A few weeks ago I took the car to a couple of different events, and I'm finally getting the opportunity to share it. The optimal word here is "different" as the experiences couldn't have been more different from one another. The first, was a car show.
People who've been following this blog for a while may remember that last year I was invited to bring the car to General Dynamics for their employee car show. It's worth noting that I don't work for General Dynamics, but I know someone that does, so really I'm not qualified to be there. Last year he suggested to the organizers of the event that I come. They were quite happy to have me there and I was available so I went. The car was a big hit, and when I was driving out of the parking lot, they told me they'd like me back next year. I agreed.
Well, mid-October rolled around and they did indeed contact me asking if I would bring the Z3 back for display. So the first week of November, I drove down to their offices ready to answer all the questions I knew were coming. Apparently I didn't warrant being placed with the "Premium cars" like last year. They just lined me up in some random spot on the grid. If they'd had some foresight, they would have put me next to the Nissan Leaf that showed up, but they didn't.
It turns out, it really didn't matter where I was lined up. Eventually, just like last time, there was a crowd around the car. It's really the perfect venue to show the car. This is a company full of technically oriented people, many of them engineers. Each was curious to see the project and how it was done. Several stepped forward to ask questions, many of them quite good, all picking my brain for details. There was one guy who was telling me about the car he has and the conversion he's had planned for it for some time. Hopefully, getting the chance to see a conversion first hand will inspire him to move the process along.
This was the first chance I've had to show the car with all the new safety systems in place. Of course by safety systems I mean sheets of Lexan strapped to the top of the batteries. Still, like I'd said before, you could throw a bucket of wrenches in the engine compartment and there's no way for them to short on anything. But best of all, there's no way for anyone to get their fingers on anything that could harm them. They might cut them selves on something if they stick their hand somewhere too tight, but certainly no chance to electrocution. It was very satisfying knowing that no one could hurt themselves by mistakenly touching something they shouldn't.
All in all it was a very successful event. I believe several people walked away with a more positive view of EVs.
The next day I was at an event sponsored by a local group called Gang Plank. This was set up by another local EV enthusiast who also attended EVCCON in September, Kevin Larsen. Gang Plank is what I would describe as a co-op for business start ups. They have work space and meeting spaces available to people who are interested in starting a business but don't have office space available to them. Once a week they have a brown bag session for a topic the administrators there think might interest their clients. Kevin worked with them to arrange a brown bag session concerned with converting a car to an EV. Understandably, Kevin thought it might be a good idea if I came along and gave a short presentation, show the car and answer some questions.
I thought our presentation was informative if not particularly polished. What surprised me was how supremely uninterested the group seemed to be. There were perhaps 6 people (out of 35 or so) who bothered to gather in front of the dais we used and most seemed only casually engaged in what we were saying; occasionally someone would look up. Apparently to see if we were still there. When the question and answer session came up, there were a few good ones, but I found myself answering questions more about EVs in a broader sense rather than the merits or particulars of converting a car. For instance someone asked me about the true carbon off set of an EV versus a gasoline powered car. I did my best to answer these questions, but I'm no authority on such matters. But more than anything the questions betrayed the fact that what we were presenting to them was really a few steps ahead of where they were as a group. Just the wrong audience for our material.
After the presentation, a few people and I wandered back to where the Z3 was so that they could look it over. It seemed more like something to pass their time rather than something that really interested them. The whole time I found myself hoping that the entire endeavor wasn't simply a waste of time. Everyone was very nice but no one seemed particularly interested. There was an owner of a Leaf there who was quite engaged, and we chatted for a while, but he's one of the initiated (so to speak). The whole day stood in such stark contrast to the events at the car show the day before. I took solace in the fact that if nothing else these people saw a REAL EV that's being used on a daily basis by a REAL person. Hopefully that will stick with them.