Teslas are amazing cars. Very positive customer reviews. Huge waiting lists. 0-60 that crushes fossil fuels and internal combustion engines. But test driving a Tesla requires a few hurdles. There’s the whole “direct sales” model that’s rankling feathers in red states across the country. There’s the calling ahead, and being ready to plunk down some serious cash.
Then for many of us, there’s the sales pressure from the sales dude. So what’s a curious potential EV buyer to do? Lucky for us, one brilliant entrepreneur is cracking that nut. CT readers, I give you Christopher Alan of the Electric Car Guest Drive. His concept? Bring out willing EV owners and potential EV buyers, and let one ride along with the other. No pressure, no hassle, and a genuine customer to customer experience that will help facilitate electric vehicle sales. Boom. Love this guy. Here’s what he has to say about the Guest Drive experience. And note…you have an opportunity to join this weekend (if you live near California). They’re doing an electric vehicle guest ride today in San Jose, and tomorrow in Monterey. Read on!
One of the most frequent questions people ask me when they arrive at the Electric Car Guest Drive is “why are you doing this?” often followed by “are you working for Ford/Nissan/Tesla?” Unfortunately, none of the automakers support the Guest Drive, which is why we’re doing it. With a few notable exceptions, most of the automakers have no interest in marketing or promoting electric cars.
The electric car movement is not being led by the automakers that make them, it’s being led by the customers who are buying and then championing them. The people who bring their cars to Electric Car Guest Drive events to show or to allow other people to drive them are motivated by the realization that the transition to electric drive has significant advantages, and they want to demonstrate those advantages as well as discuss them.
I’m one of those people. A few years ago, I became aware that electric cars were a viable solution to daily driving around town, certainly good enough for commuting back and forth to work, for grocery shopping, for going to the gym. My main motivation for driving electric was the benefits EVs provide to society, primarily cleaner air. About forty percent of air pollution is caused by burning transportation fuels. The pollutants are responsible for childhood asthma, seniors’ COPD and heart disease. Worldwide, air pollution is one of the leading causes of premature death. So when electric cars were finally produced that were highway capable, and could be used for all of my typical daily driving, I bought one.
I also like the fact that electric cars can be operated on domestically sourced fuel, and that they can use renewable energy from solar, wind, hydro and geothermal power plants. The country’s economic and energy security depends our our ability to source our energy locally, and I’m painfully aware that the lives lost in the recent wars in the middle east were fought primarily over maintaining access to foreign oil. I wanted to opt out of that madness and view my purchase of an electric car as a small personal step toward ending our dependence on foreign oil.
I wanted to do more than just drive an electric car. I wanted to show other people that these cars are available, are affordable, and are very practical for daily use as primary transportation. The best way seemed to be to simply let other people drive my electric cars, a Ford Focus Electric and a Tesla Model S, and to find other people who are as committed as I am to moving toward zero emission transportation who were willing to do the same. So I started the Electric Car Guest Drive as a way to allow people to come to a comfortable place like a public park, drive several different electric cars in a single afternoon and talk to their owners, not sales people.
The move toward electric cars reminds me of the really early years of the Internet. I used to have to explain why email was better than fax. I don’t have to do that anymore. No one wants to give up their email and go back to fax, and the reasons are obvious. In another ten or twenty years, people will feel the same way about electric cars. Who wants to pay four dollars per gallon for gas when you can power an electric car for less than one dollar per gallon equivalent electricity? Who will want to go back to oil changes, tune-ups, replacing timing belts, or changing brake pads every 50,000 miles?
People who drive EVs know all about these benefits, but the general public is not fully aware of these advantages yet. And the only way they’re going to find out is if more people who’ve made the switch show up at Electric Car Guest Drive, National Drive Electric Week and other events and show and tell people what it’s like to drive these cars.
Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat, recently urged a large audience not to buy the Fiat 500e, because Fiat loses money on each one sold. The fact that the company’s gas powered cars cause air pollution that shortens people’s lives is apparently less important than the company’s short term profitability.
I’ll give you another option: come down to the park and drive one. Talk to someone who drives a 500e every day. Discuss what it’s like to go from a $400 per month gasoline bill to a $50 per month electrical bill. Evaluate for yourself if an EV is a better, more refined drive than the equivalent gas powered car. See for yourself whether it fits your lifestyle. And then decide for yourself whether the new era of automobiles has arrived. One that’s not part of the air pollution equation.
Christopher Alan is the founder of Electric Car Guest Drive. A schedule of the events can be found at the group’s web site at http://www.electriccarguestdrive.com/
Photos courtesy of Gas2. This post was supported by the Electric Car Guest Drive.
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