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Electric vehicle test drives coming to Bow Valley

“The premise is that we need to be in a community more than one day. The unique value in this is we are always on location for a minimum of two weeks, sometimes a month, to give people a chance to come by and visit.”

BOW VALLEY – In an effort to expose more people to the benefits of electric vehicles, Plug'n Drive and the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley are teaming up for several test drive events in the valley.

Plug'n Drive will bring its Mobile Electric Education Trailer (MEET) to Banff and Canmore in September, to spread electric vehicle education and awareness. The trailer comes equipped with trained staff, informational displays, interactive learning tools and electric vehicle test driving opportunities.

The initiative began in Ottawa through funding from the federal government in 2020. Since then, MEET has travelled everywhere in Ontario and New Brunswick and is now touring Alberta.

“The Mobile Electric Education Trailer is a bit new, so every new location will do it differently,” said Andrea Johancsik, climate engagement lead for the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley. “We want to make sure we had it in the Bow Valley for a long time to maximize opportunities for residents and visitors to come and test drive an electric vehicle.”

The Bow Valley will be able to enjoy MEET and the test drives for much of September. Already, there seems to be high interest in the area for electric vehicles, something the Biosphere Institute discovered at an expo last spring.

“We found an overwhelming interest and curiosity about electric vehicles,” Johancsik said. “I think it is a great place to learn because people here seem to be willing to take climate action.”

Dav Cvitkovic, chief operating officer and secretary of the board with Plug’n Drive, has also found the Bow Valley is interested in electric vehicles.

“The response has been amazing. I see the appointments coming in regularly,” Cvitkovic said. “Canmore is almost entirely booked, but we do encourage drop-ins. Banff is over a long weekend, so we do have some openings.”

Free test drives can be booked online, and typically take one hour to conduct, with the test driving lasting 20 minutes. On hand for the test drives will be a Volvo XC40 Recharge and a Hyundai Ioniq 5.

“We do a pre-test drive and post-test drive, and we assess if their knowledge of EVs has increased, whether some of their concerns about EVs have diminished and what is their attitude towards purchases,” Cvitkovic said. “We have done thousands of test drives, and people after the experience are 80 to 90 per cent more likely to purchase an EV.”

The first test drive and MEET event will be held from Sept. 1 to 6 at the train station public parking area in Banff. The program moves to Canmore, from Sept. 8 to 11 and Sept. 11 to 15, in the Canmore public parking area next to the Miner’s Union Hall.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the event runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays to Sundays.

“The premise is that we need to be in a community more than one day,” Cvitkovic said. “The unique value in this is we are always on location for a minimum of two weeks, sometimes a month, to give people a chance to come by and visit.”

The goal is to help educate people to make more climate-conscious decisions with their transportation.

“The end goal is really to consider switching from your internal combustion car to an electric car,” Johancsik said. “We do want to encourage other ways of low carbon transportation that can include cycling, transit, walking or carpooling. We know a lot of people own cars and we want to encourage them to purchase an electric car.”

You can book a test drive by visiting www.plugndrive.ca/meet-banff-canmore.