Washington, DC streets and parking garages are packed with tens of thousands of cars on any given day. Out of all those cars how often do you glimpse an EV? And how many electric vehicles do you think there are in the city? Several hundred maybe?
Imagine there were over 750 electric cars within the District of Columbia. Would that surprise you? Well, 100 years ago, the Washington Post reported in an article published in November 1913, that there were 756 electric pleasure cars in use in Washington, DC. Compare that to 497 electric vehicle registrations in the metropolitan Washington region reported by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments as of June 2012.
The Electric Vehicle Association of America revealed at their 1913 annual convention that the city of Washington ranked fifth in the number of electric cars in personal use. Chicago was number one with 2,500 electric cars, Los Angeles was second with 1,000 and Denver and Detroit had about 800 each. Some of the reasons that Washington was said to be a popular place for battery-driven cars were the well paved streets, social life and moderate climate.
The cost to recharge electric vehicle batteries in Washington was reported to be the lowest among cities in the US. Many electric vehicles in cities were kept in large garages that would house the cars and maintain and charge the batteries and deliver them when the owners called.
By April 1915 there were over 1,000 electric vehicles in DC and four car dealers that exclusively sold electrics. The Washington Post reported that prior to the arrival of the electric dealers, agencies that sold mostly gas-powered cars would put one or two electric cars in a back corner and only sold them when someone specifically asked for an electric.
Even back then, people had to be reassured that electric vehicles were capable of making longer trips. Readers were reminded that, “Laurel, Rockville, Great Falls, Upper Marlboro, Brandywine, Olney, or even La Plata and Gaithersburg are within an afternoon’s drive in an electric.” On July 25, 1913, Bruce Emerson of Emerson and Orme, a Detroit Electric dealer in DC, made a highly publicized trip to Baltimore and back, 82 miles on one charge, to demonstrate the capabilities of the car.
The popularity of electric vehicles peaked around 1915 and history has largely neglected the stories of the early EVs. On May 27th, 2013 we plan to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Electric Sociability Run where 54 of the electric vehicles in Washington gathered in Rock Creek Park for a picnic. For more information and to register, visit the Electric Sociability Run event page on MDVolt.org.
EVA/DC has electric vehicles on display in the Advanced Technology Superhighway section at the Washington Auto Show.
We have answers to your questions about electric vehicles. Stop by and see us.
The show runs through February 10, 2013.
EVA/DC member, Bob Bruninga, talks about the frustrations of a federal employee not being able to plug in his electric car at work even though he is willing to pay for the electricity. Video produced by LiLi Tan for Medill News Service in Washington.
In this video, Bryan Murtha walks through the process of charging his new Tesla Model S at the public charging station at Kohl’s department store in Silver Spring, Maryland. He also explains some of the features of the car to some passers by who had not yet seen one of these award winning electric cars. (closed captioned)
The Redskins win over the Eagles was even sweeter for fans who drove a plug-in electric car to FedExField yesterday. EV drivers can charge at one of ten eVgo charging stations at the stadium. The Level 2 charging near Gate A is provided courtesy of NRG Energy.
For EV drivers who wish to use the charging stations on game day, let the parking staff know that you need to charge and they’ll direct you to the eVgo stations in the Purple Lot.
Getting ICEd refers to the situation that electric vehicle drivers encounter when an internal combustion engine or ICE vehicle blocks access to a charging station. This YouTube video shows how common this is at public charging stations in Santa Monica, California.
The Blink charging network has produced a series of Courtesy Notices that EV drivers can leave on the windshields of gas cars that are blocking charging stations. There are three different tones, from friendly to direct, to choose from.
Do you have a phrasing that you’d prefer for your own “courtesy notice” to an offending ICE driver? Leave a reply in the comments below.
Download the Blink Courtesy Notice here.
Rob Neighbour, a member of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC drives the new Tesla sedan during a stop on the Get Amped Model S Tour. In this video you’ll hear a first-hand evaluation of the car from an experienced EV driver and a comparison between the Model S and other electric vehicles he’s owned and driven.
Transcript of Tesla Model S test drive video.