EXETER – Unitil Corporation teamed up with Clean Energy NH for an electric vehicle Ride and Drive Expo last weekend which attracted dozens of electric vehicle enthusiasts and put the curious behind the wheel for the first time.
The free event held on 4th June at Unitil’s electrical operating facilities in Exeter was a unique opportunity for consumers to learn about different makes and models of electric vehicles, learn about the latest innovations of the electric vehicle industry and even to discover a range of electric bicycles. and scooters too.
Unitil organized the expo with Clean Energy NH, which operates Drive Electric NH – a coalition of public and private stakeholders that aims to raise awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles and the need to support charging infrastructure in New Hampshire.
Dealerships with vehicles on display – some of which were available for test drives – included Seacoast Volkswagen, McFarland Ford, Volvo Cars of Exeter and BMW of Stratham. EZ Electric Bikes & Scooters of Exeter, Revision Energy and Granite State Clean Cities Coalition also participated with several owners bringing their personal electric vehicles and a Zero Electric Motorcycle for visitors to see first hand.
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Unitil’s new hybrid electric aerial platform truck, which uses a rechargeable battery to power the boom, and a hybrid pickup truck were also on display.
“As interest in the electric vehicle market continues to grow, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for new consumers to get their questions answered. Put them in the driver’s seat and offer a chance to inspect them up close and test drive a vehicle like a Nissan LEAF or a Tesla has been a great hands-on experience,” said Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara.
Joshua Singer, program coordinator for Clean Energy NH, said many of those present asked a variety of questions ranging from discounts to buying an electric vehicle and charging it.
The turnout was higher than Singer has seen at other similar exhibitions. “I think the interest is high. Gas prices are also high, but there are more options than ever before. Every two months a new car comes out,” a- he declared.
Oliver Strattner, a sales expert at Volvo Cars of Exeter, spent the day briefing potential consumers on the two electric vehicles on display at the dealership – a C40 Recharge crossover and an XC40 Recharge SUV.
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Strattner said rising gas prices have prompted many consumers to start switching to hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
“Over the last year or so, interest in plug-ins and electric vehicles has doubled, even tripled. We just want to open our eyes and ears and try to get people excited about everything we do. have to offer and whatever is coming for the future,” he said. “A lot of people are curious about the vehicle’s overall range, charging times, and how the ride of an electric vehicle is changing their daily habits. Often people will do a lot of short trips that the vehicles are more than capable of handling without needing to be recharged, but people are curious to know when they drive somewhere that is beyond the range of the vehicle, how does that affect the trip and where they can stop.
Durham resident Scott Sebastian and his wife were among new consumers who stopped by as they were currently looking to buy an electric vehicle.
“We are going to replace his vehicle with electric ones. We plan on doing a lot of commuting between jobs and a kid going to school, so that makes sense, especially with gas prices approaching $5,” he said. “We are seriously looking, but it’s just a matter of inventory.”
The Ride and Drive event was a first for Portsmouth resident John Carty, who sits on the city’s sustainability commission and is also a member of Clean Energy NH. He ordered a Rivian electric vehicle, which he hopes to get this summer, and spent time chatting with an owner who brought his own Rivian R1T van to the event. Carty said his wife already drives a plug-in hybrid and his son-in-law has a Tesla.
“We have electric vehicles in the family, so I’ll be next,” Carty said, adding that he also hopes to learn more about how homeowners, municipalities and utilities can work together to make the cleaner energy more available.
Other people present were not necessarily looking for an electric vehicle, but were simply curious.
“We always wanted to try one. We’ve heard so much about it,” said Hampton resident Karen Oliveri-Schneck, who took a Tesla ride and was amazed by the silence and other orders.
While many came to inquire about electric vehicles, others had their eyes glued to the electric bikes and scooters featured by EZ Electric Bikes & Scooters of Exeter.
“Electric scooters are relatively new, but e-bikes have really grown in popularity since COVID. They’ve really taken off,” said Teresa Hemenway, co-owner of EZ Electric Bikes & Scooters.
The company started selling e-bikes in 2019 and saw sales skyrocket once the pandemic hit, Hemenway said, adding, “People come now after hearing about e-bikes, and they’re very interested to know what they are about.