Posted 07.11.2014 in News by John Oram
EV Quorum and the Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association (SacEV) met at Sacramento’s Southside Park on Memorial Day. Located in a quiet downtown neighborhood with large expanses of green lawn, Southside is considered one of the best parks in Sacramento. The normally bustling downtown was quiet in the state capitol, and meters for the slant street parking surrounding the park were on holiday with the rest of the state and municipal workers.
Walking across the grass, I immediately saw the row of tear drop flags and headed towards EV Quorum's brightly colored EV Revolution shade canopies. EV Quorum president Chris Alan did the introductions. The temperature that day was nearly 100 degrees, and Guy Hall, President of SEVA, offered me a bottle of ice cold Crystal Geyser water as I sat down and soon it felt like I had known everybody for a long time.
The conversation turned to personal experiences of owning and driving an EV. George Parrott, a retired Professor of Psychology at CSU, Sacramento, has owned three EVs: a Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Sedan so his comparative opinions were valuable. Other people dropped by to take their turns driving the various EVs and to get the opinions and experiences of their owners.
There were three Tesla Model S sedans, two red and one gray. Also parked in the lineup on the street were a pair of Fiat 500e, both with the iconic bright pearlescent EV orange paint jobs. EV Quorum member Josh Olsen had brought his Honda Fit from San Diego to show off all over the Bay Area. The Chevy Volt got a lot of interest from several families. The Smart ED was an attention getter for people that lived in downtown Sacramento and had short commutes and limited parking options.
I was already familiar with the Chevy Volt and both of the Tesla’s, the Roadster and Sedan. What interested me was the Ford Focus Electric. I wanted to experience the performance and ride characteristics of this all-electric. I met a lady who had 20,000 miles on her 2013 Ford Fusion Energi. I asked her “Would you trade it for something else?” She gave me a funny look and said she had not stopped at a gas station since she bought it. Then she asked me: “Have you bought gas in the past week?” My answer was unfortunately a sad: “Yes.”
I was most fortunate to have EV Quorum member Cassidy as the ride along person for the Focus Electric. Cassidy told me she was celebrating her birthday as well as Memorial Day. A birthday at her age is very important. For me, I would just as soon give back a few dozen of mine.
We drove around the neighborhood and took a short jaunt on one of the nearby freeways. I was impressed with the Focus Electric’s performance and enjoyed the up-to-date creature comforts including leather seats, a premium Sony stereo and the large GPS moving map navigation system.
Because the Focus Electric had been driven all day, Cassidy directed me to a nearby charging station which was just a few blocks away from the park. There are ten easily-accessed charging sites in downtown Sacramento and more in the surrounding communities.
When Cassidy and I got back to Southside Park there was lively discussion going on about the range of various EVs. George Parrott and Guy Hall were sharing a lot of information based on their many combined years of living with EVs. They also explained the in’s-n-out’s of getting the best purchase price from the various Sacramento area auto dealers.
It was very clear that if you live in the Sacramento area, you should only talk to the salesperson at the dealerships where SEVA knows they understand EVs. Guy said that many of the dealership salespeople do not want to learn about the features and benefits of electric vehicles that their company offers.
There was also a discussion about whether California’s Hydrogen Highway would become a reality. It included talk about the true, non-subsidized cost of hydrogen fuel, and the likely source; natural gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel which contributes to air pollution. The 2015 Hyundai Tucson Hydrogen Electric powered SUV is currently offered on a $499 per month lease which includes free hydrogen fuel. It's an interesting marketing approach which makes me wonder why they are offering the fuel for free.
George Parrott told us his experiences driving his Tesla long distances and using the Tesla Supercharger system. Just like every other Tesla owner I have spoken with, George was very happy with the available range and Tesla’s expanding charging network. Parrott has solar on the roof of his home, so his recharging cost is negligible and 100 percent renewable.
Throughout the day there was a steady flow of people interested in learning about and experiencing electric vehicles. It appeared everyone came away with a lot more knowledge and a better understanding of the real world operating costs of owning an electric vehicle.