This is a week of electric-vehicle evangelism across Ohio and the country as advocates try to reach out to the 99 percent of drivers that do not have an EV.
On Wednesday afternoon, electric-vehicle supporters held what they called a tailgate party outside Land Grant Brewing Co. in Franklinton. Visitors got a chance to look at models such as the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf and to speak with the vehicles’ owners.
“I’m the hybrid guy, mostly the Toyota Prius guy,” said Lloyd Bockman, 66, a retired state employee from Gahanna who was there to show off his car and look at the roughly 10 others on display.
His current vehicle is a 2017 Prius Prime, a plug-in model that runs on electricity and gasoline.
Such vehicles haven’t caught on in a big way yet, according to the numbers.
Plug-in vehicles represent 1.3 percent of the cars and light trucks on U.S. roads, according to Navigant, a research and consulting firm. In Ohio, it is closer to 0.5 percent.
But the segment is projected to soar in popularity, achieving a market share of 7 to 11 percent by 2026, Navigant says.
The growth will be possible because of a dramatic increase in offerings from automakers and an improvement in battery range, said Lisa Jerram, principal research analyst at Navigant. That will help to offset the downsides as some tax credits for vehicle purchase are likely to phase out, including a federal credit that is now up to $7,500 per vehicle, she said.
For sales projections to pan out, makers of plug-in vehicles will need to convert a huge number of people who now drive gasoline models. And that begins with forming a relationship, said Sam Spofforth, executive director of Clean Fuels Ohio, a nonprofit group that supports technologies that would reduce air pollution from vehicles.
“One of the biggest market barriers we have is lack of understanding by the consumers,” Spofforth said. “These events are designed to help the consumers understand the vehicles better.”
The Land Grant event was part of National Drive Electric Week — nine days, actually — which started Saturday and runs through Sunday. Ohio has 12 events, sponsored by Clean Fuels Ohio and others.
The final central Ohio event is Sunday at Columbus State Community College, 550 E. Spring St. It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors will be able to check out electric vehicles, take test drives and get information about Columbus State programs related to electric transportation.