Drive Electric Week Puts a Charge in EV Awareness

The National Drive Electric Week celebration was held in Grapevine, with organizers breaking their record for most EVs in one place.

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Helping the environment and ditching the gasoline bill are the main reasons people buy their first electric vehicle (EV).

No belts to change, no spark plugs, no oil changes or transmission fluid replacement, no timing belt to replace, and half the cost of brake maintenance are added reasons they will purchase a second one, according to EV owners who attended the National Drive Electric Week celebration Saturday in Grapevine.

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Drive Electric Week showcases vehicles require no fossil fuels, just electricity.

Organizers of the event met their goal of breaking the North Texas record for the most EVs in one location at 122, up from 116 last year. State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Keller, and Regional Transportation Councilman Mike Taylor spoke about the positive impact of EVs on air quality and the Texas economy.

TEXAS COULD BECOME A LEADING EV STATE

“Texas is already a great State for EVs and I hope to see Texas become an even stronger leader in adopting EV technology as a result of today’s encounters,” Capriglione said.

Capriglione shared a story about being in California in the early 2000s and the only electric charging station in the area was “a lone, sad looking outlet at Fry’s Electronics.”

“I never saw it used. Fast forward to just a couple of nights ago when I stayed in a hotel in the Lost Pines region, they had four charging stations in their parking lot and they were all being used,” he said. “EV cars are here and for lots of good reasons.”

Those reasons include energy security because EVs reduce oil consumption and promote energy flexibility. In 2015, about 24 percent of the petroleum consumed by the United States was imported from foreign countries, the lowest level since 1970, Capriglione said.

“With Texas production making global waves, and Texas EVs reducing the demand, we can finally see the Holy Grail of international politics within reach, energy independence for our country,” he said.

“With Texas production making global waves, and Texas EVs reducing the demand, we can finally see the Holy Grail of international politics within reach, energy independence for our country.” 
State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

EVs also are a wise financial choice because they cost less to operate, and buyers are eligible for a federal tax rebate of up to $7,500 which significantly reduces the upfront cost.

Capriglione graduated with a physics degree and worked as an electrical engineer, so one of the reasons he said people should buy an EV is completely biased, but also accurate: “EV technology is just plain cool,” he said. “EV adoption helps cement DFW as a cutting-edge, modern urban area that embraces new technologies.”

Attendee Ross Melbourne said the 2013 Tesla Model S that he ordered online is everything he thought it would be and then some.

“It’s so amazing. It’s better than a regular car in every single way,” the Southlake resident said. “It’s as quiet as a Rolls-Royce and as fast as a Ferrari … Well, that’s not true. It’s faster than a Ferrari.”

Melbourne said using the charger at his home only adds about $50 more a month to his electric bill, which is significantly less expensive than the amount he was paying for gasoline. The charge gets Melbourne about 240 miles of travel around the city; at 70 mph, a charge lasts about 220 miles.  

“You only have to service it once a year, and the amount of maintenance is significantly less,” he said. “And my wife loves it because she doesn’t have to go to the gas station.”

Melbourne said he paid about $65,000 for his vehicle, which includes all the bells and whistles such as an app that allows him to turn on the air conditioner prior to getting into the vehicle.

TESLA MODEL 3 HAS 400,000 PEOPLE ON WAITING LIST

A less expensive model is arriving late next year, the Tesla Model 3, which costs $35,000, not including the federal tax incentive of $7,500. The waiting list for that model is about 400,000 people, Melbourne said.

Numbers like that show the demand for the vehicle, which is good considering the company does zero marketing. Instead, Tesla relies on people like Rick Bollar to get the word out.

Bollar, president of North Texas Tesla Owners Group, said numbers of EV owners are growing and so are the numbers of chargers around the state and country.

Tesla models have a mapping system that allows users to type in a destination, even nationwide such as from Dallas to Los Angeles, and the system will automatically route the driver along the route of the superchargers, Bollar said.

SUPERCHARGERS QUICKLY CHARGE TESLA BATTERIES

These superchargers are quick, including the one at Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana.

“You can go into the bakery, and by the time you get a cup of coffee and a cookie, it’s charged.”

Bollar, who bought a Tesla Model S P85 in 2012, said electric cars today are not the compromises that people think. He has wanted an EV for a while, but driving to Dallas and for work, and some days adding trips to Fort Worth or Houston, cars with only an 80-mile range would not have worked.

“It charges every night, with a full range 240 miles,” he said. “And with the Tesla recharge network, you can go anywhere.”


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