Electric vehicles create buzz in Kenmore

Members of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA) paid a visit to Kenmore Junior High May 22 to help locals plug into the idea of clean transportation.

Members of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA) paid a visit to Kenmore Junior High May 22 to help locals plug into the idea of clean transportation.

The after-school event included a talk by SEVA President Steve Lough and a car show featuring battery-powered automobiles that ranged from pickup trucks to single-seat three wheelers.

Kenmore Junior High’s Science Club hosted the demonstration, which brought in more than 60 attendees.

Eighth-grade science teacher Kathleen Koler organized the event as part of an educational unit on weather.

“We wanted to involve whole families,” she said. “A lot of people are asking questions about this topic. They’re concerned about what’s going on in our world and tired of paying $4 a gallon at the pump.”

Koler got her wish, as students, parents and “green-”car enthusiasts alike packed a classroom to near full capacity.

Lough started things off with a history lesson that covered the rise in electric-vehicle development during the 1970s energy crisis to the suspicious halt in production in the late 1990s, which resulted in General Motors crushing nearly all of its battery-powered cars rather than allowing them to stay on the market.

Among other topics discussed were hybrids, high-efficiency lithium batteries, biodiesel and hydrogen fuel cells.

Electric vehicles, also called plug-ins, are considered by many to be a solution for problems like global climate change and the world’s dwindling oil supply.

Battery-powered autos are more efficient than those with internal-combustion engines, wasting 60 percent less of their energy supply during the conversion process, Lough said.

The coal-burning power plants that supply their electricity also create slightly lower amounts of carbon emissions per vehicle than internal combustion engines, according to the Electrical Power Research Institute.

There are drawbacks, however. Electric vehicles can only go so far, take hours to charge and cost more than their gas-guzzling counterparts.

Lough encourages people to buy them anyway.

“We shouldn’t wait for perfect electric vehicles to get started,” he said. “We didn’t wait to buy cell phones when they cost $300 and had to be carried in a suitcase.”

There was no need to sell any of the SEVA members who had their plug-ins on display.

Barbara Demovan brought a Volkswagen Cabriolet that she converted last November through an Electro Automotive workshop in Colorado. The project cost her $12,000.

“It’s worth it,” she said. “I don’t have to buy gas, and there’s almost zero maintenance.”

Jeff Finn came with a Chevy Metro that he bought for $250 without an engine. Converting the car to a plug-in cost around $13,000.

The finished product, dubbed “Volt Runner,” is decked out with a Mopar-esque, rally green paint job and resembles something the Seattle Seahawks would use for their official team vehicle.

“I went electric gradually,” Finn said. “Each car I bought was more fuel efficient than the last. I think that’s the important thing: every time you get a new car, make sure it uses less gas.”