by Shawn O’Sullivan

They call it the Electric Lady– the Vespa Elettrica, a silver and blue zero emissions electric motorbike. On Sunday, September 27, Dawn Henry will be driving it in the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut’s EV parade- launching Green Wheels Expo 2020. She’ll be accompanied along the route from Westport to Fairfield by 30 other electric vehicle enthusiasts, among them Westport’s Police Chief Foti Koskinas, and her husband -in one of their three Teslas.  Because the Henry family fleet is all-electric.

“We’ve always been car enthusiasts.” says Dawn.  “One day we heard about this car that would go 0-60 in three seconds, with an Ipad screen that would control everything and it could drive itself down the highway.”

They test-drove it.  “The fact that it was electric was, at the time a novelty. We thought that’s kind of weird; we’ll do it for a couple of years.  We loved it. It was such a better driving experience,” she says. 

The Henry’s picked up their Model X in California in 2015, and spent the next three weeks driving back to the East Coast, stopping at supercharger oases along the way, learning from fellow EV travelers. “It was amazing,” she recalls.  “Going through the whole supercharger network.  It was fun. We met lots of interesting people at superchargers and got involved in the background of why we even have electric vehicles and why sustainable energy is important.” 

“That’s what opened my eyes to the importance of sustainability,” she says.   “It changed the work I’m doing.”  A marketing consultant, Henry has found herself doing more and more work with environmental organizations.  She serves on the leadership committee of the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut, and is a board member of Save the Sound and Sustainable Westport. 

The Henry family eventually switched over the whole family fleet to electric, with the 2016 Model X, 2018 Model 3 and 2019 Model S, along with the Vespa and a Boosted scooter.  “My son is getting his drivers license next year and his first car will be an electric vehicle,” Dawn says proudly. 

 Henry jokes with her husband, saying that the Vespa is the bicycle she’s always wanted. “It’s really fun. It’s so quiet. I’m very anti-motorcycle,” she confesses.  “I would never want anyone in my family to drive one; they’re dangerous. But the fastest the Vespa will go is 30 mph. It’s great on back roads- like going to Compo Beach.  It’s great in places where it’s hard to park, like downtown Westport.”  Henry feels that Westport is getting to be more and more of a walkable, bikeable, town; and with the help of EV owners, more sustainable. 

So this is really the story of how one car might first turn your head, and then your life, in an entirely new direction.