|Josh Noble, tourism director, and
the Spirit of Arizona
On Thursday it was an afternoon of friends from the land down under, and California, and classic Mopar muscle that alleviated the tedium of the day job. Yesterday it was an educational and fascinating visit with Jerry Asher better known throughout Arizona as EV Jerry, a passionate evangelist for the changing face of transportation in America which is the electric vehicle.
As Jerry travels the state in the Spirit of Arizona, a Nissan Leaf, attending meetings, talking with business owners about the benefits of providing service for electric vehicle owners, promoting infrastructure development, and mapping charging locations for Plug Share, he tirelessly works at making converts by providing a wide array of information and, on occasion, allowing for test drives that provide a glimpse of the future to come.
I should note that the one disappointment in our meeting was the fact that my schedule didn’t allow for a test drive. I didn’t even get a ride.
However, Josh Noble, the Kingman area tourism director had an opportunity to glimpse the future of transportation as well as the Route 66 International Festival as this years event may be the largest gathering of electric vehicles ever assembled in one place.
Route 66 figured prominently in this particular adventure for “EV” Jerry. Adding Route 66 charging locations to the Plug Share map, including Truxton, and evaluating the site for the Route 66 International Festival, as well as making converts, was the mission.
As a former automotive journalist that specialized in the American auto industry between 1885 and 1940, I am well versed in the dominance of the electric vehicle in the industries infancy, especially in urban areas. However, I must admit that until the development of the Route 66 International Festival with a theme of Kingman, and Route 66, being the crossroads of the past and future commenced, I had very limited knowledge about the modern electric vehicle.
To say this has been an eye opening experience would be akin to saying that Route 66 seems to be popular. Yes, Tesla has been labeled a game changer by a number of leading automotive journalist, and yes, electric vehicles are growing in popularity. Still, watching videos of the White Zombie, meeting with Jerry, and talking with people like Roderick Wilde of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation, leaves me feeling as though I have stumbled into a vibrant subculture where eccentric visionaries challenge people to think beyond the perception of normal, the world of here and now.
Last evening I browsed the complimentary copy of Electric Car Insider provided by Jerry and was, to say the least, fascinated. Automobile reviews, advertisement for home car ports that include solar panel cells for a roof and a charging station, information about events, customizing clubs, and a wide array innovations under development.
Still, I am not quite convinced that the electric vehicle is really a viable option for long distance travel, at least at this time, even with the recent high profile cross country Tesla adventures. The modern hybrids are another story.
However, there is little question that the electric vehicle is absolutely perfect for urban usage for commuters or light delivery needs. Factor in things like technologies that make facilities with roof top solar powered charging viable and it becomes quite possible to see the most dramatic transformation of the American urban landscape since suburbia gutted the heart of communities from St. Louis to Detroit.
Oddly enough, the attributes that make me question the practical application of all electric vehicles for long distance travel are the attributes that make them ideal for a Route 66 adventure. In turn this makes the provision of charging facilities at Route 66 businesses an ideal marriage of the past and future.
Using an electric vehicle to drive Route 66 would require frequent stops, and longer stops. That is the very essence of the Route 66 experience, savoring the adventure by slowing the pace.
If your a business owner on Route 66, I strongly encourage you to consider installation of a charging facility, or at least providing service through conventional means, and adding your facility to the Plug Share map. This could easily become the year Route 66 becomes the highway of the future, this could become the year that this iconic road becomes the nations first electric highway.