Electric vehicles take the spotlight today, Saturday – Knoxville News Sentinel

Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015

Drivers of electric vehicles and those curious about the economic and environmental benefits of EVs will have the opportunity to learn more at special event to be held today at Turkey Creek, as well as at a smaller display Saturday in Knoxville.

The East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition will help celebrate the fifth annual National Drive Electric Week at the events with more than 30 EVs on display 4-8 p.m. today behind O’Charley’s restaurant on Parkside Drive. And on Saturday, three EVs, including a Tesla, will be on display 3-7 p.m. near Gate 21 at Neyland Stadium.

National Drive Electric Week spans Sept. 12-20 and is an international educational effort, said East Tennessee Clean Fuels executive director Jonathan Overly.

Knoxville’s events are among almost 200 across the country where EV owners and their neighbors will hold electric car parades, “tailpipe-free” tailgate parties, recognition of leaders promoting EVs, and launches of public EV charging stations, Overly said.

“Electric vehicles are a completely new experience for many drivers,” he said. “You have to see it, sit in it, and drive it to really understand how the vehicles work and if they are a fit for you and your family.”

As a “Calling all EVs” event, any EV drivers are encouraged to show up at the Turkey Creek location, bring their vehicles, and be part of the showcase, Overly said. Homebuilt electric vehicles, some converted from gasoline-powered cars, will also be on display.

After the event, attendees are welcomed to join a group dinner where the EV conversations will continue, he said.

Drivers interested in electric vehicles can take the opportunity to get an up-close look at a variety of EVs from different manufacturers including Nissan, GM, Toyota, Ford, Honda and Tesla.

Those interested in getting behind the wheel of an EV can even take a test drive of a Nissan Leaf from Twin City Nissan or a BMW i3 from Grayson BMW at the Turkey Creek event.

The big appeal of the Leaf is the ability to drive past gas stations without having to worry about the price of gasoline, said Roger Wittman, a salesman with Twin City.

The electric cars deliver a lot of torque and will surprise first-time drivers with their performance, he said.

“It will blow your mind, it’s so fast,” Wittman said.

The BMW i3 is pretty fast, too, said Todd Bernstein at Grayson. The car also looks pretty good, he said. The new BMW electric cars are eco-friendly, and built in a “green factory” powered by wind. Carbon fiber and recycled plastic are also used to maintain the concept of sustainability from the factory to the road, he said.

Today’s event will be a perfect opportunity for those interested in electric vehicles to have their questions and concerns addressed, get first-hand user experience, and to learn how electric vehicles can fit with different lifestyles and applications, Overly said.

Sales of EVs during the first seven years after introduction are growing twice as fast as sales of hybrid vehicles during their first seven years, he said.

Turkey Creek is a great destination for EVs, with multiple charging stations available, including the new Tesla superchargers and other charging stations close by at Calhoun’s restaurant and the Cracker Barrel restaurant on Campbell Station Road.

There are about 18 charging stations within driving range of Knoxville, Overly said. The installation of new charging stations, especially the new fast-charging stations, is helping to drive the sales of new EVs, he said.

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