Austin’s National Plug-In Day was a Blast!

Two hundred people and twenty four vehicles came out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon  to celebrate the environmental and economic benefits of plug in electric vehicles. Even in Texas, using an electric vehicle produces 52% less CO2 than a conventional gas vehicle. And that percentage will only go up as we Roll Beyond Coal!

Austin was one of twenty six cities across the country to host a First Annual National Plug-In Day event, and I think we may have had the most fun–thanks to our great volunteers, staff and everyone who brought their vehicles.

The Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter display

New and old electric cars

We had 95,738 + Oil Free Miles from 22 vehicles. Our winner for most oil-free miles was Sparky, a 1999 Ford Ranger Electric with 33,500. Sparky escaped the recall that was documented in the film Who Killed the Electric Car?1999 Ford Ranger Electric Pickup--an original!

Austin EV were our co-hosts and they brought an amazing range of gas to electric conversions. Many thanks to Aaron Choate and his crew for helping with everything!

The recently completed 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite conversion by Fred BehningThe 1960 Austin-Healy Sprite and the Revolt Custom Electric Porsche Boxster were real eye catchers. The dedication that goes into an electric vehicle conversion really shows the love and respect people have for EVs. It’s also important to see that EVs don’t have to look different from the outside. Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt owners appreciated that theirs were a lot easier to obtain.

Central Texas Clean Cities had a representative on hand to answer questions about the Austin Energy rebate programs, the 103 public charging stations and more. Thank you, Marguerite Jones!

The Nissan Leaf owners came out in force and have really put the miles on their cars. One family charges their from their home solar panels. That will get its own article in the future!

Chevy Volt owners were enthusiastic about their cars as well.  Though the Volt also has a small gas tank to extend its range, the people at the event preferred to stick with the electric power. One owner said he’d spent less than ten dollars total on gas.

Talking about the Volt

A major concern of potential EV owners is the range of the vehicle. Many Volt and Leaf owners talked about how their anxiety faded after a couple of weeks of driving. New EVs have a range of around 100 miles on a charge, and most people people drive less than half that distance in a day.

EV Autos Texas brought the Miles EV, a mini pickup truck. Its potential as a utility vehicle was immediately clear, but it looked smart enough for daily driving. The bed would easily hold the signs, tents, tables, and chairs for another National Plug-In Day!

EV Autos Texas and their Miles EV

Ford Motors brought in a sustainability expert and two of their 2012 electric models: The Focus Electric and the Transit Connect Electric. The Focus is similar to the Leaf and Volt and aimed at individual car owners. The Transit Connect, however, is currently used for local delivery vehicles and taxis. This EV version will allow those more frequent drivers a chance to green their businesses and run their vehicles at a lower expense.

2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric

Let’s not forget the two wheeled EVs! The 2009 eMax scooter owned by the Electric Avenue folks has 10,500 Oil-Free miles on it! Electric scooters are extremely flexible vehicles for commuting and running local errands.

Suzuki Katana Motorcycle conversion by Don BrenemanThe Suzuki Katana motorcycle conversion symbolizes the shift in perspective that’s coming to make clean transportation the norm. The batteries and controller are right in the former gas tank–1,500 Oil-Free Miles!

Electric assist bikes may be accused of cheating by the hard core cyclists, but I think they are great. We’ve got some mean hills in this town! Anything that gets people out and pedaling is good in my book. More bikes on the roads makes biking safer for everyone. Electric assist bikes are also a way to help people get from home to transit and from transit to work–sometimes that “first and last mile” of the trip are the most difficult for people to manage. You can dress in your business clothes and not need a shower when you get to your job.

An R. Martin electric assist bike

By the end of the afternoon everyone was talking about what we can do next year to make the event even more successful. As we talked about the future in the shade of the afternoon, someone said, “You know, no one will come to this event in five years–plug in vehicles will be everywhere.” That would be the biggest success of all.

Kari Banta, Transportation Associate

3 responses to “Austin’s National Plug-In Day was a Blast!

  1. Here’s the Sierra Club Compass Blog Summary (with a picture from us front and center!):

  2. Pingback: National Plug-In day |

  3. Pingback: “Revenge of the Electric Car” Screening in Austin | the Texas Green Report

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