National Drive Electric Week gets charged up in Alabama

National Drive Electric Week gets charged up in Alabama
National Drive Electric Week kicked off Sept. 8 in Birmingham with a showcase of electric vehicles. (Michael Tomberlin / Alabama NewsCenter)

National Drive Electric Week got off to a powerful start Sept. 8 in Alabama with an electric vehicle showcase at Birmingham’s Brookwood Village.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition (ACFC) hosted the event that brought more than a dozen electric vehicle owners out to share their stories of going green. It was one of more than 800 locations across the country that kicked off the week, which runs Sept. 8-16.

“We are all about just educating on electric cars and vehicles,” said Mark Bentley, director of the ACFC. “The purpose is to let people kick the tires, have fun, ask owners … so that it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.”

National Drive Electric Week in Alabama showcases electric vehicles from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Joining the ACFC in sponsoring the event were  UAB SustainabilityAlabama Power, the city of Birmingham and Zero Emissions Owners Group (ZEOG).

Cedric Daniels, Electric Transportation manager with Alabama Power, said improvements in technology and added models of electric vehicles are leading to growth and more acceptance.

“We want to have people involved and aware of the many benefits of plug-in electric vehicles,” Daniels said. “Charging levels and distances are getting farther and farther and farther.”

Automakers in Alabama are producing electric versions with Mercedes-Benz announcing last year that electric vehicle production is one of the centerpieces of its latest $1 billion expansion in the state.

“We’re so proud of Mercedes and all of the other manufacturers who also have plug-in electric vehicles in their array but also have a manufacturing relationship in Alabama,” Daniels said. “We hope that increases. Every manufacturer we’re aware of is going toward electrification.”

Daniels said Alabama Power is supporting an increase in charging stations across the state through incentives. He noted that most electric vehicle owners charge at home and their daily drives are well within the single-charge travel distances of today’s vehicles.

In addition to production models of electric cars, the showcase at Brookwood Village included new electric motorcycles from Birmingham’s Curtiss Motorcycles and a replica of the 1896 Riker electric carriage, built by Mark Kunkel, who also owns a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.

“The original is in the Ford Museum,” Kunkel said of the Riker, which gets its name from the designer and owner of the original. “I’ve built this one from pictures I’ve found from the Ford Museum and car shows that they’ve had it in.”

For more information on electric vehicles, visit the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and Alabama Power.

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