Electric vehicles, or EVs, seem to be setting off more and more fireworks – figuratively, that is.
According to the US Department of Energy, electric vehicles can help reduce air pollution:
“Plug-in electric vehicles (also known as electric cars or EVs) can help keep your town and your world clean. In general, EVs produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles.”
The availability of electric vehicles is increasing, their price is decreasing, they’re some folks’ answer to Trump’s dumb decision to pull out of the Paris Accord…they’re even becoming part of the sharing economy.
Plus, the “vehicle” in EV doesn’t only mean “car.” Bikes and buses are becoming electrified, too.
Bottom line: If you’re traveling for the 4th of July, are in the market for a new car, or just want to see what all the fuss is about, here are 5 ways you can dabble in the EV world and see if electric “fireworks” just might be in your future.
- Electric Bikes – Gasoline-powered bikes have been around for years (my son actually built one 10 years ago as an engineering experiment), but they’re noisy, dirty and offer no climate change benefit whatsoever, other than perhaps using less gas than a car to cover the same distance. Electric bikes, on the other hand, are gaining in popularity, and well they should. Take a look at the models featured in this Treehugger article. Some of the bikes can cover 90 miles on a single charge. Many of them can be retrofitted to carry a significant amount of cargo, groceries, and kids. They’re compact, so easy to park. And man, do they look cool!
- Electric City Buses – Cities have been switching from diesel to cleaner burning natural gas as a way to cut unhealthy smog and meet requirements under the Clean Air Act. But Los Angeles is one city that is going a step further and planning to electrify a portion of its bus fleet. They’re starting with 35 buses, but by 2030, their goal is to have all 2200 vehicles in their system powered by electricity. Don’t want to wait until LA has its act together? Use this map to find over 300 zero emission buses operating around the U.S.
- EV Car Sharing – While we’re talking about LA, it’s worth noting that the City of Angels is earning its nickname by creating a program to make electric vehicles available to low- and moderate-income folks. EVs have been primarily bought be people of higher income levels at prices people of modest means can’t afford. Making EVs available to anyone who needs transportation, regardless of income, will help LA continue to clean up its air. Plus, says Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, creating an EV car-sharing program shows President Trump that “with or without Washington we are forging ahead, we are moving ahead with our climate change policies.”
- Electricity Sharing – If you’ve been concerned about getting an EV because you’re not sure where you’ll be able to charge it, maybe you just need to look next door or across the street. More and more EV owners are installing their charging stations in spots that are easy for their neighbors and visitors to use. How altruistic is that? Of course, many cities have been setting up charging stations for their citizens to encourage them to buy electric. Businesses from Whole Foods to Best Buy have been putting in chargers, as well, so customers can recharge while they shop. But to have one neighbor put in a station and make it available to others to use? That takes the cake. Many of these folks don’t charge for the service, but I think if I did it, I’d put a little box next to the plug and ask people to make donations to Moms Clean Air Force. Just sayin’!
- Rent an EV – A quick online search shows that most of the major car rental agencies offer electric vehicles in their fleets, in addition to standard hybrids and some plug-in hybrid models. Whether they’re available in the city where you need to rent is another question, but the more you ask for it, the more availability will increase. One benefit of renting an EV is that it gives you the chance to test drive the vehicle if you’re in the market for a new car. Even if you’re not, remember that any premium price you might pay on an EV will probably be offset by a very appealing factor: you’ll be spending no money on gasoline!