June 5, 2023

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Though electrical automobile adoption is rising quickly, the overwhelming majority of People nonetheless have restricted expertise with EVs. Perhaps a good friend or member of the family owns a Tesla, or your Uber driver picks you up in a Chevy Bolt. However a number of the buzziest manufacturers have eschewed conventional showrooms for on-line gross sales, whereas a go to to the dealership brings with it the dreaded gross sales pitch, so how are you going to get some high quality hands-on time with an EV?

Electrify Expo—which describes itself as “the primary electrical automobile pageant in North America”—is a enjoyable, informal method to expertise a variety of EVs in a single afternoon. Think about an auto present and avenue honest mixed. Attendees on e-bikes zoom between tons of of vendor tents in a closed space the scale of a number of soccer fields. One facet borders an open street with a 15-minute marked course for take a look at drives.

Children check out a pedal-less ebike with a throttle.

The thought is to supply “demos of the newest merchandise in order that attendees can decide which model matches finest with their calls for,” says Electrify Expo.

Some contributors wish to purchase automobiles quickly, whereas others may not ensure EVs are proper for them. “I am available in the market to purchase,” Steven Jiang advised PCMag eventually week’s Lengthy Seaside expo. “This is a chance to do some homework.”

Others got here in teams of buddies or household. “My son discovered it on-line, so all of us got here out,” mentioned Vic Carillo, who attended the occasion along with his spouse and three children. “He desires to see bikes along with his dad. Mother desires a Volvo Recharge.”

hot dogs at electrify expo

The pageant supplied take a look at drives for many main EV manufacturers: Tesla, Ford, Kia, BMW, Volvo, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Lexus, and extra. Wait occasions relied on what number of take a look at automobiles the model delivered to the occasion, and the variety of contributors in line.

The longest strains had been for Tesla and Ford, maker of the Mach-E and F-150 Lightning; each automakers introduced quite a lot of automobiles for attendees to take a look at. PCMag drove in a Kia EV6 and BMW iX. The Kia line took round half-hour; BMW took about seven minutes.

Ford and Tesla tents

Ford and Tesla test-drive tents, as a Ford Mustang Mach-E pulls in for the subsequent visitor.

The Kia expertise included a product specialist within the passenger seat to stroll by means of the options (i.e. tips on how to have interaction GT mode, tips on how to activate one-pedal regenerative braking). BMW let passengers exit on their very own. There aren’t any gross sales on the pageant, and no dialogue of buying, leases, and negotiations. It is all about driving and asking questions.

Kia test drive

Kia EV6 product specialist who sat within the passenger seat.

The pageant schedule kicked off in Lengthy Seaside final weekend, the primary of seven cities that can host Electrify Expo in 2023. Tickets are $20 per particular person, or free for kids below 5.

Electrify Expo 2023 Schedule

  • Might 19-21: Lengthy Seaside, California at Lengthy Seaside Conference Middle 
  • June 24-25: San Francisco at Alameda Level
  • July 22–23: Washington DC at RFK Stadium
  • Aug. 12-13: New York at Nassau Coliseum (Lengthy Island)
  • Sept. 9-10: Seattle at Marymoor Park 
  • Oct. 14-15: Miami at Miami Dade Fairgrounds
  • Nov. 10-12: Austin, Texas at Circuit of the Americas

Electrify Expo dates again to 2020, when “we had been in a grass subject throughout the pandemic,” mentioned founder BJ Birtwell, a self-described automotive man who was a sucker for a superb gas-powered engine rev—till a take a look at drive in a Tesla Mannequin S modified his perspective. “I had a lightbulb second, and that was the genesis of Electrify Expo,” he mentioned.

Electrify Expo founder BJ Birtwell

Electrify Expo founder BJ Birtwell sits on one in every of many Anker electrical mills powering the pageant. ‘We now have to stroll the speak, too,’ he mentioned.

The primary Expo attracted primarily early adopters with an curiosity in lowering carbon emissions, Birtwell mentioned. At the moment, it is extra mainstream. Birtwell is especially excited a couple of new part of the occasion this 12 months known as the Showoff, the place hobbyists showcase custom-made EVs. This redux model of traditional automotive tradition might embrace taking a gas-powered automobile and turning it into an electrical, or modifying an EV, like a Tesla, with a brand new motor, customized paint job, new steering wheel, and extra. The choices are limitless.

When organizing distributors and types for the 2023 occasion, Birtwell seen an uptick within the variety of manufacturers concerned about taking part. “It is turning into a extra aggressive house,” he mentioned. “We now have 80 e-bike producers right here; out of doors energy sports activities and recreation is exploding.”

Moped with sidecar.

The occasion begs the query: “Is that this the brand new auto present?” The Lengthy Seaside Electrify Expo began with “Trade Day,” a closed, $360 ticketed occasion for these within the interior workings of the EV trade. It supplied panels to debate challenges with mainstream adoption, charging networks, and extra, in addition to networking alternatives and product launches.

The following day, the fest opened to the general public. “Shoppers not should jam inside a conference middle and have a look at automobiles behind a velvet rope,” Birtwell mentioned. “We now have created a brand new manner for EV customers to expertise electrical automobiles of all sizes and shapes.

“In our out of doors, family-friendly pageant setting, it makes the trail to buy a enjoyable expertise for the buyer, and we’re proud to be essentially shifting the way in which individuals take into consideration searching for their new EV, whether or not two wheels or 4,” he added.