‘Drive Electric Alabama’ campaign aims to accelerate Alabamians’ ardor for electric vehicles

‘Drive Electric Alabama’ campaign aims to accelerate Alabamians’ ardor for electric vehicles
Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at the launch of Drive Electric Alabama, a campaign to educate Alabamians about the transition to electric vehicles, a move in which Alabama automakers stand to play a major role. The campaign kicked off at UAB. (Michael Sznajderman / Alabama NewsCenter)

Gov. Kay Ivey and other state leaders on Monday officially launched a major campaign to educate Alabamians and build awareness about the fast-approaching transformation of the automobile sector to predominantly electric vehicles (EVs).

Ivey joined Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), state Reps. Danny Garrett and Anthony Daniels, and Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition President Michael Staley to unveil the Drive Electric Alabama program. The officials gathered at an electric vehicle charging station at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to drive home the campaign’s focus.

“As automakers make significant investments in electric vehicles, we know more and more motorists will consider purchasing one,” Ivey said. “That’s why I’m pleased Alabama is launching this education and marketing program that will help all Alabamians learn more about EVs.”

“It’s clear electric vehicles represent the next generation of automobile manufacturing,” Boswell said. “That’s precisely why this is the perfect time for Alabamians to learn about electric vehicles as many auto manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz right here in our state, are beginning to add electric vehicles to their fleets.”

Alabama is already making strides, along with the auto manufacturers that call the state home, in the transition to electric vehicles. Among recent developments:

Staley, with the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, said the Drive Electric Alabama campaign will include educational events, such as “ride and drive” opportunities for consumers, with a focus on highlighting EVs’ functionality and fuel savings compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. That’s the message behind the campaign’s slogan, “Electric Gets You There.”

“It’s not a far-off myth. It’s not a fad,” Staley said of the swift shift automakers and more drivers are making to electric vehicles. “EVs are quickly moving beyond the early-adopter phase.”

He said the coalition is working with lawmakers and partners on a comprehensive electric vehicle strategic plan for Alabama as the state prepares for an electric-vehicle future.

The Drive Electric Alabama campaign will include educational events, such as “ride and drive” opportunities for consumers, with a focus on highlighting EVs’ functionality and fuel savings compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. (Michael Sznajderman / Alabama NewsCenter)

Adrienne Holmes needs no convincing about electric vehicles. The Birmingham resident, who is also an auto mechanic, raved about her 2016 all-electric Chevrolet Spark during Monday’s event. She said her car is inexpensive to operate, with fewer parts that can break down. Plus, there’s the savings on gasoline. “The transition was wonderful and painless,” she said.

Garrett praised the Legislature’s funding of the Drive Electric Alabama campaign, as well as ADECA’s recent approval of grants to install 18 fast-charging stations in key locations along Alabama interstates, from Georgia to the Mississippi line.

Daniels emphasized how the state is moving quickly with partners, including Alabama Power, to prepare Alabama to benefit from an EV-fueled economy.

For example, Ivey has approved $16.5 million in bonds for construction of the Smart Communities and Innovation Building on the University of Alabama campus. The building will house the AMP Initiative, a collaboration between UA, Alabama Power and MBUSI designed to meet the needs of the EV market and support Alabama’s transportation network.

“EVs are not the future; they are here,” Daniels said.

Federal dollars are also expected to help fuel the EV revolution. The infrastructure bill, signed into law by President Joe Biden, includes $5 billion for state-administered grants to deploy more EV charging stations.

Last August, Biden signed an executive order calling for 50% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2030 to be “zero-emission,” including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel-cell electric vehicles. Biden’s order calls for an industry standard of 52 miles per gallon for all new vehicles by 2026.

Ivey said she wants the state to be a “driving force” in the transition to EVs. “We want Alabama’s economy to benefit from this. We must work now to keep the momentum going.”

Learn more about the Drive Electric Alabama campaign at www.driveelectricalabama.com.

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