The first in a series of events celebrating plug-in cars for National Drive Electric Week kicked off in Williston this week. On Sunday morning, the Hannaford Supermarket parking lot was abuzz, as gas-vehicle drivers had a chance to get their hands on, and feet on the pedals of, electric cars.
People milled around and were able to peek under the hood of electric cars, some of them offered up by local owners willing to share a glimpse of what they’re used to driving.
The test-drive event was held by Drive Electric Vermont, a partnership between the state and the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, in order to help increase overall awareness and education and participate in Drive Electric Week, which runs Sept. 10 through 18.
Larry Reed, a Williston resident who owns a red 2014 Smart car was one of 10 owners who came out with their personal vehicles to show others how driving electric can differ from, and yet also mimic, driving gas-powered vehicles. The demonstration lasted from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and was centered around the electrical pump bank in the far section of the Hannaford parking lot, which was installed earlier this year by Green Mountain Power.
“It was great,” said Dave Roberts, coordinator for Drive Electric Vermont, who said that Shearer Chevrolet was also on hand, along with the private owners. “Vehicles were there for people to just check out; a bunch of people went on test drives or rides to experience them for themselves, which we always try to do at these events because it can really change people’s perspective as they get out there behind the wheel of an electric car,” he said. “They find out they actually have a lot of zip and are really fun to drive.”
Earlier this summer, the organization launched an increased incentive for those in the market for a new car: $1,000 toward any of the qualifying electric vehicles for sale in Vermont. The discount, which is afforded through grant money, comes in the form of instant savings when the vehicle is purchased or leased by a qualifying auto dealer in the state. Roberts said that the program, which had 200 incentives to give out, was about two-thirds of the way used up, and he expected the incentives to last for another month or so.
“These incentives will promote local businesses and help Vermonters experience all the benefits of going electric for their next new car.” Currently 15 different models of plug-in vehicles are on the market in Vermont, the group said.
– Jess Wisloski, Observer staff