Here at Transport Evolved, we love to hear from our readers, especially when they have a wonderful tale to tell us of an even they’ve been to, a car they’ve driven, or a hope for the future of our evolving transport.
Last weekend, a team of intrepid electric vehicle owners got together in West Virginia to remind us that while we think of electric cars as a vision of our future, they’ve been around in some form or other for more than one hundred years.
And since this year happens to mark the centenary of one of the earliest gatherings of electric cars we know about, we couldn’t resist when Tesla Model S owner and advocate Laurie Orloski wrote to us to share the experience of this West Virginia’s 100th EV Sociability Run. [ED]
Did you know, did you hear? Back in 1914, “Washington Electric Vehicle Men” held a 14-mile Sociability Run—to prove the ‘country-running ability’ of electric cars, showing the public (and even EV owners themselves) that their use was not confined to the city.
Today we would call it promoting range confidence. Here is a quote from a 1915 article titled Educational Value of Sociability Runs: “We have so long been accustomed to thinking of the electric as the town car, par excellence, that it has not occurred to us that it will give just as delightful and satisfactory service on rural trips in this day, when charging facilities have become so well developed and numerous.”
No? You didn’t know about this important historical event from 100 years past?
Of course, not, who would, right? Well guess what? Forty-Eight plug-in EVs got the memo and assembled — with their EV enthusiast drivers — in Charles Town, West Virginia on June 7, 2014, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Electric Sociability Run. Popularity for the event was higher than anticipated, and it reached capacity in the days leading up to it. That gets a much-deserved WooHoo!
The perfect adjective to describe the 2014 WV Sociability Run just so happenes to be: “Social”. It brought together an eclectic bunch of EVs and people, loving the gorgeous day, their rides, and each other’s rides. Of the 48 plug-in EVs, 22 were Teslas, including 18 Model S plus 4 Roadsters. There was a 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV in the house, carrying the honor of highest oil-free miles per car, at 115,231 (pre-run).
There was one of those rarities, a Think City, which was joined by 9 Chevy Volts, 7 Nissan Leafs, 4 Prius Plug-in, 2 Ford Fusion Energi, and 2 Smart Electric. Some quick math determined that these 48 plug-ins had traveled 959,773 electric miles by the time they arrived at the event—so amazing, considering that many of the cars were only months old and few of the abundant Model S were older than 1 year! Irreverent “Sanity plates” were in full effect, as if the cars couldn’t be any cooler.
Adorable Denny the dog chilled in the back seat of his Model S most of the time. Ages of the “human attendees” ranged from infants to the long retired. The majority of folks were from Maryland and Virginia, although there were others from not only West Virginia but also Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina. The vast majority of the attendees arrived in an EV, while others were not EV drivers but interested in becoming one.
Together, this group of East Coasters and their EVs comprised what is thought to have been the second largest EV gathering on US East Coast since the 1914 Electric Sociability Run in Washington, DC.
Wow, the tide must really be turning—another giant WooHoo is in order, way to go MD, VA, WV, PA, NY, and NC!
The event kicked-off at 10:00 AM, with a series of speakers under the huge solar canopy at American Public University System (APUS) in Charles Town, WV. There are 14 Level 2 charging stations in the Solar Array Parking Lot at APUS. Get this: the solar panels generate enough electricity to power nearly 2 million EV miles each year.
So those traveling in had an opportunity to “top off” their rides using sunshine, doesn’t get much better than that, seriously. In addition to the 14 charging stations at APUS in Charles Town, there are many charging options along the way. There are Tesla Superchargers in Hagerstown, MD (27 miles to the north), CHAdeMO stations in Frederick, Chantilly and Dulles Town Center in Virginia (30-43 miles away), and five Level 2 charging stations at the Park & Ride lot near Purcellville, VA (only 21 miles away).
Wow, pretty awesome considering that we are talking about the Eastern corridor of the US, which is way behind the West in terms of EV adoption as well as charging infrastructure.
And the Muppets were even spotted Supercharging in Hagerstown, MD and then kickin’ it in the back of a Model S during the pre-run party!
So all in all, this WV EV Sociability Run had nearly 50 plug-in EVs of all shapes and sizes that had together traveled nearly 1 million oil-free miles, solar-powered charging compliments of Mr. Sun, and EV geeks of all ages including representatives from the “Electric Mayhem”. Now that deserves some serious hoot-hollering, West Virginia style, baby.
At around noon, the police-escorted caravan headed off on a 12-mile scenic drive towards Shepherdstown, WV. A breath-taking, emission-free journey of the most beautiful, sporty, and technologically advanced cars on the planet—quietly emitting absolutely nothing along the way.
There were literally EVs as far as the eye could see. The sky looked much brighter and the trees much greener than usual, which is what tends to happen when you know you are contributing to a better today and tomorrow and so on.
After lunch in Shepherdstown, some stayed put while others traveled further on, with a total of 3 different options for touring and sightseeing, depending on the wishes of the driver and the range of their vehicle. For some, the festivities continued until the next morning, when it was time to say “bye bye West Virginia, but we will see you again next year, for sure”.
The year 1914 was probably the peak of popularity for the first wave of EVs before gasoline cars took over. A century from now, 2014 may be looked upon as the pivotal year that EV charging infrastructure, enabling longer journeys, meant the beginning of the end for Internal Combustion Engines.
It very well could be the dawn of the “[No more] ICE, ICE baby” age, if these EV-driving men AND women and their offspring have anything to say about it.
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