AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin resident Aaron Choate has been an electric vehicle enthusiast for decades. As president of the Austin Area Electric Vehicle Association, he and fellow EV fans focus efforts on how to expand EVs blueprint in Central Texas, as well as educating residents on the technology’s sustainability.
With Tesla’s Austin gigafactory coming online this spring, that interest has only grown, Choate said.
“There’s definitely been people who have heard about electric vehicles because of Tesla, and because of the other cars that are being released to the other car manufacturers,” he said. “So it’s been great to bring new members into the group and talk about the technologies and what you can do with the cars.”
Just this week, GM and Honda announced their companies’ partnership on creating more affordable EVs, with a launch goal of 2027. Choate also stressed the efforts of other vehicle companies, such as Kia, to develop sustainable options.
That entry price point, Choate said, is the most crucial factor in expanding EV technology’s accessibility and making a more pronounced impact on environmental conservation efforts. He also added the availability of charging stations and related infrastructure will play a key role in accessibility and interest.
“Beyond the technology itself, the efforts to reduce the cost are going to be the biggest impact for us as a society,” he said. “People are not going to be able to buy these cars unless they are accessible and affordable.”
For him, his gateway into EVs began with an interest in renewable energy and solar power. For others, Tesla might have been that spark that inspired their enthusiasm.
When it comes to EVs, Choate said while people’s initial interests and curiosities vary, the end result has led to a more dynamic and engaging conservation on how this technology can best serve its users.
“Not everybody has the exact same reason for wanting to drive an electric vehicle,” he said. “Especially when you talk about the modern cars that are available today, Tesla and so forth, you can be a performance enthusiast and still want to drive a Tesla. You can be a green-leaning person and want to drive a Tesla. And I think that’s, that’s a great confluence of interests right there. ”
While Tesla’s Texas footprint has been a source of interest for a few years, the field is expanding here in Austin. This year’s South by Southwest Conference & Festivals featured a dozen events centered on EV technologies, including panelists with companies based here in Austin.
As Austin expands its tech hub blueprint, Choate said he hopes EVs continue to be a part of that conversation.
“[Tesla’s factory] is going to attract a whole variety of manufacturing partners that would not normally have located in a city like Austin, ”he said. “So it’s going to change that ecosystem significantly, and it’s going to change the needs from places like Austin Community College and our research universities. It’s going to be a big deal for us. ”