Joining 200 shows across the nation this month, more than 30 Oregonians exhibited their own electric vehicles (EVs) for Drive Electric Earth Day in Newport on Sunday, April 14.
The event introduced residents of the coast to the various types of EVs available, as well as provided information on charging stations and tax credits/refunds.
Chris Chandler, public affairs director for Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, said last year they held a car show with an electric car section. Michael Zilverberg, general manager for Toyota of Newport, suggested they hold a show that features only electric cars.
“We want to create awareness,” Zilverberg said. “Even though we don’t sell a completely electric vehicle, I think it’s important to show we think green. We want to make sure the planet is safe for our children and grandchildren. It’s important for people to know that these cars are out there. Toyota is on their way, too. We have a couple hybrid models.”
In addition to Toyota’s hybrids, the Nissan Leaf, Honda Clarity, Chevy Bolt, Tesla 3, Tesla S, Tesla X, Kia Soul, Solo, Arcimoto and a Smart car were on display.
“The Chevy Bolt, which has a range of 210 miles, was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year,” Chandler said. “The Tesla X, which has a range of nearly 300 miles, is also a showpiece with falcon wing doors. There are federal tax breaks for getting electric vehicles, too. Even though Tesla and Chevy are in the ramp-down phase for that, people can still get $3,700 in federal taxes and $2,500 in state taxes.”
For newer models, she added, the federal tax credit is $7,500.
Mac Zirges, who drives a Kia Soul, said he enjoys saving $200 a month on gas.
“There’s no maintenance at all,” Zirges said. “At 15,000 miles I called up the dealer and asked if I was supposed to bring it in. He said as long as I rotate the tires, the first time they need to see me is 120,000 miles. And, it’s just a blast to drive.”
Zirges said he often drives to the valley or Coos Bay and doesn’t have any problems.
“It’s one pedal driving; you don’t use the brakes hardly at all,” he said. “When you let off the gas, it starts recharging, which slows it down. It also accelerates like nothing I’ve ever driven before. If I have to pull on the highway and someone is right on me, I can just move like nothing. I haven’t been to a gas station in two years. You get kind of giddy about it because it’s just a different sort of thing than a regular car.”
Chandler said so many of the drivers are just like Zirges.
“All these drivers came here with no compensation and volunteered to share their vehicles,” she said of Sunday’s car show. “Some are offering test drives. This is all about electric vehicle education. The more people know and learn about these, the more likely they are to get one.”
Chandler said a common misconception is EVs are difficult to charge.
“Every one of these cars comes with a 110 charger you can plug in at home,” she said. “It is kind of slow, but if you get a Level 2 Charger, a 220, which is the same plug as a dryer, it’s much faster. And any licensed electrician can put in a 220 for folks. So I can plug in anywhere. As long as I can get to an electric outlet, I can charge my car.”
She added more than 200 EVs are owned in Central Lincoln’s service area, and Central Lincoln offers a $250 rebate for installing a Level 2 Charger.
“We support folks going that way,” Chandler said. “In the next six years, one out of every five vehicles sold will be electric, and we are ready to serve that.”