Mainers prove eager to test drive expanding choice of models
South Portland, ME – Dozens of electric cars were on display and on the road today at South Portland’s 3rd Annual “Drive Electric” event. Coinciding with National Drive Electric Week and hundreds of similar events nationwide, the South Portland gathering offered people an opportunity to get behind the wheel of many models of electric cars now on the road. The City of South Portland installed one of the first and largest electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Maine at its Community Center, and charging a car there is free.
Those who attended the event were treated to test drives in a variety of plug-in electric cars including all-electric models, such as the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3, as well as electric models that also have a gasoline engine for extended range, such as the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius plug-in. EV owners also brought their personal cars to show to and discuss with others. These included several Tesla models, as well as Volts, Leafs and i3’s.
“I am optimistic that 2017 will be a pivotal moment in history for electric vehicles, in the US and globally,” said Barry Woods, co-founder of Drive Electric Maine and a board member with Plug-In America. “We have just reached 500,000 total domestic EV sales and all major manufacturers are in the process of introducing model choices with some level of battery electric range. Most exciting is the move toward larger battery vehicles, like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla 3, which will have 60 kWh battery storage and range in excess of 200 miles. At the same time the products are getting better, so is the availability of charging infrastructure, even in Maine. Hannaford Brothers now has installed five DC Fast Chargers at various Maine stores and the state is actively planning an electric vehicle corridor connecting with Quebec. The tide is indeed turning.”
Currently there are about 100 public EV charging stations in Maine, from Bethel to Bar Harbor and from York to Carrabassett Valley. A significant number of charging stations are popping up at hotels and inns, as well as town facilities that power town municipal vehicles and those owned by others, too.
The event featured free EV-delivered pizza, Q&A sessions with current EV owners, and a raffle with a grand prize of a home electric charging station from Clipper Creek valued at $640. Pizza was provided by Portland House of Pizza, which makes deliveries in an all-electric Nissan Leaf, and coffee by Coffee by Design.
Electric cars can help Maine reduce its dependence on imported oil, lower transportation costs, cut pollution, and take advantage of our increasingly clean electricity supply. This has brought together a range of stakeholders who don’t always agree.
“Maine’s transportation sector represents the majority of our carbon emissions and also is a significant amount of monthly expenditures for businesses and households,” said Patrick Woodcock, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “Due to our high penetration of renewable electricity generation, an electrification of our transportation sector would yield massive emission reductions. While this is a long-term challenge, I am excited that the State is starting the discussion of moving Maine’s transportation sector towards a more sustainable future. I thank Drive Electric Maine and the national sponsors for organizing the National Drive Electric Day and encourage Mainers to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the advances in electric vehicles.”
Maine and New England have one of the cleanest mixes of electricity on the grid of any part of the country, which means plug-in electric vehicles that substitute electricity for gasoline have an even bigger impact on reducing pollution. The national Clean Power Plan, which requires the entire country to reduce power plant carbon emissions will make the entire electricity grid for the country cleaner and thus enhance the benefits of electric vehicles.
“For many Maine families, transportation is both one of the biggest household costs and one of the biggest pieces of our carbon footprint,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The number of electric cars out there is multiplying and that makes for a great opportunity for Maine people, businesses and institutions to cut costs and pollution. If it sounds too good to be true, nothing is better than getting behind the wheel yourself or talking to a fellow Mainer who has gone electric.”
“CMP is pleased to support Drive Electric Maine and encourage wider use of electric vehicles,” said John Carroll, spokesperson for CMP. “Building the infrastructure for EVs is one part of the solution for tapping renewable energy resources to reduce the carbon footprint of our transportation system in Maine.”