Ivins, Utah
National Drive Electric Week EV’ent

September 10, 2016

Mark D Larsen

NDEW Oasis Station
(Click to enlarge)

In the past I have attended National Drive Electric Week celebrations in both Las Vegas (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) and Salt Lake City (2014), but this year I felt it was high time we EV owners in Southern Utah gathered together to sponsor our own EV’ent. After all, in this corner of the state there are now approximately 15 LEAFs, at least an equal number of Volts, and perhaps as many as a dozen Tesla vehicles. I therefore contacted the NDEW organization to volunteer to serve as City Captain and encouraged the other EV owners in the area to become involved. The owner and developer of my Kayenta subdivision graciously agreed to let us use the southern parking lots of his Coyote Gulch Art Village as the venue. I then began to muster support, post the EV'ent on several community calendars, spread the word around the area, purchase booth materials, prepare flyers, invitations, and display posters.

I approached the auto dealers to request their help with the effort by letting their EV customers know about the gathering. I also asked them to consider actively participating by bringing plug-in vehicles to the EV'ent for attendees to test drive. The general managers of both the Stephen Wade Nissan and Chevrolet dealerships readily agreed to do so, and even consented to have their event organizer supply light refreshments and drinks. Likewise, eSolarCycle brought a half-dozen e-bikes for attendees to test ride. I am deeply grateful for all their support! I hope that they will see an increased number of plug-in sales in the coming weeks as a result. The more the merrier!

Plug-In America, Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association were very kind to provide handouts and brochures free-of-charge to whatever City Captains wanted to distribute those materials at their gatherings. And Nissan North American again agreed to serve as the NDEW corporate sponsor and provide the EV’ents with t-shirts, an official banner, directional signs, and souvenirs: specially labeled sunglasses and very clever fans that plug into a cell phone’s charging slot for power, as shown in the first photo below. In my case, waiting for those materials to be delivered turned out to be something of a nail-biter, as they only arrived the very afternoon before our celebration. Whew...!

Rather than rely solely on narrative to summarize our EV’ent, I will post below photos which readers can click to open a brief annotated slide show:

Slide Show of the EV’ent
Click any thumbnail to open the photo in the slide show window

I have to admit that I was exhausted by the time the EV’ent was over, but really enjoyed hobnobbing with the EV owners, and hope that other attendees came away more enlightened about the benefits and joys of driving an electric vehicle. If so, perhaps by next year there will be at least double the number of EVs on the roads in our area.

In all, there were 6 LEAFs, 4 Volts, 3 Model S, 1 Model X, 1 C-Max Energi, and about a half-dozen e-bikes at the gathering. According to my tally sheet, 76 people attended the EV’ent, 14 of them were able to take rides in the vehicles, and 12 even test drove them. Those numbers undoubtedly pale in comparison to the NDEW gatherings in large metropolitan areas, but I think it is a good start for this corner of the Southwest. I foresee even greater celebrations in subsequent years.

I confess, however, that I harbor four disappointments in how this first NDEW in Southern Utah turned out. First, six owners who registered to bring their plug-ins to the EV’ent didn’t show up: we sorely missed their participation! At least their absence was ameliorated by five unregistered owners who attended.

Second, I’m sure that the folks at the Stephen Wade dealerships are as embarrassed and frustrated as I am that Nissan failed to deliver the ordered LEAF to offer test drives. I am very grateful, however, that Nissan did manage to get me my “City Captain kit” in the nick of time.

Third, I am very discouraged with the municipalities in this area. The city of St. George refused to promote the EV’ent because it would take place in the neighboring township of Ivins. Yet even Ivins would not include the notice in its monthly newsletter because they considered any notice of the celebration an “ad.” At least Kayenta was more than happy to post the flyers and include the celebration in its community news. As a result, I believe there were more Kayenta neighbors in attendance than from any other suburb in this area.

And fourth, the media was also less than cooperative. Several weeks previously, I personally stopped by the offices of the largest newspaper, The Spectrum, at least four times to apprise them of the EV’ent and provide promotional materials. Yet despite their positive response to spread the word to their readership, they did not pull through by publishing a notice —let alone making an appearance at the EV’ent. At least St. George News fulfilled their commitment to publish a preliminary article, and I am grateful for that exposure. I only wish they could have also attended to take photos and publish a follow-up report.

Maybe next year our local leaders will deem the gathering more worthy of support...?