Help Me With A Special Project To Prove That EVs Have What It Takes, Get Sales Back On Track

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( TL;DR: I’m working on a special project to visit every national park and prove that EVs are good enough for road trips, even if you’re not wealthy. You can donate to the effort here.)

The Problem

While U.S. EV sales aren’t cratering the way some media outlets and personalities claim, it is true that sales aren’t growing as fast as people hoped. We hit the “tipping point” of 5% sales, but the United States just didn’t tip the way other countries did. So, automakers delayed and backed off some, and then the Biden administration backed off a bit on emissions rules to allow more plugin hybrids. Now, we’re in for a much slower climb than anticipated.

But, as Henry J. Kaiser supposedly said, “Problems are just opportunities in work clothes.” But, if we want to fix this problem, we must first figure out what drives it.

One of the biggest problems holding EVs back now is charging anxiety. While most people only rarely go far enough from home to need to charge anywhere else, we always buy our cars with epic summer road trips in mind. After all, who wants to make a payment every month or put a big stack of cash on the barrelhead for 90% of a car? No, people want the whole car, and they will buy whatever car they think will take care of 100% of their anticipated wants and needs.

But, ask any EV driver who takes road trips, and nearly all will tell you that they do just fine. So, we’re not dealing with a situation where EVs suck and they need to suck a lot less for normies to be able to buy them. The real issue is that people don’t know enough about EVs to know that they can count on them.

How I Want To Solve This

We can tell people all day about how great Tesla’s supercharger network is, how road trips aren’t really that common, or the fact that most EVs today charge up just fine while you eat or use the bathroom. I have as much fun accusing the “EVs need to go 800 miles non-stop” crowd of wearing astronaut diapers as anybody, but I know that most people don’t want you to tell them stuff. They want you to prove it.

But, as I mentioned earlier, people take road trips in EVs all the time. So, it’s not as much a matter of doing it, but making sure that people see that you’re doing it.

How do we get them to notice? We’re not going to do that sharing pictures of our trips on social media to impress our friends who also drive EVs. We have to do something that is both entertaining, gets their attention, and strikes at the heart of the American road trip mythos. Then, we need to do it over and over for years, get beautiful eye-catching pictures every time, and make sure people know that you can go just about anywhere in an EV.

That’s a tall order, but there’s a set of destinations that check every one of those boxes: National Parks.

My Project: Charge To The Parks

My plan is to share the story of visiting all of the national parks in the U.S. that can be reached in an EV. I’m already publishing travel guides for the parks at a dedicated website, while also publishing account of my stories here at CleanTechnica.

This project is already underway. Not only is the website up and running, but I’ve already published several accounts of national park visits here at CleanTechnica. In the articles, I shared valuable information on how to get to them and get the most out of an EV trip to the area.

Here are a few examples:

Another thing I want to do along the way is improve the charging situation for parks. By working with local businesses in person, I can connect them to EV charging companies to get the work of adding more charging started!

Kia EV9
A Kia EV9 press car we took on a recent trip to work toward this project.

I Can’t Do This Well On My Own

To really make an impact and prove that affordable EVs can make it out to all of the parks, I’m going to need some help from readers. I’ve whittled what I need down over time by collecting camping gear, but due to some changing family needs (and a sick pet that needs to come along on most trips), I now need to get a small used camper with hard sides to pull behind my Bolt EUV.

After shopping around on FarceBark Marketplace and Craigslist, I have figured out that I can do this for about $10,000 (including money to make repairs/upgrades to an older camper). I’ve also planned my next trip, and will be going to Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado. In total, including a little for my time spent documenting the trip, that will cost me about $1933.

This brings the total to $11,933.

For future months, I’ll already have a camper, so all I’ll ask readers to help with will be EV charging, some campground fees, a few meals, and some money to pay for a few days of my time. So, this project will need very little going forward after this initial fundraiser.

If this sounds like a project you’d be interested in helping with, consider donating via GoFundMe here.

Kia EV9
A shot from a recent trip in a Kia EV9 press car.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1987 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba