How To Become an EV Evangelist

By · October 14, 2014

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Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners' Circle

The EV drivers in Minnesota are not just casual motorists. They are part of the Minnesota Plug-in Vehicle Owners' Circle, parked in front of the state capitol building, to show off their zero-emission rides.

Americans adore their cars. But the story of the American love affair with the automobile takes a twist in the EV age. The joy of driving—and the sense of adventure on the open road—takes on a sense of responsibility and mission. By becoming an early EV adopter—and evangelizing to family, friends, and co-workers about the experience—you can increase the ranks of drivers who simultaneously embrace both personal mobility and environmental sustainability.

Here are a few guidelines to help you along the way.

Become informed.
Electric cars are becoming more commonplace, but are still rare enough to invite questions from friends and strangers who are EV-curious. The experience of driving gives you a base of knowledge about buying, driving and charging an EV. But be prepared to answer detailed questions about costs, environmental impacts, driving range, charging and the growing list of models that are in the marketplace. That means spending a little time on websites, like PluginCars.com, as well as EV blogs. If you are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, that will rub off on prospective buyers—creating a virtuous cycle of increased electric car adoption. When a question stumps you, don’t worry. Just hunt down the answer so you can give a thoughtful response the next time.

Give rides.
There’s nothing like the first few minutes behind the wheel of an EV. The silent and speedy acceleration, and smoothness, usually puts a big smile on the driver’s face. The experience shows that an electric car is not slow or strange—and it quickly dissolves any misconceptions that today’s electric vehicles are glorified golf carts. If you feel comfortable allowing family and friends to take your electric car for a spin (with you opining from the passenger seat), then extend the invitation.

Join groups.
It’s easy to join Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association, and other EV affinity groups. Seek out local chapters of groups organized around your specific model. In many cases, these are online experiences on web forums and Facebook. But there are also organizations that meet the old-fashion way: in person, where you can park your car next to other electric vehicle owners, and compare notes on the vehicle’s features. Joining these groups is a great way to get answers to your questions, which can be passed on to other current or prospective drivers. And it’s through these EV groups, as well as organizations like the Sierra Club, that you can become aware of special events, like National Drive Electric Week.

Print material.
If you get cornered in a parking lot, and don’t have time to answer every question, it can be useful to have a set of printed FAQs on hand. It means that you can quickly hand something out, and move along. The printed matter could also provide basic specs and compelling photos of the most popular models. Okay, so it’s a little aggressive and perhaps nerdy to be passing out leaflets. Minimize the effect by using fact, understatement and humor, rather than heavy diatribes about Big Oil.

Be honest.
Electric cars have limited range. They take a while to refuel. Some models are pricey. As usual, honesty is the best policy. When you talk up EVs—in person or online—be honest and frank about the pros and cons of driving electric, and ditching internal combustion. You don’t want your passionate views to backfire, when the realities of range, for example, come to light. Of course, electric cars are a higher form of automotive life than gas cars, but browbeating those who don’t see it that will not accomplish anything.

Follow legislation.
The PluginCars.com page on plug-in car incentives provides a running list of pro-EV legislation—like the $7,500 tax credit. That’s locked in for now, but things could change. And new laws and rules are in play—things like electric infrastructure, use of carpool lanes, preferred parking, and Tesla-style direct sales. Stay informed, and get ready to sign petitions and write to your elected officials as needed.

Share your plug.
EV charging infrastructure is growing every day. But there are still many residential neighborhoods that lack public charging stations. That’s why PlugShare has easy ways to share your 240-volt home charging station with fellow drivers who are visiting your neighborhood. And what goes around comes around. There will be times when you need to borrow a plug from another PlugSharer. The electricity is cheap, so it’s really just a matter of a very slight inconvenience to help ensure that as many trips as possible are powered by clean grid-supplied energy. Learn how to use PlugShare.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
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  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.