When electric vehicles (EVs) will shift into high gear, going from anomaly to commonplace, is anyone’s guess.
Meantime, a sizeable group of enthusiasts driving 507 EVs at De Anza College in Cupertino, California, have set the Guinness World Record for the largest EV parade to date. Co-sponsored by SAP, the 42nd annual electric vehicle rally was the culmination of National Electric Drive Week. The previous record was 481 vehicles, recorded in Germany earlier this year.
A drone captured in this video what’s been billed at the largest display of electric vehicles in the United States. The Cupertino event was just one of 152 taking place in five countries last week in which owners of over 3,000 plug-in electric vehicles registered to share their electric driving experience with the public.
I talked with Gil Perez, Senior Vice President of Industry, Cloud and General Manager of Connected Vehicles at SAP, who described SAP’s decision to go after the Guinness World Record like this:
“We wanted to do something for the community to increase awareness and promote electric vehicle use. Sustainability and innovation are coupled together, and reflect SAP’s commitment to customers.”
Besides SAP employees, the list of parade co-sponsors, volunteers, and drivers reads like a Who’s Who of Silicon Valley companies and non-profit organizations including SF BayLEAFS, the Electric Auto Association of Silicon Valley, Tesla, Nissan, and Volta. Over 1,500 drivers registered a total of 28 different vehicles that included cars and motorcycles. As far as what it was like along the parade route, Perez was struck by how it was simultaneously quiet and emotional.
“The cars are totally quiet, and it’s hard to convey the level of passion people feel about them,” said Perez. “Some people were crying they were so happy. It was a very emotional experience.”
As of this month, EV sales reach their first quarter-million mark in the U.S., numbers projected to rise as consumers and corporations get on board. For example, SAP has a fleet of about 150 electric cars in seven countries, and operates a total of around 100 charging stations worldwide. The company plans to have additional 60 new EVs as dedicated company cars by the end of this year, and a total of 5,000 electric cars operating on the road worldwide by 2020.
Compared to the total number of gasoline-powered cars on the road today, a parade of a little over 500 EVs might not sound impressive. Yet consider the early days of flight when Orville and Wilbur Wright faced skepticism from a doubting public. In 1903 their first engine-powered airplane flew 175 feet at about 10 feet off the ground for about 12 seconds. In just a few short years, they had signed government contracts, opened a flight training school, and delivered the first commercially successful aircraft. You have to start somewhere, and the EV aficionados in Cupertino have every reason to soar ahead.
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