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Benefits of electric vehicles on full display at Birmingham event

A Drive Electric Earth Day EVent was held Saturday at The Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham’s Lakeview neighborhood, where attendees got to hear about the varied benefits of owning an electric vehicle.

Drive Electric Earth Day is a national campaign designed to share first-hand information about electric vehicles. At the Birmingham event coordinated by the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, owners displayed over 20 EVs from Chevy, Ford, Kia, Nissan and Tesla. There were also electric scooters and an electric bus on display at the event, which was co-sponsored by UAB Sustainability, Alabama Power Company, the City of Birmingham, The Market at Pepper Place and the Zero Emissions Owners Group (ZEOG).

Visitors to Pepper Place spent Saturday morning talking to real-life EV owners, who are the best source of information for EV cost, range, charging time and other factors unique to driving them.

“As more and more motorists realize that electric vehicles are not only fun to drive but that also driving on electricity is about five times cheaper than fueling with gasoline, it makes it a lot easier to consider buying an EV,” explained Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition executive director Mark Bentley. “That’s what the Drive Electric Earth Day EVent is all about. We want people to know and understand the wide range of benefits associated with driving an EV, because it’s inevitable that we’re going to see more of them on our highways.”

John Collins, an adjunct professor at UAB and an early adopter of EVs, was quick to point out the performance factor.

“Electric vehicles have always been intriguing to me but once I was able to experience the performance of them, I was sold,” he remarked. “We now have two EVs and they both out preform any gas-powered vehicles we have ever owned.”

The recent panic purchase of gasoline in the wake of the temporary Colonial Pipeline shutdown has also underscored the convenience of driving an electric vehicle without worrying about a fuel shortage.

“There is truly very little maintenance required on electric vehicles,” added Adrienne Holmes, an EV owner from Birmingham who works as a mechanic. “Outside of the brakes and the tires, there is no comparison that the necessary maintenance for EVs is significantly less than gas- powered vehicles.”

The variety of EVs on display Saturday showcased why they have emerged as the fastest-growing transportation vehicle segment. Some EV drivers enjoy the environmental benefits of driving a car with no tailpipe emissions, while others emphasize the savings that come with never having to stop at a gas station or paying for an oil change.

“These cars promote a healthier lifestyle, and they are also incredibly economical,” said David Radzieta of Hueytown. “The cost savings from charging EVs compared to refueling gas powered vehicles is significant, especially over time.”

More than 50 battery electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) models are currently available. Manufacturers continue to roll out new models, and that’s why that number is expected to double by the end of 2022, including the introduction of full-sized pick- up trucks and SUVs. Alabama auto manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai will soon build EVs in-state, too.

“Electric vehicles are here to stay, and American motorists are increasingly embracing them,” Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition president Michael Staley stated. “It’s no secret that EVs are cheaper to maintain than conventional gas-powered vehicles, and they have the added advantage of being high-performing and environmentally friendly.”

Staley additionally noted buyers can often take advantage of a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, which adds to EVs’ affordability.

State leaders also understand the importance of EVs, evidenced last summer when Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) unveiled the Alabama Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan, which creates short- and long- range strategies to guide expansion of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state. Currently, there are approximately 426 EV charging outlets at 169 different public charging stations in the Yellowhammer State.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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