NAPA, CA - The East Bay Clean Cities Coalition held the 2011 Plug-in and Electric Vehicle Showcase at the Napa Valley Expo on Feb. 17. The conference included presentations by Nissan, General Motors, Altec Industries, Mitsubishi Motors, Ford/Azure Dynamics, Toyota, Coda Automotive and others. EV charging station manufacturers giving presentations included Coulomb Technologies, General Electric, Clipper Creek and AeroVironment. The conference was capped off with a ride-and-drive event.

The 2011 Plug-in and Electric Vehicle Showcase was co-sponsored by the NorCal-Northern Nevada Chapter of the National Association of Fleet Administrators, in conjunction with the University of California at Davis and the City of Napa. About 200 people attended, according to the Director of Fleet Services for UC Davis, Richard E. Battersby, who envisioned, planned, organized, and helped coordinate the event as a part of the East Bay Clean Cities team. He also served as the master of ceremonies at the event.

Battersby said the group’s target audience was fleet managers and decision makers. “We originally anticipated 50-60 attendees but hoped to get 100. We actually had well over 200 RSVPs, and close to 200 attendees showed up despite the poor weather,” Battersby said. “The event was successful beyond our expectations. We marketed only through email contact lists of fleet professional organizations, but word spread beyond these groups and we also had interested members of the public RSVP and attend.”

Battersby explained that the conference’s goals were to provide information on currently, or soon-to-be, available electric vehicles, Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), such as electric vehicle chargers, and provide a venue where attendees could not only obtain information but also drive these vehicles.

“We have been hearing about and discussing these vehicles and equipment for many months but we felt it was important that the actual vehicles were present as well,” Battersby said. “We also hoped to spread awareness on some of the vehicles that perhaps are not as widely publicized. For example, The Nissan leaf and Chevrolet Volt are getting quite a bit of coverage, but Mitsubishi is making their i-MiEV battery electric sedan available and California-based Coda Automotive is bringing their battery electric Coda Sedan to market soon as well.”

“We also brought in all of the major electric vehicle charging equipment manufacturers as well as some electric Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) manufacturers,” Battersby said. “We wanted to provide exposure to as much of the electric vehicle operating spectrum as possible to better enable fleet managers to make informed decisions when deploying these types of equipment in the future.  Based upon the feedback we have received on the event from presenters and attendees, I am confident in stating that we achieved that objective.”

The event came about when the East Bay Clean Cities group asked for commitments from automakers to attend in November 2010. They also worked closely with NAFA to organize the show.

“Clean Cities and the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) at the national level have been discussing possible coordinated events held locally,” Battersby said. “We decided to see if we could put together the first Clean Cities/NAFA joint effort right here in the East Bay. We have always had an excellent working relationship and supported each other’s events over the years, but had never done a combined event bringing the clean air/petroleum reduction emphasis of Clean Cities to avenue a venue oriented toward the nation’s largest professional fleet management organization. Chris Burgeson of the NorCal Northern Nevada chapter of The National Association of Fleet Administrators expressed great interest in co-sponsoring the event and suggested the site in Napa, which was an excellent location. Chris did all of the facility coordination and the City of Napa also joined in to supply support staff. The City of Napa also made the showcase a zero-waste event by providing compostable tableware as well as the appropriate receptacles and recycling bins. UC Davis contributed vehicle and personnel support and NAFA board members served as event staff so it was truly a joint effort."

As for the event’s future, Battersby said that if the members involved in the Clean Cities program and in NAFA are interested, they are willing to produce future shows.

By Cathy Stephens and Greg Basich