You’ve heard a hundred (ahem) plugs for electric cars, and you’re very e-curious, but you’ve got questions. Lots of them. Like, where do I start? And do I want an all-electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid? The whole process can be a little overwhelming.
Fortunately, for shoppers in the Pacific Northwest, browsing for an electric car doesn’t have to be a head-scratching experience. Thanks to the first ever electric vehicle showroom — the Northwest Electric Vehicle Showcase — it can be as simple as talking a stroll through a futuristic, high-tech hub/education center.
Located in downtown Portland, OR, the showroom invites those curious about electric cars to learn how charging works, what it means to drive a clean machine, and, ultimately, give different makes and models a spin.
Meet Your Electric Match
The concept is pretty simple. Shoppers can either stop by the showcase first, or book a test drive through the online scheduling site SquareUp. Folks can test-drive the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Nissan LEAF S, Ford C-MAX Energi or Chevrolet Volt.
If test-drivers aren’t sure what type of car will be the best fit, they’ll be paired with a car that will suit their needs via the system’s match program. Need a couple of booster seats in the back? Done. Need enough cargo space for your pup and your ski gear? No problem. There’s a match for that.
The form was a cinch to complete. After answering such questions as, "Where do you park at home?" and "Is there a charging station nearby?" I was matched with a Ford Focus Electric and a Nissan LEAF. (Sounds about right for a not-quite-soccer mom with a penchant for shopping at Costco.)
The site also offers links to WattPlan to help you calculate how much money you’ll save, and — if you really want to get a feel for that Volt — the folks at the Electric Showcase encourage shoppers to book an extended test drive via Turo. Day trip to the slopes, anyone?
An Electric Education
The showcase opened its doors last May as part of Forth Mobility (which was once Drive Oregon). According to the website, its mission is to "advance electric, smart and shared transportation in the Pacific Northwest and beyond." And it’s schooling drivers as much on how to plug in an electric car as why electric utility companies matter so, so much to drivers of electric cars. (Hint: they have a vested interest in boosting electric-car ownership, because, you know, electricity is key for powering electric cars). Forth lists as its partners Portland General Electric and Clark Public Utility District, among others.
In addition to facilitating test drives and giving shoppers the 411 on specific electric cars, the showcase also educates drivers in the types of electric cars (pure electric, extended range electric, plug-in hybrid) and illuminates shoppers on what kind of cash-savings are in store when they take the e-plunge.
Jumping into the electric-car world doesn’t have to be scary. Like a lot of things, it requires folks to do some homework and understand the basics. Thanks to showcases like this, we can all feel a little more at ease in these increasingly electric times.