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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lincoln City National Drive Electric Week Celebration

Guest post by Debbie Jimmerson, the City Captain of National Drive Electric Week in Lincoln City, OR

Our Lincoln City National Drive Electric Week celebration was held on Saturday, September 13.  We were fortunate to be part of the Cruisin’ the Bay Car Show, held annually at the Bay House Restaurant parking lot. On a beautiful day at the central Oregon coast with whales spouting offshore, eight shiny EVs and PHEVs were on display: 

            Bill B., Salem & Otter Crest OR          Chevy Spark Electric
            Gary G., Hillsboro OR                         Tesla Model S
            Debbie & Patrick J., Lincoln Beach OR    Two Nissan LEAFs
Wally K., Lincoln City OR                      Smart Electric Drive
Chris M., Vancouver WA                         Ford Fusion Energi
Stephen O. & Lea S., Olympia WA         Tesla Model S
Jaime & Chuck W., Castle Rock WA &   Chevy Volt 
   Lincoln Beach OR                                                    

 Chevy Spark Electric and Smart Electric Drive
Spectators were treated to an outstanding variety of cars to see. For an organizer starting with our own two LEAFs and hoping to just put a little something together for NDEW, the participant response was awe-inspiring. Owners were articulate, well informed, excited about their cars, and enthusiastic ambassadors.  Each car received considerable attention.  We had informative posters acknowledging national NDEW sponsors and local contributors, highlighting the charging network in Oregon, and Gary brought a large poster from Oregon Electric VehicleAssociation showcasing different models of EVs. 

Drives and rides were done by Stephen in a Tesla Model S and Patrick in a Nissan LEAF. Twenty-two people took advantage of the drive and rides, looping on Hwy. 101 from the event south to Salishan, north to Lincoln City, and back to the event. For future events, we need bold signage to call attention to the drive and rides. Another hurdle was that some people thought we were dealers. We need to better convey that we’re private owners wanting to share our enthusiasm for the cars with no sales pitch involved. For those who did the drive and rides, typical comments heard afterward were, “Wow!” and “Now I know what my next car will be!”.

Gary answers questions about his Tesla Model S.  Chevy Volt and Ford Fusion Energi in
background.  Drive and rides ready to go on right--Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S.

The classic car part of the show had 95 cars on display. Hundreds of spectators were present. Our NDEW group was adjacent to and facing busy Hwy. 101, so visibility could not have been better. A few EV owners driving by even doubled back to stop in and say hello. Problematic with this setup are limited space and the display cars are preregistered, so EVs happening by could not just pull in and join the group. 

The car show organizers liked the use of car window flags on the EVs.  Each car had at least one “Drive Electric” flag, with the 2011 LEAF and the Smart Electric Drive car flying two. The American-made cars flew an American flag in their other window. We needed more breeze for our display car flags to really be perfect, but they were outstanding as the drive and ride cars sailed by.  Car flags were sent home with owners for future use. 

The icing on the cake was when Stephen and Lea’s Tesla Model S won the Cruisin’ the Bay Car Show’s Best in Class Post-1990’s award:

                                          Lea and Stephen traveled 205 miles from Olympia, WA.

Our car owners were each given a gift bag with National Drive Electric Week items courtesy of Nissan. Having those items available as thank you gifts was essential for our small event. Renee at Nissan went above and beyond to make delivery happen, with UPS even showing up at the event!  Owners also received beautiful glass floats created by Bob Meyer from Ocean Beaches Glassblowing as his show of support for National Drive Electric Week. Bob is a Nissan LEAF driver and provides a L2 charging station at his shop in Seal Rock for EV drivers. We also appreciated the unflagging support and encouragement of Chris Chandler and Central Lincoln PUD (7.3 cents/kWh).

Overall, our event was an electrifying success thanks to an exceptional group of EV owners. This organizer found that the national team members and the resources provided by National Drive Electric Week, Plug In America, Sierra Club, and Electric Auto Association were very helpful as well as the city captains blog where we could trade ideas on the national level.

As a first-time organizer in a less populated area, we benefited greatly from collaborating with an established and popular show such as this. An NDEW event would have happened anyway, but it would not have been nearly as grand if the Cruisin’ the Bay Car Show had not welcomed us in. We were invited to participate in their planning meetings, included in their promos, and chief organizer Scott Arehart kept me informed every step of the way. They gave us a prime and highly visible space. I did not have to worry about permits, publicity, people to attend, or porta-potties.
The announcer said at the show that the EVs were the wave of the future and the motto of this car show is all are welcome. We certainly felt that way. They also said the National Drive Electric Week celebration added a great dimension to their show. Hopefully, we can continue the collaboration. Who knows if the stars will align to recreate the same magic we had this year? The bar’s been set very high, but we can certainly try!

Debbie Jimmerson, City Captain
Lincoln City, OR
National Drive Electric Week

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