The Press Newspaper
Can a road trip through two states be a realistic expectation for an electric auto?
A lot more is possible with an electric car than what many realize, says Oregon resident Michael Hall.
Hall is president of the recently formed Electric Auto Association of Northwest Ohio, founded in January. The EAANO is a local chapter of the national organization named Electric Auto Association. The EAA was formed in 1967 and is now based in Aptos, California.
Driving through two states is what Jim Dunmyer did. Dunmyer, a member of the local chapter, drove his 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf from Temperance, Michigan to Bowling Green, Ohio to work as a volunteer for an electric car show.
OK, that’s just nearly 78 miles round trip, but if you’re driving to work every day, it gets the job done for most people. Hall says an electric car works for any average trip — driving to work, to the store, even short road trips like Dunmyer’s.
“Once you go onto driving one of these things, it’s like ‘Oh, my God,’ why haven’t we all been driving them?,” Hall said. “Ninety percent of us in American only drive 40 to 50 miles a day or less. Us 90 percent could all drive to work, just plug in, and go home.
“There is no realistic fear that the grid is going to crash because we all plugged in our cars because realistically if 10 percent bought an electric car and plugged it in tonight, the grid would still survive. We’re not going to pull the grid down, even if 10 percent of Americans were driving electric cars today. This whole phobia about, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t drive them,’ It’s the most beautiful thing in the world. It’s very gracious (driving).”
Hall, Dunmyer and other members of the local chapter are electric vehicle enthusiasts; driving electric vehicles, hybrids, and gasoline vehicles converted to electric Local members work as electricians, educators, and engineers; many working in a trade that helped develop the technology used in electric vehicles today.
“We call it ‘alternative propulsion,’ We’re going to try and do some outreach with the high schools and try to promote electric vehicle education at the colleges as well.” Hall said. “We’re looking to find funding for programs to educate students, something more than just an automotive class. We want them to understand there is more to cars than just gasoline and diesel fuel and that there are other avenues they can pursue when they get out of high school and get out of college.
“We’ve been working with Owens Community College to try and get a program going there. It’s very slow going. The educational system is full of red tape, and we’re trying to cut through the red tape and put some programs in place.”
Hall, who has owned both an electric vehicle and a hybrid-electric vehicle, currently drives a Ford Escape hybrid, a sports utility vehicle that gets 33 miles to the gallon.
This year's event drew thousands of visitors, hundreds of classic cars, and a parking lot classified as "Electric Avenue" was filled with 18 electric and hybrid vehicles.
“Foot traffic was brisk throughout the day with hundreds stopping to enjoy the numerous electric vehicles like Jim Dunmyer's Leaf,” Hall said.
"It is exciting to see such a large amount of foot traffic in our Electric Avenue display. This year's event has drawn more enthusiasts to our display area. People are taking a serious look at these vehicles, asking questions, sitting the vehicles; showing more interest than ever before. It's fantastic,” Hall continued.
“It is so nice to have two Chevy Volts, one Leaf, a Tesla roadster and Tesla Model S along with the other great vehicles displayed here. I am thankful for the Hybrid vehicles supplied by the Thayer Automotive Group as well.”
Member Steve Shaffer displayed his GMC Sonoma pickup converted from gasoline to electric propulsion.
"I was lucky to get a Katrina flood-damaged vehicle with very little rust,” Shaffer said. “The engine and electrical components were destroyed by the hurricane flooding. With a little soap and water I was able to have a rust-free southern vehicle that was perfect for the conversion.”
Another member, Tony Palumbo, drove his converted Pontiac Grand Am, now renamed the "Grand AMP", to the event. Palumbo’s background includes decades of service with Bowling Green State University's former Electric Vehicle Institute.
"This vehicle has many components used in the historic Electric Falcon that raced back in the 1990s,” Palumbo said. “Students had the opportunity to work with a little bit of history and utilize key components into the design of this converted vehicle.”
Another key member of the former Electric Vehicle Institute is Jeff Major of Cygnet. He drove his electric Think City vehicle to display in the show.
"My wife loves this car," he said. "It gets 80 to 100 miles on a full charge and recharging the battery pack costs only about three to four cents per mile; a lot less than 20 cents per mile for gasoline vehicles. It has antilock brakes, air conditioning, and all the features you'd expect from any other vehicle, just better.”
The EAA actively promotes clean vehicles and a cleaner environment. Hall speaks often about the importance of cleaning the environment and increasing public awareness of the number of electric vehicle choices that are on the market today.
“The focus of our organization encompasses several purposes spot-lighting the green and sustainable solutions available for transportation,” said Hall.
Regular meetings of the Electric Auto Association of Northwest Ohio are held at Owens Community College.