A few years ago, it would have been a pipe dream to imagine that there would be 500,000 plug-in cars on the streets of the United States—and more than a million worldwide. But we are now poised to cross this big threshold in the coming week. (If you are a bean-counter like me, you can track it yourself with the counter on our website.)
It’s worth pausing a moment in the exciting run-up to National Drive Electric Week, to consider where we have come from and where we are trying to go. There is something about EVs that gets people fired up like nothing else. Partly, it’s just that Americans care a lot about what they drive. But at the same time, people have known for decades that the petroleum economy is not sustainable on an environmental, economic or national security level—and have sought alternatives. Inventors have developed various electric cars since the mid-1800s. In the early 1900s, they outnumbered gasoline cars, but were limited by existing battery technology and were overtaken by the internal combustion engine with the advent of the Ford Model T.
The modern era of widely available, moderately priced plug-in cars began in 2010 with the launch of the Nissan LEAF® and Chevrolet Volt and has expanded to where we find ourselves today, with more than two dozen available models and over 12,000 sold every month and steadily increasing. All indicators suggest that the next half-million will come a lot more quickly, particularly once the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3 and other eagerly awaited, moderately priced 200-mile range vehicles hit the market.
So National Drive Electric Week, the annual celebration of the plug-in car, comes at an auspicious moment this year. We project that we will cross the 500,000 vehicles sold milestone sometime during September 10-18. And we expect to have at least 4,000 of those vehicles at the events! This year will be the largest in its six-year history, with more than 220 events in nearly every state and Canadian province.
Plug In America, Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association serve as the national team providing support to the events throughout the country. We are pleased to partner with many other organizations and individuals working to bring National Drive Electric Week to communities near you. Nissan LEAF is the national automotive sponsor, and supporters include silver sponsor CalETC, bronze sponsor Clipper Creek and media sponsor PlugShare.
On the events page, you can find National Drive Electric Week events in your community. So please come out, have some fun, test drive the newest cars, and maybe YOU’LL be the one buying that 500,000th car!