Drive Electric RVA is ready to convince you

Ever been curious about how an electric vehicle could change your life and reduce the awfulness that we’re all doing to the planet? Now’s your chance to break into the (super welcoming) electric vehicle driver community!

Charles Gerena started Drive Electric RVA partly out of necessity–owning his Nissan Leaf was a new foray into electric car ownership, and he wanted some words of wisdom from more seasoned electric drivers–and partly out of sheer enthusiasm.

He tested the waters even further by planning a Richmond-based event to coordinate with National Drive Electric Week, and the turnout (up to 100 people at one of the events) was larger than he’d even hoped.

To Gerena, that indicates that the tide is turning. As technology makes it more and more possible to marry the desires of “driving a cool car” and “having a smaller carbon footprint,” the general populace is starting to view electric cars as not just a novelty, but the future.

This year, Drive Electric RVA is expanding its scope and cleverly aligning its events with Earth Day. A rally and a couple of movie screenings will be helpful for both the electric-car-equipped and the electric-car-curious.

Got some skeptical thoughts? We are one step ahead of you! Here are Charles Gerena’s official answers to your raised eyebrows.

It’s too slow!

“If there’s any doubt about speed, get behind the wheel of a Tesla! You also get the advantage of instant torque. You put your foot on the accelerator and, if you floor it, instantly get all the power. You don’t have to wait for gears to turn to get to top speed.

“The average electric vehicle drives like a regular car. The only difference you’ll notice is no engine sound and the way you refuel. You’ll refuel more often, but it’s as routine as plugging your cell phone in before you go to bed at night.”

It’s too expensive!

“The price is definitely coming down, but that’s certainly a consideration. My Leaf cost about $30,000, which for a car its size is on the high side. There’s also a federal tex credit you get of $7,500, but even without the tax break, there are several companies in the process of not just thinking about [creating a more affordable car], they’re doing it. Tesla, GM, BMW…all are actively working on vehicles for the middle class market, for people who want that range of 200+ miles per charge.

“Also, there are no fan belts to change, no oil to change, and you save money on gas. There’s a once-a-year maintenance check, but other than that you save on a lot of maintenance costs over the lifetime of the vehicle. I’m not a handy person so I like the fact that there’s less I have to worry about.”

But I’ve got two kids and we take a lot of car trips!

“Well, that’s a situation where I’d say it’s not a good fit, unless you get a hybrid a Volt [which switches from electric to gas for longer trips]. In my case, [my Leaf] is a second car. For road trips, we use my wife’s car. But it’s a great car for commuting, and there will be major improvements in the life of a battery in the next few years. Organizations like Virginia Clean Cities are working on installing charging stations along the interstates, too.”

It still takes up a lot of energy, though, right?

“There are actually quite a few electric car owners that don’t even install a [special electric car charger], and just plug one right into a regular outlet (as long as nothing else is on the circuit). A charger has higher voltage so it charges faster. But yes, there’s still worry about [overusing] coal plants and natural gas plants–but if you have a home charger and you install solar panels, you’re generating clean energy that goes right into your car.”

Interested in learning more? Meet Charles Gerena and the other electric drivers at the Earth Day Week EV Round-Up on Saturday, April 18th from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Farmers Market at St. Stephen’s (6000 Grove Avenue).

Photo by: Drive Electric RVA

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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