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July 13, 2011

Electric Vehicles Hit the Big Screen in Central Park

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Hundreds attended a Revenge of the Electric Car screening, co-sponsored by the Sierra Club.

Is there anything better than outdoor cinema in Central Park on a warm summer night?

An estimated 500 people turned out yesterday to catch a glimpse of electric vehicles and view a screening of Revenge of the Electric Car, the new documentary about the revival of the industry. (See the trailer.) The event, co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, was sweetened by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement earlier in the day that the city would be adding 70 new EVs to its fleet that now totals 430 -- the largest municipal EV fleet in the country.

"We will continue to lead by example, but we also must provide New Yorkers with tools to make environmentally friendly choices in their own lives," Mayor Bloomberg said. "When provided with the facts, people become far more likely to choose an electric vehicle."

A recent study found that about 30 percent of New Yorkers know the benefits of electric cars. When people learn more about them, 21 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase one. That's why the city also launched an informational website on EVs that provides charging locations and background about these innovative cars, and how they can accommodate New Yorkers that are itching to ditch the pump.

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Attendees check out a Nissan Leaf.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg at yesterday's press event.

While the NYPD has adopted a Chevy Volt, New York City's taxi owners are partnering with Nissan in using six all-electric Leafs next year as part of a pilot program. City officials hope this will be the start of including EVs in the city's fleet of more than 13,000 yellow taxis.

The Big Apple's exemplary leadership makes a lot of sense when you imagine the jammed thoroughfares of the city. Second only to buildings, transportation accounts for 20 percent of the city's carbon emissions. In addition to stronger public transportation, biking, and walking choices, EVs decrease pollution, even on today's electricity grid.

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A family signs a petition in support of EVs and higher gas-mileage standards.

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A New York City Parks Department EV.

Last night's gathering coincided with a push to raise federal fuel-efficiency standards to 60 mpg by 2025. A recent report by Environment New York found that the Empire State would save $3 billion in gas savings in just one summer if current-day cars met that mark. Without a higher mpg standard, automakers may have little incentive to produce large numbers of EVs and get the EPA rating credit for it.

"By ensuring a strong standard of at least 60 miles per gallon for cars and small trucks in 2025, we will be able to make the switch to electric vehicles sooner, reducing dangerous pollution significantly and helping to move our nation beyond oil," said Gina Coplon-Newfield, who is spearheading the Sierra Club's Go Electric Campaign.

The business community recognizes this, too. That's why more than 180 businesses, organizations, and municipalities from nearly every U.S. state released a statement last week urging our top elected leaders to prioritize plug-in cars and infrastructure.

Want to be heard? Contact the White House and send a picture to Obama that gives your reason why our cars should run on 60 mpg (or on no gasoline at all!). Here's one photo submission from yesterday:

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(Mayor Bloomberg's press conference photo credit: Rebecca Silver; All other photos are from Meredith Epstein.)

-- Brian Foley

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