Comments such as zippy, fast and smart were among the most often-heard reactions of first-time electric vehicle divers during the Experience Electric-The Better Ride campaign held in the San Francisco Bay Area during the past six months.
Launched in May 2014, the EV awareness campaign held test drives at more than 20 workplace and community outreach events, allowing over 3,000 drivers to try various all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in an effort to spur EV adoption.
CSE spearheaded the campaign in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the nonprofit organizations Charge Across Town and Plug-In America. The campaign was a first of its kind — an EV awareness campaign offering free test drives in a casual, no-sales environment — and designed to raise awareness of the many benefits and incentives of driving electric.
Getting the EV experience
“Through the test-drive experience, Bay Area residents were able to get a perspective on what EVs are like,” said CSE’s Jordan DiGiorgio, Experience Electric project manager. “When they got out of the cars, they were smiling, excited and expressed interest in pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle through EVs. We were able to show people that driving electric is both smart and fun.”
Events were held at places like Marina Green on San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Bayer Corporation, National Drive Electric Week in Cupertino and many other locations. The public could test drive a variety of the latest and most popular EVs, including the BMW i3, Cadillac ELR, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Leaf, smart electric drive and Chevy Volt. Participants were encouraged to examine the vehicles, ask questions and join in the conversation about EVs on social media using Experience Electric’s signature hashtag #TheBetterRide.
“This campaign was about behavior change, so taking an innovative approach was necessary,” DiGiorgio said. “It’s difficult to change behaviors and attitudes with words and pictures, so we strived to create an interactive, creative experience where people could see, touch and feel what it’s like to drive electric.”
Experience Electric was developed by the MTC in partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Area EV Strategic Council. The Bay Area was deemed an optimal location for such a campaign as the surrounding communities already account for 40% of California’s EVs.
The campaign achieved becoming part of EV history Sept. 20, 2014, in Cupertino when Experience Electric was present while 507 EVs broke the Guinness World Record for the largest number of EVs in a parade.
EV driver data collected
Along with raising awareness and educating drivers on the benefits of EVs, the campaign collected valuable survey information concerning drivers’ perceptions and perceived obstacles to owning an EV. This data will help organizations such as MTC develop improved practices and policies to better address public concerns about EVs. Reports on the data will be available in early 2015.
Visit the Experience Electric Facebook page to learn more.