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Managing Change: Bringing Electric Vehicles to the Connecticut Public

Jeff Gross

June 2024

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Many new technologies go through a familiar "change curve" when the public is first exposed to potentially disruptive features, during which the technology is first accepted by “early" adopters.  However, a negative reaction can arise, characterized  by emotions of  denial, even grief, over loss of the status quo. Nonetheless, if the fundamentals of the technology continue to be compelling, individuals – and the public at large – enter a phase of acceptance and eventually adoption of the new technology.  In this regard, electric vehicles (EVs) are no exception; in the U.S. the phase of denial and grief seems to have arisen in the last eight months, as manifested in a flood of negative articles in the general and online media.  


Much of the criticism is reasonable because of the current state of maturity of the EVs available today. Some of the criticism consists of deliberate disinformation, as the topic has become deeply partisan. A lot of the criticism reflects lack of specific knowledge of current developments, because the technology is often quickly maturing itself. All of the criticism, however, is deeply believed by some individuals, at some point in their engagement with the change. Emotions at this time include confusion, resentment, and sadness. 


The Sierra Club Clean Transportation team is ready to address this current state of affairs by positively engaging with the public to coach them through the transition by using personal contact, active listening, acknowledgement of the criticism, and responding with respect and empathy. We also need to address the "Why" of the transition: in the case of EVs, the urgent need to reduce climate change emissions and health-impairing pollution. 


To this end we are starting the rollout of the National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) for 2024, in September and October. The NDEW program, co-sponsored by Sierra Club, enables town-level champions and individuals to organize public events with volunteer EV owners and their cars.  These events allow for one-on-one discussion between knowledgeable owners and members of the public – whatever their status in the journey through the change curve. 


If you'd like to participate in the outreach – and possibly organize an NDEW event in your hometown – please join us for our online training event:  Sierra Club Connecticut Education & Activist Hour: Organizing an EV event on June 6. 

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