The Electric Car Takes Capitol Hill
05.05.2017 - by Katherine Stainken
The Electric Car Takes Capitol Hill

Plug In America recently staged a day-long ride and drive event for U.S. Senators and their staff. It was a milestone for Plug In America and for the electric car. Hundreds of Senate staff showed up to learn about and drive electric cars, most for the first time.

The event was hosted by Senator Portman (R-Ohio, shown left, driving  Bolt) and the Senate Auto Caucus. Thank you, Senator! He attended personally, along with Senators Heller (R-Nevada), Merkley (D-Oregon), and Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island). There were a handful more scheduled to attend and take a test drive, but last minute votes and hearings on government spending and FBI testimony led to scheduling challenges. We’ll work with the schedulers to schedule test drives in-state during the recess break.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) sent a few staffers to test drive electric cars at the Capitol Hill Ride and Drive, May 4, 2017.

The automakers showed up in force and provided staff, financial support, and a range of great vehicles for test drives. No less important, our staff visited every Senate office to promote the event, raise awareness of EVs and the important role that Plug In America plays in promoting their roll-out across the country.

With the new Administration and Congress, Plug In America has been focused on raising awareness of EVs on Capitol Hill and educating on the importance of supportive federal policies, like the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs and the charging station tax credit that recently expired in December. Our aim is for an extension of both policies, to ensure the transition of the EV market from early adopter to mass market.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), left, and Joel Levin, Plug In America’s Executive Director, chat EV policy at Capitol Hill Ride and Drive, May 4, 2017.

We’ve found that there is a good amount of support in the Senate for the cars—from both Democrats and Republicans—but that many people still had not driven them personally. And as you know, the best way for people to really understand why these vehicles are the future, is well, just getting behind the wheel—which is why this event was so important. Our work has shown that people are generally surprised at the power, quiet, and driving pleasure when they drive an EV for the first time—and U.S. Senators are no exception. Currently three Senators drive EVs: Merkley (D-Oregon), King (R-Maine) and Alexander (R-Tennessee), and we are looking to get more into them soon with your encouragement.

9 comments on “The Electric Car Takes Capitol Hill”
  1. Lannette says:

    I wish I could have been at this event! It’s exciting and promising to see our elected officials getting behind the EV movement!

  2. Ken says:

    Driving an EV is a very important step, but that enthusiasm tends to subside when the range anxiety is faced. Battery range and a fully developed plan for charging stations installation is needed and must be addressed. But, who is to say that any plans developed today will not become obsolete tomorrow as technology develops.

    1. Andy says:

      I agree that range is a concern. I think car company marketers aren’t making a big enough noise, however, about the convenience of “refueling” every night at home without having to make an extra stop anywhere. Plus, so many households have more than 1 car — so the other one can be gas, PHEV, etc.

  3. Gina Daunt says:

    Please bring it to every Capitol city in each state too! What a fabulous idea!

  4. Sal. Cameli says:

    This was a wonderful idea. I wish I was there!

  5. Rusty West says:

    It is fantastic that our lawmakers are getting “hands on” experience with electric cars. We now hope that this will turn into action in the form of laws and policies which provide great incentive for people to purchase electric cars, to help deal with the urgency of climate change

  6. David Hrivnak says:

    Great idea and keep up the good work.

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