Electricity filled the air on Sunday, September 25, as over 350 visitors came to see 37 electric vehicles (EVs), a new high spanning dozens of makes and models, for this year’s National Drive Electric Week event in Davis. EV curious folks from around northern California flocked to the Farmer’s Market Pavilion to meet owners showing off their prized rides, answering questions, and contributing to the spirit of optimism around both the speed of EV adoption and the breadth of available models.

The Davis Electric Vehicle Association (DEVA), led by key volunteers Richard Bode and Robert Poeschel among others, is a working group of Cool Davis and an affiliated sub-group of the Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association (SacEV), itself a chapter of the national non-profit Electric Vehicle Association. DEVA plays a vital role in advocating for electric vehicle adoption in our area and putting on this event, now in its fifth year in Davis.

So many options

“There are so many more options than before,” said Jason Bone, Board President for Cool Davis, one of many hosting organizations, as he looked out over throngs of visitors eyeing new electric buses, cargo vans, pick-up trucks, luxury sedans, motorcycles, and bicycles. A longtime Davis resident and father of two, Jason emphasized that there are more choices with greater impact now than ever before, and that it’s essential to spread that message in a way people will understand—namely, by seeing and driving these vehicles for themselves. He acknowledged, though, that charging and accessibility remain hindrances in the city. “Davis has made a lot of changes recently, but we can do more.”

Organizers were especially excited about new electric pick up trucks and new electric Unitrans buses. Jeff Flynn, Unitrans General Manager, told Cool Davis, “Unitrans is excited to introduce our first electric buses into service this month to help move our campus and city communities to meet our shared environmental goals.”

Clearly, we have to take action

Lucas Frerichs, Davis’s current mayor and a city councilmember for the last decade, agrees, “Climate change is the biggest existential threat to humanity…[EVs] are a huge part of Davis’s response. There’s a lot of progress to be made in electrification of the transportation sector.”

Frerichs, who himself drives an all-electric Nissan Leaf, feels there’s a strong urgency to move to electrified transportation, “This is definitely a very hot topic in our community and our society right now…Clearly, we have to take action.”

Part of that action, said the mayor, includes a $3M grant for Valley Clean Energy to install and operate EV chargers across Yolo County. But more is needed, and that may come in the form of Davis’s Climate Action Adaptation Plan, or CAAP. Currently in draft form, the public comment period just closed this past Monday, October, 10, 2202, but additional opportunities for community input will arise when the plan comes before council in the coming months. It remains “to be determined” what—if anything—will go towards helping Davis residents access EVs, Frerichs said.

Move over Musk

One thing was obvious: everyone had an opinion about the impact of Tesla and its cavalier CEO, Elon Musk, on the race to move to sustainable transport. “On the whole, he’s been a net benefit. But innovation can happen without the crazy rhetoric,” said Frerichs, who cited the carmaker as catering to a more premium market.

Katrina Sutton, technical project manager at CALSTART, agreed. “There are better options than Tesla for my lifestyle.”

Options indeed abounded at Sunday’s showcase, which had something for everyone. That was ideal for Abajh Singh, a seven-year Davis resident who works at the California Air Resources Board. “Tesla made EVs more palatable. It’s done its job,” he said while looking at a new Ford Mach-E. Singh himself is looking to buy a Chevy Bolt. “It just makes sense when it comes to cost,” he said.

It’s time for a new look at EVs

Tesla aside, it’s clear there has never been a better time to go electric and doing so has a real impact on the environment. “Everyone has got to play their part,” reiterated Jason Bone of Cool Davis, “It’s time for a new look at EVs.”

More goodies

Read our “by the numbers” report for this year’s event.

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Visit our Drive Electric campaign webpage

Get the newest Plug In America Electric Vehicle guide

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