It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an electric vehicle

Think BIG Arlington-Alexandria electric vehicle event on October 2, a large poster showcases electric vehicles currently available on the market, their prices and range.

See big. Think electric. Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have partnered to sponsor the first Think BIG About the Future of Movement event at Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria (NVCC) on Sunday, October 2.

Rebecca Moser, event organizer for Arlington County, said, “We have never held this event in the past and began our heavy planning in May. But that wasn’t soon enough given the scale and scale of the event. In addition to the opportunity to drive an electric vehicle and explore the different options in a technical showcase with buses, electric school buses and public transport buses, there was an afternoon of speakers, activities for children with stalls and exhibits.

Moser, environmental management associate, energy market specialist with the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services’ AIRE team, and Bill Eger, energy manager for the city of Alexandria, worked regionally on the event. Eger says it was an opportunity to educate the community on how electric vehicles work, availability and types and to boost comfort. He says the event aligns with Alexandria and Arlington’s shared goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.

Moser says the e-mobility rodeo allowed one person to test drive a number of vehicles, including cars, scooters and bicycles. She says that since people are testing vehicles, organizers are partnering with Columbus American which has hosted driving events in the past. She says they do most of the logistics, work with dealerships to get cars, take out insurance. “So far we have Mercedes and Hyundai, we work with Ford, Audi and Mini Cooper.”

In addition to planning and organizing the event itself, the team had to make a contingency plan for the weekend’s weather projections. “We check every two hours. So far it’s still on. The lower garage is fully covered. Eger said after the event that the weather was a challenge, but luckily the NVCC had a parking structure that worked for most activities. But he says they had one of the 14 Dash electric buses on display but it didn’t fit and had to be parked on the street so it was a bit less than they had hoped.

Children had fun with a coloring table stacked with black and white logos of trains, buses and cars printed on butcher paper. They could get a temporary tattoo of a plane, train or bike and take home a van-shaped squish ball with the event logo. And if your poker chip travels across the Plinko board to the energy-related question number at the bottom, you can win a prize for a correct answer.

The three afternoon discussion sessions focused on “Electric Vehicle Ownership and Home Charger Installation,” with a resident and dealership owner from Alexandria and Arlington, followed by “Development and local initiatives of electric vehicles” and the final session “Research, progress and innovation in the EV space” with Dr. Jennifer Gerbi, Acting Director of the Energy Department of the Projects Agency advanced search.

Moser said this project has been an organizational challenge and a learning curve. Because it takes place at NVCC, which is state-owned and not in Arlington or Alexandria, they had to sign a facility rental agreement and purchase insurance that would normally have been covered by local governments. There were many legal obstacles. “But we’ve done the groundwork to replicate it in the future.”

Eger says the only thing he would change next time is the weather (if he could). “It was a bit difficult with the weather, but overall it was really great. People were really excited to see and share their experiences with electric vehicles. It was a really exciting peer-to-peer sharing. An electric vehicle is a car, but it has new features or new ways of operating that people need to learn. »

Eger says the most recent DMV records indicate Alexandria households have about 1,200 electric cars, which is 3-5% “but it’s growing.” Eger speculates that part of the reluctance to purchase an electric vehicle has to do with limited availability and long waiting lists. And he adds that part of the reluctance has to do with education and not knowing enough about owning and operating. He explains that was the purpose of this event, one of many held across the country during National Drive Electric Week.

Moser adds that both Arlington and Alexandria have urged citizens to adopt sustainable practices “and we want to educate citizens about how easy it is to switch to an electric vehicle and set up your home for electric charging.” The transportation goals are part of the Community Energy Plan which is a long-term vision for reimagining Arlington.