Plug In America announces winners of 2020 Drive Electric Awards


Plug In America announces winners of 2020 Drive Electric Awards

Plug In America has announced the honorees of the 2020 Drive Electric Awards. Now in its third year, the awards honor individuals and organizations that have contributed to the electric vehicle movement.

“More than 1.5 million electric vehicles have been sold in the United States and that might not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of these honorees,” said Tonia Buell, awards committee chair. “We are so excited to present the Drive Electric Awards to these outstanding individuals and organizations.”

The awards were chosen by a committee comprised of Plug In America board members from nominations submitted by Plug In America supporters. The awards will be presented in a virtual reception on Tuesday, September 22.

The announcement comes in advance of the 10th annual National Drive Electric Week, which will take place September 26–October 4, 2020. National Drive Electric Week is the world’s largest celebration of electric vehicles. Last year, the campaign included 324 events in all 50 states. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s campaign will include both online virtual events and in-person, outdoor events that incorporate social distancing and enhanced safety measures. More information is available at

The 2020 Drive Electric Award winners are:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Linda Nicholes
In the mid-2000s, Linda Nicholes was a leader in the fight to save the first generation of electric vehicles that had been leased to consumers, then were being taken back at the end of their leases and destroyed. In one noteworthy instance, Nicholes and a camera crew from the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? chased a transport full of Toyota RAV4 EVs that were being sent to the crusher. They were ultimately able to save many of those vehicles, including her own RAV4 EV, which she named “Electra.” She was a founder of Plug In America and has since contributed much of her time and energy to the electric vehicle movement. Because of her outstanding impact, in future years, the Lifetime Achievement Award will be named in her honor.

Individual Award: Kathy Kinsey
Kathy Kinsey is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), where she helps convene and support a ten-state Zero Emission Vehicle Task Force. Her contributions to transportation electrification are many, including her work to promote EV-ready parking spaces in newly constructed residential and commercial buildings and the interoperability of charging infrastructure. She currently leads a coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia that are working to accelerate the electrification of trucks and buses through the development of a multi-state medium- and heavy-duty zero emission vehicle action plan.

Individual Award: Jukka Kukkonen
Jukka Kukkonen is a leader in promoting electric vehicles in Minnesota. He is the founder of, and teaches about the electric vehicle market and technologies at the University of St. Thomas. In 2012 he started the MN EV Owners group, which has grown to become one of the largest and most active regional EV owners groups in the US. He has done hundreds of presentations and EV events, trained auto dealers, and shared his insights and experience at the national level with other EV educators. Jukka is an inspiring leader and his dedication is making a difference in EV adoption.

Organization Award: EVHybridNoire
Founded by Dr. Shelley Francis and Terry Travis, EVHybridNoire is a national award-winning organization that has been featured in Forbes, Inside EVs and other publications. EVHybridNoire is the nation’s largest network of diverse EV drivers and enthusiasts with members and chapters across the country. EVHN’s mission is to advance multimodal electric vehicles and other e-mobility solutions across the United States and ensure those solutions are inclusive and equitable.  EVHybridNoire engages with communities often left out of e-mobility discussions, advocating for e-mobility solutions with diverse as well as under-resourced communities and shifting the narrative about e-mobility to be more inclusive.

Advocate Award: Governor Jay Inslee
In 2012, Washington Governor Jay Inslee set a goal of 50,000 electric vehicles in the state by 2020 at a time when there were only 8,000. Through the efforts of him and state leaders to expand EV adoption, the state exceeded that goal, with more than 60,000 EVs now on the state’s roads. Among his accomplishments are doubling the state’s fleet of EVs, implementing incentives for new and used EVs, and expanding EV charging infrastructure.

EV City Award: Denver
Denver, led by Mayor Michael Hancock, is advancing electric vehicle adoption through several methods. City leaders have set a goal of having 30% of the vehicles on Denver’s roads be electric by 2030, are expanding the city’s EV charging infrastructure, and are adding 200 EVs to the city’s fleet. They have also implemented a new building code that requires all new buildings to be ready for EV charging, created an electric car sharing program in underserved communities, and are expanding outreach efforts.

Marketing / Awareness Award: Fully Charged
Fully Charged is the world’s number one consumer channel for clean energy technologies and electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Hosted by writer, broadcaster and actor Robert Llewellyn, Fully Charged has a global audience of over 2.2 million and over 500 videos covering a diverse range of topics from reviewing the latest electric vehicles to charging infrastructure, batteries, and air pollution. In 2018, Fully Charged launched their first LIVE show in the UK and have since taken this award winning show to the United States, with plans for a further European Show is 2021 and an Australasia Show in 2022.

National Drive Electric Week City Captain Award: Kenny Bergstrom
Kenny Bergstrom has organized eight National Drive Electric Week and Drive Electric Earth Day events in the Dallas area since 2011 on behalf of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Their 2019 Drive Electric Earth Day event, in partnership with EarthX, The North Texas Tesla Owners Group, and the North Texas Electric Auto Association, was the largest environmental event in the world, with an estimated 175,000 attendees learning about electric vehicles.

National Drive Electric Week City Captain Award: Gary Exner
Gary Exner has been leading National Drive Electric Week and Drive Electric Earth Day events in Oregon since 2014. His nine events have included a combined total of more than 5,200 attendees and more than 800 test drives in electric vehicles.

Student Award: Ryan Hunter
Ryan Hunter, a student at the University of Portland, created a 37-minute documentary called Electrified – The Current State of Electric Vehicles, which is available for viewing on YouTube and Amazon. The independent, self-funded film educates viewers about electric vehicles and advocates for clean transportation. It serves as a valuable resource and has been presented at the Virginia International Auto Show and Boston GreenFest.

Utility Award: Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has been supporting electric vehicles for 30 years and is a leader among utilities in expanding electric vehicle adoption. The utility offers a $599 cash incentive or a 240-volt electric vehicle charging station to all SMUD customers that purchase or lease a new electric vehicle. They also developed the first solar-powered charging station on the West Coast and partner with Plug In America to train Sacramento auto dealers to better serve EV customers.

Plug In America is proud to congratulate all of this year’s winners!

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