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By Chris Frost
The future was running wild at Channel Islands Harbor, Sept. 9, as the Annual Electric Vehicle Car show rolled into the neighborhood and drew many attendees loaded with questions.
Cars were on display from Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla, Ford, Fiat, BMW, and others, as people test drove vehicles, and spoke to sales representatives about making a purchase.
People also got to see motorized electric bicycles for those who want to step into the future without making a significant investment.
Ride and Drive Coordinator Cathy Bullard organized the show and is a founding member of Electric Vehicle Advocates of Ventura County.
“I decided that I didn’t want to have a gasoline vehicle anymore,” she said. “The license plate on my car says I luv zero gas. My objective is having a car that didn’t require gas or oil. I bought a Nissan Leaf in 2011, and I’ll never go back.”
The first thing she noticed about her Leaf is how smooth and quiet it drives.
“There is no noise, and the motor is completely silent,” she said. “You feel like you are gliding on the ice when you drive.”
Reviews that tie the distance you can travel to how many accessories the driver uses, she said, are not accurate.
“People notice a little bit of a difference when you’re cranking the heat,” she said. “I have run mine with the air conditioning blasting; we have 100-degree days here, that doesn’t seem to make a difference."
Bullard said traveling on a steep hill affects its range.
“I drive to Thousand Oaks, so I drive up the Kineo grade every day,” she said. “What I notice with the Leaf is that I lose 10 miles of range when I go 2.5 miles up the grade, but because of the regenerative features of the vehicle, if I coast as I go down the grade I get those 10 miles lost back because it regenerates going downhill by not pressing on the accelerator.”
She said pressing the brakes lightly, regenerates power to the battery when you drive.
“You’re going to be more efficient if you’re in stop-and-go driving than if you are on the freeway because you are using your brake to stop-and-go,” she said.
Finding a place to recharge your electric vehicle, she said, is not a problem.
“The navigation systems of these vehicles will tell you where the charging stations are located,” she said. “One thing you’ll notice as an electric vehicle driver is there is level-three charging available off most major freeways, as well as popular locations like shopping malls.”
She said a level-three charge is 440 volts and charges an electric vehicle in approximately 20-30 minutes.
“It’s the equivalent of stopping to get a cup of coffee and charging your car while you’re doing that,” she said. “Then you go back to your car, and you’ll have a lot of range added because of that quick charge.”
Bullard said level-two charging at her home is a 220-volt charge and she plugs her car in at the end of the day and doesn’t have any issues.
“You can plug it into a standard 110-volt outlet, and it will charge slowly,” she said. “One nice feature for the electric vehicle is you can set it to charge when the electric is at a lower rate. Overnight is less expensive. I have this car set to start charging at midnight, and it will be finished in a few hours depending on how low the battery is at the end of the day.”
She bought the Leaf with her husband.
“He owns 50 percent of it, and I let him drive 10 percent of the time,” she joked.
Cesar Guerra was waiting in line to ask about the Tesla Model Three and had lots of questions about driving range, charge times and incentives.
“I want to see if I can afford one,” he said.
He drives a Toyota Corolla.
“It’s good on the MPG’s (miles per gallon), but I am attracted to the electric car,” he said. “I travel 10 miles to work, so it’s doable.”
He is going to look more before stepping up to an electric vehicle.
“I just paid mine off, so I am going to wait a year or two,” he said.
Jeff Spinner was out looking at the choices.
“I study environmental science in college,” he said. “I usually go to the farmers market and saw the electric car show was going on.”
He used to be a professional snowboarder and is worried about the battery in cold weather.
“You have to make sure you can get from charge-to-charge,” he said.
Peter Miller had a busy time running the Doglegbike Bike booth.
“We’ve designed them to have a good price,” he said. “With the battery and charger, we sell them for $1,250.”
The bike is a mountain bike, he said, that goes about 30 miles on a full charge.
“It depends on how much pedaling you want to do,” he said. “It’s a great way to get around.”
He said the electric bikes are big in Europe.
“In America, the truck is still king of the road,” he said.
Justin Cook brought his Falcon Van to the show that he converted to electric.
“I mostly use it for the beach, and it doesn’t need to go far because I live in town (Oxnard) and it was noisy and stinks,” he said. “Being an engineer, I thought I could convert it and get rid of the parts I didn’t like.”
For more information, visit Electric Vehicle Advocates of Ventura County on Facebook.