Electric vehicles were available for test driving in the Ottawa Ikea parking lot, thanks to a collaboration between several advocacy organizations.
Sunday’s Ottawa Electric Vehicle Day event gave visitors a chance to inquire more about electric vehicles, check out a variety of display models including various Teslas, and take a few select cars out for a test drive.
The event was organized by local environmental advocacy non-profit EnviroCentre, along with the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) and Plug N’ Drive, a Toronto-based electric vehicle advocacy group.
Models available for test driving included the BMW i3, Mitsubishi Outlander, and the Chevy Bolt.
Plug N’ Drive said that the purpose of the event was to expose drivers to cars they might not otherwise be exposed to while “dispelling myths” around electric vehicles.
Raymond Leury, president of EVCO, said one of the most common concerns people have about driving electric vehicles is whether they can travel long distances.
“There’s lots of questions about ‘where can I charge this vehicle,’ and ‘what if I’m going somewhere far like Quebec City, what can I charge and how do I do that?’,” he said. “People are very concerned about [situations] like driving very long distances and all that. But there are solutions.”
For driving long distances in a Tesla, Leury said it’s a matter of punching in the destination in the Tesla’s navigation app to see where to go and which charging station locations along the route to stop at.
“It’s very very easy - simple and straightforward. There are tons of Tesla chargers between here and Quebec City,” Leury said. “For non-Tesla drivers, they have to use different chargers, and there are applications that allow you to do essentially the same thing.”
All of the display models at the event were supplied by EVCO members, who were also on hand to answer questions.
“We’ve been talking, and buying, and riding electric cars for a long time,” Leury said of the organization’s members. “So we know the [specifications] of all the vehicles quite well, and we can also talk about the user experience of driving an electric car, in terms of maintenance, driving in the winter, all these things that consumers typically have questions about.”
EnviroCentre also hosted a few events last year, where people were free to test drive and ask questions of electric vehicles, according to Leury. Sunday’s event is the only scheduled Electric Vehicle Day this year so far, he said. Mayor Jim Watson and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna were also scheduled to stop by the event.