From his early exposure to EVs four decades ago when automakers began experimenting more with electric propulsion to his continued advocacy for supportive policy today, Don Francis has both witnessed and shaped the EV industry of the present day.
His early experience working as an auto engineer for General Motors gives Francis a crucial understanding of the American auto industry, particularly when engaging with auto manufacturers and dealers on EV issues. Don then worked for the utility Georgia Power and had the opportunity to drive Griffon electric vans in the 1980s, which were EVs made in England and imported to the U.S. Beginning in 1992, he was a part of Georgia Power’s electric transportation group, and in 1996 began working on installing EV charging stations. Between then and 2005, when automakers recalled and destroyed many of their early EV experiments, Francis was regularly commuting in GM’s EV1, and electric versions of the Toyota RAV4, Chevy S10, and Ford Ranger. After the EV industry was rekindled in 2011, he has owned two Nissan Leafs and a Tesla Model 3.
In 2009, Francis became the Clean Cities Georgia Coordinator, a role he held for 10 years. He was also the regional representative for Clipper Creek, a charging station company, and an officer in his local Electric Auto Association chapter. Francis is currently part of the Drive Electric organizations for many Southeastern states, working especially on education and outreach about charging infrastructure.
In his time advocating for EV policy in Georgia, the state has seen a shift towards less supportive EV policies. Despite the state formerly having the highest EV purchase incentive in the nation—something he is currently working to reinstate—the state has since adopted an unfair EV registration fee, the highest in the nation. Cities and counties in Georgia are more supportive of EV adoption, however, with Atlanta adopting an EV-ready building ordinance. Francis hopes to see more ordinances preventing gas cars from blocking EV charging stations, as well as proper signage for charging stations.
In conversation with Francis, he shares his personal experience witnessing the growth of the EV industry, how he views the current state of EV policy in Georgia, and ways to be most effective in enacting EV policy.