Midwest EVOLVE  



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Sunday July 23, 2017 Midwest EVOLVE Most of the buzz about EVs occurs on the two coasts, especially here in Californian and some of the East Cost states like New York and New jersey.  A couple of weeks ago I got an email letting me know about Midwest EVOLVE who are promoting EVs in the Midwest. 


Midwest EVOLVE is a coalition of clean city organizations based in seven states, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  These seven organizations are working with the American Lung Association and a whole bunch of other partners to promote electric vehicles as a solution to air pollution including greenhouse gas emissions.


One of the things that Plug-in America always says is that the best way to promote electric cars is to put butts in seats.  Midwest EVOLVE embraces this idea by organizing ride-and-drive events throughout the year and also has created a number of electric vehicle expo events around their area including an Electric Room that will educate people on electric vehicle technology as part of the 2018 Twin Cities Auto Show in March next year.  You can check out their upcoming events here or keep an eye on the EVFinder Events page where I will be adding events as time permits.


Their web site also includes a very good page that breaks down the benefits of electric cars into various categories including performance, technical innovation and the benefits for fleet owners.  I found the section on Environmental benefits to be especially good.  They manage to give a pretty good breakdown of the difference between direct emissions and life cycle emissions.  Life cycle emissions in particular are difficult to understand but the article does manage to give a pretty good explanation without getting into the complexities of trying to attribute emissions over the 10 or 15 year lifespan of a vehicle from cradle to grave.


The section on fleet operations gives a nice rundown of why a plug-in car, although  costing more up-front, can actually save costs over the lifetime of the vehicle.  This is broken down into fuel savings, and savings on Maintenance.  One particular statistic they  quote is that fleets that operate plug-in cars often see better employee retention than those that do not.  This is something I have never seen before although if you have ever driven a plug-in vehicle is makes sense.  Reasons given are the smoother quieter ride, the elimination of diesel and gas fumes, and the idea that they are operating advanced technology.


Their section on charging is very well done.  The article on home charging gives a very good description of level 1 and level 2 charging, while the piece on workplace charging gives a rundown of the considerations that an employer might was to review in deciding to set up charging for its employees.  There is even a charger location map that covers the whole of the country, not just the region covered by the seven groups that make up the coalition.


One thing that I thought was lacking was in the "About Us" section.   While there is plenty of information about the reasons to buy plug-in cars I didn't see anything that says that any of these entities have electric cars in their fleets.  Many years ago, when ZAP first introduced the Xebra, I had an opportunity to spend some time with then CEO Gary Star.  He told me that the best thing that State and Local government could do to help plug-in vehicle sales was to buy them for their fleets.  I'm sure that the coalitions them selves don't have large fleets of vehicles but their members do and it would be nice to know that these member entities are practicing what they preach.


I think that Midwest EVOLVE is doing things right.  Their focus is on getting the word out about plug-in vehicles by organizing event and ride-and-drives.  I'm sure that this effort will pay off big time as electric vehicles become more and more attractive to own.  We are close to a tipping point on electric cars and efforts like this are what is going to put plug-in cars on the map in the Midwest.


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