September 12, 2018

It’s Drive Electric Week; Cars With Plugs Increasing in West Windsor and Princeton

DRIVING ELECTRIC: Electric vehicle owners, enthusiasts, and curious locals gathered Saturday at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market to take part in a National Drive Electric Week event featuring more than 23 plug-in vehicles and their owners. New Jersey Electric Auto Association Vice President Sal Cameli stands beside his 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf.

By Donald Gilpin

If the electric vehicle (EV) drivers, enthusiasts, and curious onlookers who showed up Saturday at the National Drive Electric Week event at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market are any indication, your next car might be electric, and it won’t be long before traditional internal combustion engines have gone the way of the horse and buggy.

The owners of the 23 EVs in attendance Saturday emphasized the clean-air benefits and cost-savings of their cars, answered questions from spectators, and shared their EV ownership experiences.

“I haven’t bought gas or oil in five and a half years,” said Sal Cameli, standing beside his 2013 Nissan Leaf. “One thousand miles costs only $31.” Cameli, who is vice president of the New Jersey Electric Auto Association, wears a T-shirt that says “Starve a terrorist, drive an electric car,” and his license plate reads “U Buy Gas.” At, he states, you can “learn how to reduce or eliminate your need for gasoline.”

“The Nissan Leaf is a great car,” Cameli continued. The current model, he said, can cost less than $24,000 with federal tax rebates and New Jersey waiving sales tax on EVs. “The technology is getting better and better, and cheaper,” he added. He described his car as “like the iPhone 2, and the 2018 model is the iPhone 8.”

West Windsor resident Avinash Pawar described his experience as owner of a 2018 Nissan Leaf. “I like it,” he said. “It gives me 150 miles on a full charge, gets me to work and back, about 85 miles roundtrip, and I can charge it for free at public charging stations for the first two years. I stop at at the turnpike rest area on the way to work, take a coffee break for about 15 minutes, then it’s charged up. I’m obsessed with the whole electric technology.”

In Princeton, as of February 2018, there were 326 EVs or plug-in hybrids registered, according to data collected for Sustainable Princeton’s (SP) greenhouse gas inventory, said SP Executive Director Molly Jones, and “hopefully that number has continued to rise.”

Public charging is currently available in the Spring Street garage, at the Princeton Shopping Center, and in the Chambers Street garage. SP is also working to encourage employers and multiunit dwellings to apply for the state’s It Pay$ to Plug In program, which once refunded, will offset the cost of purchasing and installing electric vehicle charging stations. SP urges the public to contact them to learn more.

“We are also working with the municipality on the possibility of installing new charging sites in public parking areas and the potential for introducing an electric vehicle car share in town,” Jones noted.

In addition to three Nissans and several Teslas of different models, EVs at Saturday’s event, which was sponsored by Plug in America, the Sierra Club, the Electric Auto Association, and Nissan Leaf, included Chevrolet Bolts and Volts, BMWs, a Ford Focus, a Honda Clarity, a Mercedes Benz, and a Mitsubishi.

Though EV sales in the U.S. were only 1.16 percent of total auto sales in 2017, according to Sierra magazine, 2018 sales have risen significantly. Last year China’s sales were three times those of the U.S., and in Norway, thanks to incentives, more than half of all new car registrations were either hybrid or battery electric.

EV models are proliferating, and most new cars will be offered with a plug-in variant. Range and performance are improving rapidly, Sierra magazine stated, as prices are falling.

Princeton University Engineering Professor and EV expert Alain Kornhauser will be presenting a program on “Electric Vehicles: Opportunities for Central New Jersey,” tonight, Wednesday, September 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Mercer County Community College Student Center/Welcome Center.