National Plug-In Day with Vineyard Power – Martha’s Vineyard

National Plug-In Day Electric Cars On Martha's VineyardSaturday, September 28th was the third Annual National Plug-in Day. No, this is not something for Glade Plug Ins, but rather this is a day to celebrate electric cars.  Ah, more talk of hybrids and solar and battery operating things, but there is only going to be more of it to come. Chances are this is the way of the future for automobiles.

For this year, Vineyard Power hosted a National Plug-in Day at Cronig’s Market’s solar canopies in Vineyard Haven. There you could learn more about electric and hybrid cars. You could test drive a Nissan Leaf, a Chevy Volt, and even a Tesla S which is kind of a big deal for all us car geeks.

The Leaf is peppy and the Volt is great, but the electric Tesla would knock your socks off, and I got to drive one. Tesla is a true pioneer in the field of electric cars, offering their own power stations all across the country. The company wants to help make electric cars the way of the future.

The Tesla S Electric CarThe Tesla S is a true electric car, but on the inside and outside, it is a true luxury car. It’s good looking to say the least. There are all the bells and whistles of a gas powered Tesla. Since the batteries for the engine are located on the sides of the car, there is no engine where one would normally be, instead there’s a “frunk”, a front trunk, and in the back of the car, there’s a huge trunk or get this, two more additional seats.

Yes my friends, the Tesla S is a 6 passenger car, and here I thought I had to get a big SUV to accommodate that many people. However, it’s current price tag of $70,000 – $80,000 is a bit steep for me, but in the next 3-4 years, Tesla plans to have an model that is in the $30,000 – $40,000 range. With the $7,500 tax credit you get for buying an electric car, that makes it somewhat affordable.

Tesla S Extra Row Of SeatingGetting in the Tesla S to drive was a pleasure of course. Amazing seats and full of technology but not your average car at all. I wasn’t expecting much power since it was electric, but this car had some serious pick-up.

It goes from 0 – 60 m.p.h in only a matter of seconds. It drives like a luxury car should. It was hard to leave it, but there were lots of others waiting for their turn. It would be an amazing car to own.

Why devote a day to showcasing electric cars? Well, if you know Vineyard Power, the two go hand-in-hand. Also, it was really informative, and the perfect way to learn about these cars. I know I had a lot of questions.

Electric Cars Charging at Cronig's Solar CanopyFor example, are electric cars the way of the future? Well, most signs point to yes, just look at the gas prices on Martha’s Vineyard. But how can an already stressed National Grid handle an increase in all of the additional electricity needed for these cars?

According to ChargePoint, the world’s largest network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the US, Europe, and Australia, steps are already being taken to accommodate the electric vehicles. Also, there are now charging stations all over the United States. Next time you’re on I-95 keep an eye out for them, or when you’re at a major shopping center.

Benefits to an Electric Car

Are there financial reasons to own an electric car? The answer is yes. Right now, Nissan and  the Honda Fit can be leased for about $200 a month. Subtract your gas money — which could be as much as $50 a week — and basically the car cost nothing.

Of course there is a cost to charge your car, but it is a lot less than buying gas, five times less. It costs about $.25 a mile for gas and $.05 for an electric car. Also, there are no oil changes to pay for. These are just some of the basic facts I learned at the event, but I am becoming a bit of a believer.

One of the things that did not appeal to me was the fact that a full charge for most of the cars is 300 miles. Which I guess is OK for life on the Vineyard and for day-to-day activities, but what about long trips? It takes about 4 hours to fully charge a car, sometimes quicker, sometimes slower.

With that said, I guess you just factor in a bit more travel time. However, 300 miles would last quite a while on the Island, and makes an electric car a perfect Island car. Don’t worry, you won’t be alone. Electric cars are becoming more popular here and everywhere else, making up 4% of the vehicle population with an expected increase each year.

Other Uses for Power

Here’s some interesting info about how the power of these car batteries may be used in the future. In Japan, car batteries have the ability to power entire houses during blackouts.

If there is unused energy from car batteries or charging stations (think solar ones like Cronig’s), electric companies will have the ability to buy back the unused power so it can be used elsewhere. Definitely cool stuff happening with the technology.

Vineyard Power

Having Vineyard Power on the Island is a great thing. The organization is constantly bringing alternative methods to the Island. It is their mission to produce electricity from local, renewable resources while advocating for and keeping the benefits within our island community. 

Hence the solar canopy charging stations at Cronig’s. There may be a day when those chargers are all being used, with the electricity being made right there.

It’s great to have the exposure to such things in such a personal way. Every time I go to a Vineyard power event, I learn so much about what’s being done in the world of alternative energy, and there’s a lot.

Not that everyone is going to run out and by an electric car tomorrow, but hearing some of the benefits might make you want to consider one as an option, when it’s time for a new car. I know that not spending a couple hundred dollars on gas each month makes me think about it.

Also, think about a car with zero-emissions. You wouldn’t get that terrible exhaust smell waiting to get off the ferry.

As more and more cool cars become electric, like the Tesla, I think their popularity will continue to grow, and I am guessing that we’ll see a lot more on Martha’s Vineyard.

Even Mercedes Benz has an electric car, so does BMW, though both unattractive in my opinion. Perhaps soon all the car companies will have affordable electric car options, that are almost as attractive as the Tesla S.

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