Incentives only go so far when you're trying to encourage sales of electric vehicles. You need to get butts into seats, to let people experience and try out the vehicles for themselves. Ideally in a low or no pressure environment, especially if plug-in vehicles or the sales folks that know about them are scarce on dealer lots. So Plug 'n Drive, a non-profit organization working to accelerate the adoption of EVs, is opening the world's first Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre.
Plug 'n Drive is funded by a group that includes the government of Ontario, some of the automakers who build EVs, electrical generators and distributors, as well as other groups with an interest in promoting EVs. The discovery centre will be open to the public and let people find out if an EV can benefit them. Funding for the EVDC came from the government of Ontario as part of their Climate Change Action Plan that included changes and increases to EV incentives earlier this year.
Information and exhibits will include information on Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan, environmental and economic benefits of EV's, but, most importantly, test drives of some of the latest EVs will be available along with information about the vehicles. The government's goal for the centre is to enhance public and dealer education about electric vehicles, following up on steps to reduce the cost of owning one.
Ontario governments have been pushing EV use since 2009, when they set a goal of having 1 in 20 vehicles in Ontario be EVs by 2020. The next year they launched tax rebates and green-coloured licence plates that let plug-in and fully electric cars use carpool lanes with just one occupant. In the last year, more public charging has been announced, as well as requiring more charging stations to be built with new construction.
The EVDC officially opens May 18th, but there are sneak preview days with limited availability later this week and next month. The centre is based in North York, in Toronto's suburban north end. It's located next to a large Imperial Oil fuel storage facility, which seems like a fitting spot to learn about EVs.