This blog was written by Anne Blair, former Director of the Clean Fuels Program at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | March 22, 2018
This blog is the first in a series called Women in EVs – celebrating women leading on the development and adoption of electric vehicles. Other blogs in this series can be found here.
In recognition of International Women’s Month and upcoming Earth Month, we are taking a look at women helping to DRIVE electric transportation forward across the U.S. Did you know that in the 1900s electric cars (often referred to today as EVs) were advertised as “ladies’ cars”? Women were the first leaders in driving electric. Unfortunately, it came with some negative assumptions about women’s abilities. According to an article in Smithsonian Magazine on EV marketing, Roger White, curator of road transportation at the National Museum of American History, found that “car manufacturers, car dealers and the rest of society assumed that women lacked the mechanical aptitude and physical strength to drive and maintain gasoline-powered vehicles.”
History has shown that more people should have paid attention to these early trailblazers: the benefits of EVs far outweigh those of internal combustion engines. They are easy to use, cleaner, easier to maintain and have amazing speed. EVs are for EVeryone!
Lisa Poger, our first profiled champion in our Women DRIVING electric transportations series, is leading efforts in North Carolina to set the state on a path to cleaner transportation. We’ve had the opportunity to work with Lisa as part of the North Carolina EV Working Group and as a member of Plug-In NC. We had a chance to hear from her about her background and work. Check out this amazing leader below:
Lisa is an environmental scientist with an electric utility background. She moved to North Carolina and started a new job in 2011 as a project manager at Advanced Energy with no experience in EVs. Within a year, she was driving her own Nissan Leaf and promoting EVs at outreach events! Today, she is an Electric Transportation Specialist at Advanced Energy and co-lead the state-wide industry collaborative Plug-In NC.
Plug-in NC, formed in 2011, is working to establish North Carolina as a leader in electric transportation. They work state-wide to promote electric vehicles through education and outreach, consulting and resource development. On a daily basis, Lisa provides education to consumers on the benefits of driving electric and work with electric utilities to prepare for an EV future.
What challenges and opportunities do you see on the horizon for the growth of EVs?
I think the largest challenge for EV growth is that plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are widely misunderstood. They are either seen as too futuristic or as glorified golf carts. Truth is, the modern electric-drive motor has been around for more than 20 years, as in the hybrid-electric Toyota Prius. Now the cars just have bigger battery packs and an external plug to recharge. PEVs, surprisingly, also perform better than most gasoline operated cars with their instant torque, single speed transmission and a low center of gravity (due to the larger battery pack). Some even offer “ludicrous-mode” high-speed acceleration.
Future opportunities for EV growth are quite broad. Looking beyond passenger vehicles, we are now seeing electric buses, trucks, semi-trailers, as well as a whole suite of off-road vehicles for agricultural application and industrial transport. The electric fueling model also fits well with the autonomous-driving features that are developing in parallel in the automobile industry.
What role do you think women have to expand adoption of EVs?
My father worked for Chrysler in the 70’s, and it was a very male-dominated industry. I never dreamed I would be talking to people about cars every day. Being a woman in this market is very exciting and shows that there is an opportunity for new decision makers and influencers to help accelerate EV adoption. It is also exciting to see more women taking leadership roles in the electric utility industry and helping to grow a cleaner generation portfolio; multiplying the benefits of driving electric well into the future.
“I am fairly confident my children will never drive a gasoline powered car. They already talk the talk… and it makes me proud.”
Thanks, Lisa! We agree and appreciate your work for cleaner transportation. If you know of other women EV champions that you think should be featured, drop us a note at [email protected]