ATLANTIC CITY — It wasn’t your typical car show Tuesday afternoon at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Sure, there were people walking between vehicles, looking under hoods and talking shop with fellow car owners. But the drivers pulling in underneath the solar panel canopy were there to charge their electric vehicles and discuss with prospective buyers the pros and cons of driving green.
The event was one of hundreds of “car parades” taking place across the country this week during the sixth annual National Drive Electric Week.
“It’s a chance to get the word out,” ACUA President Rick Dovey said.
As cars lined up by the ACUA charging stations powered by wind and solar energy, Dovey said events such as Tuesday’s soon won’t be necessary to drum up interest in electric vehicles.
“People will have a friend or family member or coworker who is going to sell you on it,” he said.
For now, the trend is moving slower than expected in New Jersey. According to Toni Granato, assistant at the New Jersey Sierra Club, there are about 10,000 electric vehicles in the state, but that number should be closer to 30,000.
However, more and more state residents are looking to go electric.
Ed Pohlman owns a summer home in Wildwood and lives in Miami the rest of the year. He went electric in 2012, when he purchased a Chevrolet Volt. He now drives a Tesla and commutes from Wildwood to Miami in his electric vehicle.
The biggest concern Pohlman hears from nonelectric drivers is running out of a charge on the highway, but he said there isn’t as much range anxiety when it comes to finding charging stations.
“If you’re going beyond your (typical) range, you tell it where you’re going and it tells you stops where you can charge, so it pretty much won’t let you mess up,” Pohlman said.
The car also advises drivers to slow down so they can reach their destination, Pohlman added. “It won’t let you run out of electricity,” he said.
In addition to the superchargers at the ACUA’s wind farm in Atlantic City, there are eight Tesla superchargers at JR’s Fresh Market in Egg Harbor Township and more chargers at the ACUA’s headquarters in Egg Harbor Township.
Besides more local charging stations, affordability is leading people to drive electric.
Dane Defeo, a sales and leasing consultant at Kerbeck car dealership in Atlantic City, said electric cars are selling a lot better because they are now more affordable and offer more bang for the buck, such as leather seating and other amenities.
“It used to be that electric cars were very expensive and you were paying for them to be electric. Now there are nice cars that are electric,” Defeo said.
Omar Martin arrived late to the event Tuesday, but heads turned as he pulled in behind the wheel of his 2013 black Tesla Model S. He said his friends were hesitant when he purchased his first electronic car – a Nissan Leaf.
“People made fun of me for the Leaf,” said Martin, of Mays Landing. “They’d say, ‘Oh you can’t get that far, and it’s a funny-looking car.’ But after I got the Tesla, they said it was a really nice car. I actually convinced one of my friends to get one as well.”
The biggest lifestyle change Martin has seen since switching to electric has been having a full tank when he hits his alarm in the morning.
“Greatest thing is waking up every day and it’s fully charged. I never have to worry about gas. I never have to think about an oil change. So it’s actually more convenient than it is to drive gas,” Martin said.