Road Trip; Recharged – An EV Expedition

2,600 miles across rural America in an electric vehicle creates research and awareness

In May, the Stearns Electric Communications Team endeavored on a cross-country electric vehicle expedition to gain the hands-on experience our Cooperative needs to stand as the trusted source of energy information for our member-owners.

Together, Amanda Groethe, director of communications and marketing, and Whitney Ditlevson, communications and marketing specialist, traveled over 2,600 miles in a Tesla S across rural America. They kept an extensive driving log, collected data for research, provided electric vehicle education and shared their experiences along the way.

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Whitney Ditlevson and Amanda Groethe with the Tesla S

“Ultimately our goal was to learn as much about electric vehicles as we could and share that with our member-owners,” shared Groethe. “Awareness is key for the future adoption of electric vehicles. Buying a car of any kind is a significant purchase and it’s easy to stick with what you know and are comfortable with. Exposure and understanding of electric vehicles will help change that.”

Road Trip; Recharged is one of the many stories documented as part of Touchstone Energy’s Drive to CONNECT EVent. Although electric cooperatives have been embracing this technology for years, electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity. As more member-owners seek to purchase EVs, Stearns Electric is committed to understanding the full spectrum of this technology. The Drive to CONNECT EVent is one way co-ops across the country have joined together to celebrate, support and learn about this innovative energy solution.

“Our story was meant to be both informative and fun. As EV ‘newbies,’ our trip was a real-life adventure,” said Ditlevson. “We had ten days to plan, research electric vehicles, create educational content and become the experts for our Cooperative.”

“Nothing we researched taught us as much as we learned by actually driving the electric car and creating new relationships along the way,” Groethe added.

Each leg of the trip was documented on their blog, www. roadtriprecharged.com. Each “recharge” allowed the team to share not only their data about energy use and mileage but also about what they were feeling and encountering on the road. In addition to data collection, the Road Trip Recharged blog also served as hub for in-depth educational content. There you can find thorough summaries about the costs of electric vehicles, the ins and outs of charging, the outlook for infrastructure and batteries, and why electric vehicles are good for consumers, utilities and the environment alike.

The duo wasn’t afraid to discuss the challenges of electric vehicles either. “It took us awhile to find our confidence in the range of the vehicle. The first two days, we watched the battery tick down bar by bar. But by the time we turned around to head home we had a feel for the car and how weather, terrain and speed affected our battery life,” shared Ditlevson. They also shared about the ease and convenience of charging, the struggles they encountered on the road and what would happen if they ran out of energy.

In addition to a blog, the Stearns Electric communications team also documented their trip on social media with photos, live videos, playlists and sight-seeing. Using these methods, Amanda and Whitney reached an audience of nearly 100,000 people in 12 days.

“We had a lot fun, learned a lot and came back from the trip to educate our fellow employees, neighboring cooperatives and ultimately our member-owners,” Groethe concluded.

Read the story on Stearns Electric Association’s Blog.

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