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EVolve KY helps grow Louisville's electric car community

Clay Barclay and his Tesla.

David Sheilds and his 1973 Porsche 914.

A stretch vehicle made out of a 2011 Nissan Leaf and a 2012 Nissan Leaf.

Ned Funnell built his electric motorcycle from a kit.

Ron Krishner and his Nissan Leaf.

Quiet. That’s what you hear inside an electric vehicle.

But then, go to a monthly meeting of the Electric Vehicle Owners of Kentucky (EVolve KY), and it’s anything but quiet. Gathered into a packed conference room at Eclipse Bank in St. Matthews, everyone is talking at once, such is their enthusiasm for electric cars.

These people are energized, articulate and on a mission. Their mission is to spread the word about the benefits of electric vehicles (EV’s) and to create a vibrant and growing community of EV owners in Kentucky. In so doing, they hope to positively impact our air quality—and have fun in the process.

Ride & Drive Events
For example, EVolve KY routinely host “Ride & Drive” events, most recently one was held at Flea Off Market. “It was a big success,” says Stuart Ungar, President of the group. “The folks at Flea Off Market were great. We had a booth right where you walk in. We had a ton of people coming in, partly because we had purchased advertising on public radio. We even had people waiting for us when we got there.”

Ungar continues, “We showed them the cars. We answered their questions. We took them for rides around the block. And we stopped at a public charger we had just installed at The Green Building (732 E. Market St.). We showed them how the vehicles charge. They were so impressed, after I told them all the benefits and features, that a lot of them wanted to go out and buy a car.”

The event was valuable, says Ungar, because it brings EV’s to the community-at-large. “People are curious about EV’s and this gives them a chance to look and see what it’s really about,” he says. “People come away from a Ride & Drive both educated and excited. And it gives us a huge amount of exposure.

“We had most of the major brands, including the Mitsubishi. We had Nissan Leafs, which is the biggest selling electric vehicle in the world. And we had a Tesla,” Ungar continues.

EV Lesson at Any Spot
Ungar, the Founder of EVolve KY, talks about electric vehicles everywhere he goes. “There have been times when I've pulled into a Thornton’s—not to get gas, of course—but someone will stop you. They have this look on their faces. And they say, ‘Is this one of those electric cars?’ They want to know about it.”

Ungar describes a typical lesson. “I show them how to charge it. I show them the electric motor, and they see how simple it is. Then I tell them it has no tailpipe. And it’s the funniest thing. They have to walk around to the back to prove to themselves that this car really does not have a tailpipe.

“And a gentleman remarked, ‘Well that’s one of the things that you won’t have to fix.’”

Something you’ll never have to fix on an EV is the exhaust system, or the carburetor, or the fuel pump or any number of parts associated with internal combustion engines.

Fewer parts to break. Lower repair costs. These are just a few reasons EV owners say they will never go back to internal combustion vehicles. Other reasons include the cost and smell of gasoline, as well as the time it takes to fill up on gas.

Electrical engineer Ron Krishner owns a Nissan Leaf. He loves not using gas, as well as reducing our carbon footprint and dependence on foreign oil. "The car is quiet and smooth. Very enjoyable," he says. 

Movie Nights
EVolve KY also hosts movie nights for publicity and education. Sullivan University (3101 Bardstown Road) hosted the most recent movie night. Sullivan University President, Glen Sullivan, formerly a race car driver, loves cars and owns an all-electric Tesla. Sullivan believes that electric cars are the “next big thing,” according to Ungar.

“Some people came to movie night driving their electric cars,” says Ungar. “Other were curious, and considering buying electric vehicles.”

The movie, "The Revenge of the Electric Car” is a dramatic and suspenseful documentary about four car manufacturers (including Tesla, Nissan and GM) in a race to make the new generation of electric vehicles. “Attendees loved the movie,” says Ungar. “We also showed some electric car commercials, which our audience had not seen because you don’t see many of them in the Louisville area. Some were funny. Some were touching.

“After the movie, we had a whole line of cars outside, where people lingered and talked, compared notes and compared cars.”

Glen Sullivan took several passengers for a spin in his Tesla, burning rubber as he exited the parking lot.

Side note: The Tesla hits 60 mph from a standstill in—are you ready for this—2.8 seconds. The Tesla hits 60 mph faster than all but two road-legal cars in the world. Engineer Clay Barclay, who owns a Tesla, says it's the most amazing piece of equipment he's ever operated.

For fellow Tesla owners, a Tesla Supercharger station has been put in operation in the parking lot of the Sullivan University School of Pharmacy. This direct current, fast-charging station, which can charge up to eight vehicles at one time, is for use with the Tesla Model S sedan, Model X SUV and the Tesla Model 3 that is due for release in March.

From Electric Motorcycles to Stretch Vehicles and Everything In-Between
EVolve KY's members feature a range of diverse personalities including the do-it-yourselfers who have built their own vehicles. Ned Funnell owns an electric motorcycle that he built himself from a kit. Funnel enthuses about how his “bike” zips handily in and out of traffic. One member, David Shields, installed an electric motor into a 1973 Porsche 914. 

One member owns a “stretch” vehicle. It’s a 2011—and a 2012. It’s both. Because it’s two cars combined into one—a 2011 Nissan Leaf, that had been wrecked in the front, welded to a 2012 Nissan Leaf, that had been wrecked in the rear. 

Another member, Daryl Cleary, owned an electric pickup with a solar panel in the back of the truck. While the solar panel does not entirely charge the vehicle while driving, it does increase the range, and it charges the vehicle automatically when parked in the sun. 

EVolve KY members talk about all issues of concern to electric vehicle owners, including availability of public charging stations, the need for more public charging stations and ways to increase the range of your vehicle.

EVolve KY meets monthly at Eclipse Bank (3827 Shelbyville Rd.) in St. Matthews. The next meeting is Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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