The 2011 Plug-In Conference was held in Raleigh, N.C., July 18-21 with the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium on hand to help generate further excitement about the outburst of electric vehicle (EV) development. The conference held various workshops, a car show open to the public, a private screening of “Revenge of the Electric Car” and a showcase of various new products for EV development.
Raleigh, poised to become one of the most EV friendly markets in the U.S., was the fitting location for the 2011 Plug-In Conference. This month will mark the Volt’s introduction into the North Carolina market with deliveries to 128 Chevrolet dealers throughout the state.
The Plug-In Conference highlighted these efforts by holding a Plug-In Night open to the public to test drive and learn more about the newly introduced electric vehicles available to U.S. consumers.
The Plug-In Night featured vehicles including the AVRC ADM Electric Vehicle, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Plug-In Hybrid Escape, Mitsubishi i, Mitsubishi i MiEV, Nissan LEAF, Protean Drive F-150 Electric Test Vehicle and Toyota Prius Plug-In. The Plug-In Night generated great interest among the public and exceeded projected numbers of attendees for the event.
NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron participated as a panel member at the conference’s workshop, “Plug-In Ready Students PEV Educational Programs.” The workshop panel members also included Chelsea Sexton from the Lightning Rod Foundation and Bryan Coley with utility provider Southern Company.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm about the education and training the NAFTC is providing for electric vehicles,” Ebron noted. “I came away with the reassurance of the huge need NAFTC is helping to fulfill in terms of training and education for alternative fuel and electric drive vehicles.”
Building upon the enthusiasm, attendees watched a private screening of “Revenge of the Electric Car,” a follow-up film to the 2006 documentary film “Who Killed the Electric Car.” The film premiered on Earth Day at the 2011 Tribeca International Film Festival held earlier this year.
The documentary film, directed by Chris Paine takes viewers behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM and Tesla Motors to chronicle the story of the international revival of electric vehicles. Sexton, consulting producer of “Revenge of the Electric Car,” led a panel discussion on the documentary and the resurgence of electric vehicles.
More than 50 vendors were featured at the tradeshow including NAFTC partner Eaton Corporation, which has worked with the consortium on education for electric vehicle infrastructure. Eaton featured its latest line of industry-leading electric vehicle infrastructure products.
At the conference, OnStar and General Motors touted the launch of the first real-world pilot of smart grid solutions for electric vehicles. The OnStar Advanced Telematics Operations Management System (ATOMS) will allow electric providers to access data to accurately monitor and manage the energy used by the vehicles.
Launching this quarter, hundreds of employees of regional utilities will drive leased Chevrolet Volts as their everyday vehicles and participate in the pilot program. The information will give them an in-depth look into where and when EVs are charged and demand response, allowing for the utility to reduce peak demand by shifting EV charging to non-peak hours. The utility providers plan to offer discounted rates for EV users who charge during off-peak hours.
“The Plug-In Conference was well attended. I haven’t seen this level of excitement in the many years I’ve been involved with alternative fuels. The enthusiasm for electric vehicles is growing. In the past it seemed like it was all talk, but now we can see real world use of electric vehicles with ever increasing universal access,” concluded Ebron.