Electric-car evangelists seek converts in Marin

San Rafael resident Dale Miller says that for the sake of the environment, it’s time to switch to an electric vehicle.

“Our goal is to dispel the myths and to promote electric vehicles,” said Miller, president of the Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association. “They are fun to drive, cost less to drive, are very low maintenance and are far better on the environment with respect to slowing climate change.”

To accomplish the mission, the nonprofit association puts on educational events such as Drive Electric Earth Day, an event held Saturday in Novato as part of a national campaign to share information about the gas-free, zero-emissions vehicles.

At the Drive Electric Earth Day booth, potential buyers learned about the makes and models from a variety of dealers and even got a chance to take them out for a spin. It was presented in partnership with the city of Novato and MCE, formerly Marin Clean Energy.

“This is a chance to check out these cars in a low-pressure environment,” Miller said.

Founded in 2004 as the San Francisco Electric Vehicle Association, the group changed its name in 2011 to the Golden Gate Vehicle Association to better reflect the communities it serves: San Francisco and Marin counties. The all-volunteer effort is the local chapter of the Electric Auto Association, a nonprofit educational organization.

Miller said that in Marin, approximately 60 percent of the greenhouse gases are produced from vehicles with internal combustion engines, and that the longer the drivers keep their gas cars, the longer they cause climate change.

Miller said the group wants residents to know that there is an electric car for every lifestyle.

There are a variety of EV models from two passenger cars to seven-passenger SUVs. On a single charge, EVs can travel up to 335 miles.

“And they’re not as expensive as people think,” Miller said.

They can start as low as $23,900, and maintenance is minimal. The days of oil changes, smog checks, and replacing spark plugs, fuel pumps or starters is over with electric, he said.

Miller said the financial benefits to owning an EV are countless.

Electric car buyers are eligible for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits, which can be applied for lower lease payments. There is also a $2,500 California rebate to lease or buy an EV. Residents can learn how to apply for these rebates at ggeva.org/financial.html, Miller said.

When it comes to gas costs, he said electric cars run a tab of about 3 cents per mile, whereas gas is more like 12 cents.

There are also local incentives through the county of Marin and electricity providers such as MCE, which Miller encourages residents to learn more about.

MCE offers three core electric vehicle programs, including EV charging at workplaces and multi-family housing, as well as vehicle rebates for income-qualified customers.

Brett Wiley, customer programs manager for MCE, said it’s complicated to navigate the options and incentives for electric vehicles, but MCE staffers are available to help.

“EVs are dependable, healthier for our local air, and affordable,” he said. For example, gas-powered cars have twice the fuel costs and three times the maintenance costs of an EV.”

One hurdle keeping people from buying electric is the perceived lack of charging stations, Wiley said.

Today, there are 61 publicly-available charging ports in San Rafael, according to the Department of Energy. There will be at least 165 ports in San Rafael a year from now.

“All told, MCE will have funded and supported the installation of 90 percent of these ports,” Wiley said.

MCE is working to install 600 Level 2 charging ports for workplaces and multi-family housing and to support access to EVs for 100 income-qualified customers, Wiley said.

James Campbell, a Belvedere resident and city councilman, made the switch to electric vehicles a few years back after talking to Miller about the many benefits.

“When I drive up into my carport and see the solar panels on my roof that are charging my Tesla batteries that are fueling my car, it feels pretty cool,” he said.

Miller said this is the type of joy they hope to spread by encouraging others to go electric.

“Our main thing is to get people excited about these cars,” Miller said. “We’re always looking for new members, too.”

 

Electric-car evangelists seek converts in Marin, by Adrian Rodriguez, Marin Independent Journal, April 20, 2019.

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