Electric vehicle owners talk about their batter-powered cars during the 2014 National Drive Day celebration. Courtesy photo.
Electric vehicle owners talk about their battery-powered cars during the 2014 San Antonio Electric Drive Day celebration. Courtesy photo.

Electric vehicle enthusiasts and those curious to learn more about how to ditch the gas-pump will gather this Saturday at the William R. Sinkin EcoCentro center at San Antonio College for National Drive Electric Week.

San Antonio will join cities across the U.S. and some in New Zealand, China, and Canada to celebrate the technological advancement, sustainability, and style of battery-powered vehicles. San Antonio National Drive Electric Day kicks off with an electric vehicle parade at 8 a.m. from the Alamo to Eco Centro where Councilmember Ron Nirenberg (D8) will give opening remarks at 9 a.m.

In addition to electric car test drives, the event will feature live music, food trucks, ebikes and informational sessions on air quality and the benefits of switching to electric vehicles until its 3 p.m. close. VIA Metropolitan Transit representatives will also be showcasing its electric fleet and, for kids of all ages, an interactive Energy Lab will be set up.

Vikram Iyengar, who works at Southwest Research Institute and is the volunteer captain for the Alamo City Electric Auto Association that puts on the event, said that the most popular part of the event is the opportunity for owners to show off their gas-free rides and for potential owners to take them for a spin.

Under the hood of an electric car. Photo courtesy of San Antonio Drive Electric Day.
Under the hood of an electric car. Photo courtesy of San Antonio Drive Electric Day.

“It’s a good environment for people to learn about electric vehicle ownership,” Iyengar said. Because most of the cars are brought there by private, passionate owners, there will be a wide variety of models and styles to explore without the constant sales pressure of a dealership.

BMW and Nissan will have a presence at the fair as sponsors. Iyengar said several private owners of various Tesla models will be make an appearance as well.

Texas law requires all new motor vehicles to be sold through franchised dealerships, which Tesla Motors is not. Consumers can visit showrooms to check out cars, but actual sales are handled online. In January, Tesla announced plans to open a showroom facility in the city’s far Northside just beyond Loop 1604 and the California-based company is also looking into property just south of La Cantera shopping center.

The Drive Electric event is a unique opportunity to check out a wide variety of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in San Antonio and get a first hand perspective on ownership from fellow San Antonians.

“It’s not for everyone,” Iyengar said. Some lifestyles may not fit into the confines of battery life – especially when limited charging stations are available in San Antonio. “(But) people are often surprised at how far they can go without a charge.” Depending on speed, traffic (city or highway driving), model, and temperature (AC), electric vehicles can get anywhere from 40 to 200 miles per charge.

Iyengar himself is waiting for the right time to buy. Electric and plug in hybrid vehicles are still more expensive, in general, than traditional gas-powered cars. But as technology advances and more people buy, the price will go down, he said. “I’m waiting for my current car to break.”

Visit the SanAntonioEV community group on Facebook to keep up to date on news and events in the local EV (electric vehicle) scene: www.sanantonioev.org.

National Electric Drive Week is presented by Plug In America, Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association.
Kids learn about electricity during the 2014 San Antonio Electric Drive Day. Courtesy photo.
Kids learn about electricity during the 2014 San Antonio Electric Drive Day. Courtesy photo.
*Featured/top image: Electric vehicle owners talk about their battery-powered cars during the 2014 San Antonio Electric Drive Day celebration. Courtesy photo.

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org