Electric Vehicle Parade Including Over 40 EVs Inspires and Educates

The afternoon traffic in downtown New Paltz was treated to an intriguing sight on Saturday afternoon. That’s as over 40 electric vehicles formed a quiet, emissions-free motorcade. This EV Parade drove together from Tops Shopping Plaza down Main Street to the SUNY New Paltz campus. The EV parade was also joined by pedestrians, bicyclists, and the Ulster County based Tin Horn Uprising activist street band. All for a procession through campus to the Student Union building for New Paltz New York’s Second Annual Zero Emissions Parade. 

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The celebration served as a finale to the third annual Climate Solutions Summit. This Summit was attended by over 300 people. Attendees were able to view the wide variety of electric cars and speak with enthusiastic EV owners. There was dancing in the street, complete with puppets from Redwing Blackbird Theater.  

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The EV parade was led by Dr. Donald Christian, the President of SUNY New Paltz, who drove in a Chevy Volt. It also featured several other plug-in models. For example, the Tesla Model 3 and S. In addition, the Chevy Bolt and Volt, Hyundai Kona EV, Kia Niro EV, Toyota Prius Prime, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf all-electric and the Honda Clarity Plug-in hybrid. While most of the vehicles were driven by proud owners, dealerships also participated. Therefore we are now including Kingston Nissan, Healey Brothers Poughkeepsie and Friendly Honda. 

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According to organizer Samrat Pathania of New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, the sponsoring organization, “This EV Parade and event has grown a lot. Especially since we first tried it last year.  Now with all major automakers electrifying their cars changed things. We are now seeing a lot of education happening in our region. So there is now a rapidly expanding network of charging stations too. Therefore also a fast growing community of drivers and enthusiasts.” He also thanked Central Hudson Gas and Electric for their support in making the parade possible.

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The New Paltz EV Parade and event is part of National Drive Electric Week. A week which also featured events in Kingston, Nyack, Poughkeepsie, Mahopac, Cold Spring and Warwick.  According to Seth Leitman, President of the Electric Auto Association of the Hudson Valley,  “This region is unique. We have the largest number and originality of EV events nationally.”

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Leitman manages Sustainable Hudson Valley’s Drive Electric program. He has been training car dealerships to understand electric vehicle technology. As well as bringing customers up to speed.  So Leitman adds, “As EV technology gets better and truly affordable, people are watching and waiting for their favorite car to be electrified.  When that happens, we see a flurry of sales.”

There are many ways to learn about electric vehicles.  New Paltz is part of an educational partnership between the northeast states and a group of automakers, Destination Electric, which has placed EV information in restaurants and tourist destinations.  That program also provides a website, www.driveelectricus.com, with in-depth information about every EV make and model.  And Sustainable Hudson Valley’s program offers educational events all year long, including an EV Night set for October 2 from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. at Rough Draft Bar and Books.

Transportation is the largest portion of the Hudson Valley’s greenhouse gas emissions. Most interestingly as panels at the Climate Solutions Summit emphasized.  New Paltz Climate Smart recently completed its Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. It found that about 11,407 metric tons of CO2 are created annually within the Village of New Paltz. However, if that number 8,776 metric tons or 77% of emissions is from traffic. Yes folks, they are directly due to traffic smog.

So New York has passed a ground-breaking law requiring deep cuts in those emissions. However it is still developing the policies. As well as the programs to make them real.

“We all feel the urgency of climate change and we need to dramatically reduce our greenhouses gasses. We need to by avoiding emissions and sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.” said Janelle Peotter, Coordinator of New Paltz Climate Smart. “Today’s parade was fun and light to inspire the imagination. That’s because this is what will get us through this crisis into full-scale solutions.”