LOWELL — While standing next to her fully-electric vehicle, a 2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range, Tyngsboro resident Margie Lynch-Freshner proudly announces she has been internal-combustion-engine free, or “ICE free,” as she put it, for almost two years.
Lynch-Freshner explains she and her husband have owned or leased at least one electric vehicle, or EV, for more than two decades. However, almost two years ago, they scrapped their last gas-powered vehicle and have relied solely on electric ever since.
When asked if she would ever consider turning in her EV and going back to buying gas powered in the future, Lynch-Freshner provides a definitive response.
“Not if I can help it,” she said. “Electric vehicles are a much nicer drive.”
Lynch-Freshner was one of the approximately 30 EV owners that showed up with their electric rides for the Lowell Drives Electric car show held in the parking lot of Heritage Farm Ice Cream and Restaurant on Saturday afternoon.
The event was part of National Drive Electric Week, scheduled until Oct. 2. With EVs becoming an increasingly popular and hotly-debated topic, the week was organized with the goal to raise awareness of the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
During Saturday’s event, local EV owners talked about their vehicles, answered questions, and a few even gave rides, including Thomas Christian, of Nashua, N.H. Christian was happy to show off his 2023 Genesis GV60 Performance, glowing with a vibrant yellow paintjob, which one car show attendee described as “tennis ball yellow.”
“A lot of people I found who are on the fence (about buying EVs) are concerned about the cost,” Christian said while giving a test drive down Pawtucket Boulevard. “This is a $70,000 sticker price. … I consider that still to be reasonable for me, because I’m an enthusiast. I enjoy it not just as a vehicle, but as a toy.”
Mike and Sarah Rushton, of Lowell, along with their 4-year-old daughter, Emma, brought their 2019 Chevy Bolt — among the more affordable EV options — to Saturday’s car show. As they sat next to the vehicle eating ice cream, Mike Rushton explained his decision to go electric stemmed from being “a geek” who is interested in technology.
“Then getting away from gas, oil changes and all the rest of it made sense for me,” he added.
Mike Rushton pointed out the positives of EVs, including less maintenance demands and that they have fewer parts that lead to damage. And, of course, proponents of EVs tout them as the environmentally-friendly option compared to gas-powered vehicles, which spout toxic pollutants.
But, as for the EV naysayers, a common topic of discussion is range anxiety, which is the fear that the EV won’t have a sufficient charge to get from point A to point B.
Charging stations are becoming more common nationwide and there are apps, like PlugShare and ChargeHub, that will map out where charging stations are located. Despite these advancements, range anxiety continues to be one of the main roadblocks for those on the fence about switching to electric.
The recent passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act offers a potential solution to that concern. The bill puts $7.5 billion toward building out a network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations nationwide. Of that, $5 billion will go toward the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, which calls for states to focus on building public charging stations at least every 50 miles along interstate highways and within one mile of federally designated alternative fuel corridors.
Last week, the Federal Highway Administration announced it had approved the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan, which was developed as part of the NEVI program. Massachusetts will receive funding over five years, including approximately $9.4 million for federal fiscal year 2022 to support the construction and operation of direct-current fast-charging stations along EV alternative fuel corridors.
On hand in Lowell on Saturday was James Penfold, the director of eMobility Solutions at Revision Energy, a company that specializes in installing public charging stations.
Penfold said when looking into locations to construct charging stations, one of the goals is to have them situated in areas that offer amenities that will give people something to do while they wait for their vehicle to charge.
“If you have to plan a trip, you might combine a stop with a place like this where you say, ‘Let’s grab some ice cream while we’re charging,’” Penfold said, referencing the host of Saturday’s car show.
When asked if EVs are the future, like Lynch-Freshner, Penfold provided a definitive answer of his own.
“100%,” he said. “The horse has left the barn.”
For more information about National Drive Electric Week, including where other events are scheduled to take place over the next several days, visit driveelectricweek.org.
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis