About 350 interested consumers came to Brookwood Village on Saturday to shop – in a manner of speaking. Instead of browsing through the mall, though, these “shoppers” were in the parking lot examining dozens of electric vehicles on hand to celebrate National Drive Electric Week.
The visitors learned plenty from the electric vehicle (EV) owners on hand for the showcase. In addition to the replica 1894 Riker electric motor car, there were 25 new and used EVs from Nissan, Chevrolet, Tesla, Ford, BMW, Fiat, Toyota, Honda and Cadillac on display at the event. Also on display was a Via Motors, Inc., pickup and a pair of Curtiss Motorcycle Company electric motorbikes. Curtiss is a Birmingham-based company that manufactures and sells high-end, high-performance electric motorcycles.
“It was wonderful to have such great participation from electric vehicle owners and manufacturers,” said Mark Bentley, executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition. “Electric vehicles make up the fastest-growing segment in the automobile industry in the United States and the EV owners who are here are among the best ‘salesmen’ there are, just by telling their stories of being on the road – and how much money they save by using electricity instead of gasoline.
“Electric vehicles are being built in 20 states, including Alabama, and the EV industry creates thousands of well-paying jobs in our state and country and reduces our dependence on foreign oil,” he said.
Chris Godsey of Hoover, who has owned his Tesla Model S for just two months, was sharing his story with visitors to the showcase. Already, he said, he has overcome a little “range anxiety” – a nervous feeling that your electric vehicle will run out of its charge before you reach your destination.
“I’ve already been to Nashville and Atlanta,” Godsey said, “and on both trips the computer in the car estimated I would arrive with 34 percent battery capacity. When I got to my location, sure enough, I had 34 or 35 percent left. I’ve plotted a trip to Orlando and the software has told me I should stop twice for charging – once in Opelika and once in the Florida Panhandle, for about 25 minutes each, and I won’t have to stop again until I get to Orlando.
“It’s an amazing car.”
Cedric Daniels, Electric Transportation Manager at Alabama Power; Louis W. Baxley, Special Projects Coordinator for U.S. Senator Doug Jones; ZEOG’s David Radzieta; Julie Price, Director of Sustainability at UAB; and Cedric Roberts, the City of Birmingham’s Equipment Management Director, were also on hand at the four-hour event to lend support to the electric vehicle industry.
The National Drive Electric Week Showcase was presented by the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, UAB Sustainability, Alabama Power, the City of Birmingham and ZEOG (Zero Emissions Owners Group). Across the nation, more than 300 similar events will be held this week.
Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, a nonprofit membership-based organization, is the state’s principal coordinating point for alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles.