his EV of choice.

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