Next Ride: E-Vehicle Awareness Initiative: Clean Foundation
Many Nova Scotians don’t realize that EVs are a viable option for their lifestyles and budgets. Many hold negative beliefs about EVs often based on misconceptions, especially concerning range restrictions and the extent of charging station coverage in the province. The Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines funded Clean Foundation to create the Next Ride campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of EVs, dispel myths, and build excitement around the technology, and then they took their show on the road.
Nova Scotia has laudably committed to being net zero by 2050 and since one-third of the province’s emissions currently come from the transportation sector, decarbonizing the sector is key to achieving that goal. One opportunity for reducing emissions is to electrify Nova Scotia’s vehicle fleet, including its estimated 600,000 internal combustion engine passenger vehicles. And one way to do that is to help people go take a drive so they learn they’re not being taken for a ride.
A major barrier to the province’s EV transition is the low demand for EVs in Nova Scotia due to a combination of low awareness and poor EV supply (less than 10% of the dealerships in Nova Scotia have even one EV on their lots.
Too many Nova Scotians don’t realize that EVs are a viable option for their lifestyles and budgets. Many hold negative beliefs about EVs often based on misconceptions, especially concerning range restrictions and the extent of charging station coverage in the province.
Recognizing these barriers to more widespread EV adoption, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines funded Clean Foundation to create a campaign aiming to educate consumers about the benefits of EVs, dispel myths, and build excitement around the technology.
Launched in 2019, Next Ride is just that, a multi-faceted campaign that provides Nova Scotians with resources to learn about EVs and experience electrified transportation first-hand. The mobile EV showcase allows guests to experience driving an EV and the opportunity to ask questions of trained showcase staff.
Building this program was a bit of a road trip of its own. Before setting off, the team charted Nova Scotians’ awareness of and concerns about EVs and reached out to learn some best practices from others who’d taken similar trips across other provinces.
Planning done, an EV vehicle was needed to carry the message. The purchase of a Chevrolet Bolt provided an example of a fully battery powered, appealing, and reasonably priced vehicle, available in Nova Scotia and eligible for a federal EV rebate. From there they reached out to manufacturers like Mitsubishi Canada (who provided their Outlander plug-in hybrid on loan) as well as dealerships. Local EV owners who were willing to answer questions from potential local EV owners and in some cases even let those question-askers ride along with them as part of an owner matching program pulled up when flagged and down.
The website EVAssist.ca was developed to serve as a one-stop shop for information on EV model features and availability in Nova Scotia, provincial charging infrastructure, total cost of ownership calculators, and the owner matching program and then the whole show hit the road and was a hit. Between EVAssist.ca and its sister site NextRideNS.com, the project’s digital platforms attracted over 1.18 million impressions from nearly 24,000 unique visitors.
From June 2019 through mid-March 2020, Next Ride attended and/or organized 92 events across the province, ranging from small business and municipal presentations to conferences, farmers markets, schools, parades and exhibitions. Averaging three days of events per week Next Ride managed to get 1,426 people into an EV, many for the first time ever, and engaged 5,572 people face-to-face reaching a full 164% of the original target.
That’s good, green, mileage.