Jesse Budraitis has discovered many advantages associated with driving an electric vehicle since purchasing his BWM i3 in 2017.
Budraitis said he’s learned to love the one-pedal driving and appreciate the regenerative braking system, but he also noted the cost savings he’s enjoyed since going electric by no longer buying gas or paying for routine maintenance associated with an internal combustion engine.
“It feels good every time you drive by a gas station,” he said, “and charging at home is really easy.”
Budraitis was just one EV several dozen EV owners attending Saturday’s Drive Electric Alabama Birmingham EV Showcase at The Worship Center Christian Church in Birmingham, as they talked one-on-one with visitors and showed off their cars. The event doubled as the inaugural gathering for the Drive Electric Alabama Birmingham EV chapter, a local EV club for EV owners and enthusiasts.
Showcase events like this one allow EV owners to tell other motorists about the benefits of owning and driving an EV every day.
Saturday’s showcase included models from Ford, Chevy, Kia, BMW, Tesla, Nissan, Jaguar, Volkswagen and Rivian. The full-sized Rivian truck on display drew plenty of attention.
Food trucks were also on-site, giving the day a more festive feel, and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin was also in attendance.
Most Alabamians have never driven an EV, according to market research, and that’s why it’s critically important for more people to see and feel an EV while talking to owners.
As gas prices soared above $4 per gallon in the last month, the interest in EVs has also skyrocketed. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an electric ‘E-gallon’ is $1.04 in Alabama as compared to the current average price for a gallon of gasoline.
“EV owners are driving these vehicles on Alabama roads every day,” said Michael Staley, president of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, one of the organizations assisting with Saturday’s event. “They’re taking their kids to school and making grocery store runs and commuting to work and back. Why are EV owners the most trusted source for information about EVs? Because they’re the ones with the answers to everyone’s questions about range, cost, maintenance, charging and every other issue unique to EVs.”
Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz officially opened its new EV battery plant in Bibb County. The opening comes just ahead of the first all-electric SUVs rolling off the assembly line at its Tuscaloosa factory, slated for later this year. Like many auto manufacturers, Mercedes has announced billions in EV investment, with a goal of going all-electric by 2030.
Other auto manufacturers with plants in Alabama, including Hyundai, Honda and Toyota Mazda, have also announced plans to rapidly expand their EV lineup.
One of the biggest hurdles to EV adoption is range anxiety – the notion an EV will run out of power before reaching a destination or charging station. But events like Saturday’s Showcase allow EV owners to explain most charging happens overnight at home and answer other questions or concerns regarding EV ownership.
EV owners, however, talk less about range anxiety and more about the “fun factor” that comes with the instant acceleration offered by EVs, regardless of the make or model.
“It’s the driving experience,” said Dale Holden, who drove a 2015 Kia Soul from Mobile to Birmingham for Saturday’s EV Showcase. “It’s snappy. It’s fun. It drives better than any car I’ve ever owned. It’s more fun than any car I’ve ever owned.”
Van Moody, founding pastor of The Worship Center, drives an EV and enjoys telling others about the benefits he enjoys as an EV owner.
“When we think about our world and our dependency on oil and other fossil fuels, the impact of these substances causes extreme harm to our planet every day,” he said. “I believe in electric vehicles because they are one way that we can be good stewards of our environment. This was a great opportunity for people to have their questions answered by owners of EVs instead of salespeople.”