CONWAY — Ten electric-powered vehicles stopped by North Conway’s Cranmore Mountain Resort charging station Monday morning as they made their way from Colebrook to Portsmouth in a day-long promotion designed to raise awareness of the growth of electric vehicle technology and popularity around the state and around the country.
Drive Electric NH Media Director Scott Spradling said at the tour’s stop at Cranmore was part of the group's “Charge Forward Electric Vehicle (EV) Relay," designed to “showcase that New Hampshire is open for business for tourists, residents, and all drivers of electric vehicles.”
According to its website, Drive Electric NH is a coalition of public and private stakeholders whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and installation of supporting charging infrastructure in New Hampshire by increasing knowledge and awareness of EVs through education and outreach.
“Given their unique advantages but also their unique needs, the statewide relay featured the diversity of vehicles, the accessibility of charging stations all around the Granite State that are already a part of our most popular and scenic destinations,” said Spradling, formerly of WMUR-TV 9.
Howie Wemyss, general manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, was among the state celebrities who were tagged to drive portions of the route.
Wemyss has long been a promoter of alternative energy technology, which has been used heavily in the new Glen House hotel at the base of the Auto Road in Pinkham Notch. Opened last fall, it uses geothermal energy and soon, hydro power.
“We see use daily at our six electric vehicle charging stations at the Auto Road and the hotel,” said Wemyss. “And it’s increasing all the time — it’s not at all unusual to see a Tesla plugged in at the Auto Road, compared to four years ago, when we put the first charging station in."
Electric cars are the future, Wemyss said. "People need to embrace it."
Wemyss drove to Cranmore in the Auto Road’s electric-powered 2014 Smart Car to meet up with the group. He then transferred to a brand-new Tesla Model X SUV accompanied by owner Chris Nihan of Beverly, Mass., for the drive across the Kancamagus Highway to Plymouth.
“This vehicle’s software is constantly being updated, much like a cellphone,” said Nihan, adding that the Model X “gets 300 miles on a charge."
He said he believes Teslas were the third-highest-selling vehicle in Europe the last quarter. "So these electric vehicles are really starting to get popular and at a price that people can afford. It can go zero to 60 in under 4 seconds — fast enough that you can get a little nauseous if you’re not driving," he added.
"People think about electric cars as being clean cars but they are also really fun to drive, and they’re extremely safe, too.”
Others taking part in the relay included Common Man founder Alex Ray; Greg Kretschmar of the Morning Buzz; state Rep. and Berlin Sun reporter Edith Tucker, who drove the leg from Colebrook to the Auto Road and then Cranmore.
The relay’s “baton” was designed by New Hampshire-based artist and winner of Ellen’s Design Challenge Vivian Beer.
Electric vehicles showcased in the rally included the all-new SUV Audi e-tron, Tesla Model X, Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf and a Volvo XC60.
On hand at Cranmore to greet the caravan was Becca Deschenes, the resort’s marketing director, along with Ski NH Executive Director Jessyca Keeler and Office Coordinator Kathleen Harrigan.
“Cranmore partnered with Tesla in 2016 to add two charging stations," said Deschenes, adding that they've been "a very popular amenity for our day guests and our Kearsarge Brook Condominiums owners, as well as people in the valley looking for a charge."
Keeler said, “I am seeing more ski areas wanting to accommodate electric vehicles." She estimated that in addition to Great Glen Trails, Cranmore, Omni Mount Washington Resort and Loon Mountain, more areas are expected to follow their lead.
"Part of our mission will be to work with the utility and the resorts to ... get them charging stations and what are the funding mechanisms available to them to accommodate a growing number of EVs on the road," Keeler said.
She noted that transportation emissions in New Hampshire represent 40 percent of carbon emissions.
"So, if we can offer more places for people to stop with an electric car and more incentives for people to buy them and for them to come to our New Hampshire ski areas, that’s a bonus a win for us and for them, too,” Keeler said.
After leaving Cranmore and visiting the Common Man Inn and Spa in Plymouth, the caravan did an electric lap at the N.H. Motor Speedway in Loudon and then stopped at the State House in Concord, where the baton was passed to state Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan.
The next stop was at Energy Park in Manchester, and the tour ended at Portsmouth’s Market Square.
Brianna Brand, senior program director for Drive Electric NH, said: “What’s most exciting about an event like this is that we don’t have to imagine what the future might look like with a clean technology. It’s already here, and New Hampshire can accommodate anyone who uses electric vehicles to visit, live in or do business in this great state.
“It won’t be long before the parking spaces for EVs are as commonplace as the spaces we all use around the state today.”
The Charge Forward Electric Vehicle Relay was sponsored by Eversource and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative. Event partners included the NH Automobile Dealers Association, SkiNH, NH Tech Alliance, Plug-in America, NH Restaurant & Lodging Association, N.H. Department of Environmental Services, Clean Energy NH, Granite State Clean Cities Coalition and NH Businesses for Social Responsibility.
For more information, go to driveelectricnh.org.