Monday, December 22, 2014

Electric vehicle showcase draws crowd

21 electric car show 1

Jonas Broth of Alameda test drives the Switch during the Electric Car Show at the Kroc Center in Suisun City, Thursday. Participants at the Electric Car Show had the opportunity to test drive a variety of electric cars, including a Tesla. The Switch is designed for high school and college students so they can learn how to build an electric car. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

From page A5 | February 21, 2014 |

SUISUN CITY — For much of Thursday afternoon, people filed through the Kroc Center to get a glimpse of the latest in plug-in electric vehicle technology.

The Plug-In Electric Vehicle Showcase was aimed at fleet managers and the like, but electric vehicle enthusiasts and those curious about the technology lined up to check out offerings from several companies.

“It was a great crowd . . . and there were many people from the vehicle manufacturers, vehicle infrastructure as well as just interested consumers,” said Nicole Appenzeller of the Center for Sustainable Energy, which handles the state rebate program for electric vehicle purchase. “You’ve got the full package here. You’re learning about the plug-in electric vehicles and their benefits, the incentives associated with them and how it’s a great option for fleet managers especially, which is who we were focusing on today.”

Well-known manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Nissan, Ford and Toyota all had vehicles on display, but smaller manufacturers and newer models also featured prominently.

Among the biggest draws was a pair of Tesla Model S sedans, one brought by the manufacturer and another by a private owner who was happy to offer rides in his own vehicle.

Rob Stelling of Angwin shuttled curious attendees up and down Pintail Drive in his Model S, all the while singing its praises and making the case for why the $70,000 investment in the sporty, all-electric car is a solid one.

From the massive touchscreen control center to the immediate and surprising acceleration, everyone who took a ride in the Teslas came away in awe.

“This guy opened it up a couple of times on the straightaways. I’ve never felt acceleration like that,” said Don Stillman, a Green Valley resident, who owns a Toyota Prius. “It really pushed me back into my seat. It’s amazing.”

Stillman said he looked at other plug-in vehicles before settling on the hybrid Prius, but the limited range steered him away.

Still, the ever-expanding variety of EVs is a good thing, he said.

“I do like the fact that there are a lot more electric cars out now, and they’ll get better,” Stillman said. “They’ll keep getting better.”

Other head turners were a dune buggy-like, three-wheeled vehicle called the Switch from Sebastopol-based Electric Autoshop.

Peter Oliver, the car’s designer, said his company sells the kits to high schools as a semester-long curriculum wherein students learn about each component of an electric car and then build the vehicle over the course of the semester.

Via Motors was also on scene with its full-size, all-electric pickup truck.

Based on a General Motors Silverado chassis, the VTrux extended range truck, which is scheduled to come to market later this year, features an electric motor with the equivalent of 400 horsepower.

Sales director for Via Motors, Gabriel Hern, said the truck has a gasoline engine, but its sole purpose is to act as a power generator to recharge the battery pack when it dips down to 10 percent of capacity.

Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or Follow him on Twitter at


Discussion | 2 comments

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  • Bob LivesayFebruary 21, 2014 - 7:48 am

    What is a criowd? How many attended this event?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JonasFebruary 21, 2014 - 7:37 pm

    Hi Bob, attendance was around 120 people or so. More than half were still around for the post-seminar "ride and drive" when the press guys showed up. This was by far one of the most well organized EV events I've been to and test driving the cars was a blast. Kudos to the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition for putting this together.

    Reply | Report abusive comment

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