EcoCentro showcases electric vehicles

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Enthusiasts, organizations and clubs detail the importance of renewable energy.

By Wally Perez

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Thirty-seven vehicles — including five models of Tesla — congregated Saturday in the parking lot of Sinkin EcoCentro.

At least 100 people attended and asked questions of the owners, and some took test drives. The only thing missing from this car show was the smell of exhaust and noise from loud engines.

This was the third annual Drive Electric Day in San Antonio and the first time at this college in honor of National Drive Electric Week.

Three local organizations, Alamo City Electric Auto Association, Plug In America and the Alamo Sierra Club, sponsored the event.

Owners of electric vehicles, known as EVs, showcased their vehicles and renewable energy.

Cars on display included the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Tesla Model S and Tesla Roadster.

The Tesla Model S grabbed a lot of attention with its exterior and interior that rival luxury cars.

The vehicle has a base range of 240 miles on a single charge and an acceleration of 0-60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds, according to the Tesla website.

Guests praised features such as parking sensors, automatic keyless entry, WiFi and Internet connectivity, autopilot, and the massive 17-inch touchscreen that enables drivers to control most of the car.

The vehicle has a price tag of $71,200 for the base model and features.

Margaret Galvan, a real estate broker at Partners Realty, was excited to see a Tesla.

“I’ve been on the fence about buying one, and I’m hoping to meet an owner and get some more information about the vehicle,” Galvan said.

Luckily for her, Tesla owner Ben Bishop granted her wish.

Bishop, a retired ESPN production operations assistant, offered rides and information.

The technology in the Tesla convinced him to buy one, he said.

“I’ve owned the car for almost a year, and I don’t see myself going back to gas ever again,” Bishop said. “It’s the best car I’ve ever owned, hands down.”

After a test ride with Bishop, Galvan said she is close to purchasing one, praising the sleek design and interior gadgets, such as the touchscreen and autopilot feature.

Aside from the EVs, Madison High School’s Solar Car Initiative team had a solar golf cart on display.

Madison sophomore Sean Suwal joined the club this year and has enjoyed his time with the team, he said.

“I joined the club because I’m interested in majoring in mechanical engineering, and this is a great opportunity,” Suwal said. “I’m new to the team and still have a lot to learn, but I look forward to the hands-on experience.”

Education sophomore George Trujilo worked on the project when he was a student at Madison and now works with the team as an adviser.

A car is built every year, or modifications are added to previous ones, and it’s a great opportunity for students to learn to work as a team, he said.

As visitors questioned vehicle owners, EVs drove by in silence. More noise came from conversations than engines. The vehicles were so quiet they turned few heads at the realization of one driving by.

VIA Metropolitan Transit showcased an electric bus for guests to board and ask questions.

Damian Mason, a field service technician at Protera, is a contractor with VIA and works with electric buses.

“The buses can run for about 60 miles on a single charge, assuming the driver is going 55 miles per hour,” Mason said. “We are working on expanding that range, but as of now the buses only operate downtown.”

As the day continued, so did the heat.

Canopies were placed in some locations for guests to rest in the shade.

Two food trucks sold burgers, sandwiches and cold beverages.

Guests were able to cool off inside EcoCentro and hear presentations on the basics of electric and renewable energy.

Nic Jonas, coordinator for the Alamo Area Clean Cities Coalition, gave the presentations comparing gas-fueled cars and EVs.

Steven Lewis, director of the services, trade and industry center, offered tours of the facility, including the community garden.

Visit www.teslamotors.com.

For information on EcoCentro, visit 1802 N. Main Ave., or contact Lewis at 210-486-0417 or slewis71@alamo.edu.

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