According to Morgan State University’s National Transportation Center (NTC), Electric vehicles (EVs) are not equipped with large, human-attracting magnets. It only seems like they are, the way people are automatically drawn to them.
Recently, the NTC brought eight eye-catching cars to campus as part of their first-ever EV Day activities. The collection of rechargeable vehicles drew a steady flow of admirers examining every feature, taking photos, and exploring the interiors as they embarked on imaginary test rides. More than a hundred people were in attendance to participate in the event co-sponsored by the Urban Mobility & Equity Center at Morgan.
Aligning the circular driveway located in front of the Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies building, the EVs were a sight to behold. Included among the attractions were a Chevy Bolt police car from Hyattsville, complete with flashing lights; a Tesla Model X that wowed the crowd with its falcon-wing doors and seating for seven; a practical Nissan Leaf; a Tesla Model S; two Tesla Model 3s; a brand-new 2019 Chevy Bolt; and a 2008 two-seater Tesla Roadster Signature 100 with a top speed of around 135 mph.
The vehicles’ owners, who graciously allowed access to their cars, are members of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC (EVADC). The variety of vehicles gathered for occasion demonstrated that electric vehicles are now part of Maryland’s eco-friendly landscape.
Among the crowd of attendees were high school students from the Summer Transportation Institute and college students from Morgan’s summer engineering classes. The collection of student smiles were hard to miss as they climbed into Teslas and closely studied the Bolt’s inner workings. The students were surprised to learn that EVs have far fewer moving parts and undergo far less maintenance than their traditional counterparts.
A few misconceptions were also put to rest too. An EV’s battery doesn’t drain if the car isn’t moving, installing a charging station at home is fairly inexpensive, and range is no longer an issue. Also, that EV police car is plenty fast, so lawbreakers beware.
Curt Harpold, who owns the Roadster, is an engineer who converted gas-powered cars to electric back during the oil crisis of the 1970s. When Tesla emerged, “I took the gamble,” he said. The Roadster turned out to be a win.
Like many EV drivers, as shown in research conducted by the National Transportation Center, Harpold owns another car in addition to the electric one. However, he generally only puts about 2,000 miles a year on it, preferring to drive the Roadster instead.
“It’s still my daily driver,” he said. “I do all my grocery shopping in the Roadster.”
Frank Lee, who just leased the brand-new Volt said, “We were always the people who would buy a Volvo and keep it for 20 years.” But three years ago, he and his wife leased a Chevy Spark and loved it, and when that lease was up they moved on to the Bolt.
“We really liked the way GM had worked things out,” he said. “Now you don’t keep a cell phone for 10 years. There are a lot more choices in three years.”
He notes the range of 238 miles on a charge is more range than he will ever use. “My commute is seven miles, and a long trip is to D.C. or Frederick, and all of those are within range. If you’re going to Ocean City, right after you get over the Bay Bridge there are charging stations in Queenstown.”
Apps make it easy to find the closest charging station, and the tablet-like displays on the dash quickly communicate that information to the driver.
Dr. Andrew Farkas, the director of the National Transportation Center and the Urban Mobility & Equity Center, who organized Morgan’s first EV Day with the EVADC, said, “It was an education for all of us. EVs are supposed to reduce air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, but we also learned that EVs are technological wonders with extensive safety technologies and fun-to-drive performance. There are more and more previously owned EVs, so they are becoming more affordable.”