Year One Recap: EV Progress in Monroe County

From 2012 to 2016, Monroe County saw relatively flat electric vehicle (EV) sales. EV purchases during this period averaged just over 260 units per year. However, in 2017 EV sales jumped to nearly 2.5x this five-year average![1]Further, in 2017, Monroe County tracked slightly ahead of the nation, with roughly 1.3 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales being BEVs or PHEVs. There are now more affordable, longer range all-electric models like the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3, and Nissan LEAF, and more variety of vehicle classes with plug-in hybrids including sport-utility vehicles, all-wheel drive vehicles, and minivans. Many factors may have influenced this EV sales boost, such as the NYSERDA Drive Clean Rebate, improved EV availability, or the growing nationwide availability of public charging infrastructure,but it is worth looking back on the last year of outreach and community engagement undertaken by ROC EV and its amazing stakeholders and volunteers to appreciate how these efforts may have contributed to so many more electric miles being driven.

ROC EV made its public debut just over one year ago with an EV Ride and Drive event at Rochester City Hall. At this inaugural event, 50 individuals test drove EVs, and for many of them it was their first time behind the wheel of a battery-powered car. Fast forward one year and more than a dozen Ride and Drive events later – more than 600 people have taken an EV for a spin at a ROC EV event.

Surveys have found that the number of Ride and Drive test drive participants that indicate they are “likely” or “very likely” to purchase an EV increases by 17 percent after test driving an EV. Since 52 percent of ROC EV’s test drive participants have never driven an EV before visiting a Ride and Drive, these experiences have been unique opportunities for ROC EV to shape general impressions about EV technology in Monroe County. Test drive participants consistently report a positive experience and ROC EV is proud to be creating positive buzz about EVs in our community.

Keira Higgins, an RIT student and ROC EV volunteer, gave her impression of the way these outreach events impact community members: “My first opportunity volunteering with ROC EV was at the car show they hosted at RIT where visitors were able to test drive electric vehicles. I didn’t have in-depth knowledge of EVs, but I knew enough to ride along during test drives and answer questions. It was fascinating seeing the reactions of people; some knew nothing about EVs, some were already invested in them, and a few were quite skeptical. The responses of people after driving the EVs revealed excitement and surprise about the new experience – people were surprised by how much they liked the vehicle and by the instantaneous power when pressing the accelerator. Witnessing these types of reactions gave me a whole new perspective on the importance of EV community outreach. Giving people the opportunity to test drive and learn about EVs helps alleviate misconceptions which may have deterred them initially and shows them the role EVs can play in the future of clean transportation.

Public Ride and Drives aren’t the only way ROC EV has been working to promote EVs in Monroe County. Through the “Workplace Charging Challenge” program, ROC EV has created partnerships with local businesses who also see the many benefits of EVs. Workplace Charging Challenge partners agree to a site analysis for an EV charging station, an educational presentation on EVs for employees, and to a workplace Ride and Drive. In May, ROC EV achieved its year one goal of ten workplace charging partners and is now working toward doubling that number by the end of 2018.

These partnerships with local businesses are great ways to get the word out about EVs, but one of the most beneficial outcomes is when a business installs EV chargers for its employees. This is because consumers are six times more likely to purchase an EV if they have access to charging at the workplace, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy.[2]

Mark Thorn, co-president of the New York State Electric Auto Association had the following to say about ROC EV’s first year of outreach, “The ROC EV program has given many more people information and exposure to EVs by tabling at local events, providing Ride and Drive experiences, and conducting meetings to help keep EV enthusiasts in the area engaged. I believe many more EVs have been bought and leased in the Rochester area due to their efforts. I know our group’s members have enjoyed working with ROC EV and we feel the efforts have pushed forward our mutual desire of a cleaner transportation option. We should have these programs available in every county in New York.”

ROC EV would like to give a special thanks to all of its partners and volunteers who have helped to accelerate the adoption of EVs in the greater Rochester area. There is a lot of work left to do, but our community has come a long way in the last year. Let’s work to put even more clean, safe, healthy, and high-tech EVs on Monroe County’s roads for the rest of 2018!

[1]Electrification Coalition analysis based on data from Atlas Public Policy, NYSERDA, and Rochester Automotive Dealers Association.

[2]Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Workplace Charging Mid Program Review: Employees Plug In,” December 2015.