Waterville explores electric cars

Electric car owners Dave Denhart of Redmond and Doug Sebastian of Shoreline share electric car stories while Denhart’s 2008 Tesla Roadster charges. Denhart and Sebastian were volunteers at the Plug-In North Central Washington event at Highway 2 Brew Sept. 3. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

A steady stream of people turned out at Highway 2 Brew in Waterville throughout the day Sept. 3 to learn about electric vehicles first-hand from enthusiastic owners. Some of those who attended also took advantage of the chance to test drive one or more of the vehicles. The event was organized and sponsored by the nonprofit Plug-In North Central Washington.

Highway 2 Brew is the host of one of several electric charging stations between Wenatchee and Spokane. There is also a station in Coulee City and one soon to be completed in Davenport.

Electric car owners from as far away as Shoreline and Redmond brought their vehicles to the event and were eager to talk about their benefits. They also took people on test drives of the vehicles. Most of these were Tesla cars, but there was also a Kia, a motorcycle and a four-wheeler. In addition, several pieces of electric yard equipment were available for demonstration.

While on test drives, owners showed the riders what it was like to go from 0 to 60 mph in just about four seconds. Most found that quite a unique experience. They also demonstrated the automatic driving system, and drivers cautiously took their hands off the steering wheel on the gentle curves between Waterville and Douglas. They had to have faith in the vehicle’s state-of-the-art GPS system and in the word of their guide. It wasn’t too bad, though, because at any point the driver could take hold of the steering wheel and gain control of the vehicle.

Doug Sebastian of Shoreline was one of those who volunteered to demonstrate his vehicle at the event. Sebastian said that the automatic driving system is especially nice in heavy traffic, as he often finds in the Seattle area, as well as in large open areas, such as Eastern Washington. Sebastian does not find himself feeling stressed when he is in a traffic jam because the vehicle manages the frequent stops and starts. He also said he often comes to Eastern Washington and finds it very relaxing to allow the vehicle to take over the wheel while he enjoys the scenery. His function becomes one of monitoring.

Owners explained how the car uses its battery charge. There isn’t much guesswork involved, as a screen shows current battery charge and estimated charge at the destination. Electric cars regenerate as they travel downhill. They also get amazing mileage in flat areas like the Waterville plateau. They use energy bars quickly when traveling up an incline such as Pine Canyon.

Though electric vehicles are known for being expensive, owners were happy to report an extremely low cost per mile and little need for maintenance. They also explained how the cost of lithium ion batteries is going down. The cost of the battery is the main thing that makes electric vehicles more expensive than gas-powered vehicles.

Gloria Bond came to the event with her daughter Marie Bond and son Kurt Holes. Gloria Bond said that she was planning on purchasing an electric vehicle soon.

Loyd and Carrie Smith also attended the event. They didn’t have plans to purchase an electric vehicle, but they were interested in learning about the vehicles and in supporting the charging station. Smith, who is a town council member, sees the charging station as a big plus for Waterville as it can attract visitors to town.

Mayor Royal DeVaney said that he doesn’t know how many people have stopped in Waterville because of the charging station. He added that the town is working with the state Department of Transportation to get signs advertising the station set up on either end of town.

Margaret Viebrock, who owns Highway 2 Brew together with her husband Sid, said that she appreciated the number of vehicles that were brought out for the event and the knowledge of those who were demonstrating the vehicles. She said there had been a good turnout of people interested in the vehicles.

Viebrock had the chance to test drive a Tesla. “The ride is amazing,” she said.

 

Jack Anderson, project manager for Plug-In North Central Washington, talks about electric cars with Loyd and Carrie Smith of Waterville. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

Jack Anderson, project manager for Plug-In North Central Washington, talks about electric cars with Loyd and Carrie Smith of Waterville. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

 

Anne Brooks, an electric car owner from Chelan, talks with Waterville residents Gloria Bond and her daughter Marie Bond about the benefits of electric cars during the Plug-In North Central Washington event at Highway 2 Brew Sept. 3. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

Anne Brooks, an electric car owner from Chelan, talks with Waterville residents Gloria Bond and her daughter Marie Bond about the benefits of electric cars during the Plug-In North Central Washington event at Highway 2 Brew Sept. 3. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)