Looking under the hood of the automotive future

Hundreds of Michigan residents took a close look at nearly 30 electric vehicles and thousands more saw them parade from Saline to Ann Arbor on Sept. 23 during local events being held in conjunction with the celebration of National Plug-In Day.

More than 25,000 people attended events in 65 cities in National Plug-In Day, the nation's largest grassroots electric vehicle event. There were more than 1,500 electric vehicles on display, and more than 1,600 people took test-drives.

It coincided with the release of a report by the Sierra Club that said that there have now been more than 200 million oil-free electric miles traveled in the U.S. That number translates into 96.5 million pounds of carbon pollution that have not been spewed into the air (even taking into account emissions from electricity to charge EVs). It also means that consumers have avoided buying nearly 7.4 million gallons of gasoline and saved nearly $19.5 million dollars in fueling costs (comparing gasoline to electricity fueling costs).

"National Plug-In Day was a perfect opportunity for people who are curious about electric vehicles but aren't hooked yet to see the cars up close, talk with owners and look under the hood," according to Charles Griffith, climate and energy program director at the Ecology Center.

"Switching to electric vehicles would save drivers money and help reduce emissions for all of us."

The Ecology Center and the Michigan Electric Auto Association organized the events in Ann Arbor and Saline, along with other local partners and sponsors including Saline Main Street, the Ann Arbor Main Street Area Association, Ann Arbor Spark, DTE Energy, the Clean Energy Coalition, Varsity Ford, Ann Arbor Automotive, SPX, Enginer, Motor City Motors, ADS Integration, Detroit Electrical Industry Training Center, IBEW Local 58, and the National Electrical Contractors Association of Southeastern Michigan.

UAW member Roger Kerson, principle of RK Communications, brought his Chevrolet Volt to the event, and explained what he liked about driving a green vehicle. "I really get a kick out of driving a vehicle made in Michigan, in a UAW-represented plant," he said. "It's a great car, the most technologically sophisticated car on the planet, and it's made here in Michigan."