All charged up for National Drive Electric Week Showcase at Central


By Leslie Virostek

It’s a phenomenon Dr. Charles E. Button has seen numerous times: A person goes for their first ride in an electric vehicle, gets out, and declares: “I’m getting one!” 

The professor of Geography at Central Connecticut State University is hoping to see similar conversions at CCSU’s 12th annual National Drive Electric Week Showcase. Free and open to members of the university community and the general public, the event will be held on Thursday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center parking lot on Ella T. Grasso Blvd. 

The showcase will feature a variety of electric vehicle (EV) models from different car makers and the opportunity to take a ride-along or test drive one of them. Visitors can browse among the vehicles, ask questions of EV owners, and learn from exhibitors about the technology behind — and the environmental advantages of — EVs. 

“This is a fact gathering, data gathering, information gathering event,” says Button. 

Button, who is a Connecticut Governor's Climate Change Leadership Award recipient, says trading a gas vehicle for an electric model is one of the best things an individual can do to reduce their carbon footprint. People know that emissions from internal combustion engines put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming, he says. But there are other benefits to going electric. Mining for the rare earth elements used in EV batteries is not nearly as harmful as drilling for fossil fuels, which involves pumping hundreds of chemicals into the ground. 

“We are reducing other negative environmental impacts, like groundwater contamination from the drilling process,” he says. 

Aside from the environmental plusses, Button notes that owning an electric vehicle just might make the driver’s life easier and cost less to operate. With no oil to change or transmission fluid to fill, there’s less preventative maintenance. You get rid of a lot of problems if you switch to the less complicated electric motor, he says.

If you love your current car too much to give it up, you can learn at the event about how virtually any car can be converted to a quick, quiet electric vehicle. Years ago, Button would occasionally meet do-it-yourself enthusiasts who had done just that to their favorite car or truck. Today, there are companies that will do it for you, including one based in Connecticut that has been invited to the event. 

CCSU’s showcase is the oldest continuously running National Drive Electric Week event in the United States. It is cosponsored by the Central Geography Department and the Global Environmental Sustainability Action Coalition, a grassroots group comprising members of the university’s extended community of current and former faculty, students, and administrators. Attendees can register for the free event via this link