A couple of weeks ago, I was bicycling in Forest Park and at the Science Center, I came upon a car show being put on by the Gateway Electric Vehicle Association. I had seen their car show several years ago, when the Missouri Botanical Gardens had been hosting it, but there was a striking difference between that show and the one that I’d just come upon. At the Garden’s show most of the electric cars on display were of the DIY variety, where an amateur enthusiast had converted a gas-powered vehicle to an all-electric one. Needless to say, every vehicle in that show was a one-of-a-kind. The Science Center show was totally different. It was almost all corporate.
There were electric and hybrid vehicles there that I’ve seen before, like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, but even the Tesla representative seemed kind of passé compared to some of the new to me hybrid/electric vehicles. There was a Cadillac hybrid and the pictured all-electric BMW. I had not even heard of either of these two offerings. There was a good mix of real car salesmen and owner enthusiast “sales” people. The former were hawking their particular wares, while the later was more interested in selling the public on the whole electric vehicle concept. Noticeable absent from the car show were any models of the Toyota Prius, although many of the owner enthusiasts also owned a Prius. As a Prius owner, this made me feel a bit like a piker. One of the owner enthusiasts is also a blogger – Leaf: EV Adventures with a Family.
In addition to all of the four-wheel electric vehicles, there were also vehicles of the two-wheel variety. The vendor marketing these electric bicycles had about half-a-dozen models to select from. They wouldn’t let me ride any of them. There was too much going on at the car show, but they did offer to come by my house, for a test ride. I picked up the smallest and largest electric bikes and they both seemed to weigh a ton, really 40 to 70 pounds, respectively. I’ll not likely pursue these products, because I bicycle more for exercise than transportation, but I have seen one in use in the neighborhood, since the show.
The real question that every visitor was asking at the car show wasn’t, “How many miles per kilowatt do you get?” Everyone was really asking about range, “How far can you go on a charge?” Except for maybe the Tesla, all of the electric vehicle’s ranges seemed too short to totally rely upon such a vehicle as the sole Midwestern family vehicle. Hence, the large number of Prius backups that were also owned. Because of fracking, the United States is expected to become the world’s largest oil producer this month, surpassing even Saudi Arabia. This new US energy independence seems to loom as a detriment to continued electric vehicle development, but the specter of global warming looms too. I’m not ready to buy a new car now, let alone consider an electric car, but I will check out their next car show.