September 30, 2020

Switching to Electric Vehicles Is Focus of Sustainable Event

By Anne Levin

When Jenny Ludmer first decided to purchase an electric vehicle, her husband was not enthusiastic. “He had a lot of anxiety about it not working, not being reliable, and just not being a good idea,” said Ludmer, who is Sustainable Princeton’s community outreach manager. “Now, we literally fight over the car.”

Ludmer and other proponents of switching gas-powered to electric vehicles will be on hand Friday, October 9 for “EVening at the Princeton Shopping Center, an Electric Vehicle and E-bike Ride & Drive Event,” presented by Sustainable Princeton, the shopping center, and NRG Energy, Inc. The family-friendly gathering, from 4-7 p.m., is designed to demonstrate how making the transition is not only environmentally friendly, but easier than most people think.

“With one third of greenhouse gas emissions coming from transportation, the transition to electric vehicles is a very important way to help combat climate change,” said Molly Jones, Sustainable Princeton’s executive director. “By shifting to an electric vehicle, you make a substantial reduction in your emission footprint.”

Electric cars are “peppy, responsive, and have instant torque — no delay when you step on the pedal,” said Ludmer. “Our car has a range of 150 miles.”

Jones described the upcoming event as “a low-hassle experience that will allow people to speak casually to vehicle owners. Plus, they can take test drives. It’s an easy way to dip your toe in.”

At press time, some Tesla models, Chevy Volts, a Kia Niro, and a Hyundai Kona had been booked for test drives. But more are expected. E-bikes will also be available for test rides. Sourland Electric Bikes is planning to bring six including Pedego, Giant, and Specialized brands. Helmets are provided and the equipment will be cleaned between uses.

In the first quarter of 2019, more than 61,000 EVs were sold in the United States, a 10 percent increase from the same period the year before, according to the website of the Edison Electric Institute. The numbers are climbing. But there is still significant resistance among members of the public about making the transition.

“There are a number of barriers people have, depending on lifestyle,” said Ludmer. “They might have ‘range anxiety,’ which is concern about whether the infrastructure is going to be there to support them on the road. In New Jersey, where there is a strong, growing market, you probably do have a lot of access to several charging stations. It just takes some research.”

EV proponents say maintenance is considerably lower than with gas-powered vehicles. “You don’t need oil changes. You don’t have as many working parts,” said Jones. “A vehicle that is battery powered skips that. You have to change the wiper fluid and put air in the tires, but that’s it.”

Currently, Princeton has charging stations in the Spring Street Garage, the Chambers Street Garage, and the shopping center. “Central Jersey has several, especially on the major arteries,” said Jones. “There is one at Quaker Bridge Mall that has the highest level, and can charge in maybe an hour or less. In Princeton, we have level two, which can charge a car overnight.”

The cost to purchase an EV has come down. “There was a time when this was only for a certain elite group. But that is no longer the case,” said Jones. “People tend to be surprised to find that, with rebates and incentives, the cost can be comparable. There are generous financial incentives available through state and federal programs.”

Representatives from NRG will be at the shopping center with information on energy plans and products, including a new NRG Carbon Offset plan that “allows consumers a convenient way to make their lifestyles more sustainable by offsetting the carbon generated by their daily activities, such as driving or using electricity in their home, through purchasing a carbon offset subscription,” according to a press release about the event.

Families are encouraged to patronize the shopping center’s restaurants and gather on the green. socially distanced, with blankets and chairs. Singer/songwriter Essie Riddle will perform from 5-7 p.m.

“We think of this as a great opportunity for people to get together, grab dinner, and listen to great music while learning about these opportunities,” said Jones.

Register for the free event at