Electrify Expo gives EV-curious consumers hands-on experience

Car enthusiasts arriving at the Electrify Expo festival next month in Long Beach, Calif., will find familiar products from the likes of Hyundai, Toyota, Volvo and about a half-dozen other automakers.

They’ll also find much more.

From electric unicycles to conventional e-bikes, electric motorcycles to electric boats, the event boasts electric mobility options of every stripe, and they’re ready for hands-on use by e-curious consumers willing to fork over $20 for a daily ticket.

Electrify Expo held its first event in September 2020 and three more last year. The Long Beach show, scheduled for June 3 to 5, is the first of five planned for 2022 across the U.S. As its scope has grown, the expo has attracted interest from carmakers at a time when traditional auto shows are in flux.

Among those shows, IAA Mobility took a step toward a broader mobility audience last fall, with two of its nine halls in Munich dedicated to bicycle manufacturers. Electrify Expo arrives from the other side of the mobility spectrum, founded with an e-bike focus and now branching toward automotive.

Whether the expo complements or competes with traditional auto shows, founder BJ Birtwell is reluctant to make comparisons.

“Maybe it’s this generation’s auto show, but we’re so much broader than an auto show,” he told Automotive News. “You trade some of the glitz and glamour for EV shoppers who just want to try stuff. They just need to experience it, and you can only do that so much within the boxed walls of a convention center.”

Static objects behind velvet ropes, Electrify Expo is not. While the festival is located at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, exhibitors will demo products outdoors across more than 1 million square feet.

The Los Angeles area, Miami and Austin, Texas, hosted Electrify Expo events last year. Those three locations return to the 2022 lineup, along with newcomers New York and Seattle. Birtwell said expansion sites are being chosen based on EV registration data and that more cities will be added next year.

Historically high gasoline prices — they reached $6.09 per gallon last week in Los Angeles County, according to AAA — have contributed to increased interest in electric vehicles writ large and Electrify Expo in particular. Though he did not divulge figures, Birtwell said advance ticket sales were already running substantially higher than in 2021.

He sees that as a tail wind to an industry already on the verge of a shift to electrics. And he wants to do his part to push past the tipping point.

“The biggest hurdle to EV adoption is trial,” he said. “If we can deliver a meaningful experience so that lightbulb moment happens, then the game has changed.”

Other automakers and brands scheduled for Long Beach are Lucid Motors, Chrysler, BMW, Volkswagen, Lexus, VinFast and Polestar.

Electrify Expo also offers an important element for consumers interested in EV adoption: Utility and charging network companies are there to assist prospective customers in figuring out how they can charge a vehicle.

“Whether they live in a home or an apartment, there’s answers there to learn how and when to charge their vehicle,” said Birtwell, who came up with the idea for the expo after buying his first EV, a Tesla, in 2016. “I’m a car guy. I grew up and thought if I couldn’t hear the rumble of a V-8, a vehicle lacked a soul. Then I bought an electric, and all these things I thought were big hurdles were easily answered.”

Source : Autonews.com

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