There's a grassroots program in the Midwest that is getting people behind the wheel of electric vehicles for the first time. It's called Midwest EVOLVE, and it is a collaborative effort between the American Lung Association and Clean Cities coalitions in seven Midwestern states.
Make Ideas Reality is a partner on the project and manages public relations, social media, marketing communications, and the website for Midwest EVOLVE, which stands for Electric Vehicle Opportunities: Learning, eVents, Experience.
In just three years, 200,000 people have participated in the Midwest EVOLVE project, a seven-state program to promote the performance and clean-air advantages of electric vehicles (EVs).
Midwest EVOLVE and its partners have held or participated in 300 events across the Midwest. Even more impressively, 7,400 people have taken a test drive of plug-in electric vehicles at Midwest EVOLVE's grassroots events.
“You see more and more enthusiasm for EVs every day,” said Joe Koenig, head of public relations for Midwest EVOLVE. “During National Drive Electric Week, our team and partners held events at farmers markets, church gatherings, restaurants, and public squares. In nearly every case the vehicles were mobbed with people checking them out.”
“At EVOLVE events, we get people behind the wheel of electric vehicles to experience them for themselves,” Koenig said. “That’s the first step for many people to consider driving electric, letting them take one for a test drive. Once they do that the lightbulb goes off, and they realize that EVs can be a great fit for their daily driving needs.
“EVs have outstanding performance and require less maintenance,” Koenig added. “They also are better for the environment, clean-air, and your lungs, and that’s what’s driving this for us, to help make the air we breathe cleaner and to help make this a better world.”
Midwest EVOLVE’s data shows that 20 percent of consumers who attend an electric vehicle ride and drive hosted by one of the projects’ partners purchases a plug-in electric or hybrid-electric vehicle within six months.
As a part of the program, electric vehicles are showcased at community events, auto shows, workplace-charging seminars, and ride-and-drives in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The events help to educate consumers about finding a vehicle that fits their needs and provide information about the ease of charging vehicles at home, at work, or at public charging stations.
Midwest EVOLVE has more than 60 partners, including Argonne National Laboratory, Clean Cities coalitions, PlugInConnect, Make Ideas Reality, automakers, utilities, state agencies, municipalities, dealerships, and dealer associations.
The Midwest EVOLVE project is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), under Award Number DE-EE0007743.