Henry Huntington would be proud.
As the person responsible for bringing electrically powered transportation to Southern California on a massive scale in the early 1900s, it seems fitting that a century later the beach that bears his name will host an event to showcase the latest electric vehicle technology available in 2014.
The exhibit is one of more than 100 being held across the country during National Drive Electric Week, Sept. 15-20, which is sponsored by Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association.
What sets the Huntington Beach event apart from the others is the sheer volume of electric vehicles (EVs) and accessories — enough to cover four football fields — as well as the diversity in the types of vehicles on display.
“This event isn’t going to be just cars, but everything — buses, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, electric skateboards and surfboards — the whole kit and caboodle,” said Ed Kjaer, Southern California Edison’s (SCE) director of Transportation Electrification, one of the event speakers.
Kjaer said he wants to make sure future customers who buy electric vehicles know about the resources available on SCE’s EV site, including the Electric Vehicle Rate Assistant Tool, which helps estimate charging costs, a link to the Department of Energy’s charging station locator, as well as helpful videos and background materials on a whole range of EV topics.
A 20-year veteran in the field of transportation electrification, Kjaer is palpably enthusiastic about the fact that SCE customers have been leading the way in adopting electric cars.
“Our customers lease or own 30,000 plug-in vehicles, which is about 12 percent of national sales, and that number is growing by about 1,200 new customers each month,” he said. “Do we want more? Absolutely. Can the grid handle it? Absolutely. Electric cars are good for the grid, good for our customers and environmentally good for the communities we serve.”
“It’s so gratifying to see real cars with real choices on the road,” he said, adding that events like National Drive Electric Week give a significant boost to electric car ownership. “It's enthusiastic EV drivers at the grassroots level who provide that needed reassurance to customers who are on the fence. It’s these folks who are the best salespeople for electric cars.”
About 75 cars from about a dozen different manufacturers are expected to be exhibited from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sept. 20 in the Huntington City Beach parking lot on Pacific Coast Highway. Most of the vehicles will be available to test drive.
National Drive Electric Week events will provide an opportunity for prospective owners to have their questions answered about price, advantages of full-electric versus hybrid, driving range and the cost of charging electric cars. The events also give current owners a chance to celebrate, share experiences and exchange information with fellow electric car owners.
“This is a come, drive it, test it, feel it show,” says Huntington Beach organizer Darren Schurig. “We’re actually requiring exhibitors to bring or develop interactive displays for the event.”
Customers can learn more about home fueling, electricity rate plans for EV owners or installing a home charging station at www.sce.com/EV.