100th Anniversary Electric Vehicle Sociability RunCre8tiv Photography by Christopher A Smith
On Saturday, June 7, 2014, a total of 48 electric cars gathered in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and rolled through the gentle hills between Charles Town and Shepherdstown to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Electric Sociability Run.
American Public University System (APUS) hosted the WV EV Sociability Run at their Solar Array Parking Lot in Charles Town, WV. John D. Hough, Ed.D, Vice President, Community Relations at APUS said, “We were particularly pleased that our 14 charging stations could accommodate the charging needs of so many electric vehicles. It was an amazing event and we hope that Saturday’s participants will share their experience with other electric vehicle owners and encourage them to come and visit Ranson, Charles Town and the surrounding area.”
The solar array at APUS, the largest in West Virginia, generates enough electricity each year to power electric cars nearly 2 million miles. Laurie Orloski from Douglassville, PA loves the idea of fueling her Tesla Model S on sunshine. She said, “The sky looked much brighter and the trees much greener than usual, which is what tends to happen when you know you are contributing to a better today and tomorrow.”
“The first Sociability Runs were sponsored by auto dealers to prove the ‘country-running ability’ of battery-powered cars and to encourage owners to drive them on longer trips,” said co-organizer Lanny Hartmann. Indeed, EV enthusiasts traveled from as far away as New York and North Carolina using the area’s increased number of EV charging stations. David Hamill, the Mayor of Ranson, WV told the assembled EV tourists, “It’s not where you’re going, it’s how you get there. Today’s event showed us how. An awesome demonstration. Please show us again.”
Co-organizer Rick Rohn, a professional DJ, entertained the crowd by playing songs like John Denver’s ode to West Virginia, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and “Electric Car” by They Might Be Giants. Rohn was one of several “local” EV owners attending their first close-to-home event. Mark Czajka, Director of MD Volt Inc. and one of the organizers, successfully drove his Ford Fusion Energi 105.7 miles in all electric mode from Southern Maryland.
The winner of the Electric Sociability Run contest was Chevrolet Volt owner Vladi Ivanov, who most closely answered this year’s question — in Washington, DC in 1908, what percentage of the personally owned automobiles were electric? The correct answer was 19.5%. Last year’s winner, Barry Larkin, presented Vladi with the commemorative PEPCO electric chafing dish that replicated the same prize that the company donated in the original 1914 event.
Scott Wilson, citing a 1908 article in the Washington Post, observed that one in five privately owned cars registered in Washington DC were electric and at least five US Senators drove electric cars. “Imagine if a proportional number of Members of Congress drove electric cars today. We would have an electric car caucus.”
Karsten Dahms and Hugo Zia were winners of GE WattStation and Bosch Power Max home charging stations respectively. Karsten was going to use the WattStation to entice a family member to purchase an EV.
Special thanks to the following sponsors who donated prizes or services: MD Volt Inc., American Public University System, Shepherd University, meritCharge, Mountain View Solar, Bosch, GE Industrial Solutions, MOM’s Organic Market, Intuitive Motion, Lit Motors, The Robinson House and individual members of the EV Community who helped make this a success.
Organizers also with to thank Ranson Police Chief William Roper, Shepherdstown Police Chief Dave Ransom, and Officers of their respective Departments as well as Shepherd University Police Department personnel for their assistance in coordinating the Sociability Run.