Scott Wilson’s Remarks
I wanted to say a few words about how all of this came about today and why we’re here. This all started one year ago when John Powell, who was the curator at the Woodrow Wilson House Museum downtown visited an EVADC meeting looking for EV drivers to be in an EV rally for the opening of their “President Electric” exhibit, since Wilson and his wife drove a 1921 Milburn electric. John had done some research on electric cars back then, and had some local newspaper articles with him talking about how electrics were making 100 mile tours, how there were hundreds of electrics in Washington, DC and other cities back then, about how there were about a dozen electric models for sale, things like that.
I Thought: Gee, I never realized…. That sounds interesting…
John also brought a couple newspaper articles about a group of 54 electrics that left from the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall, drove around Hains Point and out here to the Joaquin Miller Cabin, for a big picnic. It was 14 miles and took 1 hour and 15 minutes. This was called the Electric Sociability Run and was held May 27, 1914, 99 years ago today.
Lanny Hartmann and I got interested in reading about all the things they were doing back then with electric cars. After a little digging, we started finding newspaper articles of that period that were talking about the Electric Vehicle Association of America and how EV owners had car clubs, how they were advocating for more and more widely distributed public charging, and how they were getting together with each other socially to have fun with their cars. Man, that sounded familiar. The more we looked into it, the more a whole other world opened up, and it’s really uncanny just how much history is recapitulating itself. Or, as Mark Twain pointed out “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
So, in some sense, we, the plug-in owner/drivers of today are picking up where the plug-in owner/drivers of the past left off. Humanity has had about a 130 year excursion with gasoline automobiles, and, while they will be around for many more years, they necessarily can’t be around forever. What we are currently witnessing isn’t so much the electrification of the automobile, but its re-electrification. The automobile is beginning the return to its electric roots.
We are now in the early days of what I hope will turn out to be the transformation of automobiles. We are fortunate to be early witnesses to the displacement of gasoline by electricity, as with the Chevy Volt and other plug-in hybrids, and the replacement of gasoline with electricity in conversions and commercial electrics.
We now have options and choices that we haven’t had for almost 100 years.
To me that’s both incredibly exciting and incredibly refreshing. We are here today to acknowledge the beginnings of that transformation, to pick up where it left off and to carry it forward.
Finally, Thank you to Lanny and Mark, who put in many hours of preparation and organizing for this picnic, creating the web site, doing social media, reaching out to sponsors, and dry running this whole event. I think their preparation really shows. This has all been very good trail boss practice for next years Sociability Run, on the 100th anniversary. Thank you.