In 1982, John S Martinson co-founded China Mist Tea Company in his Arizona garage. Over the next 34 years, he co-nurtured it into a national and international foodservice iced tea brand. 

The company was sold in 2016, the same year Martinson earned an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership (EMSL) from ASU’s School of Sustainability. 

“After a few years of retirement, I co-founded—with friend Peter Culin—the Scottsdale chapter of the national Electric Vehicle Association, which grew quickly to become the Valley of the Sun Electric Vehicle Association (VOTSEVA). Now, with a three-year grant from the Department of Energy through the Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition, Peter and I co-founded the all-volunteer nonprofit DRIVE Electric Arizona.”

Martinson and his wife, Dr. Suzanne Pickett Martinson, have “two awesome 20-something adult kids, and live in Scottsdale’s Desert Foothills area.”


What does DRIVE Electric USA do in Arizona?

The Department of Energy’s DRIVE Electric USA Initiative provides “funding and guidance” to state partnerships to help them fully build their own statewide “Drive Electric” programs to break down barriers to accelerating EV education and awareness, engagement, and adoption.  

DRIVE Electric Arizona is Arizona’s statewide effort guiding the DRIVE Electric USA Initiative. We educate consumers, utilities, utility regulators, and government officials. Through our working groups and outstanding volunteers, we engage auto dealers, fleet managers, and individuals to remove barriers to EV adoption in the Arizona. 

Our chapters hold display events, Ride and Drives, rallies, and other hands-on efforts around the state to further the DRIVE Electric mission.

What drew you to be involved with the organization?

My first electric vehicle was a 1999 General Motors EV1, which I leased for three years as my daily driver from 2000-2003. I immediately knew EVs would be the future of transportation and have been promoting EVs ever since. Over the years, my wife and I have owned eleven electric vehicles.

The opportunity to lead such an effort with volunteers and federal grant funding is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Top 3 favorite EV vehicles?

  1. Our 2022 Rivian R1T Quad Motor (my daily driver and ranch truck)
  2. Our 2023 Tesla Model X (my wife’s daily driver and our road trip car)
  3. Our 2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance 

April was Drive Electric Month! Can you tell us what that was?

Drive Electric Earth Month is “a national campaign to share information about electric vehicles throughout the month of April. In addition to being better for the environment, electric vehicles are” more fun to drive and less expensive to operate than gasoline vehicles.

What made you decide to switch to electric?

Back in the year 2000, new technology, no emissions, and charging-at-home were the primary drivers.

Favorite road trip destination?

Last summer, we drove 11,000 miles from our home in Scottsdale to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, and back. Of all our road trips, this was my favorite (see route below)


Favorite music to play during a road trip?

Song: “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” performed by Natalie Cole.

Styles: R&B, Funk, Louisiana Swamp Pop, Big Band, Blues, Folk, Rock, Broadway … depends on the mood.

Favorite spots around Scottsdale?

Anywhere in Scottsdale’s Northern McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

John S Martinson