Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Drive Electric Week 2018 and Proposed Federal Fuel Economy Roll-backs

2017 Drive Electric Week event in White River Junction, Vermont. Courtesy Drive Electric VT

By David Roberts

Are you curious about electric cars? If so, visiting an electric car demonstration event is a great way to learn more about them. There is no better time to do this than National Drive Electric Week (NDEW). Last year there were 270 electric car events across the country during NDEW, with several in New England and New York State. This year NDEW runs from September 8-16th and, with around 300 events planned, the odds are good there is one not too far away from you.

NDEW events usually include opportunities to speak with local electric car owners about their experience, including what it’s like to drive one in northeast winter conditions, maintenance issues, where and how to charge and more. Many car dealers also attend these events and offer test drives of electric cars, so you can try one for yourself away from the pressure of a showroom. Electric bicycles are also commonly available for rides. If you haven’t been on one they are a blast!

Trying out an electric car and possibly driving one yourself is especially important these days. On August 2, 2018, the Trump administration announced a proposed roll-back in vehicle fuel economy standards. The existing standards require vehicle efficiency of about 37 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025, but with the roll-back, new vehicles would only need to average about 30 miles per gallon in real-world driving from 2020 over the next six years.

The federal roll-back also proposes to prohibit the State of California’s ability to develop more stringent emission control measures, such as the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) program. The ZEV program requires automakers to sell increasing numbers of electric cars over the next ten years. Nine other states have joined California’s lead on the ZEV program, (see sidebar) and it continues to be a critical factor in getting more electric cars on the road at prices consumers can afford. Without the ZEV program, we will likely have fewer electrified models available at local auto dealers, even as many other countries ramp up their clean transportation requirements on automakers.

Many elected officials are actively opposing this proposed change to vehicle efficiency and emission regulations. Massachusetts Attorney General Healey is leading a coalition with 19 other states and the District of Columbia which announced they intend to sue the federal government to prevent the proposed roll-back, which would:

  • Increase the country’s oil consumption by 5 to 12 million gallons per day in 2025;
  • Result in 16 to 37 million metric tons more carbon pollution in 2025; and,
  • Cost Americans roughly $193 billion to $236 billion more at the pump through 2035.

It is too early to know how the proposed shifts in federal policy will impact electric car availability in the northeast, but checking out a NDEW event and committing to make your next car electric will send a positive message to automakers who may be re-evaluating their electric car plans. If you don’t make it to a NDEW event, you can always visit a local dealership or keep an eye out for other events in your area to experience one for yourself.

David Roberts is the Drive Electric Vermont coordinator. He has driven an all-electric car for the past six years and says if you must drive, drive electric.

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