Abita Springs Drive Electric Day was held on Sunday, September 15, and was a part of the nationwide celebration of EVs known as National Drive Electric Week. Abita is known for its wide range of local brews. One of my favorites is Purple Haze, another is the holiday edition, Creole Cream Ale (which can’t get here quick enough!).
This event was part of the Abita Springs Farmers Market, which also had several local vendors providing homemade meals, homemade Cajun/Creole seasonings, arts and crafts, jewelry, locally grown sage/incense, custom wallets made from alligator hides, and more. I tagged along with Karen Rudisil, owner of a Tesla Model X named The Red Dragon to the event on behalf of CleanTechnica so that I could run a quick EV survey and get to know some of the awesome folks in the local EV and Tesla community.
This is Saints country, meaning that many were preparing for the big game. A lot of people wore their jerseys or tees and were planning tailgating parties for after the event. We stayed to watch the beginning of the game at the Abita Brew Pub after the event was over. Fried pickles, pecan ale, and a catfish poboy with the fixins was a great way to end the day before a drive back to Baton Rouge.
Many EV owners converged on this southern Louisiana town just on the other side of the Causeway from New Orleans. People came from Alabama, Mississippi, and all around Louisiana.
The high only got to around the mid 90s, but with a heat index making it feel hotter. Despite a ritual that consisted of lots of sunblock and hopes that I wouldn’t get too sunburned, it didn’t save me from having a burnt nose.
It was too early in the day for Abita’s beer, so everyone opted for ice cold water and snow cones, and many stopped by the brew pub after the event was over. I enjoyed some root beer and several bottles of water. When we were done with our bottles and cans, we recycled them in the recycling bins provided by the Abita Committee for Energy Sustainability. (They also gave me a visor upon seeing my burnt nose despite the gallons of sunblock I used).
National Drive Electric Week Abita Springs, LA
LeAnn Pinniger Magee is the Chairwoman for the Abita Committee for Energy Sustainability and the force of energy that brought National Drive Electric Week to Abita Springs, LA. The event was also the work of Abita Springs Ready for 100%, which works with the Mayor’s Office and Town Council to bring clean, affordable renewable energy to Abita Springs. They are also working with local schools to move toward sustainable and clean energy.
Rick Salmon, of Alabama, is the owner of a Tesla Model S in the retired color Silver Metallic. Rick was giving “Beano,” the name of his Tesla, a good wipe so that it would sparkle in the intense sun. He and his wife drove from Alabama to Abita Springs for the event.
While mingling with the crowd, I was listening in when the owner of the following ModelX was telling a group of us that he gets about 170 miles of range while towing his boat.
See more photos of National Drive Electric Week courtesy Abita Springs Ready for 100% on Facebook.
I also got to meet up with Zack from GeauxTesla, who you might remember asked the question, “How much does the Tesla Semi weigh?” He is a professional truck driver and took a survey that we asked several attendees at the event (results below), which led into a more extended interview. His family was with him and they were showing off his wife’s Model X, which was twinning with Karen’s Red Dragon. I’d suspected he was from Louisiana, due to his username, when I first wrote the article about his Semi calculations. (Geaux is our word for “go” and is often followed by Tigers or Saints).
Zack’s response to one of the survey questions wasn’t on the list. Regarding the next EV he would like to buy, the answer was Tesla Semi (since he is a professional truck driver), but since that wasn’t on the list of options, he picked Tesla Pickup. Back to the Semi, he assume low maintenance on the truck will be a key benefit. Seeing semi truck drivers passionate about EVs is something we need more of. It’s cool Zack is already helping with that.
I also got to meet Tyler Herman, Co-Coordinater for Louisiana Clean Fuels, who brought his Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid. Like many of the EV drivers, he was offering test drives and educating people about EVs and clean energy. Louisiana Clean Fuels is a US Department of Energy Clean Cities Coalition that is supported by the LA Department of Natural Resources. Its mission is to advance the nation’s environmental, economic, and energy security by supporting local actions to diversify transportation fuel options.
CleanTechnica EV Owner Survey
CleanTechnica created a short survey for NDEW events. In Abita Springs, 20 people completed it. Many of the attendees that came to our event didn’t own an EV or weren’t familiar with them, which is what you want from such events as long as you have enough of a base of EV owners.
One of the event attendees was a Tesla Ranger who gave me some info on the New Orleans Service Center being built on Tchoupitoulas St. He wanted to stay anonymous but gave me a quote: “I believe the last thing they are waiting on is the certificate of occupancy from the city.”
Survey Questions & Results
When Did You First Buy/Lease An EV?
30% of respondents said they bought their EVs in 2019, while 15% said they bought in 2018 and 10% in 2017. So, more than half of them had bought their EVs in the past 2¾ years, and 70% had bought their EVs in the past 3¾ years.
How Long Do You Plan To Keep Your EV?
Almost everyone said “forever,” “until I stop breathing,” or “until the wheels fall off.”
What Car Do You Expect To Buy/Lease Next?
The Tesla Pickup was the most popular choice, followed by the Tesla Model Y and then the Tesla Model 3. Someone voted for the Tesla Roadster and a few electric vehicles from other brands also got a mention or two, such as the Kia Niro EV and the Jaguar I-PACE. There was a Chevy Volt at the event and its owner told me their next EV would be a Model 3. They felt that Chevy fell behind when it came to making EVs.
Which Brands Do You Consider Leaders In The EV Market?
Tesla was far and away the #1 brand voted as an EV market leader. Everyone who took the survey voted for Tesla. Since this question allowed for multiple answers, though, people got to choose who else they thought were leaders (if anyone). Many saw Nissan as a leader because the LEAF has been around for a while and is still the top selling electric car in history. Some voted for Volkswagen and Kia because they saw potential bubbling up from the companies. One person voted for Porsche because the company actually designed the Taycan as an electric vehicle, rather than “just throwing a battery in it and calling it an EV.”
Approximately How Many Miles Do You Drive Per Year In Your EV?
The most common answer to this question was over 20,000 miles, followed by 18,000 or higher. Those are high figures, higher than the national average. If you talk to someone who thinks you can’t drive a lot in an electric vehicle, show him or her these results.
Do Other People Seem More Open To EVs This Year Than In Previous Years?
Almost everyone voted yes to this. Among those who voted no, the reason was that, yes, at events like these you find people who know about and are into EVs, but in their day-to-day lives, they didn’t.
Have You Definitely Inspired Other People To Go Electric?
Many felt that they had inspired others to go electric, but some felt that either they didn’t or they simply weren’t sure. Many are definitely trying to lead by example. It shows. In my opinion, if they weren’t inspiring others to go electric, they wouldn’t have attended the event. The fact that they came out, showed off their vehicles and participated in the survey tells me that they are inspiring others — even if they feel like they aren’t.