Richard Hovey of Vancouver fastened his seat belt behind the wheel of Bill Moore’s 2016 Tesla Model X and prepared to back it out of its parking space Sunday afternoon. He appeared surprised.
“I didn’t have to start the motor,” Hovey remarked as the car began to move.
“Well, you did when you put your foot on the brake pedal,” Moore, of Beaverton, Ore., explained from the front passenger seat.
The $114,000 electric sport-utility vehicle left the Clark Public Utilities parking lot, and Hovey took it for a spin around the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Moore’s electric vehicle and more than 15 others were on display in the utility’s lot as part of National Drive Electric Week.
Learn more about National Drive Electric Week at driveelectricweek.org
“It’s so quiet. Amazing,” passenger Laura Meyer of Vancouver said.
The Tesla’s passenger doors open upward, much like the DeLorean of “Back to the Future” fame. Its windshield curves up and over the two front seats. It can go zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and it takes less than an hour to fully charge. On a recent trip from Beaverton to Bellingham, it had to be charged once in Centralia, Moore said.
Moore said he puts his Tesla on display “to show that an electric car is a real car,” he said. Also, “we need to be off fossil fuels.”
After the test drive, Hovey called the vehicle “amazing.” He said he likes to drive long distances and concluded that if he did buy an electric vehicle, it might have to be an electric-gas hybrid so he wouldn’t have to charge it as often.
Mary Lou Haas of Portland had her eye on the Chevy Volt, but the wait for a new one was too long, she said. The environmentalist came to the event to check out more electric cars on her quest to replace the gas-powered vehicle she’s driven for the past 20 years.
“I can’t justify getting a pure gas car,” she said. She’s looking for something that has a long enough range to get her to the beach on a single charge.
It was the first time that the Loo Wit Group, a chapter of the Sierra Club, hosted a National Drive Electric Week event in Vancouver. The drive-electric week concept started in 2011 to raise awareness of the wide range of plug-in vehicles available, help fight pollution and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, according to the campaign’s website.
Among the electric cars on display in Vancouver were several Nissan Leafs, a Volt, multiple Teslas, a Fiat and a Kia Soul EV.
The Soul’s owner, Tracy Farwell of Portland, had some advice for car shoppers: consider leasing a new electric vehicle rather than buying one. The lease on his vehicle costs around $200 a month, and he doesn’t have to worry about the value of his Kia rapidly depreciating as electric-vehicle technology continues to advance.
Farwell said his Kia can get an 80 percent charge in about 25 minutes. When fully charged, the electric Soul can go about 120 miles — or about 100 miles if the air conditioning or heater is on. One of his favorite parts about the Kia Soul is that the hatchback has a lot of storage — almost as much as at truck when the back seats are folded down.
When he heard that the vehicle was available at a local dealership, Farwell said, “I had to go down and look at it, and as soon as I saw it, I had to have it.”
When it comes to affordability, Haas’ son Ross Calvin suggested buying a used electric car. Others said you can eliminate the cost of powering the vehicles by using a solar-panel system at home.
Four-wheel vehicles weren’t the only rides on display Sunday. Lehman Holder of the Loo Wit Group showed off his electric-powered road bicycle and led electric bike tours around the neighborhood.
After years of leading bike tours, “my riding had gotten to be kind of mundane,” he said, so he decided to buy the roughly $2,500 bike a couple of months ago in Portland. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever bought.”
His bike requires pedalling, but the electric motor gives him a boost if he’s tired or going up a steep hill.
The electric bike could be practical for people who want to ride a bicycle to work but have particularly long or hilly commutes, Holder said.